To The Observer
“Spit-soaked feathers lay all over the breakfast table as I and many others of my age group were accused by Phillip Inman of being in pursuit of “the holy grail of wealth”.
In addition, we are held responsible for “wanting to keep saving even as [we] move into [our] 80s and 90s”. How dare we? Such irresponsible behaviour! We must be ashamed of ourselves. Or are we?
“I am not. It has taken me a lifetime of hard work to accumulate sufficient funds not to have to screw up courage to open my bank statement; I now take a taxi when I wish; I can have the lobster lunch; I can buy a new hat.
“I grew up in the Rhondda Valley just after the War and benefited from the Marshall Plan, Mr Beveridge’s report and Rab Butler’s Education Act. For me, there were no bicycles, no holidays, no telephone, no car and, almost until I was on my way to grammar school, many goods were unavailable or still rationed. There was a first-class public library within reach. I persuaded my parents to join so I could use their library cards as well as my own. I read everything.
“All those old-fashioned values of thrift, no waste, make do and mend, do not borrow or, worse, owe money are still very much part of my way of life. If we had not saved when we could do so, there would be fewer sources today for the younger generation to borrow from. Inman mentions that “older savers resist spending some of their pension” – that is because we lived through hard times. Now we do not know what is ahead of us, thank goodness we were prudent.” (Pearl McCabe, Cardiff, quoted in The Week, April 20,2018)
What young people leave out of the equation is the fact that the expensive houses occupied by the elderly will be the property of the now-young in due course, or sooner. In my case I was in my fifties when my parents died, and the grumblies will likewise be in their fifties (or so) when they inherit, exceptions notwithstanding. That’s not to say that the young have no valid gripes, inflicted upon them by their elders. But the passing of the elders is inevitable and rites of passage still continue. Inheritance still comes at a similar age for most.