Friday, 10 October 2014

The Boom Time Rats

"I'm feeling in my pocket for my Viagra, but unfortunately  I can't feel my leg"

Has there ever been a more favoured generation than the 'Baby Boomers' -  leastways in the West, and parts of Asia, that is? The rest of the world, as usual, remain in the political and financial Dark Ages. Those aged 45 to 65 years have witnessed, and many have partaken, in unprecedented historical prosperity. The soldiers who fought in the Second World War and the Korean conflict returned to a society rapidly undergoing social and economic change. Although, they may have not reaped the benefits themselves, their children who matured in the 60's and 70's, did. The working classes, in particular, benefitted from national affluence. The West was 'rich' before this time, but money was concentrated in a very select few. It was during this time that money became available to people who, in previous incarnations, would have been engrained in deep poverty.  Money filtering down to the 'lower orders' helped to fuel the burgeoning consumer phenomenon that is still with us today. The difference being, that in the 60’s it was funded by real wealth, not credit.

And so the sons of coal miners and machine operators went to university. This couldn't have happened 30 years before. Dispersal of relative wealth meant democratisation in education and that education was paid for by the state (perhaps not in the US) and therefore, higher education did not remain the preserve of the wealthy few. But even with this educational revolution, only 5% of the population ventured into university. And when the newly educated left their hallowed halls they entered professions and began careers, not jobs. The upper classes still enjoyed their  parents’ privileges, as they still do, and monopolised the professions,  becoming lawyers, bankers or accountants. The public school tie still opened doors. But the newly enfranchised working and lower middle classes began to break through the previous barriers and filter into the professions closed to them just a generation before.   

Not all benefitted from societal change. But if they didn't, it was not because the opportunities did not exist or that they were being denied access. If they did not participate it was because they chose not to, or did not possess the necessary wherewithal; folk with a low IQ and the feckless still lived in the murky margins of society or went to prison. 

Those prepared to work hard and plan ahead reaped the rewards of property ownership which generated wealth at a rate unknown to their grandparents.    

The generations to follow, faltered due to reasons not within their control. Opportunities still existed but they were being chased by increasing numbers of the well educated. A degree was not a passport to the professions anymore; it had become a permit to work at McDonalds. If the opportunities were limited, ambition and expectations were not. Generations X, Y or whatever still aspired to the economical prosperity enjoyed by their parents and grandparents, even though they were burdened by massive student debt and a surplus of overqualified graduates. They wanted good, secure careers and nice houses and cars – and they wanted it now, not later. Where their parents had paired off, gone without, saved for a deposit to buy a house together and then tied the knot, the younger generation wanted to eat out every night, take foreign holidays, drive a BMW and buy a 4 bed detached home in the town they grew up in. And they wanted it all as a single person – oblivious to the fact that their parents neither expected this or achieved it outside marriage. We now have the generation of instant gratification. They want it all, they want it now, and they don’t want to have to work their arses off to pay for it!

All they see, is that their parents had it easy, oblivious to the facts. This festers into resentment, and anger.  

The younger generations increasingly expect to hold their hand out to be filled with parental gold. “Give me the deposit for a house. Pay for my holiday. Buy me a car…” they say. “You’ve got loads of money. You can afford it. What about us?”

It’s not realistic. The 'Boomers' will face increasingly eroded pensions, due to record low interest on their savings and ever decreasing investment returns. What capital is left becomes eroded by ever increasing prices. When we die, there will be little to bestow on our children and what there is will be gobbled up by death duties.

Will future generations look back and see the boomer generation as an economic anomaly to be viewed with awe or envy? The only generation which experienced wide spread prosperity not seen before, or after? Are we the charmed generation? Will our children resent what we achieved and the opportunities we had?

Probably. But then again history is written those who come after, not those who were there at the time.

Fuck. What ya gonna do?


  1. I have great hopes for ebola. Could thin us down a bit...

    1. And there was me thinking, it was only taking out the dark folk.....