Saturday, November 19, 2011

Government policy of hitting the over-65s

This is a Saturday morning rant, although the consequences of what it describes affect marketers targeting the over-65s.

I am not a subscriber to conspiracy theories. I always wince when I hear people trying to convince me of how politicians concoct complex events to achieve their goals. When I am listening, in the back of my mind, lingers my abysmal experience of dealing with politicians and their advisers. It is a mystery to me that they are able tie their own shoelaces let alone string together complicated economic intrigues.

I have started to think I might be wrong.

I have always wondered why David Willetts wrote his book ‘Pinch’ which set off a tirade of “nasty boomers” emotion.  The ripples of his nonsense continue with second and third generations of useful idiots like the intergenerational foundation.

Any objective look at government ‘policy’ can only conclude that they have been anti-old.

The highest profile of these is the lack of policy and any real concern about the chaotic and cruel way that older people are dealt with by hospitals. Report after report, press comment after press comment shows that there is a systemic failure within UK’s hospitals that results in terrible hardship and deaths of the frailest people in our society.

Sure, each report generates the usual claptrap about “lessons have been learnt” and “we need more training” ….. but nothing changes. If children were suffering the same level of abuse then something would have been done. The government has decided to turn its eyes and hope it goes away.

Allied to the NHS disaster is the unwillingness of government to act about the cuts to care budgets by local authorities. The only way that care can be guaranteed it to ring-fence the budgets. They have been told this time and time again but refuse to act. It now looks like the issue will be sorted in the courts.

Willetts was told about the disaster of the unstable finances of the care industry 18 months before the Southern Cross collapse – he and his government just sat there and watched the nightmare unfold and its continuing descent in chaos.

We now move to the policy of letting inflation rip. We have the pantomime story of the Governor of the Bank of England writing countess letters to the Chancellor of the Exchequer explaining why yet again he has failed to do anything to cut the rate of inflation. Of course we all know that it is government policy to run a high rate of inflation to burn up the pile of debt it inherited. Who suffers? Primarily people with savings – who are they? The old.

Now we have a government minster telling us the obvious that: 'Clearly, there is a short and not-so-short-term hit in all of all this, I fully accept that. 'Low interest rates and quantitative easing have their impact, but if what it does is get the economy on a firm foundation and the economy is growing and we get prosperity – and pensions ultimately depend on that – that’s the trade-off.'

Surely he doesn’t believe this idiocy? I bet he does.

The result of letting money supply rip (now given the daft name of ‘quantitative easing’ has been to reduce the income available on a £100,000 pension pot for a 65-year-old man from more than £6,100 to less than £5,500 since this policy started two years ago.

The final piece of the conspiracy pie is the answer to the question: “ surely they wouldn’t do this if it resulted in them losing  the older vote.” The simple answer is they have calculated that it will cause little electoral damage.  The older vote has an inbuilt Conservative bias and it appears that the government is working on the assumption: ”They have nowhere to go”  (i.e. the alternative political parties are even worse). Ask most 65+ how they would like Miliband and Balls running the country and it is enough to initiate a cardiac seizure.

All my instincts tell me that what I have just described is well beyond the ability of politicians to do but with every new bit of “kick the oldies” policy they enact makes me wonder. Dick Stroud

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