A phrase every child becomes accustomed to at a very early age is “well life isn’t fair, is it?”
Whether it be because you weren’t allowed to stay up past your bedtime to watch the Benny Hill Show, pour Tizer on your Frosties or wear your Mr T medallions to school, there cannot be anyone who has not heard that stock phrase which comes straight from the pages of the Little Book of Lazy Parent Clichés.
I have heard it a lot recently, not from my three-year-old, but from senior citizens who are angry at moves to reduce the national deficit by looking at their pensions and other benefits they receive.
One suggestion in particular - the idea that ‘younger’ pensioners work for their state benefits by ‘volunteering’ to look after even older members of society - has enraged senior citizens’ groups, one of which claimed the idea was akin to national service for the over 60s.
Well, we are agreed on that harebrained idea, which I am sure was dreamt up over a latte and a Danish during a Whitehall blue sky thinking session, because it would be unenforceable and most pensioners I know do carry out the odd good deed.
Mainly because daytime television is rubbish.
True, it is difficult for some of the hardest up pensioners to get by only on what the State gives them but there are those with much more in the bank than you and I who are entitled to pretty much the same as Scruffy Sid, the 80-year-old who keeps his trousers up with a piece of string and lives a humble life in every town and village in the land. Regardless of what has happened to the economy in recent years, the past decade has been a golden age for people in their sixties and seventies, many of whom have been able to sell the family home they paid 50 bob for in the 1960s for approaching half a million, downsize and spend the rest of their days going on holiday three times a year.
Hilariously, I have heard this described as Skiing - spending the kids’ inheritance.
Of course, pensioners today need not take their gas guzzling Jag out of the garage because they can travel anywhere they want for free on public transport and they get lunch half price at my local chippy. Don’t get me wrong, pensioners deserve a long and happy retirement but so do I and my pals but at this rate I won’t be able to call it a day until I am well into my seventies and I will have to sell my kidney if I need to go into a home. The only answer to this problem is to means test all pensions like they will soon, rightly, do for all parents, who up until now have been able to claim child benefit whether or not they holiday six weeks a year in Tuscany. As this row rumbles on I predict the cries of ‘It’s not fair’ from the older generation will get louder and louder. But life isn’t fair, is it?