Or – who nicked our retirement, and how did they do it?
It started with a facebook post. Like thousands of others my age, I said… “I’m okay with this lockdown thing, except when I’m watching the money running out. I’m at an age where I could quite happily withdraw from the world of work. There ought to be some sort of modest allowance available for people who feel that way approaching sixty. Not huge, but enough to live decently on, with care. We could call it a retirement pension…”
And after some discussion, I said, along with about 45 friends of a similar age…
I always knew I would retire in my 50s. When I was at school (1965-1977) we were taught that modern technology was reducing, and would continue to reduce, the amount of labour we required, and therefore obviously people would be able to work shorter weeks and retire earlier.
There should be an age for everyone to switch from trying to earn a crust to using their life’s experience to do what they want, what their family or community wants, whatever they decide – and if people slow down as they get older, they should be able to work for as many or as few hours as they want to – that’s basic civilisation.
The back-pedalling of retirement age, and the bleeding away of the value of retirement pension and workers’ pension rights, is an outright theft. It’s perpetrated by people rich enough to retire when they like on whatever pension they choose to give themselves. It’s not just the WASPIs who should be revolting, we ALL should.
The Magic Money Tree and the Pension Pot
The con was perpetrated by governments running two theories of money simultaneously. One is the magic money tree: a government and a banking system that knows politicians can create money whenever they feel like it. You’ll see them do this when, for example, a few billions are needed to fund a war, or when someone like Richard Branson, or a venture capitalist banker in difficulty, comes along wanting a bung.
The other is the Margaret Thatcher style ‘kitchen sink’ economics, which paints a picture of finite amounts of money painfully gathered into pots for this and that – so when you or I say we don’t think people can live on the £90-something a week that Universal Credit is based on, or we don’t think many people will be able to work until 75 even if they want to, the magic-money-tree method is dropped like a stone, and our politicians point to the little pots labelled ‘welfare’ or ‘pensions’ and tell us that they do sympathise but there just isn’t enough money.
The fear of the silver army
So why do they never shake the magic money tree for such popular ideas as early retirement or a shorter working week, or funding the NHS? Well I have a theory. Just think what we could do, we skilled and experienced citizens of around 60 or 70 years old if pensions were generous enough to offer security in old age. Just imagine us all with money in our pockets, a comprehensive health and social care service to keep us fit, and time to think and act.
Kitchen sink economics was not the only tool in Margaret Thatcher’s kit. As well as those painfully gathered pennies in labelled pots, she gave us the idea that ‘there’s no such thing as society.’ But we’ve busted that now. In the last few years we’ve had the tremendous force of the Corbyn movement and the anti-austerity people’s assembly movement, and now we have the nationwide force, organised almost overnight, of the lock-down assistance volunteers. We have proved that we are a society, we are strong and we can organise.
Do you think perhaps that the establishment politicians, be they red or blue, are not that keen on us doing that en masse when we all retire early enough and financially secure enough to actually use our powers and skills?
Call to action
Let’s not put up with this. I think we all agree that the key workers we’ve been clapping and cheering for these last few weeks deserve a decent pension they can claim before they die of exhaustion.
If you are a woman of the right age, you can join the WASPIs or the back to 60 campaign. If you are a woman or a man who thinks early retirement or a shorter working week, or perhaps UBI is the answer, join the People’s Assembly movement and have your say, or get googling and find the campaign that suits you – I’m sure we’ll all join up along the way – and please share this blog, with a suitable call-to-action message. Let’s get going, and claim what we deserve.
Forward, the silver army!