Bleats

Oh Great, Now Millennials Are Going To Die Sooner Than Other Generations

Well, that's just fantastic.

Just in case you needed another reason to scream Ok Boomer at your neighbourhood Breakfast TV host, a new report has been released letting us know that millennials are on track to get sick and die faster than previous generations. You’re welcome in advance for this cheery news.

Blue Cross Blue Shield is a group made up of several health insurance companies, and has released a 32-page report about what the future is going to look like for millennials. 

Before we dive into it, because I just know this question will come up, the report defines millennials as born between 1981 and 1996. Your 14 year old Fortnite obsessed cousin is not a millennial.

Stop saying this about teenagers

Right, now that that’s out of the way, back to the uplifting stuff. The report had three key findings:

1. Millennials are seeing their health decline faster than the previous generation as we age. This includes both physical and mental health, and there’s apparently a good chance that millennials could see their mortality rates climb more than 40% compared to Gen-Xers at the same age.

2.  The fact that our health is so shoddy means health care costs are going to go up. Worst case scenario we could be paying 33% more than Gen-Xers.

3. Because of all of this, we’re going to end up – shocker! – poorer than ever. Which will make us sicker. Which will make us poorer. Which will make us sicker, and so on and so forth for the rest of time.

Fantastic. 

Oof

The report reckons the reason for all of this is something called a health shock. It’s an unpredictable illness that diminishes people’s health pretty significantly, and they’ve happened before, most recently during the Vietnam War and the outbreak of HIV/AIDS. 

While the report doesn’t give a solid reason for this generational health shock, they’re predicting it’s due to mental health problems like depression, anxiety, ADD, and ADHD, and substance abuse.

If we are indeed seeing a massive spike in mental health issues for our generation, then maybe it’s good that we’re also living in a time that seems to be infinitely more accepting and understanding of people’s struggles with mental health than we were 20 years ago. Whatever it is that you’re doing today, drink some water, give yourself a break, and accept this hug from me to you.

Has The ACT Blazed A Trail For The Rest Of Australia By Legalising Weed?

Light the way.

In great news for everyone who has ever had secret dreams of getting incredibly high at Questacon, the ACT has become the first Australian state to legalise cannabis. The bill will let people over 18 have up to 50g on them and grow up to two plants at home – as long as they don’t smoke around kids or drive while stoned.

The laws will kick in from 31 January 2020, so you still have about four months before you can actually stroll around with a joint without being arrested – according to state laws at least. Possessing any marijuana is still a federal offence, so I’m sorry to tell you that cops will still have the power to arrest and charge anyone under national laws.

Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter says that he doesn’t think it’s particularly likely that the Commonwealth government will try to fight the ACT on their new laws, but I guess we’ll find that out on January 31st.

While the ACT blazes forward (lol), every state and territory has slightly different ways in which they deal with the devil’s lettuce.

In South Australia, cannabis possession was decriminalised in 1987, but it is very much still illegal. If you get caught with less than 25g, you’ll probably cop a fine about the size of a parking ticket and that’s about it.

In Western Australia, being caught with less than 10g will get you a Cannabis Intervention Requirement, which basically means you’re off to a mandatory counselling session. More than 10g and you’re up for criminal charges.

Northern Territorians found with less than 50g can apologise and pay $200 within 28 days to get out of criminal charges.

New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania are not putting up with any of it though, and possession of any amount will get you slapped with a criminal offence.

Of course these are the laws for recreational use – each state and territory handles medical marijuana a little bit differently. Every state will let you access it as long as you jump through all the hoops that they’ve set up. For example, in Queensland you can get a prescription from specialists if you have a condition like MS, epilepsy, cancer, or HIV/AIDS. In New South Wales, you can only access it if you’re an adult with a terminal illness.

It’s easy to get excited about the ACT laws and think that this may be the first step towards being able to waltz into a cafe and order a joint like they do in Amsterdam, but that’s probably not going to happen any time soon. Mostly because, again, federal laws still say cannabis is a big no-no. This particular bill is only about legalising marijuana for personal use, not selling it.

In saying that though, the ACT legalised same sex marriage (at least until the federal government told them they couldn’t do that) four years before the rest of the country, way back in 2013. Maybe this is another one of those cases where Canberra leads the nation? We’ll just have to wait and see.

We Need To Talk About Assisted Dying Laws, No Matter How Uncomfortable It Is

Western Australia is the latest state to debate an assisted dying bill.

Western Australia has moved one step closer to legalising voluntary euthanasia, with a voluntary assisted dying bill has passing the state’s lower house. Now it’s on to the senate.

While the bill easily moved through the lower house with a vote of 45-11, the senate might be a bit trickier. The state Labor government has a clear majority in the lower house, but less than half of the upper house seats, meaning they’re in for a battle with the crossbench.

If the senate passes the bill, Western Australia will become the second state to legalise voluntary euthanasia after Victoria passed their own bill in 2017, with laws coming into effect in June.

When Victoria passed their bill, they added a number of prerequisites that had to be met before you could be given the drug to end your life. A person needs be at least 18 years old, have a disease that will probably kill them within 6 months, or a year if it’s a neurodegenerative disease. They need to have been living in Victoria for at least a year, and be mentally sound enough to be able to go through all the hoops of the formal request process. Only then will someone qualify for voluntary euthanasia.

Western Australia’s bill looks similar. There are 102 separate safeguards in the bill to make sure that not just anybody can waltz in and ask for the drugs. These include mental health checks to make sure the person knows what they’re doing, a minimum of two independent medical assessments, and protections against pressuring someone to end their life.

It hasn’t been a walk in the park to get to this point, as voluntary euthanasia is one of those topics that nobody seems to sit on the fence about. People either feel very strongly that it should be legal and easily accessible, or feel very strongly that it shouldn’t. The debate in the Western Australian parliament ran for 20 hours straight – the longest sitting they’ve had in more than 20 years. It will probably be a similar story in the senate. 

While we grapple with new laws here in Australia, some countries have already had them for two decades. Both The Netherlands and Belgium totally legalised assisted dying in 2002. In The Netherlands, they don’t have any requirement to be terminally ill, and they don’t have any waiting period before giving people life ending drugs. In Belgium, any competent adult can access euthanasia, but there is a one-month waiting period if a person isn’t terminally ill.

In these countries, the fact that people can choose assisted dying is just a part of life. About 3% of deaths in The Netherlands every year are assisted, and 4% in Belguim. Maybe you find those numbers small, maybe you find them surprisingly big, but every person who was counted in those statistics was able to pass away peacefully by their own choice.

If all goes the way the Western Australian government hopes it will, then people living there will also be able to make that same choice.

Unfortunately this is not a topic we can shy away from. As the saying goes, nothing is certain but death and taxes. We might not be comfortable thinking about it, but it’s something we’re all going to have to deal with someday in one way or another.

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