There certainly has been plenty of recent media coverage around sustainability of our current social systems, which many have seen as their birth right. This list includes health care, Centrelink, aged care, superannuation and tertiary education. The passion and vested interests make for robust debates.
I think what stands out about all the discussion is the lack of planning by both Government, organisations and individuals. If you break down the issue a little further it has to do with a lack of money. Governments are seeing their tax bases eroded and then there’s the demographic issue of an aging population that’s living longer. I think many of us would be guilty of squandered the good times of the last few decades thinking that somehow we could live and beyond our means. The upshot of this is that Governments, businesses, organisations and individuals have little in reserve. To make matters worse, our personal debt levels are at record highs and, possibly on a per-capita basis, the highest in the world. We’d be sunk if it weren’t for our ability to borrow so cheaply from overseas creditors. We are, to a degree, at their mercy and we are also enjoying the fruits of record low interest rates.
We wouldn’t be in such a vulnerable position if we were prudent, saved and invested in productive assets. In the main, the principle of saving is a lost art. Few people truly understand what it means to save. Today the primary source of most peoples’ savings is through compulsory superannuation and even they have virtually nothing to do with this.
So the burden of who pays for what will be an ongoing debate. What’s clear to me is that those who have saved will have choice and options going forward. Saving is a conscious decision to take responsibility for your yourself. Creating a savings programme is actually quite simple. The hard part is maintaining the discipline.