Tag Archives: age

Retirement is a concept of the past

Opponents to the UK public sector strikes today are arguing that the public-sector workers all have fairly safe and secure jobs and get gold-plated pensions far higher than anything anyone in the private sector can expect. I heard on the radio this morning someone arguing that a teacher on £30k can expect a pension pot of over half a million pounds.

Supporters of the strike argue that there is a vast difference between the pension agreements of MPs and Whitehall mandarins and a frontline worker in a Job Centre. Also, they find it unfair that they signed up to a contract – that includes an agreed pension – and it is now being changed so they need to pay in more and work longer before seeing a penny. Public sector workers often argue that their pension is ‘deferred pay’ – they earn less in the present because they can get a greater pension.

There are examples supporting both arguments. It seems that never the twain shall meet. If you argue for reform, you are uncaring and not supporting the right of the public sector to expect the nice retirement they deserve for years of toil. If you support the public sector workers, you just fail to see the need for reform.

But isn’t the reality that retirement is no longer an option. It’s a dated concept. It’s something planned back in the post Second-World War era.

A male born in the UK in 1945 had a life expectancy of 63 years. A male born in 2001 had a life expectancy of 75. A male or female born today has a life expectancy of over 80 years (World Bank and UK Statistics Agency figures.)

With a retirement age of 65 in the UK, the state pension was designed to pay out a couple of years *after* the average male would have already died. Disregarding any tinkering with the retirement age and assuming it remains at 65 means the *average* person will have a couple of decades on state pension before they die.

If the state pension age had risen in line with life expectancy, people would not be able to claim a state pension until they are about 82 years old.

The unions don’t like this, and the employers (especially public sector) can’t face up to it either. The bottom line is that the post-war concept of retirement is not sustainable using the same methods to pay for it that worked 50 years ago. The entire system needs a top-to-bottom revision in both the public and private sector.

So the teachers can go on strike, and the government can hector them about needing to do something to help the reform, but the real reform is to wake up to the fact that we will all need to be working until later in life – unless you get rich early on and invest your wealth in paying for a future of leisure…
Car dumped in cemetery

It’s the last day of my thirties today – goodbye youth

So that’s it. The end of my thirties. I’ll be 40 tomorrow – that sounds very middle-aged, worse than heading from your 20s into 30s.

In the last decade I got divorced, I bought a house in London before prices exploded, I published my first book… followed by several others, and I also started working for myself rather than a company as an employee.

It’s been seven years now since I quit ‘regular’ employment and it’s been fruitful at times, and close to the wire at others. Fortunately things are OK right now as the companies I work with are fairly positive about a recovery from the recession… though who knows if they are right?

But I have lot of new plans for the future, and a great partner. I remember the BBC journalist John Humphrys once saying that you shouldn’t live each day planning for the perfect holiday, you should try to adapt your life so each day can be like a holiday.

Obviously most of us still need to work, but I like what I do – it’s very flexible and allows me to travel the world and meet interesting people. It’s certainly not a holiday when clients are chasing me over blogs or presentations, but being the master of your own destiny is a far nicer life than being in a bank or a consulting firm where your soul is exchanged in a Faustian pact all in the hope of that annual bonus.

So I’m not all that worried about getting older, life has got more exciting through my 30s – I expect it can only get better now!

I'm Lovin' it...

Is genealogy the only attraction for silver surfers?

My parents don’t use the Internet. They don’t need to use the Internet and they don’t really want to, though I know my father is tempted by news reports of family tree history being easy to research online.

Yet there are endless stories like this in the BBC of how much time everyone is spending online. It seems web use is 65% up in the UK, compared to three years ago. But a quarter of all that time is spent on social networks and blogs.

So what about the generation still thinks spam is a cheap tin of meat?

What will be the ‘killer app’ that encourages people to explore the Internet when they have spent their entire life not needing it? I suspect the government will use a carrot and stick approach to getting people online – free training, tax breaks for doing government business online (tax returns for example) – but ultimately, what will it be that convinces people they have to get online or miss out?
Spam