The State pension age reform is not a welfare issue any more than young doctors’ pay & contracts are a health issue, or the number of cops on the beat is a law & order issue. Giving less and less to more and more citizens is a survival issue. It unites us all in the end.
One of the reasons that awareness of the Women’s State Pension robbery is so low involves the pretty obvious tendency of the right wing media (and the BBC) to treat it as a specialist financial ‘niche’ issue buried away in the Money pages. In fact, it is just one especially pernicious element in a global cacophony of crap – persuading those pauperised by neoliberalism that what they’re suffering is their own fault….and to which there is no alternative. Highlighting case histories of cruel blame-storming visited upon Waspi Women continues at The Slog today….but this must be seen in the context of the bigger picture: undeserving greed robs the deserving vulnerable….unless they stand together.
There’s a brilliant tweet from Anna Chen on Twitter this morning:
Although it could easily be dismissed as over-generalised propaganda, in fact the gag is a 100% accurate description of the neoliberal élite 3-card trick. I would’ve gone for a politician, a 25 year old and and Waspi myself, but then I picked up on this astonishing piece from today’s FT:
It’s a shame that the fire of debate ever went out, really. Just when you thought Phillip Greed was a one-off despicable medallion-&-hairy-chest wide boy who robbed his pensioners blind in return for a fat yacht to match his equally fat bottom, it turns out he is merely one of many.
We always knew that, of course – but it’s so depressing, sometimes one tries to forget the reality. Here’s an extract from another harrowing Waspi story that arrived in my email box last night:
‘I was born 17th October 1955, I spent the first year of my life in Edinburgh’s Sick Children Hospital. Had long periods of I’ll health thereafter but started work at 12. After leaving school I started full time work and worked constantly. I hoped to retire at 60, unfortunately I now have to work till I am 66, through no fault other than bad government.
Robbed, neglected and let down. Sums it up pretty well, I’d say….except that one needs to say a lot more. The cheating, neglectful mugging is being carried out to pay for a tax system that turns a blind eye to the offshore rich – and does nothing about swine who embezzle other people’s retirement. When the ghastly Robert Maxwell did that, at least he had the decency to fall off his yacht and die. And back then, his act was seen as exceptional. Not today: in just 25 years, the act of a man dismissed as “a monster” by the media in 1991 has become a weekly commonplace throughout the West.
The bullying choice of older women retirees is also a further attempt to wriggle off the hook of amateur fiscal management by George Osborne – who said in 2009 that Britain was sinking in a sea of debt….and left it 50% deeper in debt than it was when he started. It is a cowardly way to claw back a fraction of the money blown on egomanic ideas like HS2, Connecting for Health, the Iraq War, and Trident renewal. But above all, it is show trialling: the choice of innocent scapegoats to explain away forty years of financial incompetence.
The strategy is very clear, and can be summed up as follows:
Tackle one vulnerable minority at a time, and you can get away with murder
The demography of the maths involved isn’t difficult to grasp.
At any given time, under 0.5% of the population needs to be hospitalised. So one can cut budgets and screw doctors with relative impunity. Hence the creeping success of Sweeney Hunt, the Demon Barber of National Health Street:
However, the strategy (like the neoliberal model itself) is based on a profoundly blind stupidity called Zero Foresight.
As and when Waspis start entering hospital thanks to mental and dietary problems, these are some of the realities they will find:
- The number of qualified healthcare scientists has declined for each of the past five years, with the numbers in 2014 below those of 2004.
- Current health expenditure in the UK is 8.46% of GDP in 2013. This compares to 16.43% in the USA, 11.12% in the Netherlands, 10.98% in Germany, 10.95% in France, 10.4% in Denmark, and 10.2%t in Canada.
- The UK has 2.8 physicians per 1,000 people, compared to 4.1 in Germany, 3.9 in Italy, 3.8 in Spain, 3.4 in Australia, and 3.3 in France.
- The UK has 2.8 hospital beds per 1,000 people, compared to 8.3 in Germany, 6.3 in France.
I am not going off at a tangent here: the interaction between NHS and ESA/fitness for work management is huge for patients over 60. The National Audit Office (NAO) asserted just three months ago that ‘there are currently far too many older people in hospitals who do not need to be there. Without radical action, this problem will worsen and add further strain to the financial sustainability of the NHS….Longer stays in hospital have a negative impact on older patients’ health as they quickly lose mobility…..the true figure for patients aged 65 and older who are no longer benefiting from [hospital] care could be as high as 2.7 million days per annum….Workforce capacity issues in health and social care organisations are making it difficult to discharge older patients from hospital effectively.’
So you see, this isn’t a niche issue: everything is connected. But if hard-up Waspis are discharged more quickly, their home conditions will mean they could very quickly wind up in hospital again. This is what tends to happen, Theresa May, if you have no money….every cut becomes a cost to the State.
Yesterday, I showed that the Waspi destitution is real, and the inability of vulnerable groups to spend can only worsen the economic situation when the model in use requires an insane credit-fuelled level of repeat-purchase just to stand still. Now read three comments about the lifestyle these women are already struggling through:
‘I gave up the highest salary and took on work to fit around my husband’s working day to make ends meet.I continued to do this for many years. At one point I had three jobs, all of which were low paid but fitted in with family life. Most of my employers offered a zero hours contract even though I continued to pay my tax and national insurance in the knowledge that it was contributing towards a pension.’
‘I looked to see how to claim my pension, expecting it to be reduced because of my time abroad, not to be yanked from under my feet altogether. I am not eligible for any other assistance and where I live jobs are few. There is nothing in my fields of expertise, especially an older woman. My husband has a 1 hour drive to his workplace so we are not exactly in the hub of city life.’
‘Having been informed aged 58 that my State Pension Age would be extended by six years,
I felt very shocked, but then I realised that the types of Project Work and Industry I was working in were a recession. The Nightmare turned into a reality in 2015, when I was paid off in May of that Year along with thousands of other people. The outlook here is bleak: even cleaning ladies can’t get jobs.’
It’s not hard to see where I’m going with this one; but just in case any of the Cabinet are reading, I’ll explain. Cutting the cost of workers via zero hours contracts and minimal benefits reduces their ability to save for a pensions….they become, eventually, more reliant on the State pension that they were previously. Ageism (still a genuine bigotry untouched by the hand of government) means that, effectively, removing the promised State income with little notice (at, say, age 58) means you are putting women back on the dole and in need of ESA….plus all the overhead – and private sector incompetent greed – that goes with it. And an economy overdependent on financialised capitalism produces manufacturing/other services recession….which puts older people on the dole and even mor in need of a State pension….but above all, dear HMS Mayflower crew, who are these people supposed to consume goods under those circumstances, and oh never mind, it’s so obvious it hurts. What do you think, Damian?
Oh dear. Let’s try the Justice Ministry….Chris Grayling – don’t you see that injustice is more expensive than doing the right thing?
You see, this is where most conspiracy theorists go wrong: they assume that it’s all part of a clever plan, all part of the Big Push towards the New World Order. But actually, it’s more usually a set of idiots all in the same room having daft ideas, none of whom could cross the bloody road without detailed and constant assistance.
There is only one way to stop the Boris dancers mincing around the Maypole, picking off one innocent social group after another until everyone’s skint: to have all the bullied see that each group’s fight is every other group’s fight.
Doctors, Nurses, Bobbies, Waspis, teachers, young unemployed, squaddies, care workers and students are being systematically picked off and set against each other. In the immediate aftermath of Hitler’s takeover in 1930s Germany, this little bit of black humour was doing the rounds – and it proved to be tragically prescient:
“Please Mr Hitler, don’t arrest me….arrest the SA.
Don’t arrest me just yet….round up the Jews.
Don’t arrest me now, Hitler….gas the insane.
There are bigger fish than me Hitler….arrest the Communists.
Oh, you mean it’s my turn? Will nobody defend me?”
Austerity is bad for the Budget, the economy, the UK’s borrowing requirement, the equable sharing of community burdens, but above all the more vulnerable citizens in society who tend to do the dirty but vital jobs nobody else wants to do.
The first step on the road to Freedom from Injustice is an alliance of the undervalued in our culture – for they represent an army more valuable than any other.
If not now, then when?