Let’s change the system
As we come to terms with the idea that we shall work longer for less, and not reap the same pension benefits as our parents, we should be asking ourselves how we can draw some comfort from the difficult few years ahead of us. When Vince Cable likened our economic situation with the war, I am sure those who actually lived through it must have viewed the statement with a mixture of disbelief and fear. Of course, the next few years will be less destructive of life and property but, when our flatlining economies start to recover, we will find, like in 1919 and 1945, that we have effectively lost a decade of growth, optimism and wellbeing. Even after the two world wars, when the purposes had been so well defined, there was a period of desolation between the inebriation of victory and the resumption of economic growth.
More positively, the wars drove social change for the better. In Britain Women finally achieved suffrage in 1918 ( limited until 1928 ) and the education system was reformed under the Fisher act, giving the state responsibility for secondary education. The end of the second world war saw the introduction of the National Health Service, nationalised railways, coal mines and steel production.
So, if this period can be likened to war, should we not be looking to see what we can change to improve our futures like the post war years? What should we be looking at? What New Year’s Revolutions should we be looking to enact to build a better future for us and our offspring?
1) National Service.
Yes that old chestnut, but with youth unemployment in the UK at a high, and the evergrowing problem of elderly care, it seems bonkers not to join the two together and have the young look after the old. See this for more details.
The pensions system in the UK is crazy. Why should employers have to provide pensions? Why should they be invested in the markets, who then bet against us? How can a society allow its old to sink into poverty through poor pension provision? The solution is already in place. Take 10% of every salary and place it into a personal pension plan backed by the government and run by an independent body. the money accrued could be loaned to governments ( our own, for example ) at a competitive rate, negating the need for them to go to the markets. The markets would gradually loose the vast wealth of the pension funds and find their original level ( when they were just a rich man’s betting shop ). Every individual would receive a statement once a year informing them of how much was in their particular pot and how much this would generate at retirement. Remember it is in everyone’s interest that we all get good pension provision. Pensioners who live on the breadline are economically dead. Just think how our economy would benefit if our pensioners had money to spend.
Make tax payment public.
The recent parliamentary report on the Inland Revenue’s writing off billions of pounds worth of taxes for Vodafone left a nasty taste in the mouths of Joe Public. But, in fact it is just the tip of the iceberg. Because of this ridiculous notion that tax is a private issue, non-taxpayers have been getting away with it for years. Surely, in these times of hardship, we should be supporting those companies who pay their taxes in the UK? Take Boots the Chemist, for example, until it was bought by a private equity company in 2008, it was contributing abut £140 million to the exchequer every year in taxes. Its new owners quickly moved the company HQ to Switzerland and now we receive nothing. But that is not all is it? Boots is now competing with legitimate tax paying British companies whilst not paying tax itself. Hardly a level playing field is it? According to this research, it is estimated that the government currently loses £12 billion a year in taxes unpaid. Yet surely it should be a simple process for the Inland Revenue to issue a ‘tax paid ‘ statement to each company – or individual – who would surely then be pleased to present it publicly. A ‘pays British tax’ logo above your shop would boost sales, wouldn’t it? Of course the main problem is that they are all at it. Even if they have their HQ in the UK, their incomes are sifted through hundreds off-shore accounts. So don’t expect a public campaign for this. The media groups are playing the system just like everyone else.
Limit political careers.
That ugly phrase, ‘the political classes’ suggests some sort of Platonic predeterminism which strikes at the heart of democratic processes. Politicians should be limited to 4 parliamentary terms and the two chambers ( Commons and Lords) should be mutually exclusive.