August 7, 2009 1 Comment
It’s obviously the media silly season if current bus pass headlines are anything to go by. Short of anything else to do in these untroubled times it appears that the powers that be have focused their attention on the thorny issue of “how have we managed to shoot ourselves in the foot by showing nothing but generosity and inclusivity to pensioners by giving them all free a bus pass only to find that the ungrateful old ***s are now actually using them?” Yesterday’s Daily Mail article put the issue rather more succinctly: “Town hall chiefs say millions of middle-class pensioners are taking advantage of the free bus passes, and only the poor deserve the privilege”. Hmm… taking advantage while being undeserving – what are middle class pensioners thinking of?
What Town Hall chiefs obviously weren’t thinking of when they introduced the scheme is what seems blindingly obvious. Pensioners are using their bus passes because they realise 1) that they have paid for the privilege and are – in most cases – continuing to fund the scheme through taxation 2) most pensioners get very little else of real value from the state, and 3) there is an underlying concern for the environment amongst a large proportion of the older generation.
A glance at the article today on the Daily Mail’s website shows that already it has elicited well over 400 comments – a veritable media frenzy – with Joan Bakewell warning of a “Grey bus pass backlash”. What a shame all this furore isn’t about something a bit more fundamental like ageism, lack of jobs for the over 50s, or the pitifully low level of the state pension. Never mind, perhaps like buses there’ll be nothing for ages then suddenly there’ll be a big backlash against all three all at once. Or not.