I've commented before on our government's campaign to demonise benefit claimants. Up to now, the targets have been working age "scroungers" - pensioners have been off the radar and protected from cuts. (although some will argue that the rising pension age represents a cut)
Pensioners are a tempting target. Although a lot of them have low incomes, they often have capital in the form of houses. Meanwhile, young people are often unemployed, in debt and have little chance of acquiring property.
There's a lot of pensioners and their numbers are growing. Any politician seen to attack them may suffer at the ballot box. The ballot-box hit isn't just from the pensioners themselves - it's from their children. Not only might children want to protect their aged parents - they'll want to protect their eventual inheritance. That inheritance might be the only chance to buy a house - but wait, the attractions of owning a house may be less if it comes under attack later in life.
A canny political move might be to encourage inter-generational conflict, EG: "It cannot be right that Granny Perkins lives alone in a three bedroom house while hard-working Kirsty is crammed into a one-bedroom flat with her two children". Perhaps Granny Perkins should have her state pension reduced for under-occupancy in order to encourage her to swap with Kirsty? I think that particular wheeze won't fly simply because it would be another "bedroom tax" and that policy is doomed medium-term as its unworkability becomes more evident. However, other policies that attempt to wrest money from older people can be expected. They will probably take the form of attacks on capital leveraged by attacks on income.
I'm probably the last person in the UK to discover this sort of product but never mind. This example is sold by Lidl at 55p a throw. You peel off the top, add boiling water up to the line, stir for a couple of minutes and eat.
It's quite nice. Purists will object that it shouldn't contain sugar - I believe the Scottish way with porridge involves salt which is currently not favoured by the healthy-eating lobby. A look at the nutrition panel on this product shows it does a fairly good job of ticking the boxes.
Verdict: Worth packing a few for the next camping trip and seeing what the gang think.
Chuck never tired of watching the rare Red-crowned Cranes down
by the lake. For them, it was peaceful, a happy accident of living in the “Demilitarized
Zone” For Chuck, it made it the most magical place in the world. He also got to
do the most secret and surreal job here in a ramshackle hut perched right on
the border only a few kilometers from the official huts at Panmunjom.
Hwan and he were of an age and shared a love of wildlife.
They worked well together so when Hwan emerged from the bushes on the other
side. Chuck cheerfully sauntered over to greet him. Technically, this was a breach of the
North's sovereignty but no one seemed to care. Perhaps the project was too secret to risk monitoring.
“They're really pleased with you!” said Chuck,
“Yeah! They've sent you extra Whiskey – I got a sore back
“Oh thank you! I was worried that we might have gone too
“You mean the little firework display?”
“It was great! It really rattled some cages – and your
successful rocket launch has really got people talking”
“Yes, they're talking but mainly they are being rude about
us and the Great Leader”
“Sorry about that, it's the price of distracting our media.
Writing scary stories about you guys keeps them busy and off our back”
“It's not so bad for us really. We use their stories to prove to
our people the conspiracy of the running dogs of the paper tigers of the
western lackeys or whatever it is this month”
Both men smiled and they sipped their beers quietly for a
“I do have a worry – the US has a habit of taking hate campaigns
to the next level and invading as with Iraq. This would be bad for us”
“It's a fair point, Hwan, that would be the end of our nice little
racket here but it's not likely – a country like the USA needs enemies. Who
could we hate if we didn't hate you?
“Don't be silly. They have oil. They're much higher up the
So, even if you gave people a really big incentive (Say, a £1000/week minimum wage if you get a job) around 2 million people are going to fail.
Of course, it's possible they'll try a lot harder under this sort of deal. You can also throw in some training on how to write better CVs as well. It's not going to make any real difference to the 2 million figure. The CV training will just change who gets the jobs - not create extra ones.
The 2 million will get less benefits in real terms and possibly get hit by the bedroom tax as well.
However, a look back in history to the time of the Poll Tax shows that deeply unfair treatment of the poor need not be the downfall of a government. It arguably brought down Margaret Thatcher but her Conservative Party won an election after the Poll Tax row and governed for around five more years.