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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

McDowell sells own grandmother for votes

I can't help wondering if the dangling of an offer of €300 per week for pensioners might not come to be seen as the PD's Eircom and taxis moment of election 2007.

It has been just...sort of..thrown out there with no context for the increase. I initially thought it was rushed in response to the Labour tax cuts but then it is the frontpage of the PD freebie in yesterday's Indo. Why €100? Why not €123 or €94? Perhaps Michael likes nice round numbers, or he's scared of the number 23, maybe he thinks the public are too thick to work out that this money is going to be at the expense of something else.

Naturally, McDowell is not so much selling his own granny but trying to buy ours (or in my case my mother). Yet even my mother at the time of the last election when they gave the Gold medical cards to every pensioner over 70 was complaining that "sure many of those over 70 didn't need the cards as they had plenty of money to pay for visits to the doctor" and pointed out that it should have been the kids who got medical cover as a matter of course because that is when it is needed. After all, she had been a parent and had some experience of when parents help with their children's health. Most older people have been parents too.

Indeed, I suspect many grandparents in and around Dublin in particular will look at the state of the schools their grandkids are going to, the distance that their children have to travel to find a childcare place because they aren't able to live anywhere close to them.

Also, what does it say about a government that is desperately trying to get young people to take out personal pension cover when the state is stepping in and giving a massive boost to the pensions of those who didn't make such a provision. It is hardly setting a good example now is it? There are so many conflicts between this proposal and other areas of government policy it seems hard to understand it in any context except that of an election.

If the government made some effort to reduce heating and energy prices for the elderly, ensured that we had mixed communities so they weren't left alone to fend for themselves, and that their families could live reasonably close to each other such that grandparents could see their children and grandchildren that would do much more than a €100 per week.

Comfort and company is what most older people need and lack. A €100 bribe per week isn't going to provide either.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just did the sums. To actually do this, pensions will have to rise by 8% year on year. If inflation averaged 4% over the period then there would be a real increase of 20% over inflation. If inflation is lower then the real increase will be even more.

Although it may conflict with other policies, people have been paying social insurance for years on the premise that they would, among other things, get a pension. I'm amazed at how little resistance there is from, for example, trade unions to the idea that their members have been conned into paying for something that the government says they should pay for again.

How good a pension should be is a real political question. Should it just stop you from starving or freezing to death? Or should you be able to go out partying every night?

Fred.

Dan Sullivan said...

The premise that most people belive about social insurance that it is some form of savings or investment scheme whereby it is their money which is put aside for them until they need it is a lie. The money that comes in to the state in PRSI goes straight out the door in pension payments.

If we were to give people right now a pension outcome based how much they had put into the system in terms of contributions and what the value of that would be then I suspect that they would be much less than they are currently on. Not that I oppose this, it was and is as you mention part of the social contract they signed up for. However, there comes a time when the contract no longer adds up and it needs to be revisited.

The PD proposal of €300 per week appears to suggest that both contributory and non-contributory end up the same, which again re emphasises that young people do not need to make any provision for their future as the "state" will pick up the tab.

Dan Sullivan said...

Also, 4% inflation would be incredibly high by Euro zone averages.