Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Orange Booker Slur, part 9

Chapter 10: Pension reform: a new settlement for a new century by Paul Marshall

This chapter is steeped in social liberalism, seeking as it does to solve the pensions crisis, rather than brushing it under the carpet as the current government seems to be trying to do.

A few points are worth repeating.

"The problem of intergenerational transfers did not take up too much of too much of Beveridge's time because the numbers were not big enough. Today, the numbers are overwhelming."

"Britain has not raised the male pension age since 1948 despite the fact that male life expectancy has risen from 63 to 75." Marshall suggests increasing the age to 67, and allowing more flexibility in retirement age.

"The regressive nature of tax incentives for savings is actually quite stark. Over half the money spent of tax relief for private pensions goes to the top income decile of taxpayers..."

A compulsory universal funded scheme is advocated, with the option to choose the state or alternative providers.

So far so good. The eyebrow is raised, however, in Marshall's introduction to the whole Orange Book. He writes "Laws' vision for healthcare reforms has strong parallels with the proposals set out in Chapter 10 for pension reform." Well I don't see it. Both are compulsory, but that is about it. The pensions proposal has a range of providers, the health proposal has a range of bureaucratic intermediaries. The gross flaws of the latter are not found in the former.

Verdict: not guilty.

I will conclude this series in part 10, looking at chapter 1 and the book as a whole.

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