Grantham Journal letter: State pensions fooled us all

Letter
Letter

Last Monday (October 10) Channel Four broadcast a Dispatches documentary entitled Britain’s Wealth Gap, which made a very important point that life for today’s 20 and 30 year old is considerably harder than it was just one generation ago.

It suggested that today’s pensioners are to blame, which is partly true, but Channel Four didn’t explain why.

Every British woman younger than 60 or so has had at least £30,000 stolen from her by the simple trick of suddenly moving the state pension age. Men have been robbed too, but not quite as much. This amounts to a total theft of hundreds of billions of pounds, money which many people are fully entitled to, right now, having paid National Insurance for decades in the belief they could retire at age 60, and 65 for men. Banks are properly penalised for mis-selling insurance, but their offence pails to insignificance compared with government mis-selling of National Insurance.

The Dispatches documentary was by Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator, a magazine that peddles far-right propaganda. It suggested that today’s wealth gap is somehow the fault of pensioners, but said nothing about how much is being stolen from pensioners by the state. Today’s wealth gap is not because of rich pensioners (the state pension is less than half the National Minimum Wage, and only a third of the UK Living Wage), it’s because most pensioners have spent the last 40 years mistakenly voting for far-right politicians - in one guise or another.

Capitalism, the economic dogma of the far-right, is the reason the young have mountains of student debt, unemployment, no affordable housing, deteriorating health care, environmental catastrophe and endless illegal wars. Capitalism is evil. That’s the best word for it. Andy Grove, multimillionaire CEO of Intel accurately described capitalism’s purpose as “shooting the wounded.”

If the young want to enjoy better lives, as they easily could, and if they want to re-create a decent society for their children to inherit, they’re going to have to get rid of capitalism-loving politicians and make sure they never come to power again.

Socialism isn’t perfect, but it offers the young and the old much more than capitalism.

The young must get political, they need to learn about, and start voting for, socialism; and the old need to realise how they and their children have been stitched-up by the very people most of the old were tricked into voting for over the last four decades.

John Andrews, Marratts Lane, Great Gonerby