By Austin Aneke
(Jacobin) Thomas Paine had written that “when you see age going to the work house and the youth to the gallows something is wrong somewhere. It would seem by exterior appearances that all was good, but there lies hidden from the eye of common observation a mass wretchedness that has scarcely any other chance than to expire in poverty. Its entrance into life is marked with the presage of its fate, and until this is remedied it is in vain to punish”.
Though written ages ago his carefully worded and well delivered message reflects events in UK even in 2010. The UK government recently unveiled plans to raise the retiring age to 66, from the current 65. Their argument is that people are living better, and longer. There are more octogenarians in UK today than at any time in history. Pension funds are under strain and ageing is an issue of serious concern. The extra one year before retirement means extra 365 days of trekking to the work house, and may be difficult to take physically and mentally both by those close to 65 and the weaker ones among us. It is expected that some retirees will lose close to £8,000 pounds in pensions as a result of the extra year.
On the other hand the Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke recently announced that about 85,000 people excluding the thousands languishing in immigration detention centers are locked up in the prisons. Paine referred to these prisons as gallows. What have these people done? Are their offences directly related to the state of the economy? If yes, then Jacobin cannot be clearer and more correct ages after his statement, than now. It maybe then” in vain to continue to punish”.