I think we need to call this latest pensions debate for what it is. Isn’t it just another attack on so-called rich baby boomers, dressed up as something more noble?
The latest complaint is that there are now more than 31,000 over 65-year-olds claiming the pension while also earning over $100,000, which adds up to possibly $600 million-odd a year.
So what? What’s the problem?
Should pensioners get disqualified from earning their super because they’ve cracked some magical number by earning 100K? Is $100,000 what we consider rich?
I’m sure there are a lot of people in this country who would like to earn $100K, but it’s hardly super-yacht-in-the-Mediterranean-business-class-every-day rich, is it?
And you can guess the reaction this has generated. Outrage! We need means testing! Income testing! A higher tax bracket just for pensioners and no one else!
And yet, guarantee it, the people making these calls know none of those suggestions will work.
Means testing: too complicated and could cost more than it recovers.
Income testing: that’s easier but pensioners will just get around it by shifting income around.
Tax bracket: Same as above.
And in any case, think that through. People work their whole lives paying tax, and we reward them at 65 by taxing them more highly.
There are so any perverse outcomes here. The worst of which would be that we tell pensioners we don’t want them in the workforce, which would be a bad outcome given how many employers are gagging for staff at the moment. We’d just be making that worse.
Fact is our super system works. We have one of the lowest rates of elderly poverty in the world, so why would you mess with that?
And we don’t need to. Even the Retirement Commission now admits the system is affordable just the way it is.
So if it is affordable, and if it is working, and people are still complaining, I can’t help but think they’re just jealous of baby boomers who are still earning well.