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Paul Lewis: Pension freedoms on Planet Zog

Pensions-savings-retirement-piggy bank

It is a strange place, Planet Zog. The people all worship Money. Well, apart from a few who may be seen at the Stone Circle once a year or shouting occasionally outside the Palace of the Elected. But Money worship is almost universal.

The duty of every Monetarian is to increase their Money. Even those who have none consider it their job to spend their lives trying to accumulate – or, as they call it, “make” – Money. They also believe that Money itself has a duty to work and make more Money – or “grow”, as they call it. Aristotle (who held that it was unnatural for Money to make more Money) has never been heard on Planet Zog.

The Zogs are helped in their worship by the official priest class, the UnFree. They are bound by a massive holy book called COBS but, unusually for a priest class, it is not the UnFree who interpret it. A generation ago that was outsourced to the Fine Control Agency, which the Unfree pay for, resentfully, but over which they have no choice or control. The FCA was imposed on them by the Elected after a series of scandals, which, after all these years, many draw a vale of tears over.

The UnFree is there to advise Monetarians about how they can accumulate Money – but only within the confines of COBS. Recently, the Elected decided that Monetarians in their late middle age would be allowed to release Money they had accumulated with a hefty public subsidy and do what they liked with what they were now told was theirs. They could stop accumulating it and making it. Instead they could splurge it, cruise it and Lamborghini it.

However, the Elected, as often happens after a bold move, got a chill in their extremities and cold-footedly decided the UnFree should be involved – sometimes – in the Lamborghinisation of Monetarians’ funds. Not to stop them splurging, you understand, but to warn them of the splash back they might get.

The FCA said the UnFree should tell Monetarians what was sensible and scriptural and warn of the hell that awaits the unwary. Because it would be a warning, not holy advice, they should do it without tithing the Monetarians as much as they usually would. But the UnFree smelled a long-tailed rodent: sitting behind the Agency, and not governed by it, was the Final Opinion Sayers.

The UnFree feared that a priest who had obeyed the Agency in all things, and sufficiently warned a Monetarian, could, if the Monetarian ignored that advice and splurged anyway, be found guilty by the Sayers. “You did not warn strongly enough did you?” the FOS would say, before ordering the UnFree to give up large amounts of their own Money to replace (and more) what the Monetarian had foolishly Lamborghinied. So the UnFree largely withheld their ministry and the FCA introduced some sub-priests called the Maybe Are Sufficient. It has since been seen that the MAS were not.

The UnFree are not the only priests on Planet Zog. The Pure also worship Money but consider themselves unbound by COBS and the FCA. The Agency broadly accepts that, though it does have a section called perimeter guidance, which tries to stretch COBS round the Pure, it particularly looks out for what it calls UCIS (pronounced U-KISS because, if you use one, you kiss your money goodbye). Most of the Pure work so far outside COBS, however, that the perimeter is over the horizon.

The Pure have no qualms about Lamborghinisation. Millions of Zogs now have the freedom to splurge and the Pure play on old habits to tempt them with ways to make their Money work and work hard, Zogdammit. The Pure make them very tempting offers unshackled by COBS.

No one knows why so many Zogs are so attracted by the word green. However, the Pure know that if they say their Money will make more Money at the rate of 10 per cent a year through something green that uses “cutting-edge technology” and will “save the world for your grandchildren” many Zogs will find that irresistible. Even the sceptics are persuaded when they get to the word guarantee.

Others are tempted by carbon trading, while some see sustainable Ecuadorian rainforest harvesting as an attractive opportunity. Many like the idea of ecotourism in Congo and then there is the lure of a luxury property development in a distant part of Zog. Crucially, the business must be completely unfamiliar to the Monetarian and have a big return so they can be encouraged their Money is working hard, as Money should. After all, they worked hard to get it.

In addition, the outcomes should be backed up by a guarantee and a random registered number, such as 835267. Many Zogs will gladly hand over the accumulated Money of a lifetime to the very tempting offer. Ignoring the conflict of interest of the Pure being paid Money to introduce them to the very tempting offer, and not noticing if the very tempting offer uses the Money to buy its own Lamborghini.

The Elected wring their hands at this extra-COBS activity but refuse to add more chapters to COBS to include the very tempting offers. They refuse to ban the Pure from contacting Zogs at random to tell what they will then inevitably claim are “not really lies, honest guv. It’s a free country isn’t it?”. Instead they point vaguely to the Fraud Act 2006, which tells them not to tell massive fibs when taking money off someone or else.

When astronomers discovered Planet Zog circling a distant star, some doubted if anything so ill-managed could really exist. But it does. How long it will last is not clear.

Paul Lewis is a freelance journalist and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Money Box’ programme



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There are 15 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. oh come on Paul, “Plant Zog” ? Really !

    With writing like that you can give Roald Dahl a run for his money ! (and I mean in the fantasy stakes obviously he is head and shoulders in the story telling sense)

    I give you more credibility than that, personally I want to read your views (for what they are worth) not taken on some stupid quest to “plant Zog” !!

  2. Paul Lewis, you have too much time on your hands
    Get a proper job

  3. Graham Walker 2nd July 2015 at 1:31 pm

    I want a pint of whatever he’s just had…..

  4. Richard Anderson 2nd July 2015 at 1:43 pm

    excellent! you couldn’t write it, could you ?

  5. Richard Shanks 2nd July 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Genius Paul, I loved reading it, made me laugh, the truth is stranger than fiction sometimes!

  6. This is the first thing of Pauls that I have read which actually makes sense.

  7. Good non-fiction Paul, do something about this world using your influence. Make the Fine Control Agency and Final Opinion Sayers go and live on Earth, tell them they must wipe their memory banks of their historical prejudices based on the times of ZOG BC (before competence). Tell them to go amongst the unfree and the monetarians with clear minds, unfettered by now obsolete opinions based upon the ancestors of the unfree. Tell them to simply observe and listen to how the new world operates. Influence the monetarians to educate themselves more and to stop blaming others for their own greed, tell the monetarians to accept some responsibility for being able to interpret the hyperbole and mistruths of the Pure. Tell them of the ancient latin teaching of caveat emptor. Tell the elected that election does not confer the right to dictate but only to legislate. Tell them these things, influence them to learn and to change their preconceptions. Show them how binding those monetarians and unfree existing in the new modern world by old fashioned teachings of the COBS (completely outrageous bull s**t) rules book will lead to a plague of CMC locusts. Let the land be free again Paul. Use your skills to change these things rather than to simply describe what is happening.

  8. For once I enjoyed something he wrote, thank you

  9. Grant Mitchell 2nd July 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Love reading the responses from the people where the article has clearly gone completely over their heads, almost as much fun as those trying to work out if it is satirical, ironic,sarcastic, facetious or all or even more than that.

  10. I have to agree with others here, I for obvious reasons, am not a great fan of Paul’s but he has excelled himself here with a great bit of writing that unlike our unheard ramblings could be actually listened to.

    The fact is he has a voice that is heard and we don’t. He is only saying what we all know to be true, so for once I support this and him.

  11. What the…?! Paul: you should keep out of the sun and drink water regularly.

  12. Sascha Klauß 2nd July 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Lasted two paragraphs this time. Next week, Paul Lewis channels James Joyce.

    …the cluekey to a worldroom beyond the roomwhorld, for scarce one, or pathetically few of his dode canal sammenlivers cared seriously or for long to doubt with Kurt Iuld van Dijke (the gravitational pull perceived by certain fixed residents and the capture of uncertain comets chancedrifting through our system suggesting the authenticitatem of his aliquitudinis) he canonicity of his existence as a tesseract. Be still, O quick! Speak him dumb! Hush ye fronds of Ulma! Will this do? [Yes, have a thousand quid. -Ed]

    I can’t wait for Bamford’s interpretation of this one. It will be interesting to see how he presents Lewis’ latest stream-of-consciousness semi-informed drivel masquerading as extended metaphor. (“Money they had accumulated with a hefty public subsidy” – bzzt, wrong, sit down and let the kids who were paying attention speak.)

  13. Robert Ellsworth 2nd July 2015 at 5:05 pm

    It’s (almost) all Greek … to me.. but then I probably worked on Planet Compliance for far too many years. It did start off well – with that sensible piggy bank ‘Pension’ pot image – now that’s something we all understand: you can’t (easily) have your pension pot AND eat it (not all at once, anyway) .. (Come to think about it, maybe the Greeks know a thing or two about that too?)

    Funny that his name (Mr Lewis) is the same as that nice, clear-headed, man from the BBC’s ‘Money Box’..

  14. I got it all till PURE ..but then it is late at night !..

  15. headbelowthe parapet 3rd July 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Nice to see that Paul is not actually mental – this is, I believe, the most sense he’s made in these pages…

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