Hide Articles List

6 articles on this Page







t- UNFAIR PENSIONS. While Mr. Asquith has won commendation for his lucid exposition of the Budget, we regret the same high praipo cannot be bestowe-d on his finance. It is admitted on all sides that next year we shall have to make a.n enormous ex- penditure on our Navy, to keep up with the pace that Germany is forcing. Mr. Asquith makes no provision to meet that heavy drain, but is preparing for spending a huge sum on old ago pensions, while giving away nearly thrco and a half millions in the reduction of the sugar duty. As the latter relief is only a faithing per pound, it scarcely will benefit. the small purchaser. Th-e- domina.nt feature of the Budget is the scheme of old-age pensions out- lined by tho Premier. Pensions in themselves naluially are desirable and commendable it- waidg in human life. The .scheme of the Govcinmont, however, is somewhat illusory, inasmuch as the qualifying age has been placed at 70, while statistics shew that the average worker cloc-, not attain to that age. The resul t, therefore, is that only few will live to receive tho pension, and those who do will te, not the maTi who has striven, and toiled all his life, wearing himself out before 70, but the Weary Willies, who take such care of their health that they rarely do a fair day's work. The scheme aopears to bristle with difficulties to the thrifty, prudent man, and to teem with inducements to the lazy and improvident, if not the criminal The man who has saved as much as brings him in an income of ten shillings a week, and who, prima facie, is a good citizen and deserving of help and comfort in extreme old age, gets no pension. The man who has not saved a penny gets his full pension of five shillings a week. Is this justice or policy? Why should the man who has been thrifty enough to make a certain provision for his old age, say up to twelve shil- lings a week, be absolutely penalised as against the man who has not saved a shilling all his days? In the same way tho person who has t-he workhouse and gaol is placed on a level with the respectable, self-respecting aitizan. Mr. Aequith deprccates "going back on the past." Inquisitorial inquiries arc not popular, 'but the line must be drawn somewhere. In one passage, Mr. Asquith declared, "The lees you go into the question of character, short of actual conviction for crime, tho better." Then again, "by criminals," he said, "I mean persons ac- tually under sentence." Later, lie stated that persons were to be debarred from pensions if they had been convicted of "serious crime, or of such offences as desertion, habitual vagrancy and so on," within, say, five yeais of their ap- plication. It will appear, therefore, that a man may hava led an abandoned lifo of crime or pauperism, and then, if he has escaped the meshes of the law for the last, five years prior to tho age of seventy, he is placed on an equality with the man who has been the sterling j citizen throughout. Moreover, the late repent- ant rake will be better treated by the State t.han the man who has laid up a nc-st egg against times of adversity. Even the Vol unteer, who ha-s given years of service for his country, obtains not a eoiap of recognition or prcference in the scheme of pensions. The most absurd and in- defensible condition of all is that the man and wife, who each -are entitled to a pension of five shillings a week, if they, like neesonablc; amiable people, continue to live under one roof, are to -ot only 3a. 9d. per head c.-a.cb. Presumably, if the pair are living apart, they will be entitled to five shillings a week each. Is not this gutting a premium upon connubial infelicity? Another blot on the pensions is that they, being non- contributory in character, leave the whole friendly socicty movement out of consideratioai. The problem manifestly is beset with difficul- ties, but that is no excuse for making all the provisions in favour of the reckless and improvi- dent, and against the men and women who have eaten the bread of carefulness all their days. A sliding scale, with its attendant complica- tiOlF, would have been preferable, because it allows of benefit to the people who have strug- gled to help themselves. The Labour party, we know, from recent declarations, will have nothing to do with the scheme, because* it dOes not begin at 65 years of age. Mr. Asquith is too optimistic in his estimate that. the under- taking will cost no more than six millions a year, and we believe figures and experience will prove him to be in grave error. Altogethe-r the scheme is crude and cruelly biassed against the men and women who have been good citizens. 0 ——————