That’s what Friends (of CDC) are for!

that's what friends are for


It is not pleasant to open your phone to find 25 messages directed towards you and your colleagues trolling your work. So thanks to Alan Higham for what I hope is a message if not of support, at least of sympathy.

The suppression of constructive discussion is an activity that I don’t understand. Why bright people take their keypads on a Christmas evening to be rude to people who in everyday life they’d have a decent conversation with is beyond me.

But it gives me hope that the ideas that we are discussing, not only have intrinsic merit , but that they are getting through to ordinary people. Witness the postman I talked to earlier this week who talked with me about what he understood a “wage for life” to  be and – when I explained CDC to him – immediately told me that that was what he wanted.

In the context of ordinary people’s lives and their aspirations for retirement, CDC is what is wanted

.An apology to Mike Otsuka

Somewhere in the trolling last night, I tried to defend Mike Otsuka for something he did not say. What Mike did say can be read here, it is one of the best things yet written on CDC and anyone interested in restoring confidence in pensions will find it uplifting.

What sparked the trolling was the use of the word “deficit” in a blog about CDC published on my website and written by Con Keating. In this blog, Con points out that there by investing in growth assets or “patient capital”, CDC can actually produce better wages in retirement than both DC and DB, because it need have not adopt the de-risking tactics prevalent in DC and DB approaches. The passage that aroused confusion is this.

It may be in surplus or deficit relative to the equitable interests of its members. If in surplus, the new member has an immediate windfall gain, if in deficit an immediate loss.

The confusion arose because Mark Rowlinson (of my parish) had previously said that CDC could not be in deficit. The objection was that the Friends of CDC were talking against themselves.

With aplomb , Mike Otsuka, who had been wronged  by me – came to my rescue!

Whether words like surplus and deficit are appropriate is another matter – the sense is clear – in an equity rather than liability based scheme, it is “ambition” and not a “promise” that is being targeted.

Sorry to have put you to this trouble Mike! I guess you’d say “that’s what Friends are for”.

Nuts and bolts

Those who seek to antagonise us, argue that we should “by now” have come up with a full blueprint for CDC. This is rather the argument put to political parties who haven’t published a detailed manifesto and I can only put it to our detractors that we cannot specify our version of CDC until we know the parameters within which we can work.

It would be foolish to build models in anticipation of secondary regulation but helpful to do modelling at the behest of regulators , to help them create the parameters. Aon have done work on modelling, more needs to be done. The impetus created by Royal Mail and CWU’s moderated agreement to press for a CDC solution , makes the need for this work pressing. In the new year, the USS and UCU and the University employers will renew discussions about the basis for future pension provision for university staff.

Those who consider our proposals “half-baked” , will have the opportunity to participate in consultations, but unless they have alternatives to those which would have taken the postal workers out on strike, I suggest they hold their breath and cut the Friends of CDC a little slack.

Pro bono

As with the work of Chive in Port Talbot, the actions of Friends of CDC is subject to extreme scepticism from “the experts”.  That a group of people can come together to act as a force for good , offends. That they seek no remuneration offends again. In both its genesis and its ongoing activities, Friends of CDC is clearly offensive to a minority of people.

If we need to point to a precedent, the Transparency Task Force , is probably it. It has done much to promote transparency and created conditions where detailed work can be done and it is a Pro Bono group.

If you want to go after Andy Agethangelou of TTF, or Al Rush of Chive or any of the members of Friends of CDC, you are free to do so. You can troll them as glory-hunters, as disruptors or as amateurs. You would be substantially wrong , but you have the right to your opinion.

But you cannot go after the principle of Pro Bono, – for the public good – for it is inviolable and will persist so long as people believe in the right thing to do.

Here is my message to those that troll others for working for the public good.

Pull down thy vanity

Thou art a beaten dog beneath the hail,
A swollen magpie in a fitful sun,
Half black half white
Nor knowst’ou wing from tail
Pull down thy vanity
                        How mean thy hates
Fostered in falsity,
                        Pull down thy vanity,
Rathe to destroy, niggard in charity,
Pull down thy vanity,
                       I say pull down.
But to have done instead of not doing
                     this is not vanity
To have, with decency, knocked
That a Blunt should open
               To have gathered from the air a live tradition
or from a fine old eye the unconquered flame
This is not vanity.
         Here error is all in the not done,
all in the diffidence that faltered  .  .  .

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to That’s what Friends (of CDC) are for!

  1. Ian Neale says:

    Well said, Henry. I have made the same point, more briefly, about the need for an open and open-minded discussion (

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