One Rant at a Time

Whatever heaves into view........better keep its head down.

Monday, November 28, 2005

I hate to say it, but the answer is "have more sex"

A while ago, the government commissioned a report on pensions, to work out whether the state will be able to afford retirement pensions in the future. Now the report is nearing publication and Gordon Brown has already let it be known that he won't agree with its conclusions. Why not?

Because the report will say that we need to keep working for longer in order to pay taxes that will come back to us in the form of our pensions. And Gordon Brown, that sly old dog, knows that if he's going to have a hope in hell of being a successful Prime Minister, he needs to keep the workers happy and continue to let them clock off at 60 or 65.

That's all well and good. I'm sure that if my career depended on people wanting to vote for me, I'd say just about anything too. But the long and short of it is, sadly, that our government can't afford to pay for us to retire at 60 or 65 any more.

Remember, the population here is ageing. Rather quickly. We're not breeding enough to ensure a large, healthy workforce that will take over from us and generate all that tax revenue that'll keep us in zip-up boots and tartan shopping trolleys when our time comes.

But that wasn't supposed to matter. Remember all those future-gazing articles and TV programmes that would promise us a future of push-button indolence and transistorised luxury? We were told that there's be nothing for us to do, that a generation of robots and processors would take care of the nasty stuff, like work, washing-up and taking out the rubbish.

Well, all that thinking outside the box was clearly a bunch of hooey. But in any case, we all got ready for it. We stopped having quite so many kids, we indulged ourselves early, and now we're being told that our lives are so expensive that the state can't support us when we become too doddery to grind up our own pine nuts for the pesto sauce.

I'm marginally closer to 65 than I am to 18, so I'm looking around me and wondering if *this* is what I want to keep doing for the next 25-odd years. Not only that, but I'm thinking "where has all that money gone?". The thousands of pounds I've paid in taxes and national insurance, the private pension plan, the savings (ha!)... suddenly, it's all just a mirage.

And if you care to wander into the City, you'll find an entire generation of kids earning telephone number salaries for buying and selling paper, who will never have to worry about their retirement because they'll have bought and sold more companies and countries than we've had hot dinners. Now *these* people we could stand to tax a little more, don't you think? But no, high taxation is a turn-off. Apparently it discourages investment and drives the young and talented abroad. Not to mention it makes anyone who proposes it totally unelectable.

At the moment, 21.2% of the population in the UK is over 60. In 2050 it will be 29.4%. In the US, the current percentage is just 16.7%, and it will be 26.4% in 2050. But spare a thought for Italy (41.3% in 2050), Korea (41.2%) and Japan (41.7%). And South America! Only 11% of their population is over 60 at the moment, and in 2050 it'll be just 8%! What *are* they doing? Actually, don't tell me.

So it seems perfectly clear to me. If we're going stand any chance of having a comfortable retirement, we need to ensure that there are enough youngsters in the workforce by the time we get there. And that means having sex. Lots of it. Starting now.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Merry Diversity

One of the cardinal rules of polite conversation is never to bring up the topics of politics or religion. I try to be as polite as possible, but every so often it's necessary to vent about the various idiocies of what we are pleased to call the western -- or civilised -- world.

Christmas is approaching. Now Christmas, as any fule kno, is a Christian festival, celebrating the birth of one of the key figures of all Christian religions. It's a cornerstone of Christian religious observance, it's one of the two or three main religious holidays in the calendar and, apart from its religious context, it's the basis for a whole smorgasbord of social interaction - visits to family, friends, colleagues, goodwill, seasonal cheer, etc etc. So it serves both sacred and secular purposes.

Well, it did. Before the claws of political correctness sank into it and started tearing the substance from its bones. What we have now is an almost indecent eagerness on the part of The Powers That Be in Britain to teach us to wish each other "seasonal" greetings, a happy "winterval", a pleasant non-denominational holiday festival.

I notice that it's still OK to express good wishes on the occasion of Eid, Diwali, Channukah and whatever other non-Christian religious festivals occur around this time of year. Quite rightly, too, more power to them etc etc.

But why is British society stripping itself of its own, historical, religious trappings faster than a horny student in a brothel room? Why are we bending over backwards to deny our own faith?

I can't help but detect a vague shame on the part of modern British society, or at least the parts of it that are in charge of these things: local council diversity commandos, equal opportunity police, the whatever-you-do-don't-upset-them squad. You know, the "we mustn't shove our religion down their throats" argument.

Why must we be so self-effacing that we must deny our own, national, faith? If I travel to the Middle East or Asia, I respect the local culture and religion, I enjoy it, I learn from it. Is Britain subtly saying that we can't expect people of other faiths to respect ours, so instead we must erase it?

What's wrong with Christianity? Don't get me wrong, I'm not a devout Christian by even the longest stretch of the imagination, but I'm concerned at the abandonment of the Christian underpinnings of a culture that has thrived for nigh on two millenia. Christianity has no more to be ashamed of than most other religions though yes, it has been a warlike religion on numerous occasions.

Britain is one of the more cosmopolitan countries on this earth. It has a history of tolerance, of welcoming other religions. Ironically, the nastiest episodes in this country's history have been those of intra-Christian strife: but to all other religions, Britain has been a pretty accomodating host.

But studiously wiping out your own faith so that other people can feel more confident of theirs is taking hospitality just a bit too far.