Fixing pensions

Pensions are important and will be for a long time (how about the indefinite future? Or at least until you can get uploading on the National Health). I find myself really losing patience with the politicians. No one doubts there’s a crisis coming and we’ve seen some interesting new ideas (like the citizen’s pension) but something as big as this should present an opportunity to try something new, something really radical and challenging to the legislative status quo.

We need a huge, broad-based, non-party effort and a commitment from our politicians to set aside ideology and the electoral cycle just for once if we’re ever to sort out provision for our old age. The legislators should convene a conference or a standing commission representing all the affected groups, give it a long-range remit (twenty years plus) and some insulation from the political ebb and flow (so it won’t be swept away in the next regime change) and grant it some legislative clout (access to ministerial resources, drafting rights, some kind of special parliamentary status).

I’d like to think something like this could happen in Blair’s Britain. It would be an interesting experiment and, if it worked, might provide a model for other very large-scale (even planetary) and very long-term (>100 years) issues like climate change, trade or migration.

Somehow I doubt it’ll happen, though. Pensions will remain subject to the collapsed five year time horizon of MPs and ministers and, as a result, we’ll see no solution until it’s much too late and the continuation of the ‘anything for a quiet life’ policy from all of the electable parties will produce a nasty social crisis when the storm hits. Very depressing.