TUMBY BAY - A lot of my friends, most of whom are elderly, tell me they’ve given up watching, listening to or reading the news.
So too have some of my younger acquaintances, including my son and daughter in their early forties.
The general consensus is that it’s all too depressing.
I’m thinking of joining them after this morning’s sortie through my usual news and current affairs websites.
It appears that Australia is going to spend $368 billion (K870 billion) on nuclear submarines over the next 30 years.
To what purpose is still unclear but it appears to be less a defensive proposition than an offensive one – to follow the Americans in attacking China.
The leader of the opposition, Peter Dutton, is right behind the government. He has even suggested taking money out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to help pay for the boats.
Meanwhile the government is still adamant that it will not touch a legislated gift to our wealthiest taxpayers of $254 billion (K600 billion) over 10 years beginning next year.
On climate change we hear that the government’s Safeguard Mechanism Bill will allow Australia’s biggest polluters to buy carbon credits – always a shonky idea - to sidestep an actual reduction in their emissions.
And to boot, the government is refusing to block the development of new coal and gas projects, which will effectively negate any emission reductions that are achieved.
Oh, and the Biden administration is approving a $7 billion (K25 billion) oil and gas drilling project in the environmentally fragile north west of Alaska, an area which they swore and declared they’d never approve a little over a year ago.
So on it goes, one depressing report after another.
The abandonment of the news by me and my elderly friends is probably understandable.
At our stage in life, except for the terminally fatalist, avoiding getting depressed by things we have no hope of changing in the short time left to us is a sensible strategy.
However it’s a different matter for the younger generations, as represented by my son and daughter.
They are well educated and should be keen to be kept informed about what’s going on in the world - except they aren’t.
They are the people in the next decade or so who will be stepping into positions of power, both in business and in politics.
That they are less than interested doesn’t bode well for the future.
An uninterested populace opens up all sorts of opportunities, not only for carpetbaggers and conmen but also for fanatics and autocrats.
If the ennui continues, history tells us that these subversives will seize the opportunity to take over, just as they did between the last two world wars.
The demographers tell us that we are undergoing a fundamental shift in voter power.
The ageing baby boomer generation, which includes me, is giving way to a numerically larger cohort of younger voters - Generation X (born 1965-79), Millennials (1980-94) and Generation Z (1995-2012).
The electoral success of independents in the last federal election, the so-called Teals (after their favourite campaign colour), has been put down to this shift in demographics.
This may very well be a good thing but could also result in a political rabble going in all sorts of unpredictable directions. We already have among the independents a fair cohort of nutters.
If the demographic shift doesn’t play out well, Australia could see itself reduced to the kind of political shambles that exists in places like Papua New Guinea.
If the ancient progressives of my generation have no effective successors it doesn’t bode well for the future of the planet.
How you excite those potential successors when you have all but given up yourself is a very tricky conundrum.