In the midst of the political meltdown caused by the fury over MPs' abuse of expenses, some people are still seeing the politicians take, on 'fixing the recession' that happened on-their-watch, as hardly creative or guaranteed to work. Fortunately, there are many more creative minds than ever enter the Houses of Westminster. Here was one suggestion that circululated recently, I suspect only half-jokingly!
'Dear Mr. Darling, Please find below my suggestion for fixing Britain's economy. Instead of giving billions of pounds to banks that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan.
You can call it the Patriotic Retirement Plan:
There are about 20 million people over 50 in the work force. - Pay them £1 million apiece severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:
1) They MUST retire. Result - 20 million job openings - Unemployment fixed.
2) They MUST buy a new British CAR. Result - 20 million cars ordered - Auto Industry fixed.
3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage - Result - Housing Crisis fixed.
4) They must send their kids to school / college /university - Result - Crime rate fixed
5) Buy £50 of alcohol / tobacco a week there's your money back in duty / tax etc
It can't get any easier than that!
P.S. If more money is needed, have all members of parliament pay back their falsely claimed expenses and second home allowances If you think this would work, please forward to everyone you know. If not, please disregard.'
The writer might well have added, 'it could work wonders in also solving some of the looming pension crises!'
This would be an interesting challenge for us over-50s. If such an off-the-wall solution were ever offered (and our political leaders would never be so creative) how many of us would be prepared to retire?
More importantly, how many of us would be able to design a lengthy retirement in in which we can achieve quality of life, purpose and meaning? How many of us could find opportunities, outside of paid work, in which to use our skills and talents, contributing to causes we believe in? How many of us would take that chance to fulfil those long-held ambitions we have never had time for, or engage with the excitement of lifelong learning, just for the joy of continuing to renew ourselves? How many of us could design a 'portfolio retirement' in which we piece together a jigsaw of involvements which would result in us saying, 'I don't know how I ever found time to work?'
We should of course be already planning how to have such a life. Not because the scheme above will ever happen, but because always having an alternative, even when in work, is our security!
'The Rainbow Years' invites reflection on some of these challenges!