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A "grumpy" old friend responds

It's not so different in Australia
Warwick Jones, Editor

Perth, the West Australian State Capital is a city similar in many respects to Charleston. It is on the coast, has a pleasant climate and is fast growing. But as this extract from a letter of a friend indicates, it has many other similarities. I thought viewers might be amused by his thoughts and complaints. Many look very familiar. As the saying goes, "it's the same the whole world over……"

Dear Warwick and Pat

This missal has resulted from some months of procrastination in replying to your email of 24th January………. I am also suffering from a poor transitional adjustment from working, to being happy and adjusting to a busy life in retirement………….. We have a TV program in Australia called "Grumpy Old Men" and I seem to relate to everything that "gets on their goat".

Our house faces a Primary School with a gated entrance opposite our driveway. The road is marked "no parking" on both sides of the road. But 30 yards down the road, the Council has put in parking lots for the parents dropping off their kids. Well the parking lots are empty and the mums and dads all double-park in the "no parking" area because it's at the entrance, and of course the little darlings can't be expected to walk up to the gate from two carparks 30 yards away.

My gripes are:

• I need to go to golf but can't get out of my drive because of the traffic jam.
• Parents obviously can't read road signs and should go to school again.
• Why do we have obese kids? - Because they don't walk or cycle to school anymore. Ours is a sleepy suburb when the parents are not there in their 4WDs and is not dangerous to kids with road sense.
• Why do all the parents have to drive 4WDs and feel that they can off-road drive on your front lawn and damage all the sprinklers?
• Why do they have to turn in your drive when they can simply continue around the block to get back to where they came from?
• The "no parking" area is also within 25 yards of a T-junction, so when they all park illegally, you cannot see to turn into the main road.
• After telling the Rangers about these indiscretions, you get no response.
• After telling the parents about their indiscretions, you get verbal abuse back from them.

I have started with the kids and their parents and now the Councils. All Local Councils in Perth have reaped the benefits of land subdivision. My gripes:

• They now quadruple your rates on half the block size and with all the surplus income they build what they call "Road Calmers" - this definition includes humps, dips, roundabouts, cycle paths, brick patterns at road intersections, one-way S-bends, road divider islands with trees and plant a variety of road signs, etc.
• They lower the speed limit in suburbs to 50kph and are talking about lowering it again to 30kph. No charge to ratepayers except for speeding fines.
• They build footpaths on each side of the road for the kids that are driven to school in their parent's 4WDs.
• They charge you for emergency services proportional to your rates. So if you live in the outskirts of town, where rates are low, you pay the least levy to keep the forest fires at bay.
• They don't bury the power poles because it is an expense that they can't afford. However, the rates are high because they have to prune council trees below the powerlines on the verges every year to stop power outages.
• Residents have to maintain their council verges by cleaning up tree litter and mowing the grass. They can't poison the trees though!

WA State Government - next up the list, is a complete farce. Major gripes:
• It does grandiose things like building new railway lines to Labour (Party supporter) suburbs, but doesn't bother about the budget blowing out by 300% or the daily commuter to town whose travel time to work is doubled.
• It has had a water restriction for the last 5-years, not because we receive less rain, but because they don't spend money on developing new infrastructure for the increasing population. Ernie Bridges, an aboriginal politician, had the foresight 12-yrs ago to propose diverting water from the Kimberley and the Murchison regions to Perth. The Liberal (Party) leader got voted out for suggesting the same thing last year. Instead the WA Labour Government is trying to build a small desalination plant that will increase the water supply by 5% with no end to environmental damage of our coastline and no easing of water restrictions.
• Every year we get power outages if the weather is too hot, cold or wet because the Government owned Electricity Commission has not invested in infrastructure and can't cope with the power demands of the increased population. It builds all coal-fired power stations to keep miners in a job. We have so much NW Shelf gas, but virtually none comes onshore except through private enterprise such as to feed Alcoa's alumina plants.
• Hospital and medical care, schooling standards, police forces and roads are all given short-change because they are trying to pass the buck to the Feds.

I will spare you the diatribe on the Federal Government, as I think you may have comprehended by now my "Grumpy Old Man" syndrome……..

Let's get back to reality - what is harmonious retirement? Some famous person said that you should live every day as if there is no tomorrow and that way you will get complete fulfilment. That is all very well until the money runs our in a couple of years time and you become a ward of the State or go to sleep on a park bench. Perhaps by that time, euthanasia will be allowed and you can snuff it after you have spent the money. I suppose one form of insurance for living to a ripe old age is to have plenty of kids to look after you, but that's a bit dodgy, again like politicians they pass the buck. If only you knew how long you and your partner had to live, then budgeting would be much easier. The Catch 22 is that spare part replacement of all parts of the body by manipulation of your stem cells will become a reality by the time you can no longer afford it. Superannuation (pensions) will become a contribution to your stem cell remanufacture into spare parts for your body.........


Ray (and Mimi)
Good Friday

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