Austerity as the latest paradigm from the neoliberals is set to last us a number of years. One thing we know about how the capitalists work is that they like a large section of the population to be searching for work at any one time as this suppresses wages and allows businesses to act flexibly in competition with one another.
Unemployment is at widely differing rates around the world and different countries measure it in different ways. Unemployment in one country might mean relying solely on government benefits until a job is found. In others it might be measured differently and result in more interventions from the state than simply receiving a hand out. At our last set of lectures we learnt that in South Africa you don’t get counted in the figures if you eat the produce from fishing or hunting. Likewise if you beg you are not considered unemployed. In the UK we have an increasing number of people on workfare schemes and others slipping in and out of informal and part-time work ans therefore slipping in and out of informal stats. Unemployment is mysterious and not simply one thing that is easily defined.
One concern we should have is the effects of austerity for school leavers and those at retirement age. It is very rare these two groups are looked at together and yet at the extremities of the labour market it seems to me that they have much in common in terms of feeling the brunt of austerity measures.
For years the establishment has been warning of a pensions black hole and the ruling class answer to this has been to raise retirement age in the hope that most people will die without having to draw any money from the state or their investments. So people will have to drive themselves into the ground. That is politically easier to put into operation than simply ditching state pensions altogether but you do wonder how many decades we are away from that policy objective.
The rules in place for working longer aren’t matched by employers being sympathetic about getting older. The older we get the more likely we are to develop disabilities and need adjustments in the workplace which might cost money. The policies on retirement age therefore produce tension and worry amongst the workforce and as markets liberalise we find that people have less choice and power over their lives. The idea that people who have contributed for decades and built up an account full of deferred wages for use later in life is becoming a quaint notion.
At the other end of the scale we have young people, educated either privately or by the state. Either way their education has been one long training course for the rest of their lives. State school leavers face the prospect of there being very few jobs available right now. At the same time their options with regards to further and higher education are being set by the ruling class on economic factors alone. I worry that this effectively means that thousands of people are going to be joining benefit queues each summer. How is that going to help increase taxation revenues and secure pensions? How will less public sector jobs help the situation? How will the mass of people at retirement age still working help the situation?
The answer of course is that they don’t want this to get better. Austerity is a doctrine being used to create a narrative to explain the crisis of capitalism. It is a crisis of the rich and by the rich but one where you pick up the bill. It doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old, they want you to either work longer till you die or take any crummy job you can get to keep off benefits. In fact it would be best if you took poorly paid work for the rest of your life and died before retiring please. And as work is paid less and less so benefits are reduced as an incentive to get you up in the morning looking for work if you do happen to be unemployed.
Of course there is another way. Hell, there are lots of other ways! The UK is a rich nation with a flatlining economy. The UK isn’t getting poorer – you are. In other words some people are still getting a great deal richer at your expense. Board room pay is up 27% this last year. The wealth is there to fund retirement with dignity. The wealth is there to ensure nobody need feel any poorer. The wealth though has been taken from those who do the work by those who have the power.
We must have the courage to fight for it.
Older people are suffering the ill effects of the cutbacks and they stand in solidarity with their children & grandchildren who are also suffering.
This is why the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament will proudly march alongside trade unions and other community groups before Budget 2013 on Saturday next to say “No to Austerity”. We are asking all our members around the country to walk alongside us with dignity & respect to show the Coalition government that we have had enough of the recession, enough of the cuts to income and enough of the threats to the travel pass. The last Budget saw a vicious cut to the means tested fuel allowance thus increasing fuel poverty.
So walk alongside us … but wrap up warm with good shoes and scarves and gloves. This time however we want you to wear different shades of grey to symbolise the many hits we’ve taken. But we are not without hope – wear a sprig of green as well to show that we still have hope. And what about some “Greys in Shades” – wear some sunglasses as well.
Lastly what about some placards? We’ll have some but we encourage you to make your own & bring them with you. Your own words are always best but here are some possible slogans you could have on your placards:
We’ve paid for our Pensions
For a proper health service
Keep Older People Warm & Mobile
Fair Pensions for all
For dignity & respect
For a better, fairer old age
A Fairer Ireland for Older People
HITS – Health, Income, Travel, Security
Hit the bankers – Not the pensioners
Bash Bankers – Not Pensioners
We all stand together
Hands off our Pensions
We’ve paid for our pass
No more austerity
Enough is Enough
No more cuts
We’re all in it together
Why not just shoot us?
Never too old to suffer
No Country for Old Men … or Old Women
March is to be held on the 27th Nov
Can you imagine working for a company that has just 226 employees, which includes fraudsters, liars, alcoholics, bankrupts, expense cheats, etc.?
As a group, last year alone, they have cost the Irish taxpayer €113 million. Which organization is this?
It is the 226 members TDs and Senators of the HOUSES of the OIREACHTAS. A group that manages to churn out countless new laws each year very few that are of benefit whatsoever to the normal citizen. Moreover, they award themselves with the very best ‘corporate’ pension scheme in the country! If you feel that this is an abysmal state of affairs, please pass it on to everyone you know.
AER Lingus has issued a shock warning to its workers that if the hole in its pension scheme is not addressed they could receive only 4pc of their expected benefits.
The airline has issued a statement to the stockmarket on its pension scheme.
It said the shortfall in the pension stood at €748m at the end of May.
According to the Aer Lingus statement, if the scheme had been wound up at that time current employees and those with deferred pensions would have received only 4pc of their expected benefits.
Those already drawing pensions are unaffected.
Aer Lingus is proposing to close the scheme to new entrants and freeze payments for current members.
The airline wants to replace the current pension fund with a defined contribution scheme.
Aer Lingus promised to make a once-off payment to kickstart this scheme if workers agree to pay restraint.
All told, Mr. Cowen received €310,469 in 2011 before tax. He did not make any voluntary contribution to the State. The documents indicate.
Minister of State for Finance Brian Hayes said yesterday lots of elderly people told him they were “well off” because they did not have mortgages. “I think we need to realize that the one group of people in this country who have come through this crash and still have their incomes intact are pensioners,” he said.
“But it seems to me that the Irish political system will never countenance cutbacks on the elderly. My view is that all this needs to be on the table,” he said.
Mr. Hayes said pensioners were people with “common sense and judgment” who would understand the need to look at the State’s contribution to them. This would not be done in “some kind of hair-shirt way” but rather in a “sensible” manner.
What the minister appears to be saying is old people are on the pigs back as they have no mortgages. We must tax them severely for this crime. Why should they have a right to a happy retirement when the rest of the country is suffering? They have no right to a jolly old age. Look at me even I am suffering due to the public scrutiny of travel expenses. This you realize has a severe impact on my take-home pay.
One wonders, whether the legions of grey matter will take to the streets.
Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald has confirmed that various allowances for pensioners will be looked at and confirmed that free travel for pensioners is under review. However, she insisted that as of now the Government has made no decision yet on next year’s Budget.
the IMF is due to publish a report tomorrow which is expected to push for universal social welfare reform as well as the speedy introduction of the property tax.
If you are a pensioner now is the time to start making your voice heard. Let the ripple of your actions be an inspiration to the nation