Invest in a pension? You would want to be stark raving mad

The Government is concerned about the relatively low take-up of private pensions (Irish Independent).

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said that it is imperative that the pension industry encourages low and middle-income earners to invest.

This is hilarious for a number of reasons.

First and foremost it is this very government that is in the process of helping itself to €500 million from private pensions.

Many citizens and commentators have described this action as outright theft. The pension levy will continue until, at least, 2014.

In addition to plundering the private pension fund the Government is also behaving in a sly and dishonest manner by not including the impact of the levy in a recent report on pension charges.

An official said the pension levy was not included because it was a temporary measure.

So let’s guess how Sean citizen would respond to this situation while considering whether or not to make a decades-long commitment to a pension scheme.

Oh, I don’t mind making up for that €500 million hole in the pension fund and I believe politicians when they say that the levy will end in 2014.

I also believe that politicians will resist the temptation to rob my pension fund again in the coming decades.

Now, where do I sign?

Anyway, back to brutal reality.

The next hilarious reason is the finding in the report that there are serious problems with high charges imposed on pension savers by life companies and brokers.

For example, Up to €120,000 of a €400,000 pension fund of an individual can be eaten up in charges.

Now, for decades, people have been pleading with politicians to clean up this whole murky area, to get rid of the vultures that infest the Irish financial sector but for reasons unknown no action has ever been taken so the rip-offs continue unabated.

So, back to Sean citizen.

Well, I’m confident that this time the Government will act to protect me from the greedy vultures that, to date, have been allowed a free hand to do pretty much as they please. I’m going to trust the political system to come through for me.

Ah yes, the political system.

Would that be the same system where traitors like Bertie Ahern, Mary Harney and Charlie McCreevy are exploiting a tax loophole to greatly increase their already grotesque pensions?

Would that be the political system where the liar Ahern promised to give back part of his €150,000 pension and then, predictably, reneged on his word.

A final word to Sean citizen.

Well, yes, it is the same system but I’m still prepared, at great sacrifice to me and my family, to invest a major portion of my lifetime earnings in the hope that politicians will remain true to their word.

Com’n now Sean, back to your cell. It’s time for your medicine.