This discussion has had a few really good goes on open mike.
Labour’s policy is to gradually change the age of retirement to 67 with an allowance made for those aged 65 who can no longer work. There are passionate views in support of this and opposing this. I thought that we should capture the thoughts in one post and let Labour (and the Greens and anyone else) to absorb the thoughts of commentators. And I must admit that I have conflicting thoughts on what we should do.
I am a baby boomer, the recipient of an education paid for by the state, without a student loan and with a tertiary qualification and in state sponsored good health. I am personally happy with the idea that I should not get superannuation for a further two years because god willing I will not need it and the state can fund other things such as glue ear checks for kids in poor neighbourhoods and school breakfasts for low decile schools instead.
Regrettably the financial analysis is quite clear. The current entitlement to superannuation will drain more and more of the state’s resources and Aotearoa will face a financial crisis in 10 years or so due to the baby boomer bubble approaching retirement.
This is why the fifth Labour Government created the Cullen Fund and Kiwisaver. Unless we start to pile money away now then the only way that superannuation will be affordable in the future will be through significant tax increases.
The other side of the argument is that increasing the age of retirement will cause significant hardship to the working class. And I agree with this argument completely. My father was a boilermaker by trade. He is aged 76 and although his health is reasonably good he is the only person of his graduation class to still be alive. The rest of them died years ago, their bodies having given up after a lifetime of hard physical work. He is healthy only through a combination of good genetics and the fact he has not eaten meat for 55 years.
So what do we do?
Labour is trying to show that it is being fiscally responsible by highlighting this as an issue and proposing a realistic solution. National is showing how irresponsible it is by refusing to consider changing the eligibility age and at the same time kneecapping the Cullen fund so that the ability of the state to fund future pension payments has been seriously reduced.
But it is a difficult line. There is policy that a 65 year old whose body is wrecked through work should be allowed to retire now. But allowing everyone to retire gracefully at the age of 65 years means that there will be jobs for 18 year olds to fill. Allowing older citizens to retire later means that there will be less jobs for our young.
The debate really needs to be about how we share the resources of our society around. We need to make sure that those of us who are older can exit from the workforce with dignity and those of us who are younger can have jobs. And there is enough money to make sure that everyone can live comfortably.
So for me I believe that I should not receive a pension until 67 at least, and for someone in my father’s position it should be no later than the age of 65. And our young should be able to get jobs.
To the policy analyst who works out how to resolve these thoughts in a way that is acceptable to the electorate there will be a chocolate fish …