Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The National Institute for Economic and Social Research recently estimated that adding five years to working lives by raising state social security ages could help the UK return to a level of debt below the “golden rule” of 40 per cent of gross domestic product by 2023.This could be called capital's "five year plan". You can bet that the first place it will be pioneered will be in the public sector, where previous efforts to raise the pensionable age to 67 have resulted in big strike waves. David Cameron has just been given his instructions for 2010, and he and his team are definitely up for a battle with public sector workers. Part of the article's justification for the attack on pensions is this canard that the UK isn't producing enough young people to support the elderly population who are living for too long. (Not to be an idle dreamer or nostalgist or anything, but didn't it used to be the case that living for longer was a good thing?) The trouble is, aside from the fact that there are millions of people of working age who are de facto excluded from the workforce (reserve army of labour and all that), rises in productivity should cover any decline in the economic support ratio (see here). So, there isn't actually a crisis in pensions. Just like the 'social security crisis' in the US, it is fabricated. It is an attack on some of the most valuable gains of social democracy, and it has to be resisted.