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Dave Beans

"pensioners Should Pull Their Weight"

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http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/david-randall-pensioners-should-pull-their-weight-2240431.html

On my computer there is a file to which every so often I add a few desultory thoughts. It is one of my more satirical ideas of how to occupy myself when the newspaper industry has no further need of me: to spend my retirement writing a history of retirement. I got the file out again last week and added a few notes after Lord Hutton's report on public sector pensions.

Not that I was terribly interested in the details of entitlement, sliding scales, and other calculations that the former minister made, although they seemed sound enough. What got my ageing pulse racing was not the actuarials, but the concept of retirement that so many people cling to: that we should be entitled to spend an increasing percentage of our lives paid partly – or for many, wholly – by the state to do what we want, whether it is golfing, rambling, travelling, growing prize begonias, minding our grandchildren, volunteering, or slumped in front of daytime television. It is, I think, a freak of the late 20th century whose time should now be gone. To demonstrate, allow me a little historical detour.

If you look at census returns of the late 19th century, only very occasionally do you see in the column labelled "occupation" that those in their seventies and eighties had written the word "retired". There is a reason for this: most people worked till they dropped. In the United States in 1880, for instance, more than three-quarters of those aged 64 and older were in work. Old-age poverty was then a major problem. British workhouses were, by the 1890s, almost exclusively depositories for the elderly. Most work was hard, manual drudgery, and, in an age when people lived shorter lives and aged faster, there came a time when they were no longer capable of labouring or servanting. And so, after a vigorous campaign led by trade unions, an old-age pension was introduced in 1909. It was worth five shillings (then a quarter of the average wage), means-tested (someone visited you and assessed not only your income, but your furniture). It depended on you not having refused work when you were capable of doing it, on you not having been imprisoned or an habitual drunk, and having lived in the country for 31 years.

The school-leaving age then was 12, and the pension was paid when you reached 70 (which only 24 per cent of the population managed – compared with 84 per cent now). Thus, you might well have worked for 58 years before collecting it. The qualifying age was 18 years beyond the average male life expectancy of 52 (women scraped to 55). If we convert those figures to today, we would, based on working years, have a pension age approaching 80 for graduates, and 75 for non-graduates. And, if we used life expectancy (now 77 for males, 81 for women) to compare retirement ages, it would be 95 for men. Go forward a few decades, and, with rising life expectancy, you can posit that the 1909-equivalent pension age, by 2050, would be in the region of 104.

Now the life chances of the Edwardian working man are clearly not a basis for us to calculate pensions today, but the figures underline just how far the concept of a pension has shifted – from a poverty-relieving discretionary emolument to an entitlement which enables the average person to spend at least a quarter of their adult life in annuited – and, in many cases, enforced – leisure. The question should not be whether we – with or without private arrangements – can afford this financially, but whether we can afford, in social and commercial respects, to have the bulk of people in their late fifties and older not only contributing far less in taxes than they once did, but not contributing their experience either. And they are made very aware that – for all the voluntary work they do – no one any longer deems them worthy of hire. You are what you do, and millions with years of highly useful life in them just aren't any more.

Ah, comes a voice from the back, that's all right for you – you do a stimulating, enjoyable job in pleasant conditions with congenial people, and you can carry on writing until your brain gives out. What about the workers? Those to whom work is a chore they are glad to be free from?

And there, indeed, is the problem. Although work and working conditions have improved immeasurably since 1909, our concept of retirement has outstripped it. It is no longer the state we assume when we cannot do what we did; it has become, for millions, the very purpose of doing what we do: the leisured reward for turning up each weekday morning for 40-odd years. Is that, we might usefully ask school- and university-leavers, a sensible or rewarding way to look at your life?

And is this – although he doesn't seem to realise it yet – where David Cameron's Big Society comes in? If we can't change attitudes to work overnight, can we extend the contributing life of those in their sixties? Can we mobilise them? How about pension credits for those who give some – or all – of their time to social projects and services? Why not a peace corps for the over-60s? Why not an organised, nationwide scheme of mentoring, both for those in work and out of it? Why not better-off pensioners prepared to donate state benefits they do not need to regional investment funds run by themselves which put money into young people's businesses? Why not promotion of the idea that the point of life is not merely to reach retirement as soon as possible? Why not do something about the sheer bloody aimlessness of the lives of millions of people paid to do nothing for an increasing percentage of their lives?

These things will not happen by themselves. They need kick-starting. They could be more palpable signs of a bigger society than the one we have now.

Interesting article...Should those who have done manual labour all their lives be treated differently than those who did office based jobs? I also believe that in the next twenty years or so, ageism will largely be eradicated, which will mean ppl will be able to work longer, however, those just starting out will be screwed as those in their 60s and their 70s will be doing "their" jobs...

Edited by Dave Beans

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Not bad but im not sure that his analysis based on average life expectancy is worth much since it ignores the skew of historical infant and child mortality. If he compared life expectancy after reaching adulthood I suspect the figures of comparative retirement ages would be less eye catching.

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Not bad but im not sure that his analysis based on average life expectancy is worth much since it ignores the skew of historical infant and child mortality. If he compared life expectancy after reaching adulthood I suspect the figures of comparative retirement ages would be less eye catching.

I haven't tracked down the UK figures, but there's an interesting US table showing that the life expectancy of a 20 year old white male in 1890, for example, was a bit under41 years.

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005140.html

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Not bad but im not sure that his analysis based on average life expectancy is worth much since it ignores the skew of historical infant and child mortality. If he compared life expectancy after reaching adulthood I suspect the figures of comparative retirement ages would be less eye catching.

It's in there:

The school-leaving age then was 12, and the pension was paid when you reached 70 (which only 24 per cent of the population managed – compared with 84 per cent now).

A crude measure of when you could expect to be too clapped out to work. With the majority in hard manual work it's no wonder it went down to 65, though it's harder to see a justification for giving it to women at 60, except for the wimmin über alles agenda that has dominated our politics for the last half-century.

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Good article, especially the stuff about the pointlessness of a life spent aiming on getting old and useless.

At our place we have allowed people to stay on when they really want to, and can contribute. They bring a novel contribution; a lot of good standards to younger colleagues and they are flexible. Plus they really know an awful lot more than a novice.

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I haven't tracked down the UK figures, but there's an interesting US table showing that the life expectancy of a 20 year old white male in 1890, for example, was a bit under41 years.

That would presumably reflect the far higher risk of a violent end, or of perishing out in foul conditions. I.e. causes of death we have done a lot to try and eliminate.

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http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/david-randall-pensioners-should-pull-their-weight-2240431.html

Interesting article...Should those who have done manual labour all their lives be treated differently than those who did office based jobs? I also believe that in the next twenty years or so, ageism will largely be eradicated, which will mean ppl will be able to work longer, however, those just starting out will be screwed as those in their 60s and their 70s will be doing "their" jobs...

I believe everybody is screwed tbh... since automation robots or self service will simply eradicate jobs...

In a moment people will come and shout luddite! Backing up their claim that new jobs are created off the back of new technology due to higher productivity and has done for centuries.

But of course past performance is no indicator of future events.

http://econfuture.wordpress.com/

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I believe everybody is screwed tbh... since automation robots or self service will simply eradicate jobs...

In a moment people will come and shout luddite! Backing up their claim that new jobs are created off the back of new technology due to higher productivity and has done for centuries.

But of course past performance is no indicator of future events.

http://econfuture.wordpress.com/

Don't know about that. More men back at road works directing traffic again and hand car washes put drive thru's out of business.

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I like the idea that people that do worthwhile voluntary work in their local area get some sort of discount on their council tax. ;)

Hmmm ...

Rather get a discount on a major tax (like the rent) than on a tiddler like council tax.

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Hmmm ...

Rather get a discount on a major tax (like the rent) than on a tiddler like council tax.

....any kind of tax would be good....tick appropriate box. ;)

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I believe everybody is screwed tbh... since automation robots or self service will simply eradicate jobs...

In a moment people will come and shout luddite! Backing up their claim that new jobs are created off the back of new technology due to higher productivity and has done for centuries.

But of course past performance is no indicator of future events.

http://econfuture.wordpress.com/

Absolutely. It's not about retirement, or dole-scroungers. It's about too many people for not enough occupation*, and our manifest difficulty in coming up with a system that apportions the "common wealth" fairly.

* Ways to spend your time, productive or not. We can't all go surfing, for example, we'd run out of beach.

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Absolutely. It's not about retirement, or dole-scroungers. It's about too many people for not enough occupation*, and our manifest difficulty in coming up with a system that apportions the "common wealth" fairly.

* Ways to spend your time, productive or not. We can't all go surfing, for example, we'd run out of beach.

There are loads of things to do once you get out of the idea that you do what other people decide.

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that we should be entitled to spend an increasing percentage of our lives paid partly – or for many, wholly – by the state to do what we want, whether it is golfing, rambling, travelling, growing prize begonias, minding our grandchildren, volunteering, or slumped in front of daytime television

The question he should have asked of course is why we shouldn't be doing these things the rest of our lives rather than spend them in yoke to Bob Diamond, the Queen and her siblings, Roman Abamovich, Bill Gates, the Arab 'Royal's, Lakshmi Mittal. the new Chinese billionaires etc etc..........

The author is so brainwashed by these VIs he can't see the wood for the trees, or perhaps is being paid not to see them.

They are clearly getting worried about democracy spreading from the Southern Med up through Southern Europe and cascading over these shores.

After a few decades of pseudo freedom it appears the boot is swinging back down onto the neck.

(I'd like to say I can't believe the writer has any support whatsoever for his delusion, but by now I'm sad to admit I know better).

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The question he should have asked of course is why we shouldn't be doing these things the rest of our lives rather than spend them in yoke to Bob Diamond, the Queen and her siblings, Roman Abamovich, Bill Gates, the Arab 'Royal's, Lakshmi Mittal. the new Chinese billionaires etc etc..........

The author is so brainwashed by these VIs he can't see the wood for the trees, or perhaps is being paid not to see them.

They are clearly getting worried about democracy spreading from the Southern Med up through Southern Europe and cascading over these shores.

After a few decades of pseudo freedom it appears the boot is swinging back down onto the neck.

(I'd like to say I can't believe the writer has any support whatsoever for his delusion, but by now I'm sad to admit I know better).

+1

As far as I can tell a large part of retirement "payments" are actually made up of various extortionists leaving you alone and then saying they've done you a favour.

The other thing missing is working hours. Historically working has only taken about 100 days a year or so. It's probably even less now, but as others have noticed that workload is not evened out.

Edit : The only thing I find irritating about previous generations is the lack of mea culpa vis a vis voting in psychopath after psychopath, robber after robber and not changing anything fundamental as regards financials/state spending.

Edited by Injin

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Hmmmm.

20% of people of working age have no jobs.

Youth unemployment is at an all time high.

Automation means what used to take hundreds of people can now be done by a few.

Global sharing of skills and labour means the relative cost of production is at a low.

Clearly the answer is to make people work longer hours and for more years.

I mean the alternative would be that the spoils of all these advances would have to be shared between us all, asset prices and bank profits would have to fall and a lifetime of balance between work and leisure (perhaps 4 work / 3 rest) would ensue which just sounds awful :huh:

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http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/david-randall-pensioners-should-pull-their-weight-2240431.html

Interesting article...Should those who have done manual labour all their lives be treated differently than those who did office based jobs? I also believe that in the next twenty years or so, ageism will largely be eradicated, which will mean ppl will be able to work longer, however, those just starting out will be screwed as those in their 60s and their 70s will be doing "their" jobs...

Quite a lot of analysis of UK society based on the the Edwardian era going on at the moment . Some of it was was neatly skewered by AN Wilson in the Daily Mail of all papers in his article on the Downton Delusion

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1365467/The-Downton-Delusion-We-love-dramas-upstairs-downstairs-life-real-Edwardian-England-saw-pampered-exploiting-poor-majority.html

The truth is that in that era the top section of society were permanently retired from the age of birth since most never did a stroke of work in their entire lives but lived of inherited income and had an army of low paid working class skivvies toiling as coolies for them. Most of the had the latter had the decency to die before the age of 40 and therefore nver became a 'burden' to the rest of society. Some people in the UK obviously are pining for a return to that era.

People will have to work longer in line with increasing life expectancy to fund their retirements but that is not an excuse to turn the clock back 100 years just so some people can solve their 'servant problem'. Although the back breaking manual labour my grandfather had to endure has largely gone (his body was completely physically broken long before retirment age), it is is a bit rich of people to extoll the virtues of meaningful work to others when so much of it is soul destroying. In fact it is a moot point whether pensioners tending their roses, writing poetry, pursuing a hobby, or dare I say it even watching old westerns on daytime TV are 'wasting' the their time on useless activities any more than those filling out spreadsheets in countless offices. But then I have never been an admirer of the proponents of Stakhonovite virtues whether they be from right or left as they are all oppressors of the human spirit.

Edited by stormymonday_2011

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http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/david-randall-pensioners-should-pull-their-weight-2240431.html

Interesting article...Should those who have done manual labour all their lives be treated differently than those who did office based jobs? I also believe that in the next twenty years or so, ageism will largely be eradicated, which will mean ppl will be able to work longer, however, those just starting out will be screwed as those in their 60s and their 70s will be doing "their" jobs...

We are much, much, much more productive per unit of labour than Edwardians. There is no reason why people should not be able to spend the last quarter of their lives not working.

The question one has to ask is why this form of retirement is "impossible"?

Edited by Tiger Woods?

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Hmmmm.

20% of people of working age have no jobs.

Youth unemployment is at an all time high.

Automation means what used to take hundreds of people can now be done by a few.

Global sharing of skills and labour means the relative cost of production is at a low.

Clearly the answer is to make people work longer hours and for more years.

I mean the alternative would be that the spoils of all these advances would have to be shared between us all, asset prices and bank profits would have to fall and a lifetime of balance between work and leisure (perhaps 4 work / 3 rest) would ensue which just sounds awful :huh:

With more ppl of working age "in the system", wouldn't the working week would have to get shorter, to accommodate all these extra ppl who have to stay in employment?

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http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/david-randall-pensioners-should-pull-their-weight-2240431.html

Interesting article...Should those who have done manual labour all their lives be treated differently than those who did office based jobs? I also believe that in the next twenty years or so, ageism will largely be eradicated, which will mean ppl will be able to work longer, however, those just starting out will be screwed as those in their 60s and their 70s will be doing "their" jobs...

Im led to believe that UCATT are already pushing for this for construction workers but the construction workers i know dont hold out much hope of retiring early, they feel that they will still be out in all weathers on a roof or down a hole when they are 65+ and ready for the knackers yard, they get minimal rights now so i cant see our government giving them a break.

Im not very computer savvy so ill just copy and paste a statement from ucatts website.

Alan Ritchie , General Secretary of UCATT, said: “The one size fits all policy on retirement age is patently unfair to workers in physically demanding manual jobs such as construction. Already most construction workers are forced to retire early due to injury or ill health. By increasing the retirement age , construction workers are being made to work until they drop or forced into poverty when they are too sick to continue to work.”

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  • 312 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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