We’re living in a never-never land of riches and plenty

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From: Martyn L Scargill, Chantry Meadows, Kilham, East Yorkshire.

I WONDER if any of your readers could explain a most unusual paradox that has puzzled me for some time.

How is it that in Victorian Britain, nay, even into the 1950s, there was such a boom in industry and manufacturing of all types, but the vast majority of people were desperately poor, living in such places as rat-infested cellars in large industrial towns, and were working with grinding and gruelling monotonous effort, in deplorable and dangerous unhealthy conditions?

Also, they worked all hours that God sent, with neither leisure time nor holidays. The conditions of working children were something else. Life was grim beyond belief for them at this time, and there were no organisations to help them before, say, the 1830s period.

But nowadays the converse applies. There is supposed to be a recession. Yet the vast majority of people appear to be filthy rich, with far too many of life’s so-called luxuries.

There are also greatly reduced hours of work, extremely favourable conditions, salaries in astronomical figures, as well as all the perks, bonuses and pensions etc. Plus lots of paid holidays. Even then, this is not good enough for some.

How can this situation stand economically, let alone be sustainable? It is a total never-never land of riches and plenty, while even today there is a parallel universe in other parts of the world where people are still living at British-style early industrial revolution poverty levels, and worse, because of wars and other troubles.

In the light of all this, it baffles me all the more that there evidently needs to be all this greedy excess at Christmas time, when nowadays one can have these things all year round – especially the overpaid so-called entertainers. The Victorian poor certainly did have a great need for Christmas cheer, but outside the land-owning and industrial tycoon classes, it was but a dream.

Where has all the balance gone?

From: Paul Cockroft, Shawcara Court, Tingley, Leeds.

MUNICIPAL councils here in the UK are becoming filled up with very rich pensioners who have “three income streams”. These very rich elderly folk refuse to give up their jobs because they are bored and have no hobbies or they dislike being at home with their partners!

Council workers can continue working past the age of 65 while being allowed to claim their occupational pension, and while claiming their old age pension.

These cash-rich pensioners who have three large income streams do not have to pay any National Insurance contributions when they reach the age of 65.

I struggle to understand why, especially during these austere times, the Government allows these cash-rich pensioners who work to stop paying National Insurance contributions.

There are one million young people aged 16 to 25 who are unemployed and struggling to find work, yet the current situation is placing them at an unfair disadvantage regarding finding work.

If the Government was to force some of these bored and cash-rich pensioners to pay National Insurance contributions and more taxes, this may encourage them to give up their jobs and help a young person to find some work and some hope.