Belfast Telegraph

Maybe leaving old folk to starve is recipe for financial success

By Nuala McKeever

Might I make a modest proposal, in this time of economic austerity and swingeing (not swinging, swingeing, it's a totally different ball game) budget cuts to public services? Since "cost-effective" is the latest target/guideline/over-used phrase in the public sector, I think this proposal stands a good chance of being well received by the uberbelt-tightenfuhrers, sorry, bosses in charge of the purse strings, up on the hill and in all the over-warm offices of middle-tier officialdom across the province/statelet/occupied six counties.

So, currently, we have a situation where thousands of people, well past their economic usefulness to the state, are hoovering up much-needed resources in the shape of meals delivered to them in their own homes.

I say meals because to call what is served "food" may, at times, stretch the nutritional definition of that word beyond breaking-point - processed white bread, butter-substitute "spread", reconstituted meat products - let's not dwell too long on those marvels of cost-effective, mass production.

No doubt those who provide this sustenance will defend its dietary integrity, in the same way hospital food providers tell us that what is served up on the wards has been nutritionally worked out. Aye, right.

On a visit to a friend in the City Hospital last week, her dinner offering was a baked potato and baked beans. She's a vegetarian.

For lunch that day, she'd been given a baked potato and baked beans. The day before, they'd sent up a stuffed pepper so dried-out it could have passed for an archeological find.

All these served with processed white bread and "spread". Yes, our health service demonstrates daily that health is not its priority when it comes to feeding the sick. So, my modest proposal may be just the ticket.

Why not simply stop feeding anyone over the age of, say, 80?

I mean, really, what use is someone of that vintage?

Okay, they can remember some events from the first half of the 20th century and they are good for pressing pound coins into the grasping hands of small children, but other than that, what purpose do they serve?

Think of the savings. No need to waste costly electricity freezing their 365 meals at a time to be delivered in one go and stored in the cupboard under the stairs, because how many ancient pensioners do you know who have big freezers in their working kitchens?

No need to spend millions trying to pass processed, over-cooked mush off as real food.

No need to spend millions employing over-worked carers to dash in and out of said old person's house, doing all the essential heating up and feeding and chatting duties in such a rush, because they're on such a tight schedule that the notion of "care" has totally gone out the window.

And think of the mental and emotional benefit to those whose job it is to implement the cuts at the moment. Imagine being able to come out and say what you feel: "All I care about is getting my department's spending cut by 134%, so that I can justify my existence to someone whose office is larger than mine." Ah, the freedom to come clean about one's intentions.

Yes, yes, thousands of old people will die, but I prefer to think of it not so much as death, more "quantative easing" into the grave. And what an incentive it would be to others not to grow so old and dependent.

I feel a Disney sequel coming on - Frozen: The Meals on Wheels Years, featuring that hit song, Let Them Go.

Tributes are not fit for this king

Westminster Abbey flew the flag at half-mast as a sign of respect. Leaders paid tribute.

The King of Saudi Arabia had died and in death, it seems, everyone has to have something nice said about them.

The Saudi King was praised as a reformer. He allowed women to vote.

But they still aren't allowed to drive or do many simple tasks without permission of a male guardian.

No doubt if Hitler died today, we'd be reading eulogies to him, telling us he was kind to his dog and loved music.

It's my party and I'll sue if I want to

Feel sorry for the poor kid whose parents got an invoice for his missing a friend's birthday party and decided to parade him in the media.

But parents have always scundered their kids by getting involved in disagreements. In my day, this constituted one mother dragging her child to the mother of another child and screaming things like, "Your chile has no right to treat my chile like that! I'll get my husband up to you!"

Now she'd be screaming, "I'll get my PR consultant up to you!"

Ah, the nouveau riche - keeping it classy.

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