ACT has joined Labour in calling for the elderly to work longer, by arguing for raising the retirement age. Former Roger Douglas fanboy and acolyte Phil Goff must be thrilled. New ACT leader Jamie Whyte promised to take ACT back to it’s roots, but no one expected him to go all the way back to party’s roots in Labour.
It’s not surprising that the rich white men of ACT want to cut the elderly, but Labour? Raising the retirement age will hurt physical workers most of all, and Labour is supposed to represent them. This is a bread and butter issue for people nearing the end of a long hard working life, and will move votes. No wonder they like ‘that nice man Keys’.
Key has been crystal clear- He will quit before he raises the age. Labour, on the other hand, wants to raise it, but may commit to providing the current level of super to those who can’t work past 65. I’m not sure how many 55 year old working kiwis know this caveat though. And besides, Labour are awfully vague about determining the ‘can’ and ‘can’t’. Instead, all that comes across is the key message of ‘Labour wants me to work for nother two years’. Is this how Labour plans to win the centre?
When taken in it’s wider context, it’s easy to see how this pushes working people to National. That context being, of course, Labour’s shift towards identity politics. Prior generations are implicated in all of the evils of identity politics. Present generations are too, but we’re part of present generations, which means we’re also implicated. I suspect this is why we don’t talk much about the ageist expectations, disadvantages and language and how it harms older people. It’s easy not to care about the frail and isolated when you’re young and fighting for minorities. Old working class people inspire little sympathy.
This leads us to what I call the half visible elephant in the room. Winston sees it. John Key sees it. ACT see it, but just don’t care. If you are trying to win middle-aged working voters (such as those who abandoned Labour), then raising the super age isn’t very smart. It may go over well with the family trust belt, but Bob the Builder is going to choke on his soggy WeetBix.
Simply raising the super age is also inequitable. I have heard countless young lefties argue ‘people can work past 65.’ Well, my background is working class, I can tell you for a FACT that many people working physical jobs struggle to keep working to 65. It’s all well and good if you have a desk job, but its a lot harder if you have to lift heavy things or stand all day.
I’m not saying that rising costs of superannuation are not an issue. They are. I’m not even saying Labour’s policy won’t do something about the fiscal problem. It might. I’m saying that raising the spectre of another two years working is not politically astute because it will push those who can least manage it towards National. And I am also saying that it is interesting to hear far-left people suddenly become fiscally conservative when it comes to poor old people.
And I am defintely restating that ACT are Labour’s baby, and that some of those guilty for Rogernomics are still around and in senior positions