For a number of reasons it suits our government and their powerful backers and clients to find as many scapegoats as possible to divert us from any knowledge or understanding about our masters’ complicity in our social and personal decline. Immigration is perhaps the trump scapegoat but other stigmatised groups are the poor and the elderly. As far as the elderly are concerned, the whinge is that Baby Boomers are the real ‘me’ generation and are apparently being advantaged to the detriment of the younger generation. Their selfishness is one of the main causes of our social ills. May I say, as politely as possible, this is a load of bollocks.
A recent report on housing shows that the Bank of Mum and Dad (not to mention Grandad and Grandma) are the fourth biggest source of money for the younger generation to get on to the housing ladder. In fact grand parents are increasingly skipping a generation and passing on money to help their grand children (house deposits, university fees, etc.) rather than their children. This is certainly the case with many of my older friends.
More generally, services provided by retired parents and grandparents to their children are also a massive contribution not only directly to their kids but also the economy. Free child care, collecting and looking after school children while their parent are at work, help with holidays and unexpected household bills, and many other services make a significant contribution to their children’s quality of life and working prospects. It constitutes a massive contribution to the local community and economy. And this is before you factor in any voluntary work many retired people undertake at their own expense.
Many retired people plough back into their families and communities much more than their state pension, still one of the lowest in Europe and the Western world. In most cases they can only afford to do this because they have contributed for much of their working lives not only National Insurance contributions but towards occupational and private pensions too. In the meantime their income tax has paid for the welfare state that their own parents and grandparents have benefited from as they have got older. Arguably it’s their turn now.
It is a fallacy to see the State pension as a hand out or a benefit. It has been paid for through a working life time (in my case 51 years) of National Insurance and taxes. Something I haven’t seen mentioned in the claims of the culpability and greed of pensioners is that much of their working lives was under regimes of wage control. The argument then was this was a form of deferred wages and by agreeing to wage restraint we were, in addition to NI, funding our old age pensions.
In short, the older generation to a large extent is rescuing the younger generations from the consequences of neoliberal privatisation and marketisation policies, the flat lining of real income levels for over 30 years and their absolute decline for at least 10 years. Many ‘baby boomer’ parents and grandparents are recycling their hard earned pensions into the debt based privatised Keynesianism that, one way or another, is keeping us all going despite the self interested incompetence of successive governments.
I know some pensioners are smug self-congratulatory selfish bastards. So are many politicians, plumbers, teachers, highway engineers, cyclists, car drivers, pheasant pluckers, doctors, in fact human beings generally. But most are not. Beware lazy generalisations, a key weapon in the government and media ideological tool kit. Don’t fall for it. The aim is to stop you thinking.