Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Against indexing the retirement age

The Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income - a perverted "re-purposed" Retirement Commission - has called for the superannuation age to be automatically increased in line with life expectancy. Which sounds like a perfectly sensible idea - we're living longer, so why shouldn't we work longer? Except for the obvious: that upward increase masks significant inequalities. Māori live on average 7.3 years less than non-Māori. Poor people live 7.5 years less. So, when the Commission calls for the retirement age to be raised and indexed to life expectency, what they're really calling for is for those groups to be perpetually shut out of the pension system. Superannuation is for rich white folk only.

Interestingly, the Commissioner's report [PDF, p. 36] notes these facts, and then handwaves them away because "Retirement income policies cannot be expected to address variable health or lifespan outcomes", effectively erasing the racial and socio-economic nature of those disparities, and thus the discrimination in failing to address them. Which is what happens when your policy-makers are all rich white people.

The good news is that the racial gap is closing. But comparing the 2004 and 2010 Social Reports, the socio-economic gap appears to be closing for males, and widening for females. Until both those gaps are reduced to a purely nominal level (say one or two years), any increase in the pension age is discriminatory, and should be resisted.

(And meanwhile, the Labour Party Boomers continue to promise to fuck over young people for the benefit of the old. Again, why would anyone want to vote for a party which given up on the left-wing project, and which is promising to make you actively worse off?)