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Reconstituted Socialist Party of Great Britain (1991) - Article - Capitalism and Geriatricide

I want to die before I get old” sang Roger Daltrey of the WHO. Two of the band’s members got their wish but for the surviving members getting old is not such a drag. Cushioned by Millions from royalties and investment portfolios Daltrey (whose wealth is $60m) and Townsend (whose wealth is $105m) are both very comfortable in old age. When politicians, economists and the media berate the elderly for having it too good they do not mean the rich like the surviving members of the WHO, but those redundant workers who are drawing state pensions and other benefits.

If Dean Swift were alive today he might add to his satires by writing a book on the elderly along the lines he did with his A MODEST PROPOSAL for solving the problem of hunger in Ireland for the poor. Swift satirically concluded that the best policy for the Irish poor was to eat their children. Well he might now add the solution for the problem of the elderly is for their children to be allowed to buy a one-way plane tickets to Zurich. Infanticide or Geriatricide; what is the difference if it gets the poor off the back of the rich?

And the elderly are a problem for the government. 10 million people in the UK are over 65 years old. The latest projections are for 5½ million more elderly people in 20 years’ time and the number will have nearly doubled to around 19 million by 2050.

Much of today’s public spending on benefits is focussed on elderly people. 65% of Department for Work and Pensions benefit expenditure goes to those over working age, equivalent to £100 billion in 2010/11 or one-seventh of public expenditure. Continuing to provide state benefits and pensions at today’s average would mean additional spending of £10 billion a year for every additional one million people over working age. This money comes from taxation whose burden falls on the shoulder of the capitalist class. Capitalists would like nothing less than to get rid of this burden to re-invest to make more and more money.

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/key-issues-for-the-new-parliament/value-for-money-in-public-services/the-ageing-population/

Not that the elderly from the working class live well. According to Age UK, just over a million people have a care need but receive no help from the state. Government funding for local councils’ adult care budgets has been cut by a third since 2005–06.

The government will not introduce rules to cap care costs, which mean many elderly people, will have to sell their homes in order to pay for care.

In 2011 Age UK produced a report LIVING ON A LOW INCOME IN LATER LIFE, which noted, for instance, that many people ‘went without holidays, stopped going out, did not replace household goods, and some took drastic action to reduce their heating and energy costs.’

Another report In 2014 by Age UK reported that 1.6 million pensioners are living below the poverty line; many are entitled to extra state benefits but do not claim, whether through ignorance or pride. More than 1 million older people are left to struggle by each day without any support. Spending on services like home carers, meals on wheels, and day care has dropped by more than £1 billion in the last five years. Age Concern 2016

Spend more on the elderly will not wash with politicians. They have to administer capitalism and the interests of the capitalist class. The problem with social reformism is that capitalism has a history of reforms being given out with one hand and taken away with the other.

What politicians can do is divide the working class. By saying to younger workers that the elderly are living in a geriatric utopia the elderly will be resented without capitalism being questioned.

So it comes as no surprise to come across a prime-time BBC programme, TIME TO BREAK PROMISES TO PENSIONERS (4 October 2016) written by Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies

According to Paul Johnson the elderly have never had it so good particularly the Baby boomer generation; those born in the mid-1940’s and mid-1960’s. He claimed that this “privileged” section of the working class enjoyed improved life expectancy and higher income and wealth

He then said that the generations coming up behind are less well -off

* Earnings are stagnating
* Homeownership rates have collapsed
* No generous occupational pensions
* Increase in value of home
* Able to buy second homes
* Generous occupational pensions

His conclusion was that the older generation have more wealth at the expense of the younger generation - Paul Johnson

What is not questioned is capitalism.

As we have seen from charities for the elderly, they suffer:

* Poor health care
* Loneliness
* Inability to afford to repair or heat homes
* High cost of residential care
* No adaptations of house to meet changing needs when getting older

Generation is not the issue what is the issue is the capitalist class young and old versus the working class young and old.

In Socialism the elderly will be cared for as valuable members of the community, not as redundant workers to be blamed or forgotten. Opposed to the self-interst of the rich under capitalism, socialism will adhere to the principle “from each according to ability to each according to need. And one of those needs will be a decent and inclusive life in old age.

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