There’s been Civil War (Roundheads vs Royalists – millions dead, a complete waste of time), Class War (Downton Abbey but across a whole Empire, complete waste of time), Gender War (Battle Of The Sexes, as society has moved from Benny Hill bunny-girl slap-&-tickle to sex-discrimination and lady-boys and Game Of Thrones, complete waste of time)….and now we have Generation War (youths taking on the older bods who take pride in the fact that they left school at 14, swept chimneys etc).
I’ve been predicting this for nearly 20 years, when during a lapse of sanity I became a trustee for the company pension. Away I was sent on a training course (funded by the trade union, no less) where it was explained how up the creek the country is. And that was then!
Basically, something awful has happened: we’ve learned how to live longer. This is screwing things up terribly. Hospitals that were really just there to take in people dying prematurely (coal dust, pollution, smoking, and loads of stuff that was incurable) are now overrun with people…getting better! And it’s costing a fortune! Public services are creaking under the pressure, inundated with requests and enquiries from the middle-aged that they were never designed for. But worse than this, the pension system is on the road to Dover where it has no choice but to throw itself off the white cliffs into the sea.
Let’s just start with the State Pension. The idea was that when men reached 65 (women 60) they would get about £6000 pension a year from the State (in today’s money). Now it’s 66…for both men AND women. And for people older than me it’ll soon be 67, and then…etc. And understandably older people are up in arms. But the joke is that the pension age should really rise immediately to somewhere in the 70s. With life-expectancy rising alarmingly, it’s costing that much! As a result it’s the young paying for the old. And when the penny drops, they ain’t going to like it.
Another part of the problem is that there are fewer and fewer young people around to work and pay taxes to keep more and more older people. This is partly because the sexual revolution of the baby-boomers hasn’t produced (or is it reproduced?) the supporting workforce necessary to keep us in the manner that we have become accustomed. Hence the necessity for immigration – it’s not the whole reason but the main reason for the skills shortage in this country. Now that is ironic: Because the older generation didn’t have more unprotected sex, therefore the country requires immigration…which is exactly what the older generation have recently voted against!
Sex & The Single Generation
No wonder young people are unhappy: not only did their parents not have enough children, too busy having fun than having babies (where are the Catholics when we need them!), but after voting the UK out of the EU the older generation have dumped the responsibility of supporting them on to a smaller faction of young Brits, already saddled with debts they can’t pay (assuming they were dumb enough to do things like go to university).
Of course, the State pension wasn’t designed for this. It was really just there to tied poor workers over in the unlikely event they lived long enough to receive it. It was not designed for a world where people were still alive over 60. Nor was it designed as a supplement to people with savings, property, private pensions and the like. Of course changing that would cause riots in the streets; but not changing it…is going to cause riots in the streets. Ah.
I could go on to talk about private/company pensions, but as the older generation have just voted Leave, collapsing the stocks that many pensions are invested in, its not looking good. That’s unfair, because after the crash 15 years ago, pensions were buggered anyway. Robert Maxwell realised that and look what happened to him! And that was before the crash! Only the miracle of time might save these pensions…but I wouldn’t bank on it…
The New Catch 22
Interestingly, a younger bunch of politicians look like they’re coming in (and Jeremy Corbyn, so strangely popular with young people). Are they going to tamper with the fabric of time and space…or worse, deal with the real pensions crisis…like means-testing the State pension???! Ironically, they will need the backing of an aging electorate to get elected, and no one will vote for less money. Catch 22.
But now we can all see how the society in the movie Logan’s Run got to where they did. The premise goes that in a seemingly idealistic future, older people go off for “renewal”, which basically means culling all over-30s! It’s a corny dated old film, but its message is chilling.
If the recent referendum told us anything it was the gulf between the generations. It is almost odd for the young to be so pragmatic, inclusive and forward looking. They never seemed as much that way when I was young.
The New Refugees
So for the future, the older generation probably shouldn’t worry too much about refugees, but concern themselves more with our young generation. They aren’t just going to be there to choose our care homes! They really are going to change the world; you know, what we were going to do when we were young before we got distracted.
How will they deal with all this? Well, I’m not sure, if the following quote is anything to go by:
“I’m worried Brexit has made me ageist,” a friend said, following the shock of the referendum result on Friday morning. “I saw this older couple in the street and just felt this sudden, enormous wave of fury towards them and their generation. It was almost physical.”