Monday, September 03, 2007

Xers and climate change

It’s hard to get too excited about today’s media coverage of a Climate Institute report that apparently proves actuarially that Xers, due to retire in the 2020s, will have their superannuation savings hit when the climate change crunch comes in that decade. That’s even despite my sitting in the actuarial bulls-eye itself – among Xers (who according to the Climate Institute are now aged between 36 and 46 (I say 30-ish to 45-and-a-quarter), present-day 42 and 43-year-olds (i.e. born 1964) will be particularly hard hit.

Any Xer has known since the early 90s that superannuation has been deliberately skewed against them. That’s when preservation ages were set at 55 for those born before 1 July 1960 and 60 for those born after 30 June 1964, with a taper for those in between. Last year, the median date of this taper – 30 June/1 July1962 – became enshrined as the definitive Xer vs boomer landmark, and litmus test. As long as you’re born before this Rubicon, you can plow $100k of after-tax money into superannuation for at least one year. If you’re born after it, it’s $50k, tops

In addition, climate change evangelism bores me stupid. My own carbon footprint is tiny, I imagine. Car? Can’t afford one. International plane trips? Ditto. Air-conditioning? Ditto. Boomer moron, and climate change evangelist, Clive Hamilton would presumably trumpet me as a “down-shifter”, but I am no such thing. I’m simply skint and an Xer – if that’s not a tautology.

Plus, climate change could be brought into check simply, just by rational and fair pricing. Road pigs – aka people who drive needlessly obese cars, especially 4WDs – should be taxed out of existence. As things stand, 4WDs are actually subsidised by small car owners. Ditto for air-conditioning pigs. As a light user of electricity, particularly during summer peaks, I pay year-round for their infrastructure. If you live in Melbourne and are an owner-occupier (and are basically healthy), you should not need air-conditioning, ever. A fan, plus a properly insulated and oriented dwelling will do the trick for 360 days of the year and it doesn’t kill you (unless you’ve got a medical condition) to sweat out the other five, when its 40-plus by day and doesn't get below 25 by night.

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