Work until you’re 70, if you can get a job when past 40 | OPINION

I WROTE a few weeks back about how I thought the future for those families who exist on a pre-tax household income of less than $100,000 was not as threatening — post federal budget — as it first appeared.

We might see, for example, the rise of community gardens, buying groups and bartering.

Backyard vegie gardens, backyard chooks, home baking and “cottage industries”, such as bottling fruit, again could also become part of everyday life.

Those concepts and mostly eating what you grow or barter for, sound like an enjoyable and healthy way to live.

I saw an interesting story on a television program the other night where a family of four on a low income — albeit with the help of Centrelink payments — was able to pay off their mortgage within five years and buy a new car.

The financial system they used was impressive but time-intensive, which would make it unworkable if both partners work full-time.

Then again, the growth of unemployment might solve that time-poor problem.

Treasurer Joe Hockey says we will have to work until we are 70 before being eligible to receive an age pension.

But he is on the wrong track if he thinks people are going to find jobs easily after they turn 40 or so.

I know three people who are 40 plus — with impressive qualifications and CVs — who are desperate to find employment but can’t, only because “they are too old”.

Of course, there are employment alternatives for those able to change their lifestyle.

If The Lioness and I were to be made redundant we could sell our house, buy a quality caravan and tour Australia, taking casual employment in a range of agricultural industries, such as picking fruit and vegies and working in processing centres, while at the same time having the opportunity to see a lot of our great country.

And we would be fit enough to do that because we will have previously done a lot walking and bike riding, because we were only able to afford one car due to the costs of registration, petrol, tyres, maintenance and the like.

That “one car rule” will jeopardise some other people’s employment, but it will be a case of everybody for themselves.

Which, again, does not bother me because I believe we are all responsible for our own fate.

Mr Hockey’s argument that superannuation was supposed to provide for our future is not sustainable.

He does not factor in the competence and behaviour of some fund managers — and the fees they charge — and that, in reality, people have no control of the sharemarket or where their super is invested.

I am not jealous of people who are wealthier than I, so long as they earned their wealth honestly and without an unfair hand-up from the government.

Most of our friends are better off than The Lioness and I, not because they work harder and longer than us but because they are entrepreneurial and prepared to put everything on the line.

So they deserve everything they earn, especially as they create real employment and contribute to their community in many other ways.

But “The Grey Army” — the over-50s — are likely to soon transform themselves into a formidable, market force.

It is foreseeable they will organise themselves into lobby groups, which will pressure insurance, utility and hospitality providers, and a whole range of other industries, to play ball or risk a large section of the community boycotting their products.

And that particularly applies to those who discriminate against older people when it comes to employment.

It’s called free enterprise, a socio-economic-legal structure where the market decides everything and also, supposedly, the foundation of a pluralist, egalitarian democracy.

So, let’s see whether those who claim to believe in it are ready to get down and get dirty and compete in a truly competitive market place.