Mutatis mutandis, is a phrase meaning “once the necessary changes have been made”. It is the optimist’s assumption that order will prevail, even where chaos currently reigns.
When awaiting execution, the poet Ezra Pound was kept in a cell with no roof.
“The rain also is of the process”,
he wrote in a long poem. This sense that order will reassert itself is at the heart of neo-platonic thought and is central to our culture.
If we stop everything at a certain point of our society’s progression then the world will keep on moving and we will be left shouting
“stop the world, I want to get off!”.
There are a few times when the world seems such a stupid unfair place, that people try to get off, but the unfairness and stupidity and incompetence is
“also of the process”.
By way of an example
A few years ago I applied for a mortgage, the term of the mortgage was – I was told- not to be beyond my state retirement age. My state retirement age being 67 at the time, I applied for a mortgage term to my 67th birthday.
My application was rejected because the HSBC (trading as First Direct) recognised my state pension age as 65. I eventually did take out the mortgage on this reduced term but only after several conversations with mortgage underwriters for whom “rules were rules”.
I wrote about this at the time and remember thinking
“if HSBC don’t get the changes in the SPA- how the hell are the rest of the public!”
This part of HSBC lending policy was based on misinformation about when their customers were going to retire. The announcements from Government (that are at the centre of the WASPI case), had not touched the sides of lending policy.
My frustration then was that I knew more than the HSBC and was being told that I was being imprudent in wanting to borrow when I had no earnings capacity. The retirement age of 65 was so hard-coded into the HSBC’s lending policy that no amount of links to Government websites proving I was write would make any difference.
This is at the heart of the case that WASPI have. We simply have not made sufficient effort to promote the changes in retirement age and their implications to the nation as a whole
We not only need to understand what the State Retirement Age is – but why it is– and that includes the mortgage underwriters of the HSBC.
The blame game?
So should I have blamed the Government or should I have blamed HSBC or should I just sit down and shut up? Sadly, sitting down and shutting up was and is the only realistic option available to me- other than to go elsewhere for my mortgage (which I didn’t and don’t want to do).
There is a process of escalation for complaints like mine, the Banking Ombudsman but I considered that the HSBC were morally right – they wanted to lend prudently and their rules were consistently enforced. It was incompetence , not immorality, that concerned me.
The Government has not been immoral in its mis-communication of the increases in state pension age, they have been incompetent. But they are our Government. WASPI has to consider the Government, as I consider HSBC, as the ultimate source of finance – we are the Government.
As WASPI’s petition nears 100,000, I wonder how the debate can go any further than my debate with HSBC. Rules are rules – the law is the law.
WASPI is of the process
What we need is a proper debate on how and why we have the state pension ages that we do. This is a debate that should allow people to engage with the really hard issues about getting old. These include the worsening dependency ratios, our capacity to keep people healthy for longer, the cost to society of having healthy people not working and the cost to society of those who are unable to work because they have lost their cognitive or physical faculties.
This is a debate that so far has been carried out within the DWP but not- sufficiently- in public. Elderly people should not be a problem, they should be the most valued members of our society – our elders. We are in danger of making old age into a problem (as HSBC did) not out of wickedness but out of ignorance.
Everything dies honey, that’s a fact
As I keep saying, the WASPI petition is of great importance, not for what it is arguing for but for what it is arguing against. It is arguing against change though change has already happened – just as HSBC were.
We are mostly healthy in our fifties and sixties and seventies -we can be productive and we don’t have a right to put our feet up.
When I reach 65 I will still have a six figure debt to the HSBC, I expect to be working and I imagine that if I am neither able to work or to service my debt I will use pension freedoms and die.
For those who cannot work and have nothing, we must make sure we have the money for a proper NHS and for the long term care that’s needed.
Things change. Sickness will come , death will come- but till they do our job is to keep working for those who can’t.