When it comes to undermining your favourite preconceptions and prejudices, there’s nothing to beat facts.Â Facts can disprove more or less any pet theory you may have about life – like, forÂ example,Â how everything is getting more dangerous.Â This is obviously and indisputably true until you have to take into account the facts which show that there’s no more knife crime than there ever was, no increase in “stranger danger” for children, no increase in robbery and mugging,Â the number of people killed and injured in car, train and plane crashes at an all-time low, etc etc etc.
But if there’s one preconception that you would have thought would have been safe from statistical torpedoes like these, it’s the idea thatÂ PeopleÂ Generally Have Gone Off Pensions In Recent Years.
PGHGOPIRY is more thanÂ an idea, it’s a self-evident truth.Â There’s beenÂ Equitable Life, and pensions mis-selling, and the problems with the company schemes of bankrupt companies like ASW, and there’s been the stockmarket crash, and the corresponding buy-to-let boom, and there’s been Gordon Brown’s taxÂ grab on income earned within pensionsÂ schemes, and the Stakeholder fiasco, and the closing-down of final salary schemes, and the rise and rise of the vulture funds, and, well, absolutely everywhere you turnÂ you findÂ nails being knocked into the pensions coffin.
Except that in the Observer’s desperately boring interview with Gordon Brown over the weekend, one figure jumped out at me:Â over the last ten years, according to GB, the total amount invested in pension schemes has doubled.Â (I would say from what and to what, but unfortunately I’ve forgotten.)Â Stock market growth can account for some of it, and inflation for some more, but I’m pretty sure that most of it must be down to something else.Â Like, for example, millions of peopleÂ putting moreÂ money into pension schemes.Â Which, I have to say, isn’t what I thought had been happening.
Bloody facts.Â There’s nothing quite like them for bursting your favourite bubbles.Â