The state pensionable age is climbing, slowly but relentlessly. By 2018, women will, like men, not be eligible for a state pension until they are 65. After that the goalposts move for both men and women together, so that by 2044 they will have to work until they are 68. The effect of the changes, which have been creeping in since 2010, is to hold the ratio of pensioners to working-age population at around 30% until the 2040s, at which point something else may have turned up – preferably not the elixir of eternal youth. This is what is causing the real crisis in the welfare state. But, as older voters can be relied on to vote, tackling the politics of pensions has to be done more by stealth.In other words, ‘Damn, they’ll actually act in their own interests! Curses! Our plans would work, if not for those dratted
Even if the objective of getting everyone of working age enrolled in a responsive, dynamic system that guarantees an income to all at a decent and sustainable level comes off – in terms of probability, this is up there with the elixir of eternal youth – it is still almost certain to be pensioners who will be absorbing at least two-thirds of everything that the government spends on benefits. Nor do the demands of the elderly on the state stop at pensions. It is the cost to the health service as well.Well, only so long as the NHS is restrained (somewhat) from killing them off by starvation or dehydration…
Redefining what is old may seem the obvious place to start. It is easy to see why the fit and the well-paid should stay at work. It is rather harder to make the case for those who have toiled for a lifetime in low-paid jobs. It is fair to ask workers to pay for pensioners, but it is unfair to ask workers to pay for pensioners whose assets far outstrip theirs. And it is equally unfair if good jobs are occupied by people who could afford to retire.The perennial socialist cry: “Hey, you! You shouldn’t be using that! You should give it up to someone more deserving! ” They, of course, will be the ones who decide who is deserving.
This looks to me suspiciously as if the having-it-all generation, just as it ought to be preparing to bow out, is greedily lining up to have a bit more. These are the people born between 1946 and 1964. That really was like winning the first prize in life. Free university, the housing boom, the Pill, the explosion in white-collar jobs and pensions – for a majority, that has been a golden ticket to a life of unparalleled good fortune.And now they should just have the good grace to die, so we can plan our Brave New World. God, I loathe socialists.