People have a widespread tendency to bemoan what they lack, rather than celebrate what they have. This is clearly the case with the attitude in Maine toward the state’s aging population.

An early article on the subject, titled “Maine, the oldest state: causes and possible cures,” reflects the common view that our comparatively old population needs a “cure.” Given our inability to stem the exodus of our young people, it is time for a new approach, one that embraces our demographic situation and strives to build on it.

Simply put, we should accept our fate and say goodbye to educated youth and hello to affluent seniors by transforming Maine into one large retirement community. To make that a reality, I recommend an ambitious two-part plan — financial incentives for retired seniors and an extensive program of geriatric infrastructure investments.

Taking the latter first, the possibilities are endless, and thus, I will name but a few — bigger signs, brighter street lights, more public restrooms, shorter golf courses, heated sidewalks, lakes with genetically modified fish that are easier to catch, subsidies for farms producing bland food, public billboards displaying pictures of infant grandchildren (since they all look pretty much alike, the pictures would not have to be changed very often), a university with classes in subjects such as finding misplaced objects or remembering why one entered a room, and theaters with louder sound (previews excepted) where younger people, with their abnormally sensitive hearing, can wear special headsets to lower the volume.

We also can take subliminal, no-cost measures to send the message that Maine welcomes the elderly. For example, instead of making seniors self-conscious by singling out people 65 and older for free admission, our parks could be free for everyone except those 64 and younger.

As for financial incentives, I would provide a massive tax break for retirees. Republicans will whine about how we are going to pay for all of this, which brings me to the boldest feature of my proposal — that we eliminate public education.

It currently costs about $150,000 in public money to take a child from kindergarten to a high school diploma. With many of the best and brightest leaving the state to pursue careers elsewhere, already wealthy states like Massachusetts, New York, and California are reaping the fruits of our investment. How long would a business operating on that model last?

It is estimated that in 2016 Maine will spend $4.4 billion on education, an amount that does not include our public university and technical schools. Think of the retiree utopia we could create with that money. While, in limited cases, higher salaries might be necessary to compensate indispensable workers for having to send their children to private school, that would be a small price to pay.

Eliminating public education also would enable us to convert school buildings into assisted living facilities, thereby ensuring that a senior whose active days are drawing to a close would never be far from the necessary care. Indeed, the current educational infrastructure could be transformed into one that oversees services for the elderly, dividing the state into Senior Administrative Districts.

Of course, no public education means no high school football, depriving us of the activity that future anthropologists undoubtedly will view as the mainstay of our culture, in part because it earns more airtime than any other subject on the local “news.” But the void can be filled by other activities, such as trivia contests (featuring questions such as who was Gerald Ford’s vice president?) between residents of retirement communities in different towns. Imagine the electricity in the air when the Gardiner Geezers square off against the Augusta Octogenarians.

In an age when everything turns on marketing, my proposal would be incomplete without a brand. To promote the image I seek to create, I suggest that Maine become the “Active Senior State,” assuming we can find a governor smart enough to avoid the acronym.

I recognize that we will need to transition gradually to my new “old” Maine. With a dramatic decline in our youth population and a concomitant increase in seniors, certain professionals, such as pediatricians, will require retraining (although it should not be that difficult to go from treating one incontinent segment of the population to another), but I will have to address that subject another time lest I be late for my Yoga for Seniors class.

Steve Diamond is a retiree living in Gardiner. He volunteers at Head Start, believing that it affords him a preview of his future.

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