In the US and UK, retirement is only for the super-rich

Since the neoliberal reforms of the Reagan era; the rollback of trade unions; the elimination of defined-benefits pensions (in favor of "market-based" SIPPs and 401(k)s); the termination of national minimum wage increases and real earnings collapse for working people; the finance-industry fraud that stole so many working peoples' homes during and after the subprime bubble; the massive increases in healthcare costs, the possibility of retiring after 45 or 50 years in the workforce has been snuffed out for nearly everyone.

There is cash to be found to bail out the banks, cash for foreign wars, and cash enough to let companies like Google pay 0.21% tax (with working people picking up the shortfall in the public coffers) by claiming to earn all its profits in Ireland. But libraries, schools, unemployment assistance, and healthcare are unaffordable luxuries.

Besides, the intellectuals of the neoliberal movement remind us, retirement is "ageist" -- people like to work!

The intergenerational resentment between the millennials who've inherited climate change and bad jobs and precarity and the boomers who will work until the grave takes them needs to be replaced with intergenerational solidarity. The problem isn't other workers -- it the billionaires who've looted the treasuries and pitted us against each other.

There’s clearly a lot of intergenerational resentment towards retirees at the moment. The perception is that they’ve pulled the ladder up on the millennials who are struggling in low-paid jobs, will never own a house and are laden with awful student debts – and even reports that they’re better off than workers. The disgruntlement is understandable. But it also plays into the hands of those trying to end retirement, a divide and conquer tactic that has been remarkably effective in allowing some draconian policies to flourish.

What we really need is an intergenerational alliance to be forged around the issue. Any attempt to protect the right to retire (with a pension) will also have to address the dire developments in the employment sector that are seriously disadvantaging younger people and now creeping into jobs held by 40-somethings too.

Welcome to the new dark ages, where only the wealthy can retire [Peter Fleming/The Guardian]

(via Naked Capitalism)

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