Michael Caine caused a bit of a kafuffle after the Budget last month when he joked that, aged 76, he gets up at 6am every morning to go to work on behalf of benefits claimants. Caine is angry about the proposed new tax rate of 50 per cent which will hit people earning more than £150,000 a year. Perhaps he won’t be signing our petition to raise the Jobseeker’s Allowance, then. Shame, as he is one of my favourite actors. In his days as a London taxi driver my father once picked up Caine and his wife Shakira. Caine was very friendly and not at all celeb-like and as for Shakira, my father said – much to the annoyance of my mother – that she was so stunning she would look good in anything – even a bin liner.
But now it seems that Michael Caine won’t be the only UK worker grafting his way to the grave. A think tank called the National Institute of Economic & Social Research claims that in order to pay back the mammoth borrowings Messieurs Darling and Brown have amassed on our behalf, we’ll all have to work until we’re 70. Now, I don’t mind hard work, but I’d be lying if I said that put a big smile on my face. I occasionally have workaholic moments, but the prospect of grafting until I’m in my dotage hardly appeals. In fact I’ve always dreamed of retiring early – not that I’m anywhere close to being on target to do so unless I (a) win the lottery (b) write a JK Rowling/Dan Brown-style bestseller or (c) the chickens dig up a stash of buried loot in the back garden. Lexi is doing her best, but so far all she’s uncovered is a few lettuces in the vegetable patch and a tiny toy gorilla.
Some years ago one of my friends came up with a brilliant retirement plan. Us girls would pool our money together to buy a mansion and – assuming we had sadly outlived our partners – employ attractive young men in skimpy outfits to clean up after us and serve our prescription medication. A far more attractive prospect than working, if you ask me.
But what will life be like if we’re all grafting until we’re 70? Due to his diabetes, one of my retired relatives falls asleep every afternoon and whenever he eats anything. Will corporations be forced to set up power napping stations instead of crèches? Will the good old-fashioned tea lady, once a key part of office life, make a comeback in the shape of a medication trolley dolly, doling out pills instead of PG Tips? And what happens if swine ‘flu or some other pandemic wipes out a significant portion of the working population? Will the survivors have to work even longer – maybe until we’re in our eighties – to compensate for the rest?
Then there’s good old gold watch syndrome. Will we work ourselves to the bone until we retire, only to drop dead a few months later before we can enjoy our retirement? Whichever way you look at it, working until you’re 70 doesn’t sound like much fun to me. I suppose that many of us are living longer and perhaps 70 is the new 65 for some anyway. But with diabetes and obesity at epidemic proportions, will we really be in a fit state to work that long? And, frankly, why should we have to just to pay for the economic mess the government has made?
Do you want to work until you’re 70? What do you think it would be like? Do you have an alternative solution to paying back the government’s borrowings? Let me know by leaving a comment.
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