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Who do you know that is likely to live to 150 years old? Susan Ryan and Joe Hockey's workhouse speculations

Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan thinks that Treasurer Joe Hockey somehow deserves congratulations for suggesting that people's life expectancy may extend to 150 on the basis of some very speculative 'medical science'. [1] Futhermore, she's using this medical theory to jump on the moving retirement goal bandwagon. [2]
Is Susan Ryan, losing her marbles or simply doing what she has to to keep her job? Who do you know that you think is likely to live until they are 150 years old? And who do you know that wants to work until 70 or beyond? The value of elderly people is being sold out by the likes of Susan Ryan and Joe Hockey

Real trends

Nevermind that people young and old are dying early from poverty associated with unemployment in this country, fancy believing on the basis of past statistical curves, that most people are going to live to 150 even if some amazingly wealthy person like Murdoch might just aim, using cloned organ replacement, diet, blood transfusions and 24 hour slaves in attendance to aim for such longevity. How can Susan Ryan not be aware that the 'developed' nations are faced with actual declines in life-expectancy due to diet-linked diseases, notably diabetes, fatty liver, and the strain of obesity on their systems (which is not necessarily always present in the raised risk of diabetes.) [3]

Susan Ryan and Joe Hockey need to read more widely instead of relying on actuarial information from the past, hitched to a junk-science wagon. In this case past trends do not predict the future. Current trends break from the past. Joe Hockey is either poorly educated in health matters or pragmatically abusing economic stats. Probably both. If he really wanted to save money on medical costs, he would call for high taxes on denatured processed food and its advertising.

The church of the workhouse

Susan Ryan, like Julia Gillard, idealises payed work. To pretend that all work is good for health, rewarding or fulfilling, rather than a depressing and onerous treadmill, or a frighteningly tense battle to please capricious bosses, shows the insensitive submission of the work-privileged to a self-serving economic ideology. Although I supported quite a lot of what ex-labor PM, Julia Gillard, appeared to stand for, I felt sorry in advance for disabled people in the new National Disability Scheme if their only chance at dignity and security could be the 'right' and thereby the duty, to work. It isn't as if the were all guaranteed positions as well-paid neurosurgeons, party bosses, lawyers or chief executives. It isn't as if most of us have jobs like that.

Conditional love

In this Australia of very conditional love and self worth we must constantly struggle against the economic measure of our status. For this reason most women must struggle all the harder, meeting demands to be 'good' and obedient at home as well as at work. The elderly must struggle even harder. We are not taught how in simpler societies simply being a member of the society guarantees you a place, shelter, worth and rights. If we were we would rally to protect traditional societies instead of consigning their masses via 'development' to overpopulation, exhaustion, malnutrition, epidemics new and old as well as the same ones as the poor in the developed world: fatty liver, diabetes and its complications, and the political irrelevance and isolation of the mass consumer.

The value of elderly people is being sold out by the likes of Susan Ryan and Joe Hockey

Not a word in Susan Ryan's celebration of wage-slavery of the fitness of citizens, the rewards of political engagement in real life rather than effective total hours lost to unfair and redundant economic systems. Nothing about the loss of natural increase in status accompanying seniority in most societies before ours.

Evolutionary theory on longevity

The wisdom of older people and their retreat from sexual and warrior competition made sense of longevity in our species. Why do we have life expectancies around 3 score and 10 years? Because the presence of old people is fundamental to knowledge conservation in societies.

On the subject of how long humans lived, Kaplan et al [4] argue that humans had potential to live for about 70 years in hunter-gatherer environments. They theorise that reaching age 65 must have played a part in human evolutionary adaptation for the acquisition of life learning and storage of environmental knowledge over long periods of time and distance in elderly humans.

On the subject of causes of mortality, they assert that the comparatively isolated populations that persisted in localized environments pre-agriculture and large-scale settlement would have become genetically adapted to local pathogens. The effect of this would have kept disease mortality low.

Of course now, in our huge and cumbersome cities, local adaptation is no longer possible, since our diets and frequentations are globally sourced and mostly beyond any individual's control. We now eat industrially produced glop that our livers cannot break down, but can only store in ever increasing fatty deposits. In our global economic culture that may be just as well, since accumulated learning is not conducive to processed food consumption or widget production. Then again, if we did allow elderly people to transmit their accumulated knowledge from a position of authority, we might outwit the consumer-economy monster.


[1] "The first drugs that can slow the ageing process are likely to become available within five to 10 years, raising the prospect of people eventually living to 150 or more, researchers say." Source:

[2] Source: Susan Ryan, "The economic potential of older people is being ignored," The Age, 22 February 2015,

[3] For anyone interested in the theory, I refer to Dr Lustig of the University of California's and associates work on excessive fructose consumption in particular but also on excessive consumption of any simple carbohydrates. See, for example, These epidemic problems are now affecting children within six months of birth. There are many other lectures on you tube around this subject besides this one that explores the evolutionary signficance of fructose.

[4]See Kaplan, H., Gurven, M., Winking, J. 2009, “An Evolutionary Theory of Human Lifespan: Embodied Capital and the Human Adaptive Complex,”. For: Handbook of Theories of Aging. (Editors: Bengtson, V., Silverstein, M., Putney, N., Gans, D). Springer. Pp. 39-66. Also available at

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It is just ridiculous to say that people should work till they are 70 because they might live to 100 or 150. To my knowledge nobody has ever lived to 150 and very few make it to 100. Does someone telling you when you are 70 that you can expect to live til 150 make you feel any younger, more energetic or “work ready” ? Is 70 going to be the new 50? or 40?

And regarding the scapegoating of older people, if I see any more footage on television of older people playing golf (as though they are doing it at everyone else’s’ expense and should be at work when there is nothing to say the footage is not taken on the weekend) in the context of a news item on pensions or tax concessions for superannuation, I will have to complain to the offending TV network. It is divisive and dangerous propaganda . It is saying to those suffering from overwork and/or financial stress “these people are the source of your stress and frustrations in life”. It is almost an incitement to violence. Why did I say “almost”? It is! In the best of all possible worlds working past normal retirement age should be a choice. The article says that working older people are healthier than non –working older people but does going to work make you healthier or do you go to work because you feel capable and have the energy because you are in good health?

Does anyone remember “the conversation “ (as they say in contemporary parlance) about the looming dilemma about what we will do with all our free time when fewer people are needed in the work force due to technological improvements. It was quite a short “conversation’ as I recall, perhaps in the 80s and unfortunately we certainly have not had to come to grips with this “problem”

Susan Ryan misses the whole point and value of “elders” be they ex plumbers or nurses or neurosurgeons. What these people have to offer is the benefit of their experience and their long term perspective. There is not much point in forcing a 70 year old into a stressful job requiring heaps of strength and /or sustained energy input. A younger person will do this much better. Referring to the last sentence in the article, the utilitarian approach of Susan Ryan (who is probably abut 70 but not a good example of the wisdom expected of an elder), I would agree that the perspective of older people is not wanted in today's Australian society as their perspective could threaten the government/big business machinery now in the process of making us all into ever moving cogs.

The Australian managerial class is very conservative and lacking in vision. They will avoid anything slighly unfamiliar or different. They want cheap.

Older people would serve well imparting knowledge, but at the moment our culture favours malleable subserviant young upstarts over those who might think differently. Older people think different, which is a BIG problem as these thoughts don't coincide with the latest management courses and trends.

The other factor, a major one is the deterioration of the family, and the individualisation and mobile society. The destruction of more static communities and family networks which makes it less and less possible, or desirable for family members to support each other, in particular the elders. Young people stuck in cramped units can't have mum and dad move in with them. People moving all the time because of commutes can't share a larger house. It used to be common for multiple generations to live together and support each other, but the breakdown of society into "individual economic units" makes such arrangements difficult.

Dennis K., I think you have expressed some major problems very succinctly here. Another thing to note is that a small class of people profit from this increasing chaos that the rest of us must navigate. There is some development in theory on this which I have started reading in David Graeber's The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy after seeing him interviewed in the second half of the often exhilarating Keiser Report:

People thought that as technology took over people, we would have to work less. The problem is, they didnt take into account capitalism, which is unsuited to such a society. We have had to invent new consumption to keep people in "work" and also create a lot of pointless "make work" jobs and professions. Do we need so many lawyers, insurance companies, brokers, admin staff, real estate companies, middle managers, marketing staff, advertisers, PR specialists, tort lawyers? We could work fewer hours, but our system needs more consumption, so we create more and more rubbish jobs and goods to keep the status quo.

Because we all individually have to work to produce, and work is less and less needed, we have to invent demand through advertising and marketing so we can sell stuff we dont need to people who have to be brainwashed into wanting it.

The curve in inceasing longevity is flattening, most of the gains have been made already, unless a cure for aging is found (which is possible). So we overproduce and overconsume even more, and have to maintain this for life. The next generation pay off the overconsumption of the previous one. We are forced to spend and go into debt, and then, somehow fund ourselves. Debt is needed for the system, so its self defeating. If people start to save for the future, interest rates go down, and houses go up, to take the money that would be used for retirement from you to give to others to spend today on pointless, wasteful overconsumption.

I do remeber that "conversation", it featured in books I read as a kid about the future, but our socio-economic system led us to fill the gaps. It underestimated greed and narrow minded ness.


Think about this and circulate to your family and friends:

The ONLY Australian manufacturer of frozen Australian grown vegetables (Simplot Australia) is not far from closing because a number of the other well-known Australian brands have moved their plants to New Zealand in order to capture the Chinese vegetable market where they market via New Zealand to Australian tables (without the food being labelled specifically as Chinese) and Simplot is finding it hard to compete.

This was shown on the program Landline on the ABC


For a number of reasons this is not a good situation.

1. As most people know, other countries do not necessarily have the strict guidelines for growing their vegetables that Australia has and by buying Australian we can be sure that lethal chemicals that may be used in other countries will not be used on Australian vegetables.

2. We would be losing Australians jobs.

3. If ever the world became unstable regarding wartime we would not be able to feed ourselves

It is imperative that we all support these Australian brands selling good Australian vegetable products (via Simplot): Birdseye and Edgell.

Next time you shop, please think about the future of Australian food.

What do you reckon folks? Let’s buy Birdseye and Edgell.

Some of us love our designer labels. We buy premium brand shoes, premium brand clothing and well known premium perfumes and handbags.
BUT ... we also look buy the cheapest food we can for our children to eat. That doesn't make sense.

This is so true. The farmers in Tasmania are extremely worried about Simplot's impending closure. They also have a lone food processing plant in Bathurst subjected to the same uncertainty.

If these last remaining plants close, it means that China then has total control over our fresh/frozen vegie industry.

It is particularly disturbing to see that Chinese-grown vegetables are coming in branded as a product of New Zealand.