It may be tempting to dismiss claptrap emanating from the mouth of a "crossbencher" member of the House of the Lords as the mental meanderings of a maverick.
However, career mandarin Michael Bichard is far from a Westminster outsider and his outrageous suggestion that pensioners who don't volunteer for community work should lose part of their state pension could well be shared by others in the political elite.
In his view, we should use all "incentives at our disposal to encourage older people not just to be a negative burden on the state but actually be a positive part of society."
Clearly he needs to get out of the Westminster bubble more often.
Even with the paltry level of state pension paid to Britain's retired workers, it is they who volunteer to work in charity shops, run trade union branches and trades councils, raise cash as friends of local hospitals and take on childcare duties to allow family members to do paid work.
In any case, what is wrong with those who have worked hard all their lives, paying their national insurance contributions towards their pensions, deciding that in retirement they will take things easy, enjoying free time with family and friends?
Lord Bichard himself has never needed threats to be levelled against his index-linked estimated £120,000 salary to force him into being a volunteer.
His arm appears to have been in a perpetually raised position.
After "retiring" 11 years ago, aged 53, from his post as permanent secretary at the Department of Education and Employment, he has been fortunate to find work as rector of the University of the Arts, chairman of the Design Council, non-executive chairman of RSe Consulting, chairman of the Legal Services Commission, chairman of the educational charity Rathbone, director of the Institute for Government and an adviser to Ten Group.
Two-and-a-half years ago, his CV was further enhanced by elevation to the peerage as Baron Bichard of Nailsworth in the county of Gloucestershire, which is nice.
It not only allows him to claim £300 a day plus travel expenses for attending the House of Lords but to pontificate on how retired lower orders should not to be "a negative burden on the state."
The noble lord suggests that "the transfer of wealth in this country from the young to the old is one of the highest in Europe," which simply indicates that the present workforce contributes to retired people's state pension in exactly the same way as today's pensioners did when they were employed.
If Baron Bichard wishes to investigate a redistribution scandal, perhaps he should ponder why the share of national wealth (GDP) given over to wages and salaries in 1976 was about 65 per cent and is now below 55 per cent.
He could examine why Britain's state pension accounts for the lowest share of GDP in western Europe and why over 13 million people in what is still styled the sixth- biggest economy in the world live in poverty.
Half of the population owns just 1 per cent of the wealth while big business moguls reward themselves royally and enjoy government complicity in avoiding tax on the vast profits they make in Britain.
Parasites certainly exist in British society, but instead of looking for them at ground level, Baron Bichard might begin by searching closer to home.
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