Pensions have been earned

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Gerard Blake urges readers to give a few minutes thought to his idea that unemployed people and pensioners should be ready to “jump into action whenever it snows and clear it up” in appreciation for “all the tax”being paid for their benefits.

How much thinking did he do when he wrote that rubbish?

First of all, the majority of pensioners do not receive benefits. They receive the pensions they subscribed to over their working lives.

Typically they began work at 15 years old and retired 50 years later during which time they paid their income tax, graduated pension tax, earnings related pension tax, national insurance tax, superannuation dues etcetera.

This was to provide for their retirement but it also ran the country during that period and paid for the births, education, health-care and other welfare of the people who were born during that time.

A few years ago private pension plans and life insurance was marketed on the calculation that on average if you retired at 65 years old you’d be dead of old age by the time you reached 68. The improvements made by the people who are now pensioners, over the years, to average living conditions and working conditions have extended all our life expectancies into the upper 70s and lower 80s. Do you, Mr Blake, expect to be compelled to manually clear snow for younger people in your old age?

If you give that some thought consider too that younger generations are likely to live longer than the current generation of pensioners. Or have these pensioners cossetted your generation to the point where you now expect to be pampered from cradle to grave.

In any case clearing snow manually from the roads was abandoned back in the 1950s when snow ploughs and gritting lorries replaced “expensive” volunteers who could earn five shillings (25p) an hour on snow clearing. Why would anyone want to go back to those times, especially as the winter snows then, seemed to be more severe than the few inches for a few days that this area has received in recent years? Perhaps the people who drove to work in snow years ago were better drivers than those who do so currently. They certainly didn’t whine as much.

I’m afraid that the letter also infers the taxes we pensioners paid were insufficient. The obvious lack of personal experience suggests Mr Blake is quite young so it isn’t his fault he writes as he does or that I can’t stand the comments of cheeky kids.

Ted Bains