"If everybody worked at least until they were in their middle to late 60s, that would make an enormous difference," Mr Howard, who turns 68 this year, told ABC radio.Some of these old bludgers are not just quitting the workforce, but also experiencing life-changing "sea changes" in their attitudes. Some of them are just walking away from their generation's WWII Menzies mindset, which has served us all so well for the past decade.
"The big problem Australia's had is far too many people retire at 55.
"Until quite recently, that cohort of 55-64 in Australia was less in work ... than comparable cohorts in other relevant countries."
And can it be that the PM himself is starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel? Whispers of mortality? Hints of other-wordly visions? No! Never!
"There are many, many people I know who have retired after a very, very busy life and suddenly they're doing nothing, and they go to pieces," he said.Hey, great idea! Let's have a part-time PM! This one has been far, far too full-time! Just look at all those nightly TV "running commentaries" on everything from Ian Thorpe's drug habit to Dawn Fraser's undergarments. We've all had a gutful of it!
"They are used to being relevant and useful and then all of a sudden they find they're not.
"People ought to stay in the workforce longer, perhaps work part-time."
Asked about his own plans for retirement, Mr Howard was unusually coy:
"I'm sure I'll have plenty of other things to do (in retirement)," Mr Howard said.Oh, yeah. I'm sure Rupert and the boys at the Carlyle Club will be able to think of something. In fact, I'll wager Howard knows exactly what he wants to do, including some exhaustive (four volumes? five?) semi-autobiographical works, a right-wing think-tank named in his honour, statues on Parliament Hill and in Martin Place, and a new prime-ministerial library on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.
"I don't have a boat but I'm quite sure that there'll be things I can find to do.
And, of course, lots and lots and lots of military parades! Hurrah!
Perhaps Mr Howard might soon have more time to ponder the words of his favourite singer (I kid you not):
Gonna sleep down in the parlour
And re-live my dreams
I close my eyes and I wonder
If everything is as hollow as it seems