I misread the headline of Faisal Islam’s blog on the Channel 4 News website. I though it said that the new deputy governor of the Bank of England told him that Britain’s savers should now ‘eat their reserve cash’. The fact that he’s called Charlie – or Mr – Bean didn’t help. But no, what he actually said was that people should be eating into their savings. It’s the point of the Bank of England policy of keeping interest rates low, he said: an intended penalty, not, as the idiotically virtuous saver had supposed, an alarming side effect. How right I was to sneer at my parents’ generation when they told me that I should save for my old age. It won’t be like that then, I said. And here it is, not like that at all.
All those goody-goody youngsters who listened to their mums and dads and dutifully put away money instead of buying 45s and Mary Quant make-up, so that they could have some income when they retired, are now being told to spend it – by the Bank of England, no less. That’s what’s going to sort out the mess they and the banks got us into. So if you have a nest egg or a bit of capital, start spending it. It’s your patriotic duty. But isn’t this quite an inefficient plan?Why not simply legislate to nationalise all individual savings accounts? While they’re at it, they should probably require Big Issue sellers to donate their takings to Rupert Murdoch.
What I’m not sure about, and would like advice on, is how best to spend for the country. Should I for example be shopping expensively at Net-A-Porter and Liberty for my knickers and frocks? Or should I instead buy lots and lots more from M&S and Primark? How many TVs and cars should I buy? If there’s a concern about hoarding, which old people are inclined to do in any case, it won’t matter because we won’t be able to afford a living space to hoard things in. And what about that? Once I’ve supported the economy with the money I had supposed would come in handy when I had to pay for my old age care home, and run out, I’ll be among the millions of homeless and hungry bag ladies and gentlemen, demented, incontinent, but having done our bit for England, roaming the streets. Since the coalition is already starting to dismantle social welfare, I presume plans are in hand to build the workhouses we are going to need. A boost for the construction industry there. Or is there a less-liberal-than-we-thought subtext to the easing of the DPP’s attitude to mercy killing?