Pensions and planets

Thursday’s strikes in the UK against general budget cuts and in particular, pension cuts, made me think about maybe the planet needs a pension plan.

We readily accept better health services and life styles in order to live longer, but we object to having to pay more to enjoy the returns of living longer, we just want more and more and more.

So, if we personalise our planet, it should ask, ‘why do you expect me to do more and more for longer and longer yet I don’t even get a holiday, let alone look forward to retirement?’

The theme common to both issues is sustainability. How do we create a system where people are investing now to get returns later, good enough and for long enough? How do we create s system where our investment in the planet brings returns later, good enough and for long enough, which I suppose means just about forever?

It would be nice to think we are investing for sustainable returns now, we are giving back what we are taking out, but for the moment that is clearly just not true. But we have to fix this in the next decade or two or what we need to invest just goes up and up as returns go down and down, to the point of elimination of many species, including maybe mankind, more or less.

Investment and return on the planet is accepted, I think, for the planet, so now it would be interesting to return the same kind of thinking back to our own pension plans, which have surely, in anyone’s eyes, gone disastrously wrong.

It seems to me that what we have done badly with the planet is the same as what other people have done badly with our pension schemes, which stems from a belief that competitive investment is better than investment for sustainability. We are encouraged to put our money into pension company A because in the last 3 years it has shown portfolio growth better than company B. But this is all a lie, because company A has 15 different portfolios and they are only showing you the winners, not their losers, this is a wisdom by hindsight approach, and anyone can do that. And while company A competes with company B, and C and D and so on, they all take from the pot, each and every one of them.

Surely the Government would do better?  Well, the Governments of the world are just taking from people now to pay people who had been robbed before, there is even less sustainability in the pension policies of Government.

Instead of a competitive investment policy, pensions and planets need a sustainability investment policy, something nice and simple that does not cost the earth, so to speak. If my pension money were invested in zero carbon housing stock, or zero carbon community buildings, or carbon positive food production, I would be happy. As I get older I have shares in a sustainable set of products, things that are part of a sustainable country.

If ‘how I live’ were to become efficient and sustainable, with solar power for the electricity for my bike and minor gadgets, with no need for heating in my eco-friendly house, if my garden and house can grow food to feed me and if needed my elderly neighbour next door, then I and the planet have a good pension scheme.

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