David Cameron has today moved the Tories back onto their familiar core territory with a pledge to cut the number of pensioners in the country.
He said ‘while there is nothing wrong with pensioners per se. – we do need to cut the net increase’. He said ‘it is recognised they are by far the biggest drain on housing, energy, the NHS and other core public services’.
Cameron is proposing a cull of numbers to the dismay of Labour, which has called the cull ‘unethical’.
Indeed, it would be a very good idea indeed to cut the number of pensioners. The way we should do it is by raising the pension age. The State pension was, at the outset, a system of social insurance. It was insurance against outliving your weatlh. As such it was set at roughly the expected lifespan. Everyone paid in and roughly half got the pension and roughly half didn’t. That’s what insurance means, that you protect yourself against an unexpected event.
The old age pension now is social assurance. Expected life spans are 12-20 (depends whether you’re male or female) years longer than the pension age. So everyone expects to get it. This is no longer insurance, as we all expect to live to such ages.
The answer is thus to return the system to what it was: the pension age becomes the average age of death of that age cohort (although for practical reasons you’d actually make it the average life span of the previous age cohort).
The very basic idea here has indeed seeped into the political consciousness, as the pension age is at least being talked about as something to raise.
Unfortunately, Neil meant his comments as satire. Pity really, isn’t it, that he’s only sensible when he thinks he’s making a joke?