Old, maybe; wise, definitely not

Why do old people give advice to young people?

Because we know more?


Because we have more experience? Because we have made all the mistakes and we’re getting it right now?


I know I’ve said this before, but you only have to sweep your eyes over the globe and catch a glimpse of Iraq, the Sudan, the Gaza Strip and, oh yes, our own election, to realise that grown-ups haven’t learned a blind thing.

Now it’s been confirmed by the news this week that the only voters who are sticking with John Howard are the grey ones.

This wouldn’t be so bad if it were because they were really impressed with his performance over the past three years, but according to the opinion polls, that’s not it.

The reason these mature, if demented, citizens are sticking with the diminutive Mr H is because last week he forked out $4 billion for pensioners, self-funded retirees and carers, through a $500 annual payment.

If all sections of the community were as gullible as the grey ones, winning an election would be easy. But fortunately the young ones are not impressed by brown paper bags full of cash for education or technical colleges, which was also promised this week. Presumably they see it for what it is.

A trick.

And before anyone accuses me of being anti-Howard, let me stress that I have no doubt whatsoever that if Kevin Rudd wins things won’t different.

I’m just horrified that the very section of society that really should be setting an example — the ones with distinguished silver temples; my section, dammit! — is the ones whose self-interest so blinds its judgment that it can’t see past a free lunch.

Which, as we all know, is never free.

It comes with the Australian Wheat Board funding Saddam Hussein’s regime; it comes with our soldiers being killed in Iraq for a war over weapons of mass destruction that never existed. Or was it oil, which did exist? Or was it terrorism?

It comes with David Hicks being hung out to dry, guilty or not, by his own government, because being an Australian citizen doesn’t mean it cares about you (remember this if ever you get arrested in some far-flung corner of our less-than-civilised world).

I suggested this to a Coalition MP recently and her response was: “Ah, but look how well we’ve handled the economy.”

Ah… silly me. I forgot that making a lot of money is sufficient justification for disregarding all the values that ought, in any civilised society, to give us the right to use the word ‘civilised’.

So when the newspaper headlines say ‘Grey voters PM’s last stronghold’ as The Australian did this week, include me out.

In three years time I’ll probably be saying the same thing about Kevin Rudd, if he wins. It’s the only way to keep them on their toes.

In truth, I’m not really surprised by the politicians because… well… they’re politicians. But I am surprised by the over-50 voter who, it seems, is easier to bribe than an 18-year-old.