Apr 112014

Whiney-Pyney said the retirement age wouldn’t be under the fascist’s nihilist microscope until a second term of this beknighted government. That is, if they get one, which if there really is a God, they won’t. Mind you, I’m an atheist so I guess I just shat in my own nest there. Still, stranger things have happened. Abbott was elected PM for instance.

Anyway, I digress. Retirement Age. Why, if it’s not on the radar, is Sloppy Joe making noises about it now, in the lead-up to the Budget? Obviously this gang of self-believing elites is intent on making the _working class_ work longer, have less retirement time (if any at all) and this on top of having to kick into the bucket for doctors visits or hospital calls off a pension which they also plan to further restrict access to. Apparently there’s a ‘demographic bulge’, which is an obtuse, obscure term used to describe people like me, age 56, who are approaching retirement and have every right to retire onto the aged pension at age 65, if I so desire. One of the benefits, few that they seem these days, to being born in 1957. T`was a good year.

I’d urge everyone to have a listen to a replay of ABC Radio National’s PM program from this evening. There are two very pertinent articles addressed. The need to address the Superannuation Guarantee, given that those who will be subject to a longer working life deserve to have their superannuation contributions catered for in their extended servitude; and the undeniable fact that just because the International Monetary Fund apparently has written about Australia’s “demographic bulge” we, the people of this wide brown land, have no evidence that what stats the IMF apparently quoted are real. The IMF – if indeed it DID write this doom & disaster article – has been issuing these demographic alerts since the 1950’s and yet, we’ve seen generations come & go, retire, take up pension entitlements they paid taxes for their entire lives, and the nation’s coffers have wound up none the worse for it. There is one train of thought which says that the IMF wrote nothing that Hockey referred to, but that the stats quoted were selectively chosen from various Treasury publications. Numbers, as it’s said, can be made to say whatever the person using them wants them to say. Just because Hockey et al stand up before a G20 finance minister’s soiree and sprout extremist conservative doctrine concerning the working class, doesn’t make what’s said factual.

Now, some may be aware that over the past year, I had some time out of the workforce which was ultimately my own decision. That time cost me some 18k to 20k from my super, which the investment has since recovered. I’m once again back in the money-making game running a business and being well paid for my skills. The simple fact that someone like me, with 41 years experience in banking, finance, customer service, staff control and business administration had to look around for 10 months in order to secure the position I now have, speaks volumes about the likelihood of older workers in general actually being able to work on to, say, age 70. The employment marketplace is distinctly biased against older workers. Why, I’ve never been able to work out. I strongly suspect it’s down to the fact that people in recruitment agencies, which is where most if not all corporates go to seek their employees, are mid 20’s to 35 years of age. New or recent graduates of some university or other with an arts degree majoring in psycho-somethingorother, with little or no real experience in the industries their recruiting for, who will naturally gravitate to people of their own ilk. 20-30 year olds, ambitious, career-hungry and degree qualified in whatever. To be blunt, recruitment agencies discriminate.

This piece, and also this piece highlight both the blatant age discrimination in the recruitment game, and also the vagaries of unemployment stats. Sure, unemployment is down by 20 basis points, because part-time jobs are increasing and more people are giving away the job search. How does increasing the working/retirement age to 70 help to consolidate the validity of forcing workers to grind on longer if their employment is tenuous at best? Where’s the incentive? If you’re over 40 you’re going to struggle to find anything other than contract work, let along over 50 when employers & recruiters consider you part of societies detritus in any event.

I believe our society as a whole, IF, and only IF the retirement age is to be extended, has to undergo a cultural shift which gives greater consideration to older workers, their skill bases and ability to contribute. We don’t all want a job that pays according to the vast experience our CV’s indicate we have. We just want a job. One that has some semblance of longevity, with superannuation guarantees which will ensure that even though we might ultimatly retire – if we survive that long – we’re not impinging unduly on the public purse. Where is the validity of extending retirement age if the supposed pleasures of older age are eroded? Aren’t we all entitled to some downtime before the Reaper calls? Why bother retiring at all if you know damn well you can’t afford to? Perhaps that’s the Machiavellian plan of the conservative cabal? Keep the populace working until they drop, let the families pay for disposal of the corpse and the governmental coffers are none the worse for the experience.

Yes, it’s a debate that ought to be had. I’m willing to bet, in the eyes of the conservative camarilla, they’ve already had it. Economically, since September 2013, we’ve been doused with bucket of cold water after bucket of cold water in terms of budgetary position. Labor didn’t leave things as ruined as we’re being encouraged to believe, even the IMF will attest to that. Yet here we have a government which is spending money hand over fist on defense, border control, granting the central bank largesse it didn’t seek, cutting social spending programs like there won’t be a tomorrow and generally attempting to put the fear of your own personal deity into each & every one of us, while telling us our population is too old to be properly catered for and they’ll just have to bend to the wheel a tad longer. It’s not on! Yes, there has to be change, but change for the sake of change, at the expense of individual’s lives, prosperity and peace of mind just doesn’t wash in my book.

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