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Monday, November 18, 2013

Raising the Retirement Age?


There are now more people retiring than ever and less people working, so there are not enough people to pay taxes to cover the cost of the retirement pension. We are all living longer say the politicians... Yeah right... Who's living longer? The politicians? The capitalists? The lawyers? The lazy bastards who sit on their arses and do nothing are living longer; the people who have the money to pay for expensive surgery or drugs to keep them alive; those who are educated about healthy eating and lifestyle; those who have the time to swan about in saunas and gyms and health spas may be living longer.

If you look at life expectancy for various groups, in particular manual workers, Pacific Island workers, Maori workers, you will find that even though these people pay most of the taxes in this country, they seldom live long enough to collect the pension. Meanwhile their peers in the middle to upper class, mainly salaried professionals, or the real bludgers – politicians and wealthy people who live off their capital – do little or no productive work and pay little or no tax and are the ones who live longer and end up in expensive nursing homes going on into their nineties, half of them gaga but still claiming the pension and bludging off the state health system that they did nothing to contribute to in the first place. The staff looking after them are paid a wage they can't even live on.

When John Key got into power the first thing he did was to give huge tax cuts to the rich, and so now it's a bit rich saying that we can't afford for workers to retire. In 1984 the top tax rate was 66 cents in the dollar; now it is 33 and we cant afford for workers to retire. They quote the statistics comparing people working to those retired and say we can't afford for workers to retire.

We have 7% unempoyment – throw that into the mix and the statistics don't look so convincing, then think about the people who are under-employed and see how that effects the statistics; then there are all those who work hard in the most important jobs such as being mothers or working for charities and think how it would be if they were being paid, paying taxes and featuring in the statistics, and see how that affects them. Then there are all those who are criminalised by our increasingly punitive society and who have to be housed in prisons at the expense of the taxpayer instead of being productive workers and taxpayers themselves. And the list goes on.

If you look at it on an international scale, you will see that hundreds of millions of people are unemployed and denied the right to participate in society. They would jump at the chance to work and pay taxes. I could go on all night ABOUT THE WAY THIS NEOLIBERAL CAPITALIST system is flawed and corrupt from top to bottom, but at the end of the day what it is really about is exploiting the workers all their lives and then ringing the last drop of blood out of them before they are thrown on the scrap heap.

Forcing people to work longer means there are fewer jobs for school leavers and university graduates. It means there is more competition among workers, which forces wages down. Labour announced at the last election its policy to raise the retirement age to 67 over a gradual period. The National government has reintroduced a lower youth wage, which actually squeezes out older workers and does nothing to help the young ones. Now estimates are being quoted that by the year 2050, 25% of New Zealanders will be over 65 (compared with 13.6% estimated in 2012). That difference could be made up by the numbers currently unemployed, under-employed and doing unpaid work. The rest could be covered by reinstating a more progressive tax system. The Labour Party should be representing workers, not the employers who benefit from worker competition.

Under the guise of 'responsible government', the Labour Party, who were responsible for the tax cuts in the 1980s, are trying to pander to the notion that there's not enough money to go around and therefore everyone must sacrifice equally. This is nonsense: there is enough money to go around if we stop giving the highest earners a free ride; everyone does not bear the burden equally (many of the lowest paid workers don't live to see retirement age); and there is nothing responsible about it. Productivity has increased a hundred fold over the last century, which should translate into more leisure time for workers and universal access to essential services. The real picture is upside-down.

As a manual worker myself, I am nearly 60 – the age at which people retired when I entered the workforce. Basically my body is worn out, my shoulders are fucked, my knees are fucked, my brain and nervous system are malfunctioning due to exposure to solvents in the workplace, and the government is saying I have to keep working, and if I cant do the work I am trained for and experienced in, I am expected to do some other unskilled job that wont even pay a living wage.

We need to fight Labour and National's attempts to screw down workers, young and old.

-Doug R., SA 

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