How to sell superannuation changes

While sitting today I got very confused.  I realised that I could really see future generations currently stealing resources off me in the way I keep hearing.

Now, as was quickly pointed out to me by my work colleagues’ resources are in fact being “stolen off me” in two ways:

  1. Future taxes will need to rise to pay for superannuation
  2. Knowing that superannuation is available, the older generation is saving less now and increasing consumption – thereby pushing up interest rates and the price of consumption.

Very good, we have our fundamental reason why superannuation is unsustainable – because tax rates will need to rise in order to satisfy the governments “balanced budget” constraint.

Now if we believe it is the hubris or straight selfishness of older generations that is behind the refusal to change the superannuation age to make it affordable – then frame it in terms they understand.

Say that, when they are retired it will be the next generation in charge.  The next generation won’t be willing to increase taxes, and so will cut them off – forcing them to leech off their children or live an impoverished existence.  If the younger generations show this degree of bloody-mindedness now then older generations will definitely cut back on consumption, and start saving for their retirement.

They might even be willing to “make a deal” regarding the retirement age.

So if that’s the way you think, stop saying how much Gen X  and Gen Y are going to get hurt by the superannuation issue – point out the potential for the Baby Boomers to have the rug pulled from under them, giving them a miserable impoverished retirement.


Note:  I don’t want anyone to suffer here.  I’m just part of Gen Y, and we were raised during the reforms – so I’ve learnt to think about these matters in a more, say, clinic way.

UpdateBill picks up that the population demographics aren’t in favour of my proposal – while Eric indicates that no-one really is 😉 .  I’d note that my joking proposal was mainly just a way of showing that there is a “cost” turning up, and we are thinking about how to share this burden between people – it isn’t just a case of baby boomers robbing everyone blind!

20 replies
  1. dragonfly
    dragonfly says:

    Matt, I realise your post isn’t entirely serious, but are you sure you’re going to be in charge? Democracy combined with demographics may mean you won’t be. It’s not about who’s paying the bills but who has got the most votes. That’s been the problem all along. If younger generations could get it together to vote coherently against older generations, then there may be some hope for you. I am a baby boomer, but I am sickened by the way things are. I would rather be poor in old age than suck the life out of my children’s generation(s).

    • Matt Nolan
      Matt Nolan says:

      I would prefer you aren’t poor in old age – and that we can come to some sort of deal as a society on how to bear the burden of changing population demographics!

      In reality, my post is merely here to illustrate that the cost won’t all be burdened on “Gen X and Gen Y” … even though Gen X and Gen Y likes to pretend it will be.  Being honest to people about the costs will allow us as a society to figure out the best way forward 😉

  2. Eric Crampton
    Eric Crampton says:

    And recall too that any younger person who’s on less than the average tax rate probably prefers that other taxpayers foot the bill for their folks’ retirement. How many of them would be happy to have their parents move in with them worst come to worst? Or, even worse, their inlaws?

  3. JC
    JC says:

    You’ll need to be a bit more nuanced than that with Baby Boomers. A Maori BB would be silly to agree to work longer when statistically he’ll die at a younger age, and huge numbers of BBs left school early because well paid labouring jobs were in abundance, so the likes of forestry workers are pretty well used up by 65. Then too, plenty of boomers haven’t looked after themselves very well as they took on the hard working/drinking/smoking culture of their parents.
    But if you start with a clear policy of phasing in the rise to 67 or older there’s much less likely to be resistance.
    Another thing that doesn’t seem to get mentioned.. I’m 67, cranky, creaky, opinionated, sexist and contemptuous of half the stuff that applies in the modern workplace.. you really want to work with me?

    • Matt Nolan
      Matt Nolan says:

      Agreed that we need the policy to be signaled and clear – and that is where National is failing.

      In honesty, having it go up to 67 would solve the vast majority of the issue, if only policy makers were trying to show the public the issue – instead of being forced to not mention it in public places.

      Of course I want to work with you, I want to work with everyone!

      You should really try working with economists sometime 😉

  4. Janet
    Janet says:

    It’s an unrealistic threat – no-one will believe it. It’ll get translated as ‘starting in 2035 the rug will be pulled out for Gen X, because there’s less of them’. At least that’s how I’d read it, given there’s so many baby boomers who all have and exercise a vote. 

    • Matt Nolan
      Matt Nolan says:

      Poor old Gen X – as they always tell me, they are the unlucky generation.

      Apart from the increase in incomes, technology, and social safety when they grew up.

      Still you raise a good point, the burden of any said policy could end up falling on the wrong group by constant delaying, it fits our political system well.

  5. Chris Trotter
    Chris Trotter says:

    Yeah, well think again, Matt, because we Baby Boomers are way ahead of you.

    The moment you try that stunt, we’ll rediscover our socialist roots, reach out to the poor and marginalised members of Gen X and Gen Y, and join together in a festival of redistribution. The BBs will preserve their National Super, the majority of Gen X and Y will improve their standard of living, and well-paid capitalist apologists like yourself will be squeezed by the IRD until the pips squeak.

    Like “Dragonfly” said, it’s who’s got the votes that counts, and for the foreseeable future we, the old and the poor, will remain the many, and you and your kind, Matt, will remain the few.

    Ain’t democracy grand!


    • Matt Nolan
      Matt Nolan says:

      LOLOLOL “capitalist apologists”, good fun.

      With global labour markets relatively open for skilled labour, we’ll just move overseas – New Zealander’s have a nice reputation for not blowing things up, so they’ll be happy to have us.  Unsurprisingly, its part of life to work to live – I wish it wasn’t, but that is just how a world filled with scarcity works.

      So you are saying baby boomers are happy with free enterprise and choice for themselves, but are willing to subject future generations to a world of limited opportunities and enterprise.  You seem to make baby boomers sounds like even more selfish and evil individuals than I have ever imagined!  I guess I’ve been lucky to meet generally well meaning and good natured baby boomers in my time 😉

      • Eric Crampton
        Eric Crampton says:

        Then Chris puts in exit taxes, then you renounce citizenship, then Chris expropriates your parents’ estate which otherwise would have gone to you.

        More seriously though, I’ve not checked NZ data, but all the US data I’d seen showed no particular age gradient in support for old age transfers. I’ll have to check whether there’s anything in the NZES data.  

        • Mark Hubbard
          Mark Hubbard says:

          Chris (The Fist) Trotter’s full comment, reveling in the use of state force on innocent individuals, shows the true blackness at the heart of our social democracies. Quite willing to use IRD to bash the pips out of those who have been forced to pay for his society. His comment, here, is the brass knuckle of collectivism smashing the face of liberty forever.
          There’s not way I can put in words how disgusting that comment is. But in that he’s done us all a service.

      • Mark Hubbard
        Mark Hubbard says:

        By the way Matt, this almost makes me feel the need to apologise for giving you grief in the past over being a ‘utilitarian apologist’ 🙂

    • Underemployed X'er
      Underemployed X'er says:

      Hey Chris
      Glad to hear that your generation will be “reaching out” to the poor in mine, since I reckon myself to be among them.
      Tell me, how do you propose to tell me that you’re on “my side” when most of you:
      a) own multiple properties, while I can’t afford my first
      b) own a boat and have the time to go fishing, while i’m pulling 50 hour weeks at minimum wage (from which you propose to take more tax)
      c) Own a bach and can afford holidays, while my kid’s reckon it’s a treat to go to the zoo
      Chris, when the big orgy of pillaging and redistribution comes, your generation is screwed. you have no idea how much you are disliked by us.
      For the other posters, I do not propose a redistro from boomers, or from anybody else. I’m merely pointing out that if Mr Trotter gets what he asks for, he will not like what he gets.

  6. Fairfax
    Fairfax says:

    Or the younger generations will simply leave and let it collapse, possibly at a rate of 1000 people a week or more to Australia.

  7. fed up
    fed up says:

    Here is one further point to ponder – in my experience an awful lot of  the so called gen x and gen y members struggle to change a tap washer as they have all headed off into the IT or Financial sector or perhaps they have become highly skilled poi dancers if they had that kind of a twist. The point is they will need US and our practical / trade skills a hell of a lot more than the other way around!!

    • Matt Nolan
      Matt Nolan says:

      That is true – at the same time that is part of specialisation, which has allowed society as a whole to “create more stuff”.

      As long as prices represent scarcity, then if practical skills are lacking the wages for these professions will go up – as they have!

  8. peterquixote
    peterquixote says:

    its always funny to read what Chris Trotter writes outside of his column. The socialist thinks that socialism will re appear, and it is so old and dead that socialist thing, it believes we all love each other even old people and we dont, we do not like old people, they should die 

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