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BeeHive  >  BeeLines  >  2009  >  March  >  Ageism and Pensions

Ageism and Pensions

I think Iím going to have to buy a new dictionary.My one, which is clearly out of date these days, has the following definition in it:

ageism or agism n discrimination against people on the grounds of age; specifically, discrimination against the elderly.

Now donít get me wrong, I know the language moves on all the time and that even expensive dictionaries like mine will eventually be made redundant as a consequence, but I had expected words like Ďageismí to hang on in there meaning-wise for at least the rest of my time on the planet.

Apparently, though, it isnít going to make it that far.Youíll know by now, Iím sure, that the European Court has upheld our Governmentís view that imposing a Ďdefaultí retirement age of 65 on all of us in the UK is not ageist; itís just something that will happen to us at a particular age, thatís all.

Another thing that happens to us at an arbitrary age set by our legislators is that we have to purchase an annuity by the time weíre 75 if we have a particular type of pension savings when weíre older.Again, thatís something thatís not ageist, but simply happens to people once they reach a particular age.

In fact, while typing that last sentence I think itís just dawned on me whatís really going on here.Thereís nothing wrong with my dictionary after all.Itís just that we all need two dictionaries these days rather than just the one that we have been able to get by with thus far.Ordinary dictionaries are still OK for every day use, but we need a new pension dictionary so we can understand what words mean when used in the context of pensions.That would do it.

Itís really the same as when Einsteinís work superseded Newtonís I suppose.In the rarified world of quantum physics Newtonís stuff doesnít really hold up, but itís fine for everyday use to employ his equations and approximations at the level and scale that human beings operate in the natural world.

Right, thatís it, Iím going home now for the weekend; something my dictionary reliably informs me is the period from Friday night until the end of Sunday, although goodness only knows what it means in pension argot.Probably best not to think about itÖ

Steve Bee

6 March 2009

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