With the "bash-a-boomer" crusade still festering away, I get a bit nervous each time I swipe my HOP card and the tell-tale two beeps signifying either a student or a gold card bludger ring out.

So, in the interest of self-preservation, I'm hoping I can divert the leaders of the X-Y generation lynch mob with a recent letter to the editor, from a representative of the even more appalling, 90-year-old plus, "Dinosaur" generation.

This 92-year-old rest home resident makes us "boomers" seem like angels. He was fulminating against this "money bags of a Government" which had had the temerity to means test him before giving him free rest home board and lodgings and health support for the rest of his life.

Two years ago, widowed and "unable to care for myself", he moved into residential care. He was very grumpy that he'd had to sell his old house and car - which it seems he was no longer able to use - and self-fund his new living arrangements.


He was told he had to eat into his accumulated wealth until it had dropped to the assets threshold of $220,000 which triggered government support to kick in.

He was proud to have saved for his retirement but now reckoned he was being "penalised" for being asked to spend the cash he'd saved for just that purpose. He seemed jealous of the idle wastrels who hadn't saved for their future, and were now reaping the rewards.

Which seems a very twisted idea of what the idea of social security is all about. If, as he proudly states, he had saved for his dotage, then surely at 92, it is time to start dipping into the fund.

At his age, $220,000 sounds like a very generous nest-egg. It gives him more than $420 a week pocket money up until his 102nd birthday, on top of full board and lodgings and medical care.

It would give him the ability to upgrade his room to one with a view perhaps or to order in takeaway meals if the institutional catering palled. On top of that, he says he's still allowed to receive his war veteran disablement pension.

We're not told what he had planned to do with his accumulated wealth before incapacity struck. But the reality is, you can't take it with you when your time is finally up.

It's as though he thinks it reasonable that taxpayers fully fund his long-term residential care, so that he can keep his wealth intact for the eventual benefit of his heirs. That's not welfare. To me, it's the community getting together to provide a backstop for those in times of need. It's not some sort of inheritance protection mechanism.

Dare I say this chap is better off than most. Not only has he survived to a ripe old age, but now that he is poorly, he's still got a large pile of a cash for a rainy day, and guaranteed free board and lodgings and health care, courtesy of his fellow citizens.


Instead of feeling hard done by, he seems to forget he's also received 30 years of New Zealand Superannuation, being old enough to have qualified when it kicked in at 60.

Not that I begrudge him that. It's part of a welfare system, which for all its faults and shortcomings, helps makes New Zealand rather special.

Over lunch at the weekend I was reminded that until not so long ago, lawyers did a thriving business setting up family trusts where clients tried to hide their assets in case of eventualities just like this.

However in recent years, the Ministry of Social Development has been diligently digging into trusts trying to claw back some of this hidden loot.

Still, the urge amongst some to rort the system dies hard. In the discussion about trusts came the story of mutual friends who'd scratched together the money to send their daughter off to an exclusive rural boarding school.

When she and her wealthy farmer daughter classmates eventually met up at university, they compared notes and discovered she, the poorest amongst them, was the only one that couldn't claim a student allowance. Her parents' joint income was above the means tested threshold - currently $91,448.

But somehow the farmer parents all earned less, and their daughters qualified.