We are told that the government cannot afford to pay the pensions that it has promised to its employees. That sounds plausible.
We are told that the pensions are 'gold plated' but they neglect to mention that over the last 10 or 20 years the annual pay settlements have been slightly reduced year on year in recognition of the value of a public sector pension and that it would be typical of this barely elected administration to steal from the poor to pay the rich. Its a sort of Sheriff of Nottingham Tax, not the usually discussed Robin Hood Tax that many would like to see implemented.
We are also told that public sector workers are paid more highly than their private sector equivalents, but they neglect to mention that these overpaid workers are generally more highly qualified too. In contrast, MPs are much more 'highly paid', are allowed to have second (third and nth) jobs while they are being paid handsomely to be public servants, and their qualification is often merely rhetorical.
We also note that the freeze in pay is resulting in a steady brain drain. I know one young, well-qualified engineer who is leaving his public-sector organisation for a 30% pay rise. (Yes yes, its anecdotal evidence, but I guarantee that it is not surprising to any of his colleagues.) It has also achieved the aim of reducing headcount and is seen t be seeding private sector companies with highly qualified people, so the government wins anyway. It is just that the work will not be done, but who will care?
But for now . . . just in the spirit of fairness, let's assume that the crisis that was CREATED by bankers and regulators really has made it impossible to afford the commitments that the government had made to its loyal (and less loyal) employees. If we can't afford everything I wonder whether there are any other areas that might offer cuts - perhaps before the pension cuts.
I guarantee that you will not agree with all of the following list of items that we seem to have no trouble affording. I have heard negative comments from several treasured friends who disapprove of the strike. However, I would be very surprised if there aren't several that you could happily disapprove of:
- MPs truly gold plated pensions - a full pension for MPs who have put in service of only 5 years (and who will no-doubt be directors of companies until their dying day in addition to their income from the public purse). There is no suggestion of savings on this exorbitant spending.
- Second houses for MPs, (which of course are justified), but the problem is that when these houses are sold for a profit the tax payer sees none of the proceeds.
- Replacing Trident - which we would never use (or would we?)
- 'Adventures' in Iraq, Afghanistan (and wherever is next - possibly Iran?), pretending that the UK is somehow the world's policeman, and a bigger target for terrorism.
- Bombing Libya - a sovereign country, admittedly ruled by a despot but why does the UK taxpayer have to pay for the ordnance to undermine it? And what right do 'we' have to depose that particular government and risk whatever is coming next?
- Spurious benefits (including free further-education, free prescriptions etc) to the people of 'remote parts' of UK but not to the people of England.
- Increasing overseas aid - including nearly £1 billion in aid to two nuclear powers for some incomprehensible reason.
- Bonuses paid to the bankers who caused the problems in the first place.
- Allowing tax avoidance by the highest paid people in the country who hide behind the veil of tax havens where their wives are citizens etc. You and I couldn't get away with that, but for Osborne and his cronies it appears to be mandatory. This could bring in a tidy £25 billion per year according to the best estimates.
- Sale of the 'profitable' part of a nationalised bank, Northern Rock, for a price that is unbelievably low. Meanwhile the tax payer remains burdened by £20 billion of debt from the rest of the same organisation.
- Tax benefits to the churches, including to the Roman Catholic Church which is one of the wealthiest organisations in the world. Many argue that it causes some of the greatest harm in the world (e.g. by its teachings about AIDS).
- The 2012 Olympics - for which private funding has not been forthcoming to the extent that the government expected. Well isn't that a surprise?
Meanwhile - by the end of 30th November, the government propaganda wing (including the BBC) will be busy spinning tales of the loss to the economy and putting the blame on the public sector workers.
I know that most people who do not work in the public sector are not in favour of the strike and many are in favour of the cuts. But I just ask you to consider whether this is fair in the light of the outrageous list above?
Your comments are awaited. When you do comment perhaps you could just say how many of the 12 points above you could live without.
In my case it is probably 10.