Culling The Herd

John Key continues to say there will be no move to raise the retirement age while he is PM.

Any tinkering with the retirement age is politically risky, even if our ageing population and rising life expectancy suggest an increase at some point is inevitable.

Many countries in the OECD are now moving or have recently moved to raise the retirement age.

So why does Mr Key rule out any move? Surely it it economic madness to do nothing.

But then we all know that John Key is a sound economic manager, and that in Key’s hands our ship of state will navigate safely through perilous waters.

We know this to be so because National keeps telling us it is so, even if there is zero evidence that this government understands the difficult future we face.

So Mr Key must have some cunning plan up his sleeve to ensure that people can still retire at 65 in 20 or 30 years time. Otherwise to not only do nothing but also rule out ever doing anything would be bordering on reckless.

So what is Key’s plan? I’ll tell you, even though you might not like what I’m about to say, unless you have a particularly annoying elderly mother-in-law.

It’s called culling the herd.

If you’re a farmer and you can’t afford enough feed for your stock, you are going to need to downsize. A trip to the freezing works or the sales yards is almost inevitable.

Could this happen here? If the nation’s finances won’t support more than a certain number of people receiving superannuation from age 65, then we will need to either hike taxes or start knocking people off.

We can assume that a tax increase is the last thing on Key’s mind. He’d probably sooner eat his own children than raise income taxes. So my money is on a cull of the elderly. 

But I don’t yet know exactly how it will all work. Will the cull begin before 65, so that only the “right sort of people” get the pension? Will some sort of “moral means testing” be undertaken? Or will National simply snuff the oldest pension recipients out as and when new retirees are created?

It may sound alarming, but I trust that the process will be painless and dignified, and certainly no worse than a trip to the vet to put dear old Snowy to sleep.

And because the entire process will have to be industrialised, it may even create jobs.

I should briefly mention the other option for farmers with excess stock. Selling that excess is an option. But forcing the elderly into slavery doesn’t make much sense to me. Even if we could find a mad African tyrant who needs loads of slaves for his blood diamond operations, most of the over 65s are going to be just too old to work. Who would buy them?

The other option, I suppose, is that John Key doesn’t have a bloody clue, or just doesn’t care about the future of this country or its people. But so many people like him. How could they all be so wrong? 

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