Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Shuffling about

Re-shuffle? I can barely be bothered to shuffle in the first place. Out go some personalities, some names we knew, in come some women to make the Tories look a little bit more like Labour. Is that the big plan behind Dave’s Dollies? Dear god, I hope it’s more cunning than that. Labour is spinning it as a shuffle to the right, even as Ed Miliband lurches to the left. What is this, The Timewarp? Strictly Come Dancing? Dancing on NICE? And the Eurosceptics are doing the Hokey-Cokey – in, out, in, out, shake it all about. That’s all we need.

But Michael Gove out of post and having to go on air to sound like he was happy about it? Come on, Cameron, have the decency to treat us like at least some of us are not products of socialist education policy? With the rabid old Marxist trout, Christine Blower, clapping her hands with glee that all she has to do now is hobble his replacement – play the sister card, comrade – and the temporary halt in the decline of educational standards will soon revert to its dumb, downward course. You do realise ‘The Tories’ that soft education yields Labour voters and future state dependents? All of which brings me to the real theme of this blog; the Pension Myth.

We’re in the state we’re in because of rampant, unchecked, naked, ugly, venal consumerism. “Buy, buy, buy!” we are enjoined. “Why, why, why?” we reply. Because the more you buy, the bigger the economy, the more people in work and the more tax we take. And despite whatever you may think about contributory National Insurance or ‘paying your stamp’, it’s out of current taxes that your pensions are paid. Therefore, goes the thinking, as the distribution of population by age becomes more and more top heavy, we need more and more workers paying tax to prop up the system.

Consumerism, by the way, isn’t the same as Capitalism; Capitalism is the way humans have always traded, consumerism is a cheap trick to make people believe in instant gratification. A car you can’t afford, a mortgage you can’t repay and every kind of useless frippery simply because you have been given access to obscene levels of cheap and unchecked credit. It suited all favours of government for a while and was especially highly valued by ‘things can only get better’ New Labour. They didn’t get better though, did they?

See, the whole point of technology is increased productivity. If one man can do the work of a hundred by using a combine-harvester, the whole village can be fed by all of us working far less. If computers allow instant multiple communications we don’t need armies of typists and publishers and postmen to deliver the word by ‘mandraulic’ means. If a nuclear missile can wipe out thousands at a stroke, what’s the point in a land army? In theory, as we get cleverer a smaller population of workers should be needed to keep the retired in adequate sufficiency.

Except where’s the incentive to be merely satisfied? If, instead of always preaching ‘jam today’ we preached ‘live within your means’ maybe there would actually be jam tomorrow. In a high productivity paradigm we should need fewer drones and more technicians, but the educational output of several generations of idealised, live-for-today low achievers with high aspirations means we can’t even grow our own drones successfully. And the immigrants we employ instead do NOT as a whole help to pay for the pensions, instead sending as much of their minimum wages home as they can, along with the benefits we insist on paying them.

It’s not a greater number of dumber kids we need, it’s a sustainable number of cleverer ones. Axing Gove may look like a cunning vote-gleaning plan but non-Tories are visceral in their hatred of all things blue and will never vote for Cameron anyway. Former Tory voters may, however, turn away from a party that appears to have tossed aside tomorrow in favour of today. Who’ll pay for our pensions in future? Hah! You think we'll still be able to afford pensions?

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