The Times reports today that certain benefits to pensioners are likely to be cut “amid a growing consensus that they are no longer affordable”. It’s true that the numbers of pensioners are growing, and that benefits have improved. Thirty years ago, in 1982/83, we had a massive slump, major cuts and serious problems of pensioner poverty; at that time payments to pensioners accounted for 6.0% of GDP. In 2012/13 we also have a massive slump, major cuts and serious problems of poverty, although it’s less likely to be pensioner poverty. The numbers of pensioners are increasing, and we have hit a new high in payments to pensioners; the estimate is that and payments to pensioners in 2012/13 account for … wait for it … 7.0% of GDP. This is not about affordability. It’s about the willingness of governments and an hysterically Americanised press to accept that social security is a legitimate part of what they do.