I’m not normally the type to randomly break into song, but I’ve been watching a lot of the new American show Glee recently. In that spirit:
“We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig in our mine the whole day through,
To dig dig dig dig dig dig dig is what we really like to do,
It ain’t no trick to get rich quick,
If you dig dig dig with a shovel or a pick,
In a mine! In a mine! In a mine! In a mine!
Where a million diamonds shine!”
You may recognise this refrain as the song from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a cheerful fairy tale in which seven vertically challenged men work in slavery digging up diamonds for somebody else.
The second verse goes like this:
“We dig up diamonds by the score.
A thousand rubies, sometimes more.
But we don’t know what we dig ’em for.”
This refrain could be adopted as the unwelcome mantra of anybody under the age of 35 in this country.
We’ve just learned that we’re going to be “dig dig digging” for three years longer than our parents before we’re allowed out to pasture, as the retirement age is to be brought from 65 to 68.
Those of us, that is, who still have jobs; while I don’t quite fit this age profile, it’s shocking to learn that one-third of the labour force between 20 and 24 is currently unemployed. But these are the same people who will now be forced to work longer and harder under the new provision.
As part of the new framework, the Government is providing a State pension scheme, into which every employee over the age of 22 will be enrolled automatically. This part is welcome – like the smoking ban, sometimes you need to push people into looking after their own welfare.
It might be going a bit far to quote Kevin the Teenager (Harry Enfield) and a fairy tale in the same article, but: “It’s so unfair!”
The under-35s are most likely to be unemployed, most likely to emigrate, and we will be paying for NAMA all our lives. And now, we will be paying for it for a further three years; the days of glamorous retirees in their fifties going out to lunch and playing golf will soon be over. Oh, and we’ve just been informed that our qualifications are worth less than those of our parents due to grade inflation.
The Seven Dwarfs didn’t know what they were digging for. But I do. My friends and I will be digging for NAMA. We’ll be digging for the Catholic Church to pay lawyers to avoid compensating abuse victims. We’ll be digging to pay the pensions of the bankers and politicians who landed us in this mess. And we’ll be digging until we’re 68.