The retiring type
Props to President Hollande for mindless optimism in the face of harsh realities.
France’s new socialist government cut the country’s retirement age in the face of the eurozone’s deepening crisis, citing “social justice” to explain a move that goes against austerity efforts across the region.
Workers who entered employment aged 18 will be able to retire at 60 rather than 62, under the decree agreed at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
The decision follows pre-election promises from the new president Francois Hollande to reverse the rise in the retirement age introduced by his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010.
Actually, props to him for keeping an election promise. I thought politicians weren’t supposed to do that anymore? Perhaps it’s a French thing. And perhaps France is currently able to make it work. I know next to nothing about France’s economic situation or how this move will affect it, but I’m prepared to believe that at least in the short term the answers could be ‘not bad’ and ‘not much’ respectively. But assuming that France, like most western nations, has an ageing population how well does lowering the retirement age work in the longer term? As in the kind of time which will likely see the man who’s now the new president happily retired and writing his memoirs.
You see, the thing about ideals such as social justice is that mathematics really doesn’t give two fifths of a faint fuck about them, and so if the tax base isn’t there to support all a state’s retirees plus its other spending – and of course this is a point some countries have already passed – then it’s just not there. Borrowing to make up the difference will keep things going a bit longer but eventually even that won’t be enough, though by then you’ll have a lot of people expecting to get what they’d been promised years earlier and a lot more expecting the same or better when it’s their turn, and Greece is an indicator of how that could turn out.
Alternatively a state could take a different approach: leave retirement age to be sorted out between individuals and their employers.