Untimely Observations

Work Until You Drop

The BBC reports today:

The Default Retirement Age (DRA) is to be phased out this year, the government has confirmed.

It means employers will no longer be allowed to dismiss staff just because they have reached the age of 65.

The Department for Business said that as well as benefiting individuals, "the freedom to work for longer will provide a boost to the UK economy".

Those who have read Mister will recall the recurrence of harried elderly White workers performing low-status jobs, of which 'Picasso', the irascible nonagenarian taxi driver of the year 2023 was a prime example. The novel was written between May 2007 and June 2008, so elderly workers, forced to keep working in order to keep their heads above water in a floundering and debt-ridden economy, is yet another sad prediction that has come true.

The phrase 'a boost to the UK economy' spins the fact that this end of the default retirement age results from the realisation, admitted, that there is not going to be enough money to pay all the welfare commitments successive governments have made in the efforts by politicians to get themselves elected. 

Meanwhile, the phrase 'ageing population', because it refers to a generalised phenomenon driven by several causes, conceals the unwilliness of the government to make the economy more family friendly: indigenous Europeans are delaying starting a family, having smaller ones, or not having them altogether, partly because of the cost relative to their incomes—resulting from, on the one hand, pressure from the consumer culture, and on the other, inflation, predatory taxation, and labyrinthine regulation—is seen as too high. (Another factor is Marxist feminism.)

Also concealed is the implicit realisation that the levels of immigration that would be required to close the fiscal gap is high enough to risk serious social disturbance and a significant rise in support for anti-immigration parties: one way of increasing the workforce without importing or creating new citizens is to allow existing citizens to work for longer.

By painting this legislative development as an act of government generosity, the report also misrepresents the facts. The desired implication is that the government is now 'allowing' those eager to work to do so for longer, and 'forcing' employers not to retire and not to deny employment to workers above a certain age. It fits in with the equality discourse that permeates modern culture. But the reality is that working past 65 is not a choice for many (because many hate their jobs), but a necessity. As we well know, Western governments have incurred unpayable debts and, as predicted by Kotlikoff years ago, they have decided money printing is the only way out: they cannot raise taxes nor cut welfare programmes enough without causing a revolution. The consequence is, of course, inflation, and neither incomes nor pensions being able to keep up with the devaluation of the currency. Most workers will increasingly have to work until they drop, occupying progressively more menial positions as age takes its toll.

I suspect other Western countries with default retirement ages still in place will be forced to follow. They may at first extend the retirement age, but they will eventually 'liberalise' or 'relax' employment legislation and it will be sold to the public as a way to keep active and boost the economy, just as it has been done here.