Earlier today, I reblogged an excellent article by Ros Altmann entitled Dr Alf’s Two Cents: Even Labour has set its sights on pensioners | Ros Altmann | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk. I received a robust response from John Gelmini which I am reblogging below. Whilst I endorse the broad thrust of John’s argument I do not necessarily endorse all of his detailed assertions; however, the thread is very much in the public interest, in my view.
A Hard Look at the Folly of Trying to Cut Pensions and Care for the Elderly: John Gelmini
Governments cannot effectively cut benefits because benefit fraud is inbuilt into the ultimate price of food and certain other items which the public expect to pay very little for.
For example, in Lincolnshire, the nation’s “breadbasket”, there are 1000 “Agricultural Gangmasters”. These people are responsible for picking up migrant laborers and benefit recipients, transporting them to packing sheds and fields and ensuring that the work of, picking crops, packing them and loading them into pallets ready for transportation to supermarkets, takes place.
The work used to be done by directly employed farm laborers but because the public will not pay proper money for food and because farm subsidies have been cut all these people are now gone and the work is outsourced.
Successive Governments know about this which is why not one Agricultural Gangmaster or farmer has been arrested for employing people on the dole, incapacity benefit or any other kind of benefit.The public, neither know about this nor care any more than they are prepared to pay more money for their I Phones, clothing and children’s toys to stop the exploitation of Chinese workers in Terry Gou’s factories.
George Orwell described this as “Doublethink” in his book “1984” but I call it what it is, outright hypocracy of the worst kind.
Lack of economic growth to pay for them
The politicians are, as usual, being cowardly and self-serving because they are not prepared to confront the public about their appalling lack of productivity (20th in the world) and 16% behind the average for the G7 and they are not prepared to make deep cuts to the public sector which we can no longer afford.
Without more economic growth and better productivity good pensions are unaffordable but the politicians are afraid to say so.
If for example, serious cuts were implemented some 2 million jobs would disappear overnight and the Government and Opposition have no clear strategy for creating export growth and enterprise to replace them other than secretly promoting a wider Middle East war in Syria, Lebanon and ultimately Iran which would put a lot of people back to work, help the defense industries and help the textile industry and shoe industries with the production of uniforms and boots.
In practical terms, this wider war cannot start until the Western Powers withdraw from Afghanistan and are replaced by XE and other private armies after 2014.
At that point, the 15 bases the Americans have built in Afghanistan can be fully manned, Hamid Karzai will be replaced with another puppet and our troops can then be redeployed minus those made redundant, to fermenting trouble in North Africa and the Middle East.
Overlarge public sector/too many local authorities too many local authority Chief Executives
Thus the public sector, riddled with waste and corruption in major departments of state like the MOD and in local authorities where mendacity has become a badge of honor, is allowed to continue intact with armies of people doing non-jobs and getting good pensions to boot.
With roads we see this where less than 18% of all the money collected in road fund licence, VED and Petroleum Revenue Tax is actually spent on the roads when at the same time we have ministers calling for tolls and road pricing to tackle “Global Warming and Climate Change” when their own reports and weather over the past 10 winters since 2002 suggests that these are bogus problems.
With local authorities, we see this with 43 English County Councils, 6 in Northern Ireland, 8 in Scotland and circa 6 in Wales, plus 3 devolved Parliaments, unitary authorities, district councils, borough councils and City Councils. Chief Executives in these organisations are for the most part unnecessary because just 15 Regional Unitary Authorities are needed for the entire country matched by 15 police authorities and 15 fire commands. All this could be swiftly implemented along with reducing civil servant numbers to 15,000 but an unholy alliance of civil service mandarins, public sector trades unions and local authority chief executives plus their friends in the media such as the Guardian conspire to maintain the status quo.
Old Age Pensions
In the scheme of things the public are therefore fair game, as are social landlords who under Balls and Milliband are going to have their rents controlled so that tenants who might vote Labour can be schmoozed in exchange for their votes.
The politicians are not prepared to deal with the issues of exporting, productivity and enterprise so they will pit the generations against each other and progressively raise the pension age to 85 or higher so that a small proportion of people qualify in each Parliament whilst for most it will be something they never get.
We are now at 67 and the Coalition via Ian Duncan-Smith, has already said that the process will continue and now we know from Ed Balls, fresh from his Bilderberg Meeting where we are told he discussed nothing of great importance, that he wishes to include pensions in a welfare cap.
The model we will come to see is already in place in Australia. In that country, if your income is above a certain level, you get no pension, but if it falls below it you will get one provided your birthday falls within a predetermined cut off date. The UK is in a more dire economic state, so even this model will need to be modified whoever is in power after May 2015.