World Problem

The Ageing Population

The problem

The population in developed nations is ageing and increasing in numbers and there seems to be fewer young people available to support the older generation.

Trends supporting this view

Increasing ageing populations in developed nations

Evidence for the increasing proportion of the population in developed nations reaching old age can be observed in the statistics gathered from several surveys conducted by Census Bureau. For example, in the US, persons aged 65 years or older numbered 35.9 million in 2003 (or 12.3 per cent of the American population). In 1990, the number was 31.2 million. If current trends continue, the number of people aged 65 years or older is projected to reach 71.5 million in 2030 (roughly 20 per cent of the American population) and 86.7 million in 2050. There is no end in sight for the increasing number of people who will be classified as aged persons (i.e. 65 years or older).

These figures were obtained from the US Administration on Aging website in March 2004.

In Australia, the population aged 65 years and over is expected to increase from 2.5 million (or 13 per cent of the total population) in 2002, to between 6.1 and 11.7 million in 2101 (roughly 29 to 32 per cent of the total population). These figures were obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In another estimate, 25 per cent of the Australian population will be aged 65 years and over by 2040, while the population of working-age people will drop from 67 per cent in 2005 to 60 per cent in 2040.

Similar trends can be found in Japan and Europe. Actually, current projections for Japan would suggest this country will have the highest proportion of the population aged 65 and over of any country in the world and will soon be described as "the oldest in the entire world".

Japan will be followed closely by Italy and Hong Kong.

At the same time, life expectancy for most people in developed nations is expected to reach over 90 years for men and women by 2050, thereby exacerbating the ageing population problem because more people over the age of 65 years need to be supported.

Low fertility rates

Fertility rates to replace the ageing population is also considered by governments to be too low in developed nations, especially when the purpose of having more young people for a developed nation is to replace the ageing population and ultimately maintain the current economic system in its present form (whether sustainable or not).

For example, Europe's average fertility rate is currently down to 1.48 children per woman. Looking at specific European countries, the Czech Republic is at 1.17, Italy at 1.3 and even the predominantly Roman catholic Ireland that led with 3.5 children per woman in 1960 was dropped below 2.0 in 2005. It is claimed a rate of 2.1 is needed to maintain the population at current levels. Despite the influx of childbearing immigrants to Western Europe, total population of the 47 nations of Europe (including Russia) is allegedly going to fall from 725 million in 2005 to 632 million in 2050.

The country once labelled the lowest birth rate in the world (only to be taken over by the Czech Republic) was Spain with a rate of only 1.2. Consequently, the Spanish Government is naturally worried the country's social welfare system will collapse. Demographer Juan Antonio Fernandez of Spain's Superior Council for Scientific Research claims the country needs four times its current population by 2050 (based on the current percentage of young people in the Spanish population maintaining the economic system) to support the retirees. But because Spanish women are not likely to be persuaded to make more babies, there is a risk the massive numbers of immigrants entering the country will affect Spain's culture and population makeup.

In Australia, the birth rate is 1.7 children per woman, which halved from 3.6 in 1961. The main reason for the low birth rate is the desire for women to have a career but also the work pressure and hectic lifestyle has seen fewer women choosing to have babies. Other factors include increasing HECS debt and experience in the outcomes of previous marriages that have broken up resulting in woman who are now smart enough to realise the stress involved in trying to manage a child and a career on their own.

In essence, for many Australians being overworked for longer hours than most people in other nations, it comes down to how much stress people have to put up with from their employers, the limited time to relax and do other things (apart from having a quicky in the bedroom or on the beach while making the most of a contraception), and the high costs in Australia of purchasing a house, paying for food, going on holidays and many other things in life that tends to stop Australian men and women from considering starting a family. There are exceptions. If the family is Christian-based, it won't matter. Having babies is the priority and somehow God and other Christian families will find a solution to supporting the family and give the time needed.

The basic economic solution — populate or perish

From a purely economic point-of-view, the importance for Australian governments to increase population has never been so clearer than the statement made by former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett. On 19 April 1999, Mr Kennett said to an audience of schoolgirls from Melbourne's MacRobertson Girls' High School:

"We have an ageing population, our women are not producing enough offsprings to simply maintain our population levels.

'But for you, who are going to be very major contributors to this society right through until the year 2060, it is important that we keep our population increasing so that there are enough young people meeting the demands of society, working to look after those of us who are older, but also coming up with new ideas." (http://www.cqnet.com.au/~user/dancasey/Population_control.html)

Is the human population too low?

When faced with these low birth rate figures and the effort by some governments to encourage a proliferation of more children into the world, one would be forgiven into thinking the global population levels must be declining. The truth is, total human population levels continue to increase in an almost exponential rate. The levels have surpassed 6 billion in 1999, and will reach 10 billion by 2050. Total population levels are increasing dramatically and we should be quite rightly concerned about the population explosion (and certainly worthy of discussion in this world problem research topic).

Where the overpopulation problem is most self-evident are in third-world and semi-developed nations, and those people described as having a strong religious affiliation (e.g. Muslims and Christians), not so for the highly educated and/or more environmentally-aware populations of developed nations according to government officials.

Governments, businesses, and a number of religious people (which usually includes governments and businesses) are making hard decisions about how to solve the aging population crisis. With fertility rates at or near an all time low for a number of developed nations, there seems to be an urge to kickstart the current economic system.


Solution 1: Increase migrant intake

This is a personal favourite for governments, mainly because it takes too long for babies to come into the world and reach an age of being able to contribute to society through a well-paid job and consuming the various products on offer. The main aim is to find ready-to-work migrants with young families to help support and maintain the economy of the developed nation. The only drawback in this approach is that sometimes the migrants are not well-educated or have the sufficient skills needed to perform certain jobs that the governments might be looking to have filled. If more foreign aid is invested in education and making accessible the basic technology and teachers to help people in other nations to learn the skills and receive the education, while ensuring people have enough food and are safe from violent mobs and aggressive dictatorial governments, then there is no reason why the ageing population cannot be solved in the next 10 to 15 years. It just requires people to see the potential of other people overseas in providing solutions to all problems in a developed nation.


Solution 2: Encourage people to have more unprotected sex

A personal favourite for many individuals, so long as the consequences of the activity can be avoided. However, given the way governments of developed nations are viewing the ageing population issue, somehow there must be a way to convince people the consequences are okay, and just to hit the message home to the people, the governments like to let people know that there is no such thing as an overpopulation problem anywhere in the world. "The problem lies with the age of the population" as people are told. Because we are ageing and no longer replacing ourselves, it is a myth to believe there is a population explosion. In that way, it is hoped people will believe (the Christians are particularly good at this) the planet can do with a few more babies. It is either that, or governments will have to seriously consider establishing the Sex Olympics to get people to see the value of sex and making babies. We have the normal Olympics and the para-Olympics. So why not go further and have the Sex Olympics as well?

Or why not have the annual "f*ckfest"?

And given the fascination governments have with small businesses in maintaining the current economic system, why not give incentives for someone to set up a business called the "Willie Wanker and the Sperm Factory" for women to get pregnant? Sure, let us have the "Willie Wonker and the Chocolate Factory" on the side to get people feeling romantic again with a bit of chocolate. Then move over to the other factory to help support the economy.

Of course some politicians won't be quite so confronting and direct like this. They will be subtle in how they wish to entice people to make babies. A classic example of this is the statement made by Australian Federal Treasurer Mr Peter Costello in May 2004:

"You should have one for the father, one for the mother and one for the country...if you want to fix the ageing demographic, that's what you do." (Totaro, Paola. Where have all the babies gone?: The Sydney Morning Herald. 9-10 April 2005, p.27.)

and follow this up with strong economic incentives to do your bit of populating the nation.

For example, Mr Costello claims you will receive $3,000 for each baby you make after July 2004.

UPDATE
18 May 2005

After providing a financial incentive to Australian women to make babies through the A$3,000 baby bonus for each baby born after 1 July 2004, the Australian Federal (Howard) Government has indirectly asked for the money back by asking all mothers to return to work, pay extra taxes, and pay for child care. Either that, or the politicians want to turn babies into government property and raise them to the way the government likes to see them, which are good little consumers who can work to support the economy. Sounds like it is time for Australian mothers to follow the lead of British women as the following graffiti in Oxford reveals:


Insert baby for refund.

(On contraceptive vending machine, Oxford)
 

The Australian version should be:


Insert baby for refund.

(On the front doors of the New Parliament House in Canberra)
 

Of course, we won't ask how the environment is fairing in this bizarre social experiment!

UPDATE
28 May 2005

Just as single mums were starting to come around to the idea of having to return to work (after making babies), the Australian Federal (Howard) Government wants to introduce a range of draconian unfair dismissal laws as part of its major industrial relations reforms after 1 July 2005 thanks to its total control of the Senate. This means employers will have the upper hand in sacking any employee without giving a reason. So if you're pregnant and want to take maternity leave or simply have kids to support, the employer can choose the right moment to sack you when you return to work without explanation. As Emma Ashton of Marrickville in NSW said:

"Do the industrial reforms override anti-discrimination laws? Can a business of fewer than 100 employees now dismiss an eight-months' pregnant woman for no reason? Can they dismiss her as she comes back from maternity leave? If this is the case, all the gains women have made in the workplace in the past 20 years are gone. Costello's "baby boom" may come to a grinding halt." (The Sydney Morning Herald: Work changes an unfair dismissal of workers' rights (Opinion and Letters). 28-29 May 2005, p.38.)

More of a reason to have a baby refund. You keep the A$3,000 for the time and effort of carrying the baby inside of you and giving birth and later you give the baby to the government to pay for its upbringing. Based on pure economics, this makes perfect sense.

It is no wonder some single mothers are contemplating the possibility of trapping men in brief sexual liaisons and later claim to the Federal Government that the men are the fathers of the women's children in the hope of getting men to pay substantial child support.

And then some men commit suicide because the current Family Law forces men (single or otherwise) to pay more for child support (based on an 80/20 system where men pay 80 per cent of the support) irrespective of whether the mothers find another partner to financially support them or the mothers ask more money claiming this is the actual cost of supporting a child until the men find it too expensive to feed themselves. Or else some men have to be cunning by disappearing mysteriously and work temporarily interstate and keep changing work and home locations until it becomes virtually impossible for the Government or the mothers to find and force the men to pay child support. Or the alternative is to become unemployed and thus avoid the payments altogether.

UPDATE
20 May 2005

Single mothers are the main target of the Australian Government's new policy to force people into work. Ironically, new mothers married to an income-producing male partner are exempt from this policy. Is this an economic reason or a religious reason? If it is an economic reason and the growing percentage of aging people is considered a major problem, you would think every person capable of entering the workforce would be forced into a job. Not so for mothers having a male partner. This leaves us with only one explanation: a religious one. The Government is rewarding mothers in the traditional Christian family unit consisting of a married heterosexual couple with children. Anyone else who is divorced, living in de facto relationships, gay couple, or people who just want to be single with children are being discriminated in the family tax benefits.

UPDATE
18 June 2005

The Federal (Howard) Government is trying to come up with a formula for calculating the actual costs of raising a child and being more fairer in how much fathers should pay for child support. But will any parent agree to exactly how much a child costs according to the formula?

UPDATE
22 July 2005

The Federal (Howard) Government has shifted its focus to the increasing numbers of men being forced into casual and part-time jobs described by Sue Richardson, professor of economics at Flinders University, as the victims of a new economy. She believes this "semi-employment" or Clayton approach to working for employers is causing significant problems when it comes to improving Australia's historically low fertility rate, increasing marriage rates and the rise in sole-parent families. Clearly the conditions are not exactly conducive to making babies given the cost to raise children in this world and the time it takes to turn them into good little fockers...or should we say more accurately, consumers.

Among the statistical figures touted around the traps at this time by Ms Richardson (believed to be obtained from the National Institute for Labour Studies) is how of the 1.5 million extra jobs created between 1994 and 2004, only 12 per cent of those were permanent full-time jobs taken by men. A further 24 per cent were full-time, but their duration ensured it was of a contract, labour hire or casual basis and, therefore, men lost out in conditions such as annual leave or sick leave and not having to work overtime regularly, let alone have the stability needed to achieve something of a long-term and worthwhile nature (which for the government of the day seems to be nothing more than for men to create and support babies until they are ready to support the economy).

As Professor Richardson said in a speech to the Australian Social Policy Conference at the University of NSW on 22 July 2005:

"We need to change course to avoid a lot of despair and misery. The labour market is making it extremely difficult for men and women to choose to become parents." (Horin, Adele. Men out of work — why families are falling apart: The Sydney Morning Herald. 23-24 July 2005, pp.1 & 4 (pp.1 & 4))

She described the changes to the economy as a "disaster". She further adds:

"...it's not a successful labour market. It's bad for men, and it's bad for children. You can't keep a family on a part-time job.

'The labour market has been extremely hostile to men, particularly men who don't have any post-school education.

'Men who can't get a full-time or secure job are not attractive marriage prospects." (Horin, Adele. Men out of work — why families are falling apart: The Sydney Morning Herald. 23-24 July 2005, p.4 (pp.1 & 4))

On the whole, Professor Richardson has viewed the economy as hostile to family life. You either have to work long hours and thus not enough time to create and nurture a family, or too few hours and thus not enough money to support a new family. As Richardson said:

"You can't be a good parent either in the low-hour or long-hour jobs — you've either got not enough money or not enough time." (Horin, Adele. Men out of work — why families are falling apart: The Sydney Morning Herald. 23-24 July 2005, p.4 (pp.1 & 4))

Women, on the other hand, are fairing a little better in the statistics with 60 per cent of new jobs taken up by women of which 22 per cent of those are full-time permanent jobs.

UPDATE
24 July 2005

Some current affairs programs are suggesting a majority of people who marry or have sexual relationships are likely to be someone you know at work (if you have a job). It must show the long hours people are faced with at work which eventually forces people at work to turn to each other for emotional support and possibly to have children.


Solution 3: Follow the Christian point-of-view

Then we have the religious types such as the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute eagerly quoting a UN report prepared by the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in 2001 that:

"Over the period 1961-1998, world per capita food available for direct human consumption increased by 24 per cent, and there is enough being produced for everyone on the planet to be adequately nourished.

'From 1900 to 2000, world population grew from 1.6 billion persons to 6.1 billion. However, while world population increased close to 4 times, world real gross domestic product increased 20 to 40 times, allowing the world to not only sustain a four-fold population increase, but also to do so at vastly higher standards of living." (http://www.cqnet.com.au/~user/dancasey/Population_control.html)

The essential argument expressed in this quote is that people can romp around in the bedroom for some sex and eventually populate because there is adequate food for everyone. So what's the problem in not being able to have babies?

The truth is, food is not cheap in developed nations, especially if it is healthy and of a nutritionally high standard. Otherwise, food is not being distributed properly to all people in every nation. Profit and power lies at the heart of world leaders in developed nations when it comes to distributing food to those who can afford it and/or willing to give foreign businesses access to local markets. If this wasn't true and food is distributed to everyone and everyone had a paid job in the new economic world order for supporting all nations, would there be an ageing problem in developed nations? Probably not.

Then the religious types argue we should have more babies because they are God's gift to the world. But as one anonymous person said:

"People have one or two children not because they dislike them, but because they are extremely expensive. You can give a better life to two or three than you can to five or six (most of us anyway)." (http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a3b41e2ee55ac.htm)

Then the religious types will argue it is because those people who think having children is expensive is because they want to purchase new cars, have vacations, take cigarettes, go to restaurants, and live in the centre of the city and pay high mortgages and so on. If people live simply, God will always provide everything needed to support any number of children in this world. This argument would seem justified when they read the following quote from a person living in an expensive city:

"It's no surprise the birth rate is falling. Interest rate increases, health insurance increases, reduced services for public health, public education and a deregulated jobs market making it harder for Australians to get permanent work.

As a 28-year-old Sydneysider, who has been married for four years, employed consistently during university and in full-time employment since graduation, I should know. With increasing costs and pressures to make ends meet, raising a family is way down on my list of priorities." (Collin, Philippa. Opinion & Letters: The Sydney Morning Herald. 5-6 March 2005, p.36.)

Yet the religious view of living simply assumes other Australians are spending their money on buying new cars and the rest, which is not the case for most people. The view also assumes we all fully recycle and grow our products, which is not always the case given the state of our environment today through climate change and the impact of businesses in the current economic system. Add to this the job insecurity problem expected to increase from R-wing workplace relations reforms taking place by some governments, and having the money to support children is looking like slim pickings.

And what about those people who aren't living in the cities and yet still find the task of raising children a financial strain? How does the religious view explain this situation?

Perhaps religious people will argue more education is the key. However, education takes money if it involves working for the economy. Or else the economy must collapse in favour of an education to help grow and recycle food, and then really live a simple life.

But if we are going to maintain the economy in its present form — warts and all — then as one woman remarked, "I hereby pray that God take over the provisioning of this case so that I can keep a bit more of my earnings."

Yet the arguments continue. As another religious person would say:

"Your being silly. Do you seriously think this women is praying to God to help her get on her feet. Does it seem she is trying at all to get on her feet? There is a world of difference between saying someone who has no husband, no job, no morality, and is making no effort to find any of the above should not have kids, and saying a couple working hard to make ends meet can't afford kids because they want that second new car. If this women followed Christian morality at all, which is kind of presumed if you are talking about welcoming kids into your home as God's gift, she wouldn't be a welfare case."

And another going after the religious types said: "If you made out well with 4, why didn't you have 6 or 7??? Did finances get in the way?"

Then another religious person writes, "*BETTER* life? Bullhooey. You can give them more things more expensive clothing, more trips on airplanes, newer cars (or cars, period) when they turn 16, nicer toys. But the quality of life is COMPLETELY independent of how many kids are in a family."

We must interpret this as meaning that large families in third-world nations can have a high quality of life by letting God provide them with everything so it doesn't matter how many children you have. The more children the better.

What do we mean by letting God provide everything? If this means learning the knowledge for growing and recycling the essential products the families need to survive on any piece of land available to them (so long as they are not being ravaged by civil war or disease, or profit-motivated businesses trying to take the land away), then how is it that a number of religious people have jobs supporting the current economic system in developed nations and yet the environment is allowed to be degraded?

Are these religious people (many of them acting as so-called leaders in politics and business) making the assumption God is providing them with everything through the current economic system? Are they thinking the economic system in its present form is doing enough to recycle its products and look after the environment to "let God provide everyone with everything"?

If this is true, then how is it that there are a growing number of scientists and environmentalists showing concern about the environment? Where are the religious types in bringing "God's work" to this planet by ensuring everyone has what they need through the process of full and proper recycling and learning to live within one's means? Or are they keeping to themselves (and possibly quietly getting richer and politically more powerful) at the expense of others because they think other people are not "God's children" and therefore don't deserve God's help because of their sins?

As Jesus once said to his people, "Let he who is free of sin cast the first stone."

Given how many religious people aren't looking after the environment properly, somehow we feel there are religious people in the world (mainly in positions of power) who are not learning very well from their own Bible studies.

Perhaps religious people need a good kick up the backside with a quote just to get things moving along in the right direction. As part of an address in a meeting in London of 30 environment and energy ministers from 20 of the world's biggest polluters, Gordon Brown said in March 2005:

"If our economies are to flourish, if global poverty is to be banished, and the well-being of the world's people enhanced...we must make sure we take care of the natural environment and resources on which our economic activity depends." (The Canberra Times: Fears EU shrivelling as fertility rate drops. 19 March 2005, p.15.)

Then maybe God's work will reveal itself ever more distinctly to the global community by looking after the environment.

People making a profit (and hence supporting the economy) tend to argue no overpopulation, but yes to the ageing population problem

Some governments and businesses will use some interesting logic to suggest there is no overpopulation in the world. For a start, they say the highly populated cities of Sydney or Los Angeles are not overpopulated. Then they say the overpopulation myth had originally come from third-world nations where the population numbers are excessive. As author Michael Schwartz of his book Overpopulation and the War against the Poor wrote:

"...the myth of overpopulation is one of the most powerful in the world... in reality it is nothing more than a rationalisation for a worldwide war against the poor - a war which inhibits legitimate development and social justice.... The Netherlands has four times the population density of its former colony Indonesia, but it is Indonesia and not the Netherlands that is said to have a problem of overpopulation."

Even when 64 per cent of 350 people surveyed in a city called Canberra in May 2005 believed their city was the right size and a further 8 per cent thought it was too big, the remaining 28 per cent consisting mostly of business, government and their supporters believed it isn't big enough and could do with a population explosion. Driven primarily by the development lobby, there is a view population is never too small and can always be expanded without limit or concern. As Dr Clive Hamilton of the Australia Institute said:

"The development lobby has always had an undue influence on Canberra's planning. It wants endless expandsion, but now we know that most Canberrans would prefer zero population growth." (Doherty, Ben. We love you just the way you are: The Canberra Times. 28 May 2005, p.1.)

On the other hand, the head of Demography and Sociology at the Australian National University (ANU), Professor Peter McDonald, told a symposium on population growth and economic prosperity of Canberra that:

"Canberra cannot restrict its growth by letting its population age with no replenishment at the younger ages. Replenishment is inevitable or the Australian Government [or parts of it] will have to move elsewhere." (Doherty, Ben. We love you just the way you are: The Canberra Times. 28 May 2005, p.1.)

What is the solution?

Okay. What does this mean for the world problem on ageing? Is there a solution? Apart from extreme measures such as creating a virus to target older people in order to force them into their graves much sooner, it is starting to look like more compassionate solutions need to be sought for this increasing world problem.

Looking at this logically, we see that if the entire younger population of the world was properly educated and given the necessary skills and knowledge to achieve not just the work we do now and needed by developed nations but also to encourage the development of new industries, there would be no ageing population problem to worry about in any nation. The shear numbers of younger people in developing or underdeveloped nations (and those in developed nations) should raise all the taxes needed to support every ageing person alive today many times over.

But since education is not cheap, and not everyone can afford to be educated, the only alternative for developed nations is to abandon the concept of retirement altogether and encourage older people to continue working throughout life. However, as a kind of reward for this "working until you drop dead" approach, we must allow older people to be flexible and free to try out different jobs or to create new activities of their own.

So either we encourage older people to continue working in any field they like for as long as they like, or else we help young people to acquire the skills and knowledge required by a developed nation.

There is a third solution: why force the inhabitants of a nation to stick to the economic system when they can also contribute their time to looking after and becoming the custodians of our natural environment. No money to worry about. The only currency of the new non-economic system is love by way of food, meeting with other like-minded people achieving the same goals, and being grateful that the environment is being maintained and supporting them. Because at the end of the day, it is the environment that ultimately dictates whether the current economic system (and, of course, human beings) survives or not, not the other way around.

Let us elaborate on this third solution.

1. A suggested solution for helping older people

As older people have already made their mark in the economic system and have experiences and knowledge to share, let them become the caretakers of a new non-economic system of managing and directing people to rebuild the environment and replace the old monoculture monolithic agricultural systems to a more diverse and healthier permaculture ecosystem. Set up the natural ecology of plants and animals to control pests naturally as well as planting complementary plants to promote greater growths and better protection, while at the same time preserving the remaining forms of life on this planet (for who knows what important contribution these living things may provide to life on Earth). No need for money from the current economic system to support the old people and their workers (e.g. young people, the unemployed etc.) in the new non-economic system. Why? Because a healthy and productive natural environment will provide all the food and natural resources to live simply and with good shelter for as long as the Earth exists, especially when the environment is returned to pristine health. There is no pressure or stress, just the ability to use your able hands and legs to achieve simple things to improve the environment and create food.

And it could also solve the unemployment problem overnight by getting enough people who are not confident in the economic system to create their own jobs and/or develop enough skills to apply for certain jobs to instead participate in the new world order "non-economic" system. From there, they are given a roof over their heads for free, made to feel like a valuable member of the new system, regularly socialise and work together on common problems relating to food production and protecting the environment, and still have opportunities to develop other skills after the core tasks in the new system are completed. The whole aim is to remove the pressure to have to find a job to survive. We have faith that you will achieve greatness. So we give you the food you need to survive, and time to develop skills, and slowly you will build up the confidence to contribute in other ways at some point in the future. Then these people can become the next caretakers, directing other people what to do on the land, or to implement new ideas for the "economic" system and so create new industries.

In the new "non-economic" system, you just simply put in a reasonable number of hours (less than those working in the "economic" system — as an incentive for people to decide in this new system is more suited to them as well as letting them know it is not slave labour). And in return, you will receive all the healthiest natural foods and cleanest water possible that you will need. Costs for the food should be zilch. You have already put some effort to supporting the environment, so in return you get back from the environment the food you need. And when things are in abundance, let the people collect the food and water when they need (or even want in order to develop a new business).

2. A suggested solution for helping young people

Make education of all the known human knowledge, from primary school to university level, freely accessible through the internet and give each child the latest, low-cost and portable wireless computing device to access this information. Let the young people visit special library/education centres to organise their thoughts and present new ideas they will come up with using high-powered computers and software-aided technologies with 3D capabilities. Make sure society presents all the known problems. Let students think through the problems and come up with their own solutions. Let the young people implement the solutions.

For example, to solve the fossil fuel / transportation problem, let young people apply a new concept in electromagnetism for recycling electromagnetic energy using the gravitational field generated by radiation at high enough frequencies and electric charge. Use the energy of the radiation and its inherent particle-like effect of moving solid mater to move objects to very high speeds in a new way based on the poorly studied and understood concept behind the Abraham-Lorentz formula in electromagnetism for the emission of radiation from the surface of a charged object. From there, young people can create a new aerospace industry and start moving away from the heavy reliance on fossil fuel technology.

Can it be achieved?

Some experts believe such a non-economic system would not be viable (if it means doing what the government wants us to do, which is to work harder and longer and pay more taxes in order to maintain the economic system, while continually voting to keep the same sorts of similar-thinking economically-driven people in power). Of major concern is how there are too many old people with strokes and broken bones requiring constant care. Such a new non-economic system would not be able to help them. As the ACT chairman of the Aged and Community Services Association and chief executive of Mirinjani Nursing Home and Hostel Mike Siers said:

"We do hear horror stories of people that have been in hospital a long time and we are trying to minimise that. Our biggest concern is people who have an ageing parent who is surviving OK but then they have a fall or a stroke and have to go into hospital. It then becomes apparent they cannot care for themselves at home and the family goes into crisis mode as they try to find a place.

Some elderly people will never need care and will live to the ripe old age of 96 and die in their sleep. But if there is a sudden reduction in mobility and they cannot care for themselves the search is on. Basically, unless someone in an aged-care facility dies, there are no beds available, so families have to keep doing the rounds at all the homes." (Streak, Diana. The age of descent: The Canberra Times. 12 March 2005, p.B1.)

Well, if we didn't focus so much on supporting the current economic system with emphasis on working longer hours in front of computers, and eating junk food from the more profit-motivated food manufacturers, people would be helping one another and age gracefully, get healthier and develop stronger bones when performing a range of different activities and exercises, and people can relax right throughout their old age and still be able to contribute to society (hopefully something more creative than the government's own rational rhetoric of sticking to current industries for solving current problems). But as we have it, the current economic system will need to find ways to support older people with much more frail bodies. Everyone else will have to pay indirectly these support services (or preferably get the old people to pay through their retirement savings) by being employed and buying products and services to help keep everyone in jobs and paying their taxes. That is all we have on the table. And if there are not enough young people being born in developed nations, then increase migrant intake for young families with the highest prospect of succeeding in a developed nation. There is no choice.

If we have learned anything about the concept of love after going through the "economic" system and that of evolution after millions of years, the system and evolution itself will have to be balanced. We have tried to balance our journey in evolution in our favour by controlling our predators. Perhaps a little too well for our liking to the point where now it seems humans will have to become the predator to all other animal species on this planet because we have effectively destroyed the natural predators. That is a problem in itself. After that, the next problem is to balance our "economic" system we have created. We have to in order to avoid the impending economic disaster to come very soon because of how we tend to stick to present ways of doing things.

So where do we start?

The first step should be to ensure the people who look after the ageing population in the current "economic" system are well-paid and supported properly by the government, especially for those aged people who can no longer contribute further to society because of strokes, broken bones and other health problems. It is the least we can do for these aged people after letting the current economic system influence and provide products to affect these people's long-term health and well-being while not encouraging these people to be more creative, to exercise more, and become independent thinkers in order to create new ideas, jobs and ultimately new industries.

Greater support for carers must be seen as an essential part of any progressive society of the day.

As for those aged people who are able-bodied and with sound mind, a new "non-economic" social system must be immediately implemented. This brings us to the second step. The caretakers of this new system will have to be these aged people (or they can be those creative and successful young people), directing other young people (mainly those unemployed and with limited confidence and skills/knowledge development) to participate in various activities for creating natural foods and cleaner water and returning lands to their original pristine environmental conditions.

As for the next generation and the generations that follow, laws must be changed to ensure people can exercise, think for themselves, self-manage, relax, be happy, and prepare for the new non-economic system. Instead of forcing people to join the economic system with a job or else join the Army, make it an integral part of every young person to at least experience for a short time what it is like to help people in the "non-economic" system to do various jobs for the environment and to understand how to grow natural foods. Then let the people decide what they want to do later. If they wish to continue supporting the non-economic system, then so be it. If they have ideas of what they wish to achieve in the economic system, then let this happen too. Basically make sure enough young people understand that there will no longer be any more excuses as we grow older in not being able to do things on our own and not having the healthy and physical ability to achieve things at any stage in our life.

Simple and sweet.

UPDATE
24 October 2008

The Australian Federal (Rudd) Government has agreed to provide a AUD$1,400 bonus to older people earning a pension. It appears to be a once-off payment designed to appease the older people. While the money will go a long way for older people (given the cost of living at home with all the electricity, gas, water and food expenses), more needs to be done to help older people until we make the transition to a more balanced society. Then less support for carers should be possible over time as more healthy older people join the "non-economic" system. The aim of work is not to make it feel like work. Work should feel like a hobby that you enjoy. Do this and older people will remain active and healthy for life.

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