Je regrette tout


Whenever a young person comes to me and says “Listen, wise old man, what career should I think about? What occupations are going to be most needed in the next twenty years?” I am always happy to help.

“Young Person” I say “you have come to the right man. There are just three occupations you should consider:

1. Plastic Surgeon specialising in tattoo removal. There are going to be hundreds of thousands of Australians, millions perhaps, who are going to reach the age of, say, sixty, and say to themselves ‘What the hell was I thinking? What is all this rubbish on my arms and legs and back and neck? Who is this person whose name is on my arm in big letters? And are those Chinese characters? Really? A tiger, a motor bike, the Southern Cross? FFS’ And then they will be desperately searching for someone who can remove all this rubbish, which once seemed like a good idea (perhaps under influence of alcohol) when they were younger and smoother, from their now wrinkly skin.

2. Financial Guru specialising in the return of privatised companies to public ownership. Australia, like a number of other countries, tattooed its economy with once public utilities turned into glossy private companies. What seemed like a good idea (under the influence of neocon think tanks) in those carefree days of the 1980s and 1990s now is revealed as a terrible error of judgement. Smart people are going to be needed to undo the thatcherite damage, and return railways, water, telecommunications, airports, wharves, hospitals, schools, energy, to public ownership.

3. Landscape ecologist specialising in revegetation. Australia has tattooed its landscape (under the influence of agribusinesses, forestry companies, coastal developers) with the scars of bulldozers and fires and chain saws. What seemed like a good idea thirty years ago has left a barren landscape, erosion, loss of biodiversity and species, and contributed to the terrible consequences of climate change, and the public will soon be demanding that sand dunes, water courses, grasslands, ruined farmland be returned as far as now possible, to the habitats they once contained (not totally possible of course, land, like skin, loses its elasticity).”

So there you have it. Where once, devil-may-care about future consequences, singing along with Edith “Je ne regrette rien”, young people and politicians gaily jumped into decisions with little thought for how hard they would be to later reverse, soon all of us will be trying to undo them now the consequences are clear. And there will be plenty of jobs for young persons.