Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Public Service pensions are investments in the future. . . .

I for one am very tired of hearing people talk about the “public-sector pension crisis.” Huge banks and brokerage houses can bring the global economy to near bankruptcy while paying their execs billions in tax-payer funded bonuses, and the right-wing still has the gall to tell us that it is public-servant’s pensions that are ruining everything. The Conservative Government in the UK is actively talking about reneging on pensions and has asked their Justice Minister about the implications of such an abrogation of legal responsibility. But it is not a handful of public sector workers who are ruining the economy, it is a handful of multinational corporations that have entirely abrogated their social responsibility and are playing one government against the other.

Right-wingers and capitalist economists keep telling us that the economy cannot afford proper pensions. But the fact is that if the economy cannot afford to ensure that people can retire with dignity and financial security, then the answer is not to get rid of pensions, the answer is to CHANGE THE ECONOMY! We are not here to service the economy, it is here to service us. The capitalists are busy embracing reification, trying to convince us that the economy is not a series of relations between people but a series of relations between things. As if those things are beyond our control. This will not do.

They may tell us that we cannot afford pensions but the truth is that we can’t afford not to have pensions. If people cannot retire at a decent age, they will continue to work and people’s health will suffer as well as many other aspects of their lives and it will cost us a great deal in other kinds of social services. Furthermore, if people cannot retire, they will not make space in the economy for younger generations and those people will be unable to properly contribute to the society both financially and culturally. This will set in motion a radical social and economic crisis in the long term. This is the kind of thinking that led Thatcher to reduce many social services and each pound that she took from the social economy cost the government two pounds in other kinds of expenditure including policing and incarceration. The elimination of pensions will cause a similar and more dramatic crisis.

Instead of looking at ways of getting rid of pensions, the UK government should be looking at ways to restructure the economy so that it serves the needs of people and not the demands of corporations and a handful of executives who earn millions and millions every year. 

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