In “The Times” today David Aaronovitch joins those who want to rob the retired Peters to pay the allegedly needy, younger Pauls. It’s an easy hit. We Baby Boomers are often in the sights of those who want a bit of redistribution – not from the rich to the poor but from the old to the young. It’s my fault, apparently, that young millennials can’t afford the deposit for their first home. Well I don’t recall a gravy train when I got married in 1969 (not that I expected one) and would contend that the Generation Y (the millennials) “struggle” may in no small measure because their expectations and perceived entitlements are rather higher than mine were at a similar age.
Throughout your life you are making judgments about your future. Some of that future is predictable, some speculative and some totally unknown. When I retired at the age of 55 after 37 years service with a multinational I did so based on certain predictable likelihoods. The key ones were financial – a workplace pension and a state pension the most important. Since my retirement I have done many things – a bit or work here and there. I’ve written a couple of books, some newspaper columns and lots of blogs. But the big thing is my volunteer role as the Honorary Editor of a quarterly magazine for Pensioners.
I do the magazine because I can afford to and I enjoy it. My time, if charged out, would probably be valued at around £15,000 pa. Maybe more. If my Pensions were less and my other state benefits removed I doubt I’d do the volunteer role. I’d need to find a new source of income – like most pensioners I spend what I receive.
Pensioners are often very active in their community – “Do-Gooders” like me. We are a bargain because our volunteer work costs nobody anything. I factored in this when I accepted the editor job. There are thousands like me. Remove or reduce my benefits and the bargains will go away.
David Willetts In “The Pinch” accuses me as a Baby Boomer of “stealing my children’s future” by being comfortably off whilst the next generations struggle. David Aaronovitch here is on the same track. They are both very wrong.
My pensions lose their purchasing power every year. Neither Price Indices nor the “Triple Lock” protect me from Pensioner inflation which is always higher than general inflation. Getting old can be expensive and if you at some point need care very expensive indeed. I’m not stealing anyone’s future in putting aside what I can, I’m trying to protect my own.
I pay tax on my state pension at the marginal rate. I’m not complaining about this. There are actually very few major Government-paid-for benefits of being old. If the few that there are were taxed as the state pension is I wouldn’t complain. But can we please stop this cross-generational squabbling. You can fairly judge a society by how it treats its elderly. We are well down the league table.