New Unelected Pensions Minister Ros Altmann Wants Us To Work Till We Drop

Johnny Void here gives his view on the ominous appointment of yet another banker, Ros Altmann, as Pensions Minister. Altmann was the author of the report arguing that older people should be allowed to rejoin the workforce, if they so wished.

Mr Void wrote a long piece about this at the time, pointing out just how sinister it was. At the moment, this is supposed to be voluntary, but even then, it was qualified by Altmann’s embrace of workfare-type schemes for the elderly.

Altmann tried to justify this assault on allowing senior citizens to retire in peace after a long life working and slaving for their living, on the grounds that a small percentage of old folk wanted to return to work. And, of course, there was the usual Tory refrain of the ‘health benefits’ of working.

As Mr Void pointed out at the time, most people of retirement age actually don’t want to return to work. They want to enjoy a few well-earned years of leisure after a hectic life of work and bringing up the kids, which as most parents will tell you, is hard enough on its own. And as Mr Void pointed out at the time, reforms the parties introduce, telling the public that ‘it’s all voluntary’, have a sinister habit of becoming compulsory.

This has nothing to do with improving the elderly’s well-being, and much to do with cutting the pensions bill, and further depressing the workforce. It’s been pointed out that much of the welfare bill is spent on pensions. The Repugs in America would dearly love to cut that as well. The Week reprinted several articles from American right-wing newspapers, moaning about how senior citizens were ‘selfish’ for allowing others to be squeezed by austerity, while zealously defending their own incomes from the necessary government cuts.

Already, way back under Major and Blair, the parties were talking about raising the retirement age, while economists in the broadsheets were earnestly discussing whether we could continue to afford to give the elderly decent pensions. It’s a Ponzi scheme, they said, supported by the younger population. This works fine when the population is increasing, but now that the population is falling, economies will have to be made. So the elderly will just have to face up to having their pensions cut.

At the same time, the financial sector has looked with extremely covetous eyes on the money the elderly have locked up in their pension funds. Hence the passage of legislation the other week ‘liberating’ it, and allowing the elderly to take it out, to invest elsewhere. Private Eye predicted that this would be another car-crash policy, and that a significant number would lose it through bad investments, or just squander it. More poverty awaits.

Finally, the Tories want to expand the workforce still further. To keep wages depressed, there has to be more workers competing for fewer jobs. Milton Friedman and his fellow Chicago Fascist cheerleaders made this very clear when they stated that the optimum level of unemployment is about 6 per cent. So, new workers have to be found, in order to stop everyone demanding better wages. The active elderly form such a pool of untapped labour.

It looks from this, at least to me, that what the Tories have in mind is the effective destruction of a universal, mandatory retirement age. Those senior citizens, who can work, will be expected to, and suffer the loss of their pensions if they don’t. Pensions themselves will just become another form of invalidity benefit or ESA, and pensioners will be expected to go through the same hoops to show they need them as the younger sick and disabled.

This is the future Mr Void predicted in his earlier article, and I see absolutely no reason to doubt it. I have a feeling that many of those, who voted Tory were older people, who feel threatened by what they consider to be the unreasonable demands of the idle young. This should be a warning to them. After they’ve finished to starving and beating the young and the middle aged into cowed submission, they will do the same to you. And the appointment of Altmann as Minister for Pensions shows this has already started.

the void

swearing-pensionerDavid Cameron has rewarded former banker Ros Altmann for the report she wrote calling on us all to work longer by making her Minister for Pensions despite her never having never won an election in her pampered life.

Altmann, who said last year that “Encouraging and enabling those who want to work longer is an idea whose time has come”, will join comedy toff and another former banker Lord Fraud at the DWP where he will remain in his role as unelected Minister for Welfare Reform.  That’s democracy yah.

Altmann is obessed with making people us work longer, even claiming it will be good for our health.  She should fit right in at the DWP where forced work makes you free and poverty is good for you.  In her report last year, commissioned by the DWP, Altmann even endorsed unpaid workfare style schemes for older workers, suggesting it was…

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