|The News Line: Editorial
Friday, 24 March 2017
Work Till You Drop – the Tories’ plan for a ‘sustainable’ capitalism
THE DRIVE to raise the state pension age (SPA) even higher has stepped up with the issue of two separate reports which call for the government to push retirement age up to 70.
One, an independent report authored by John Cridland, a former director-general of the bosses’ association the CBI, called for the SPA to be increased at a much faster pace than the Tories have already planned for.
Increasing the pension age to 70 would condemn millions of people in their late 30s and early 40s to working till they drop. This report also aimed a financial kick in the teeth to the millions of existing old age pensioners who live on the breadline by calling for the state pension ‘triple lock’ to be withdrawn.
The triple lock was introduced in 2010 by the Tory-dominated coalition to gain support amongst pensioners by guaranteeing an annual increase by the rate of inflation, average earnings or by a minimum of 2.5% whichever is the higher. With inflation set to increase dramatically, the Bank of England is predicting it will reach 3% this year while wages are being held down to historic lows, this very minimal guarantee to pensioners is something that is intolerable to the bankers and
An all-party committee of MPs last November denounced in vitriolic terms the ‘cushy’ life of the old, with Labour MP Frank Field leading the charge in demanding ‘fairness’. These MPs’ idea of fairness is that pensioners should share the poverty inflicted on the low paid and unemployed by having their pensions held down like everyone else.
Now this latest report makes it clear that in addition to sharing poverty equally amongst all ages, people in early middle age can look forward to working till they drop in a bankrupt capitalist Britain that can no longer afford the luxury of decent pay or decent pensions. Cridland’s report came out on the same day as another from the Government’s Actuary’s Department, which also suggested raising the retirement age to 70 for everyone aged 30 or under.
Both are aimed at providing the arguments that the Tories will use to make precisely these changes as they review pension provisions in the next few months. As Cridland put it, the aim was to ‘smooth the transition for tomorrow’s pensioners, and to try and make the future both fair and sustainable’.
Already the retirement age has been pushed up from 65 to 66 and will increase to 67 and then 68 by 2039 but this is clearly not sustainable as far as he or the Tories are concerned. Indeed the question for them is why stop at 70?
Last year, when the government set up Cridland’s review of pensions it insisted it would consider changes in life expectancy as well as wider changes in society to ‘make sure that the state pension is sustainable and affordable’.
They also made clear he would also consider whether ‘the current system of a universal state pension age’ rising in line with life expectancy was ‘optimal in the long run’. The sky is the limit as far as capitalism is concerned – raise the retirement age far beyond life expectancy and you never have to pay pensions to anyone except a few who live past 100. This is the only future capitalism is offering to the working class today.
It means a lifetime of low-paid jobs on zero-hours contracts or as self-employed in the so-called gig economy where you can be fined hundreds of pounds by the company for loss of profits if you go sick and with no prospect of living off any pension, despite having paid National Insurance contributions all your working life.
All these contributions will be swallowed up by a bankrupt capitalist system that regards workers who are too old to be exploited for profit as useless drains on the capitalist economy who should be either worked to death or left to rot.
For the working class, it is rapidly becoming clear that it is capitalism that is unsustainable and that the sooner it is overthrown and replaced with a workers government and socialism the better.
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