There is an idea of the state that argues that the role of government is to act as a benevolent social planner, redistributing resources for the benefit of the population as a whole. British governance has more in common with Mancur Olson’s concept of the stationary bandit, a tyrant with a captive population and a desire to maximise the wealth he can extract. The only twist is that rather than a group of warriors seizing wealth by force, Britain works to the benefit of a large number of elderly pensioners thanks to their tendency to reliably turn out at the polls.
To very briefly recap, years of austerity cuts combined with triple locking pensions ensured that while working-age families — particularly those with children — lost out, pensioners were protected. When Covid-19 reached Britain, those same young people were asked to stay at home to once again protect the elderly and did it willingly.
Someone unaccustomed to the British public might think that older generations, acutely aware that their health and wellbeing has been preserved at the price of imprisoning the young for some of their best years, would be moving heaven and earth to thank them for it.
Instead, the government is planning a smash and grab on the incomes of the young. It’s important to be clear about exactly what the proposal to raise national insurance is; this is a tax that is paid by those under state pension age. Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are turning round to young people who have made tremendous sacrifices, and demanding that they once again pay up for their wealthier elders.
It is sometimes assumed that this will work out in the long run.