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When I’m 67

Written By: - Date published: 12:16 pm, December 8th, 2010 - 54 comments
Categories: superannuation - Tags:

I’m in favour of lifting the retirement age. Life expectancy continues to rise and is now 80.4 years. A man aged 65 can expect to live on average another 18 years, a woman 20. That’s a hell of a long time to be getting the pension and an enormous cost. Rising the age to 67 would free up $1.5 billion a year to go into education and preventative health.

I’m not saying that if someone is physically or mentally unable to keep working they shouldn’t be allowed to retire. There is already a special early retirement benefit and that would be open to those who need it. But today’s 65 year old is generally in pretty good physical and mental condition. the number of people aged 65 or over who are still working  have increased nearly five-fold since 1995, with 93,000 (more than half the 65-70 population) employed. That’s a sure sign that many don’t need to retire so young.

We have to face the reality that the retirement age should rise. Otherwise we are going to be carrying an exponentially growing cost from the combination of the aging population and rising life expectancy – devoting more and more of our wealth to supporting people who otherwise could support themselves.

I would rather we were using that money to support education, R&D, and clean tech. These are vital areas for our future that are being under-invested in while so much money is being taken up in super payments.

All that’s required is for the political parties to have a mature discussion (which won’t happen while John Key is in Parliament), get a public mandate, and follow the model of the 1990s superannuation accord. The retirement age could be lifted gradually, say half a year every two years, from 2012 to reach 67 by 2020. Further incremental increases linked to life expectancy should be legislated for and happen automatically.

On the Retirement Commission’s other suggestion – linking the super rates to inflation, not the average wage – I disagree. What would inevitably happen is the relative value of super compared to wages would decline and old-age poverty, which is virtually eliminated in New Zealand because the super rates are set above the poverty line, would increase.

Of course, this whole issue would be avoided if we had a guaranteed minimum incomes. Couple it with compulsory Kiwisaver and people could choose to retire when they like with the GMI and their Kiwisaver to live on.

54 comments on “When I’m 67”

  1. toad 1

    What about bringing back the surtax?

    It has always struck me as unfair that assistance to young people by way of WFF and student loans are rigourously means-tested, but once you turn 65 you can be earning $500K a year and still get paid NZ Superannuation without any being clawed back through the tax system.

  2. arandar 2

    As far as I know, there is no longer any special early retirement benefit but rather assistance to get suitable paid employment, temporary assistance for emergency expenses, disability allowances etc & the UB. I’m told people thrown out of work aged between 60 and 65 are struggling to find new jobs and have to go on the dole just like so many others now.
    Further, those still working and claiming their Super have to treat their Super as their Primary Income and the paid job as secondary thus paying 2ndary Tax on what might well be the greater amount.
    Why not change to a Guaranteed Minimum Income thus simplying systems and valuing all the myriad things people do in families and communities that are of great benefit or, alternatively, chose either to work or to claim Super – not do both?

  3. KJT 3

    I second the GMI.

    No reason to get super if you decide to continue working.

    May be no need to adjust retirement ages at all.

    I expect, like most of my generation to continue working if possible. I never expected that the Government would have left anything to pay pensions by the time I retire any way.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    That’s a sure sign that many don’t need to retire so young.

    And a fairly good indication that they don’t want to retire.

    • KJT 4.1

      Though some who have been in the trades and labouring all their life are getting back and knee problems which mean they have too. But if those of us who want to and can continue working do and we adopt GMI instead the burden should not be any worse than now.

    • Vicky32 4.2

      I don’t want to retire, I don’t want to be an OAP, but at present, I am wishing the next 8 years would hurry up and pass, because I have no prospect of income other than UB until then! Then on National Super, my ‘income’ will double…
      (Unless I get a job and manage to get past the 90 days, I am going to be better off as an OAP, though given a free choice, I would rather work for as long as physically possible. The key word is work!)

  5. I am always amazed at the number of paper shufflers in shiny suits who,are keen to raise the super age. I wonder what their thoughts would be if they had to work 8+ hard graft . Hard none stop heavy work for 50 years or more is enough . If these suited men and women want to work a few more years well let them give up the pension and stay at work.That’s of course if their bosses think they are able to keep up with the younger staff. Thats also another point where are all the jobs going to come from to have full employment for old and young. The whole debate is by the political Right to either abolish or reduce the present pension. The Cullen fund is the answer if its updated on a regular basis

    • lprent 5.1

      I’d agree. I have absolutely no intention of retiring from using the keyboard to make a living until I absolutely have to. That will probably be when my hands freeze up from arthritis (my private terror) or I fail to keep tight enough control on my permanently close to dangerous RSSI.

      But then I’ve never worked at wearing in jobs that wear my tendons out as happened to my father or having my ankles wear out as happened to my mother. Both are partially on their way to becoming cyborgs (in a loose sense of the word). Each caused quite considerable periods where they were unable to work for extended periods of time, and that was despite having all of the required insurance to get full and early treatment.

      Both would have have been unable to keep working to 67. Both have paid their full whack over their working life to allow them to retire at an appropriate time at their choice and discretion.

      People still work at jobs where those types of disabilities have happened somewhere in their work life. And I’ve heard horror stories about trying to get early retirement. They generally have to struggle on to the sickness benefits with WINZ attempting to scrape them off and into penury.

      What they should do is to change the super system so that super counts as secondary income rather than primary income if there are wages coming in rather than the current daft system. As arandar said at (2), at present you’re penalized to the point where working is untenable after receiving super which is pretty damn silly.

      Many people will probably prefer to continue working. But at present there are many disincentives to do so. Correct those first and drop the retirement age to cover people that have to retire early. Then look at the alternatives.

      • Puddleglum 5.1.1

        I’ve always thought that the idea of raising the super-eligible age because people are living longer completely misses the point: Some jobs wear human beings out. It doesn’t matter how long medical technology ‘improves’ its ability to prolong life the fact is that many occupations cannot (and should not) be performed for very long (some not at all – but that’s capitalism for you; even the worst jobs have people queuing up to do them).

        My father worked in factories almost all his life and the idea that he should be kept working in those conditions till he got closer to the age that mesothelioma took him out is loathsome to contemplate. Only middle class types who have no concept of what some jobs mean for a person’s body, mind, emotions and soul on a daily basis for over forty five years would say that just because we can keep people on health system life support for longer means that they should keep working for longer.

        The aim should be to limit the amount of time that anybody should spend working at the kinds of jobs our economy regularly provides – not to extend the ‘opportunity’ to engage in them. This is especially so given that a harsher regime is being enacted for all those on unemployment and other benefits.

        • lprent

          Pretty much my opinion as well. It isn’t the average age of death that counts. Retirement is when it is pointless to continue working so people are not forced to work beyond their capabilities, beg (including that required to extract money from WINZ), or starve. The point about superannuation is that it is gained as a right by age.

          It is rather pointless in having the age of superannuation set at a age that deliberately excludes people who get older faster because of the nature of their work, and therefore frequently die earlier as well. They have paid their taxes for their superannuation just like everyone else. To arbitarily raise the age because some people but not all are living longer and therefore increasing the average age of death is both inhumane and unethical.

          This bubble of superannuiants coming and the increasing longevity has been obvious to me and many others since the current superannuation was put in by National in 1975. With the notable exception of the last government none of the governments have forward planned for expected number of superanniants. This one certainly isn’t

          Most people I know tend to want to work while they are able, and they do (as Marty points out). but the choice should be theirs, not some half arsed calculation done now rather than 35 years ago when it was relevant.

          There is no point in continually raising the age of superannuation because
          1. It will keep rising to cover deficits rather than the government doing what needs to be done and building a fund to cover the peak.

          2. There will be a rebellion to paying a universal superannuation from people whose professions make them unlikely to ever benefit from it.

          • M

            L & P these are good comments.

            I want to work for as long, with reduced hours down the track, as I can as I enjoy working very much but realise that people with physical or dangerous jobs really are ready to retire at around 60, because as you say parts of their bodies are well worn. For those with significant wearing out it may be that they need to retitre at 50. If actuaries were consulted as to average life expectancies for significant years or a whole working life in a given occupation then this could form the basis for an earlier receipt of superannuation.

  6. Adrian 6

    If half of the 65-67s are already working and paying secondary, a portion of the wealthiest are possibly paying tax at least equilivant to the pension and with most of the balance probably needing a benefit of some sort anyway, exactly how much would be saved? My quess is that it would be bugger all, relativly speaking, certainly not worth the small army of Work and Income professional deniers to manage all the arguments that would ensue.

    • Bright Red 6.1

      secondary tax does not alter your final annual tax bill. It is just a withholding tax. So, if you are over 65 and getting super then the cost is the same, working or not.

  7. lefty 7

    I left school at 16 and started doing heavy physical work for very long hours. I thought the deal was that I needed to do that until I was 60, and based on the experiences of my father and grandfather before me ,it was realistic to think that my body would probably just hold up that long. I am not 60 yet but my body has detiorated to the extent that I struggle to get through the day even though I am now doing quite sedentary work. I have already had the pension moved away from me once – somehow I now need to make it through to 65. Most of the people writing here seem to think it is ok to move it again.

    This says a lot about their understanding of the lives of working people. Although people generally are living longer, those of us who do hard physical work are not necessarily doing so. Just take a look at the longevity statistics for Maori and Polynesian males, a group that is disproportionately represented among unskilled and semi-skilled labourers.

    I won’t go into the economic arguments about what we can afford ,other than to comment the position put forward by the commission, and some commentators here, is facile and assumes we continue with the same failed economic policies. I will concede that many people have been totally conditioned to working and have trouble finding other things to do if they stop paid work. This is their problem and they shouldn’t assume we all want to become so brainwashed or enjoy being wage slaves.

    Agreeing to allow the pension age to be lifted is simply taking the side of the rich in the class war. The wealthy often like to keep working until they die. Thats because what they do is not really work at all, its just cruising around collecting the profits real workers are making through destroying their bodies and numbing their minds. I have been on jobs with fellow workers who were either so physically or mentally worn out they were a danger to themselves and others on the job but they still had to continue working.

    Their is a major offensive aimed at getting even the most disabled of people into any sort of work by threatening to remove their benefits at the moment. There is not much possibility of getting an early retirement type pension granted.

    I think it was the nazis who had the slogan ‘Work will set you free.’

    This is one of those issues that defines whose side you are on. Most of the contributers here are clearly with the capitalists.

    • KJT 7.1

      That’s why I like the GMI idea much better.

      It gives people choices when the carpal tunnel and the hip joints get too much, without having to beg to an increasing meanness of spirit from the lucky.

  8. Macro 8

    Raising the retirement age to 67 is racially biased.
    It says to Maori men “Retirement is NOT for you.”

    Click to access Cragg.pdf

    • Marty G 8.1

      It also says to people with genetic conditions that shorten their lives ‘less super for you’. But, then, so does any retirement age. Eh?

      Because you’re argument means the current retirement age is also unjust for Maori men, doesn’t it?

      Or do you want a different retirement age for Maori? What about a different one for men and women, and a different one for overweight people and skinny people? Or for women who have children and those who don’t? Or for smokers and non-smokers?

      All factors correlated with differing life expectancies.

      • Jenny 8.1.1

        No matter how finely you slice and dice it Marty. As long as we live in country that thinks handing over more than a billion dollars to failed investment company stockholders while attacking sole parents, is the way to go, there will never be enough to go around for the rest.

        This is not to mention the $178 million of tax payers money gifted last week to New Zealand’s richest family.

        • Marty G

          I’m not backing those other things and you know I’m all for a fairer distribution of wealth.

          You need to engage in what I’ve actually said, rather than against a rightwing caricature, which you know doesn’t apply to me.

          • Jenny

            I didn’t mean to imply that Marty, This is not what I said. Like the rest of us, you were probably aghast. What I should have added is; We will always be fighting over the crumbs while the majority of the wealth goes to a tiny minority.

            This is the danger of posts like this.

            European against Maori, Men against Women, Old against Young

            Why are we continually fighting over the crumbs?

            Why can’t we have a tobin tax or a financial transactions tax that targets the rich to pay for all the social services we need, so we are not fighting each other over the remaining scraps and arguing over whether we should be rationing health care or cutting Super?

            Why is food taxed, when financial speculation is completely tax free?

            A I cent tax on every dollar shifted around by the banks in speculative trading would raise billions of dollars every year enough to cover the cost of removing GST on everything.

            I mean Marty, if you go down the road that there is not enough to fund pensions at the current level, then you must also accept that there is not enough money to fight climate change, or plan for peak oil. All these ideas are complete bollox.

            All it takes is the political will.

            If for instance a major war broke out. there would be no shortage of money.

            Why is that?

            It is because in a major war the rich and powerful of one country are in threat of being expropriated by the rich in another country. Obviously this means a lot to the rich so they want to be on the winning side and the taps are opened. Under conditions of climate change or peak oil the privileged position of the rich in society is not challenged, in fact their wealth is guaranteed to protect and insulate them from the worst of these disasters.

            Marty I don’t know how you can accept that there is not enough money to support the current rate of Super, when we gave over $1billion to SCF without batting an eyelid. I am not implying that you supported this rort, but by putting up such a post as this you are at the very least accepting this sort of injustice, and that inequality is something that just can’t be helped.

            By the way, you still haven’t answered my question, on how many young people you think will find it harder to find a job in the unlikely chance your irresponsible policy was ever implemented.

            Or even as one other commenter noted how many old people will wind up on the dole, or be forced into disrespectful for their age menial labour?

            If the Labour dares to go down the path you are suggesting for them, I for one will be joining Grey Power and vigorously protesting outside every Labour Party rally in the country.

            You thought the French protests against pension cuts were bad, just wait till I turn up with my walker. (And their pension was much more generous than ours)

            I don’t think you could possibly be serious when you said “I’m in favour of lifting the retirement age”. What on earth possessed you to write such a thing?

            Come on Marty, come clean. Is it, that you really want the Labour Party to throw the election?

  9. Bill 9

    “Otherwise we are going to be carrying an exponentially growing cost from the combination of the aging population and rising life expectancy – devoting more and more of our wealth to supporting people who otherwise could support themselves.”

    Or we could give less support to those who merely accumulate profit for profit’s sake and redirect that support to retirement payments etc.

    And in a world of permanent levels of unemployment, those who are unemployed get supported. And by forcing ageing people to stay in the work force, the labour market becomes ever ‘more flexible’.

    In other words, raising the age retirement means giving money to unemployed rather than retirees and allows the accumulation of profit to continue unimpeded. Nah. That’s not right. It allows the rate of profit accumulation to increase and for us to pick up the shortfall in support for this or that group of society and pit those grooups against one another.

    ‘lefty’ (above) attributes the slogan “Work Will Set You Free” to the Nazis. And although it’s true that such a slogan hung over the gates to Auschwitz, the slogan encapsulates the only deal that was on the table during the move from plantation slavery to wage slavery.

    If anything, the age of retirement should be lowered. And if industry refuses to manufacture products that actually last and reduce the need for jobs, then they should be brought to account rather than aided and abetted through us shitting on ourselves.

  10. Descendant Of Smith 10

    In a past life I was loosely involved in the Royal Commission on Aging meetings in some towns. What was striking was the disparity between white collar workers and businessmen who had no intention of retiring and who were fit and healthy and people who worked in trades and many physically demanding jobs who barely made it to 60, people who worked night-shift and shift rosters who at 60 were suffering from all sorts of illnesses – there is some suggestion that shift-work knocks 10 years off your life.

    I’m seen plenty of very physically strong farm workers and forestry workers who at 40 would beat the shit out of any desk jockey but at 55 or 60 are bent over in pain while the desk jockey is in the gym using a treadmill.

    The other reality is that the percentage on Maori reaching NZS age is a minimal proportion of those born. Raising the age would continue to disadvantage and deprive them.

    Given the right’s penchant for catching up to Australia I don’t see them calling for income and assett testing as per Australia. What about not including underage spouses and having them require to look for work until they reach 65 and given the well-off have got their tax cuts a surcharge like arrangement would certainly be in order.

  11. jcuknz 11

    I am sure the retirement commissioner put for the pension to be available to those incapable of work because they were worn out with hard labour. I think it is very important that such people should be given the pension to ease their final days. It is not going to cost that much because if they are worn out at 55 or 60 I doubt if they will live that long, but that is not the reason but simple common humanity to your fellow man.
    Though super may be twice the UB as suggested above it is not that wonderful unless you have been fortunate in your life to be set up for retirement and I’m sure many who currently work on do so because they don’t want the drop in living standard that it entails unless you have your own pension fund. Putting off the evil day?.

  12. Oscar 12

    What about the loophole whereby if you’re 45, and your partner is 65, and starts collecting the pension, you are both eligible.

    So assuming the 45 year old lives till 85 (and remains married to the 65 year old until they’re 65 too) that’s 40 years on the super.

    That’s got to be a drain. I’ve already got about 8 people I know who are in such a situation. 3 of them are just dickheads and are taking the super (one of them is 33 married to a 68 year old), 2 refuse to take it, even though winz say they’re eligible for it, and the other 3 like knowing it’s there if they fall on tough times.

  13. SPC 13

    The right wants to reduce Super/cost of government to enable another tax cut for the rich, they do not propose doing it to spend more on public education and health.

    There are two savings from increasing the age for Super to 67.

    1. not paying Super to those working between ages 65 and 67.
    2. paying the $198 dole instead of $373 (living alone single rate Super) to those between the ages of 65 and 67 who are unemployed – continuing the poverty of those unemployed (or on SB or IB) between the age of 60 and 65 for another 2 years.

    If one proposed paying the Super rate to those on the UB, SB and IB aged 65 to 67, to prevent continuing poverty for them the right would lose interest in the idea – which shows the class war nature of the concept. Those on the “left” supporting it, are preparing the way for another betrayal of the working class.

    There is one solid guiding principle to just Super reform – all money saved goes to the aged in need. Then people who lose something know that it is going to support people in need, not to give some “SP” another personal tax cut. Because the right is not interested in justice, just cost savings to line their own pockets, they will soon lose interest in this area if that is the ground the left stand on.

  14. Jenny 14

    What a load of right wing old cobblers, this is Marty.

    So Key is saying it should stay at 65 but you are arguing that it should go up to 67.

    So, Marty you are arguing a case to the right of John Key.

    And why?

    Because we can’t afford it???

    Do I understand you right, is this your main reason?

    • Colonial Viper 14.1

      We need to create a much richer and far more equal economy if we are to keep the age at 65.

      We can’t keep it at 65 and keep everything else status quo. So what are we going to change.

      • Colonial Viper 14.1.1

        In fact, why not open a discussion about reducing the age to 63?

        We could then have many of our most experienced and skilled NZ’ers start to spend time mentoring those who are younger, and also working on volunteer and community projects.

        Why work years longer for the Man if you do not need to?

  15. Jenny 15

    Hey Marty, How many extra young people would you condemn to the dole queues?

    Have you worked it out?

    capcha – “destroys”

    • Colonial Viper 15.1

      Do you mean how many 65 and 66 year olds will join the dole queues? None for many years.

      Nevertheless you raise a good point. Our economy is not creating jobs at the moment when we need 200K good jobs.

      In the future as pressures against never-ending growth increase we will need people to be able to earn living incomes working just 3 or 4 days per week. Big changes are required.

      • Jenny 15.1.1

        CV you’re right this will worsen unemployment at both ends of the age spectrum.

        Why should people who have worked all their lives have to spend some of the the last two decades of their life on the dole, which as the Right are always crowing about is deliberately set a punitively low level, to drive people back into the most slavey and exploitative jobs.

        I don’t want someone 65 years old asking me, if I want fries with that.

        Come on Marty get a grip.

        capcha – “handing” as in handing the right a gift.

  16. prism 16

    Jenny This shouldn’t be a left / right stand-off. It should be a combined decision between all parties and all who are capable of thinking about the problems. They must be aware also of the needs of all income earners in society particularly lower income ones (the rich have means to cushion themselves if they don’t get reckless and lose the cash). Calm considered thoughtful discussions on draft policy with future statistics and scenarios presented to aid understanding need to be organised around the country with easy access to all older people over the next few years.

    I see a lot of patting older people on the head and emoting about our needs which is not helpful in getting policy to meet future trends. Older people tend to be greeted pleasantly as we head the queue for welfare servces parents with young children receive frowns and have to touch their forelock to get to be heard.

    • Jenny 16.1

      Prism I absolutely agree,

      “Calm considered thoughtful discussions on draft policy with future statistics and scenarios presented to aid understanding need to be organised around the country…”

      I wish I had the time to check all the statistics and facts.

      I have done this before and immediately just off the top of head without doing this again.

      I will present my argument against raising the pension age.

      Please anyone correct my mistakes.

      When the pension was brought in, it was paid out at 60.

      Yes people did die younger. And medical science was not as complex and expensive.

      But as well as people living longer, alongside medical science increasing in complexity and sophistication, there has been huge strides made in productivity and wealth creation

      In 1939 productivity per worker was about 60% percent less than it is now.

      So it took many more workers to support one pensioner, or one doctor, or one nurse, or one medical clinic as compared to today.

      Since that time their has been a massive increase in worker productivity not just in computers, and IT but in hydraulic and automated machinery. What took 60 workers do in 1939 now takes one.

      That means, that though there are more older people now, there is more means to support them.

      That there is not enough money to pay for elder care therefore we have to ration it, is a right wing crock, disguising the fact that as well as the huge increase in wealth creation there has been a huge flow of this wealth from the bottom 95% to the top 5% of the population, and a huge increase in disparity.

      I am just aghast that someone like Marty G who I have a lot of time for, has fallen for this right wing twaddle.

      Marty mate what are you trying to do?

      Even John Key has said that the retirement age will not be raised on his watch.

      There is no doubt in my mind that this issue will be pounced on by the right to keep Labour out.

      capcha – “remarks” these are just my preliminary ones.

      • prism 16.1.1

        Jenny Interesting stuff you’ve given to think about. The factor of productivity per person having risen so much since 1939 – first time I have heard this brought up. It just shows how little discussion and debate there is on this topic amongst the general public. I have in mind a book published decades ago by David Thomson probably just as relevant now. The following is Google heading.
        Intergenerational Justice Workers versus pensioners
        This prospect has stimulated a lively debate in academic and policy circles … David Thomson (Massey University, New Zealand) emphasized this conflict. ….. a number of specific policies, for example changing the age of retirement. …

    • Jenny 16.2

      “Jenny This shouldn’t be a left / right stand-off. It should be a combined decision between all parties….”


      Of course, Prism, the good ol’ fashioned Labour/National consensus, to ram through some disgusting neo-liberal attack on working people and their families.

      Now, if we can only get the Nats and their budding coalition partner, New Zealand First to agree.

  17. SPC 17

    The basic answer is simple enough.

    Keep the age at 65 and work test it, make it a universal rate retirement benefit.

    All Super that would have been to those who choose to continue to work – goes into the Cullen Fund (we can have variables – such as where people work part-time or don’t receive much income from their work – so they still get most of their Super, surtax job income only).

    If people give up their job because of this, then someone else gets the job and we make budget savings in welfare costs.

    • toad 17.1

      Presume you mean “income test” it, rather than “work test” it SPC.

      It shouldn’t just be income from employment that counts. No-one who earns $150K pa from investments should be entitled to any net NZ Super imo.

      • SPC 17.1.1

        No I am not proposing a surtax on savings income etc, only work income.

        It’s important to keep Super available from age 65 – to ALL who have retired and or are unemployed looking for work.

        Where someone was working part-time and thus was only partly met this test, then a surtax on that work income would reduce the amount of Super received.

        I am proposing Super become a Retirement Benefit available to those over 65 and all money saved by not paying someone still working (after age 65) and all surtax raised by taxing part-time income against their Super entitlement is placed into the Cullen Fund.

        This means the saving is not handed out in tax cuts or to finance government spending – but is used to ensure the affordability of Super post 2030.

        I support people saving to provide for themselves when they retire and don’t support reducing their Super entitlement because of it.

        Anyway there is always a Wealth or Assets Tax to deal with the issue you raise indirectly (fairness in the tax system) – disparity of wealth resulting from the lack of a CGT etc, but that is another debate.

  18. SPC 18

    Is there any other way but making Super a retirement benefit – and transferring the non paid Super to the person over 65 still working into the Cullen Fund – that Goff can promise to finance money into the Cullen Fund each year (whatever the budget situation at the time)?

  19. KJT 19

    The “we cannot afford” it comes from ever increasing amounts of the wealth we produce going in ever compounding interest to suppliers of debt and to those who already have far more than they need. This should be addressed before we join in any right wing meme about any sort of welfare being reduced. Including universal superannuation.

    We cannot afford it is not true just because it is endlessly repeated.

    NZ should be investing in education, skills and sustainable technology so we can have a fair society in future.

    Welfare, unlike payments to the very rich and overseas banks, stays in NZ, supporting NZ business.

    Keeping it universal keeps everyone including the wealthy on side because we all get it.

    Welfare should be approached from a GMI perspective which gets rid of begging to WINZ and ensures everyone has enough to live on.

    Superannuation/welfare at a moderate cost has almost removed poverty amongst the elderly. It should be extended to the young, to those who are too ill or injured to work and those whose jobs have been taken to have a pool of unemployed to reduce wages.

    For those who reckon they are taxed too much remember that the USA at their time of greatest prosperity had 91% wealth taxes.

    Isn’t having an educated and healthy work force, infrastructure and all the advantages of a functioning society worth paying for.

    • Jenny 19.1

      “The “we cannot afford” it comes from ever increasing amounts of the wealth we produce going in ever compounding interest to suppliers of debt and to those who already have far more than they need. This should be addressed before we join in any right wing meme about any sort of welfare being reduced. Including universal superannuation.

      We cannot afford it is not true just because it is endlessly repeated.”


      KJT This is exactly right.

      In 1958 in the infamous ‘Black Budget’ for the first time income taxes were levied on working people. (as well as number of other new taxes that also targeted working people)

      That’s right before 1958 the income tax rate for the vast majority of working class people was zero.

      Yet before 1958 and before universal income tax, New Zealand had a fully free National Health Service and pensions paid out at the age of 60.

      How was it done?

      Yes I know the tired old retreaded arguments that all these things were cheaper then, and paid out over fewer years.

      But if you go even further back in the days before universal income tax was applied, say to 1944. New Zealand still maintained a fully free national health service and pensions at 60, this was despite funding a hugely expensive war effort and most of the most productive working age men being out of the country.

      How was this done?

      Though working people paid no income tax at all, the rich who could afford it did, and at levels far higher than they do today. In fact during the war years the level of taxes on the rich to fund the war effort and the health system and pensions, (old age and war), approached 90%

      Since 1958 more and more of tax burden has fallen on working people and less and less on rich people, this despite eye watering incomes and profits for these powerful elites that the rich of the ’30s ’40s and ’50s couldn’t even imagine taking.

      The trend to tax lesser paid people more, and tax well paid people less has continued apace over the decades since 1958. Not only this, the services we have been paying more taxes for have been watered down, in cut backs similar to the one now being contemplated by Marty G for our pensions.

      Yet we are not fighting a world war, and our ability to produce surplus wealth is unparalleled in human history.

      capcha – “costing” the question should be not how much pensions are “costing” us. But how much keeping a wealthy class of parasitic billionaires is “costing” not just us, but the planet as well.

  20. Jenny 20


    “Key’s stance on superannuation is particularly hypocritical.
    He put up GST after promising not to but for some reason the retirement age is sacrosanct.”


    Micky I know you are making a comment here, about Key’s hypocrisy, which I heartily agree with. But it is unclear to me whether you are for, or against raising the retirement age.

    Personally I think if Labour are thinking of supporting raising the retirement age I think not only are they falling into a moral hazard, they are falling into a tactical trap.

    Because this issue will give Winstone Peters the Hot Button topic that he needs to catapult himself back into parliament.

    As Winstone has said in the past, he will never make a coalition deal with the Labour Party that includes the Green Party.

    On current polling, a Labour led coalition with only either the Greens, or NZ First, would still be short of the numbers needed to oust National from the Treasury Benches.

    Peters won’t want to be in opposition, and no doubt will be offered some very distracting bauble by the Nats. And so being the political opportunist he is, he will give his support to National.

    Nothing is surer.

    I am aware that the conservatives wing of the Labour Party are pushing hard for Labour to sit out the next term, a strategy they consider to be in the best interests of the Party, and so will be pushing hard for Labour Party to take up such a losing strategy.

    Some in the Labour may be convinced that sitting out this term is in the best long term interests of the Labour Party, as is often said in these sorts of situations; “the end justifies the means”.

    But be warned Michael, another saying goes; “rotten means, usually lead to rotten ends”.

    • just saying 20.1

      I am aware that the conservatives wing of the Labour Party are pushing hard for Labour to sit out the next term, a strategy they consider to be in the best interests of the Party, and so will be pushing hard for Labour Party to take up such a losing strategy.

      I’ve been hearing that Labour are deliberately throwing the 2011 election all over the place. I had assumed that it was a speculation based on how spectacularly badly the opposition has been performing. That it must be deliberate.

      Do you have any ‘inside’ confirmation of this Jenny, because I’ve tended to think that Labour supporters are loathe to believe that their representatives really are as atrocious as they appear. But I keep hearing it…?

      • Jenny 20.1.1

        So do I

        Surely this post is proof of it.

        • Marty G

          I’ve got nothing to do with the Labour party leadership, Jenny. My opinions are my own. So the premise that my opinion somehow means Labour is trying to lose the next election is just crap.

          You know that The Standard in general is not aligned with the Leadership of any party, certainly not Labour’s. They fear that, but then they don’t get politics and what The Standard brings to the Left that they can’t and that they’re better off with us as loose cannons than mouthpieces.

          • Jenny

            Marty I never said that you had anything to do with the Labour Party leadership.

            I think it is a bit desperate to conflate that I did say such a thing.

            Though your opinions are undoubtably your own, as are mine, your post parallels discussions currently circulating inside the Labour Party Caucus.

            I am sorry if you think I have unfairly targetted you because of that. But we so seldom get to have such debates in public. As these sorts of discussions, as I said, are usually discussed in caucus behind closed doors.

            Any way back to the debate. You still haven’t answered the question, how many young people do you think will find it harder to get jobs if thousands of older workers are not allowed to retire for another two years? One? Two? None? Thousands?

            Will you be proud to be handed your burger by a 65 year old, in an embarrassing purple uniform usually reserved for a teenager?

            Maybe we could get the unemployed older workers to work for the dole?

            How about that, that could be an extra dollop of humiliation after decades of hard work.

            Why not fix the shortfall in funding with a financial transaction tax on speculative money, if it is as bad as you say? (and I have no reason to doubt it isn’t)

            Why not stick the billionaires and Banksters for the bill?

            After all aren’t they the ones that caused the current recession in the first place?

            Finally Marty have you got any other monetarist solutions to the economic crisis that we may expect as posts?

            Just the headings would be OK, just so as we know what to expect.

        • Colonial Viper

          …so will be pushing hard for Labour Party to take up such a losing strategy.

          Sounds like BS psyops.

          Full and frank debate on the options for super/retirement facing us is the only way forwards. Like monetary policy, a living wage, nil unemployment, etc we shouldn’t be afraid to stare every option in the face and go thumbs up or thumbs down for further consideration. Marty put his case forwards and I think its a fair case but we could be much more innovative and radical as well.

          However to say that there is a ‘conservative wing’ in the Labour party plotting for LAB to fail because it would be somehow in the ‘best interests’ of the country to be governed by John Key and Bill English for a second term is mischivious at best, or FUD at worst.

          Oh, unless you have more to go on of course (like who in Parliament and who on NZ Council), in which case I’m all ears 😈

          • Jenny


            “…to say that there is a ‘conservative wing’ in the Labour party plotting for LAB to fail because it would be somehow in the ‘best interests’ of the country to be governed by John Key and Bill English for a second term is mischivious at best, or FUD at worst.”

            Colonial Viper

            I am afraid you misquoted me there CV.

            That’s alright anyone can make a mistake in the heat of the moment.

            I never said that I thought that there was a conservative wing plotting for Labour to fail because it would somehow be in the best ‘interests of the country’

            What I said is, there are some in Labour who think that it is in the best interests of the Labour Party to sit out the next term, not “the country” as you claim I said.
            I think that everybody on the left can agree that a country governed by John Key and Bill English for a second term will be disastrous for the Flax roots New Zealanders, and the planet and I have argued strongly that we need to take every measure that we can to avoid this calamity.

            But why would the more conservative members of Labour be afraid to take the reins of power at this time?

            The reason I think this is this; Some people in Labour have still not broken with Neo-Liberalism. Because of this continuing attachment, a Labour Caucus would be reluctant to take the radical measures necessary to actively fight climate change or the affects of the recession because this would mean confronting the market.

            In fact I think that a Labour Party in full controll of the house would be implementing the same or similar austerity measures to protect the Market, that the Nats are planning.

            Does anyone out there disagree?

            This is why probably why we get posts like this, signalling that Labour will raise the age of Super to 67.

            CV. what I have said, is that if it was a choice between ruling the country with the help of the Greens and the Maori Party, conservatives inside the Labour Party would hand over power to the Nats. because these two support parties the Greens and the MP would tend to ameliorate the worst aspects of neo liberalism or austerity if Labour tried to implement them on behalf of the market.

            Personally I think sincere Labour Party supporters should try and control their right wing and do their very best to try and work with these other parties, because to sabotage a left leaning coalition would be an affront to democracy because as looks likely a majority will have voted against the Nats, it then behoves the other parties to try and work together.

            What I have also said, is that a coalition of Labour Greens Maori would be more likely to go much further outside the comfort zone of the Labour Party on it’s own would ever go, possibly even to take the radical, even extreme steps needed to rein in the market if we are to ever have any hope of severely cutting CO2 pollution or alleviating poverty.

            We all here, talk about a Green Revolution to create jobs and save the environment from global warming, but the Greens will be unable to do it, neither will any New Left party if it ever eventuates (not for the foreseeable future anyway), neither will the Maori Party nor will Labour on their own. (and definitely not the Nats or ACT as open supporters of the market forces, even if the sea was around their necks and they were panting from the heat,
            they will still never do anything about global warming if it means having to curtail or control the market, even less would they do moved to do anything about poverty or unemployment, because it won’t be their kids suffering.)

            No doubt such a Labour Led Coalition government would be troubled and tumultuous, and even possibly at some point breakdown altogether.

            For this reason Labour conservatives are prepared to see their core supporters suffer National’s attacks, without giving it a go, knowing that in another three years the resulting backlash against the Nats will be so large, that Labour could rule without the needing to make any concessions to any coalition parties, to the left of them.

            But there is another reason why conservative Labour Party members are not serious about winning next years election.

            If in the unlikely event Labour got a full majority and could rule alone, or only with a strategic but not necessary support party like the Greens (similar say to the relationship National currently has with the Maori Party). Then Labour would be free to introduce the sort of austerity measures that Marty G has signalled with this post will possibly be supported by the Labour Party in government. This would completely outrage Labour’s core supporters ensuring that this administration would only last one term. Again this would not be seen by some to be in the best long term interests of the Labour Party, particularly as regards possible careers in it.

            This is probably what is behind the lack lustre opposition and a languid leader. With the mess the system is in, who can blame them for not being to keen to be in the hot seat.

            Phill Goff is New Zealand’s future Labour PM and always will be.

            • lprent

              The reason you get posts about rising the super age is the same as the argument that I had with my parents in 1978 on the same topic. Because of the way that super is funded, and the major increase and fall in people on super over the next 50 years it is unsustainable.

              However I disagree with Marty that raising the super age is the right approach. The better one is that of Cullen, to increase taxes until the forthcoming fiscal hole is eliminated. Thus people like me who want to receive super in 2030 start paying for our excess population now.

              That was the exact argument I had in 1978. It is pathetic that we are still arguing on it 32 years later

              • SPC

                Increasing general taxes does not make the Cullen Fund large enough to deal with the demographics post 2030.

                It might create a surplus – but we have experience with how there comes a clamouring to give the surplus away in tax cuts or spending programmes which means that the surplus is not sustainable across the economic cycle.

                The only way to afford post 2030 Super is to dedicate tax revenues into the Cullen Fund. The most appropriate way to do that is from Super cost savings made now. The fairest option is to make age 65 Super conditional on retirement from full-time work.

                (Arrangements for those working part-time would be similar to the old surtax regime, but involve part-time work income only – though one could look at having an exemption from this surtax IF there was little savings income and they were below an Assets Test level).

          • Jenny

            “Like monetary policy, a living wage, nil unemployment, etc we shouldn’t be afraid to stare every option in the face and go thumbs up or thumbs down for further consideration.”

            Colonial Viper

            CV, I agree. I am grateful to Marty for bringing this debate into the public arena.

            Maybe we should have a public thumbs up, thumbs down, on Marty’s proposition vs. mine.

            To fix the Public Accounts Deficit we should;

            A/ Raise the retirement age to 67

            B/ Stop gifting the wealthy hundreds of millions of dollars of public money in bail outs, ($1.5 billion and counting so far), and ….instead of our rich folk to being a negative drain on the Public Accounts, and an anchor on our economy….

            ….tax ’em till their eyeballs bleed.

            I vote: Thumbs down on proposition A

            I vote: Thumbs up on proposition B

  21. Jenny 21


    When I am older, losing my hair
    Many years from now

    Will you still be sending me a Valentine
    Birthday greetings, bottle of wine

    I’m afraid, you even have the Beatles against you on this one Marty.

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