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Old Age Poverty

Old-Age Pensions: A Typical Reform

At the time that the OLD AGE pension measure was passed by Parliament it was pointed out in this journal that its chief purpose was to save the rates. It was to encourage old people to starve outside the workhouse rather than go in and be kept at treble the cost by the ratepayers. Evidence of this fact has been repeatedly given, and to-day, owing to the enormous increase in the cost of living, the old-age pensioners are dying off like flies. Such paragraphs as the following speak eloquently of this :

    "'LIFE ON 1s. 6d. A WEEK.”
      "'If they can live on Is. 6d. a week each and don't get starved, a good many of us eat too much,' said the coroner at the inquest on a Bethnal-green woman aged 70. She and her aged husband had lived on the latter's a old-age pension of 5s., out of which 2s. was paid in rent. Occasionally the man earned an odd 6d. The doctor said that death was not accelerated by want."

By The Way

A short time since columns of print appeared in the Press on the question of taking a Referendum in Australia with regard to the subject of Conscription. While the vote was being taken some reference to the possible result was made, and from a newspaper report I take the following:

      The “Argus" looks on the result of the poll so far as a stalemate, and says the great mistake was made in taking a Referendum at all on the subject of Conscription.

And again:

Cooking the Books: No Profit, No Care

'Elderly lose home care as providers pull out' read the headline in the Times (20 March), a reminder that under capitalism even basic needs are not met unless they can be paid for.

It must have seemed a good idea – to ideologically-motivated supporters of capitalism. Take running care homes for the elderly out of the control of local council bureaucrats and let the profit motive operate. So, the government came to require local authorities to farm out this service to private profit-seeking companies. These were invited to tender for the service and, if successful, would be given a contract paying them to provide the service which would include an element of profit.

Running Commentary: Strikers Condemned

Strikers condemned

More than 5,500 workers were out on strike as a wave of industrial unrest spread to hitherto uninvolved plants. The week-long spate of walk-outs and go-slows affected 27 firms in five cities. A total of more than 8,700 people had stopped work since strikes started and more than 750 of them had been dismissed as a result. The dispute was over pay, a shorter working week and guaranteed pension funds. A spokesman for the employers’ association said he was “gravely concerned’’ and the trade union congress issued a statement expressing hope that the government would “respond constructively in solving the problem”.

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