Tuesday 13th February
Sometimes ideas, which are totally the opposite of conventional thinking are needed; they might appear right off the Richter Scale, but in these troubled times they actually might be the solution. And it is strange how some whacky concepts have now become mainstream. Forty years ago ideas like Gay Marriage, Smoking Bans and Gender Re-Assignment would have been laughed at. And to be fair Governments have usually been far more cautious than the general public at accepting them.
Okay, so – we seem to be having a problem with an ageing population. The retirement age is constantly being increased, because Governments see this as a problem – or rather paying these people their State Pensions as a problem. So, why don’t we think out of the box – and lower the retirement age. Straightaway down to 65, but over say ten years down to 60. Madness, you say. And yes, it will cost a lot of money. Or will it? Under my idea, everyone would be entitled to a State Pension far earlier than now. If they wanted to they could continue to work, but both incomes would be included in any taxes they might pay. But, if they chose to do voluntary work they would get their State Pension completely tax-free. There are many things which Local Councils would love to do, but they simply cannot afford the staff. Helping at Retirement Homes or visiting older people in their homes, looking after parks and open spaces, helping at schools. So money could be saved, or better spent and people’s lives improved.
Annual Health Checks is another obvious winner. Spotting diseases early would not only save lives but prevent some pretty expensive and invasive surgery. You see, it all depends on how you look at things. If you see public Expenditure as a problem, then it will always be a problem and be pared back. If you see it as an opportunity to improve people’s lives, then finding the wherewithal to pay for it is the solution. The Tories believe instinctively that if people want a better life, they should work hard and pay for it; Socialists believe (or should) that it is the duty of Government to help those less fortunate by Collective effort.
A Basic Income – this is quite an old idea, which may – in the coming age of Automation – be gaining some traction. The idea is that everyone should receive a basic income, enough to live on – as a right. Automation is happening, and at present it is seen by Industry as a way of saving money and increasing Profit – but it is also a release from the tedium and hardship of much work presently done by humans. But for this liberation to work we have to completely change our attitude to how Money works. At present it works for the benefit of a few at the expense of the many, it is called Capitalism. I would like to see a future where companies are largely owned by those working for them and where profits are limited. An Excessive Profit Tax isn’t a bad idea, as is a truly progressive income tax. In other words, the more you earn or own the more your contribution to the welfare of others.
I know, these ideas will never work!!! But….technological change is roaring down the tracks. We either use it for the benefit of a very few, as at present; or we all benefit. The choice is ours, and maybe these crazy ideas will in the not too distant future be mainstream.