I’ve been working now for something like 42 years without a break, that is I’ve never claimed dole and for some of that period, in addition to financing the national health I paid for private medicine merely to try to minimise any down-time if I was ill (because really that’s all that actually happens with private medicine in the UK by and large – if you get anything seriously wrong you still end up being treated by the same doctors)
When I was young I recall there was something called National Insurance – the second word being the important one – the idea was that you were insured against unemployment. You paid money – and the more you earned, the more you paid. If for any reason you fell on hard times and became unemployed, the amount you got back was to some extent dependent on what you’d put in.
Today of course that entirely sensible mechanism is history. We’ve sleep-walked into the most ridiculous situation wherein those who pay in the most, at best get no more than others – and overall get even less.
My dad spent most of his life working hard, employing people and paying taxes. At one time I recall our engineering company employed over 30 people, some of whom stayed with us for most of their lives. When he died, my mother lived in modest comfort near the coast. She might have expected more but the recession of the 70s put pay to much of the wealth my dad had worked hard for, but at least she had her own home and modest savings. When some time ago she needed to go into a nursing home as her days were drawing to a close, we found ourselves responsible for administering her estate and witnessed, horrified, as the nursing home funds ate into what funds she had. This despite being surrounded by others, some of whom may have not worked a day in their lives getting similar care and only a few miles North in Scotland, people in similar situation having the same care for free (well, paid for by UK tax-payers).
Today with retirement not yet there for my generation but on the horizon, we read that the government openly admits that care bills will continue to soak up most of our savings. A rising number of elderly face losing “almost all of their wealth” to pay for social care.
This is not about Conservative or Labour politics, it is about a generation of utter financial incompetence on behalf of those we trust to run the country. Those of use who have “played our part” and helped countless unemployed including those who have never done a day’s work, including those who’d like to pull the system apart yet continue to scrounge from it, throughout all of this we’ve gone about our daily businesses and paid our share of taxes – and for what – to get ripped blind when we are least able to look after ourselves.
A lifetime of contributing to a broken system that in the end will let us down while continuing to fund perfectly healthy people who can’t get their own act together and those who would do us harm.
So who are the fools – the corporates and banks who’ve been ripping us off all these years, or the poor suckers who’ve financed everything with their taxes?