Monday, 18 January 2010

Britain's Baby Boomers beware David Willetts : Part One

This is David Willetts, he is the 53 year old, 'Shadow Universities and Skills Secretary' in the Conservative Party. Yesterday he had an article in the 'Sunday Times' entitled :

Big bang: baby boomers are blowing the future for us all
A reckless post-war generation is not only crippling its children with debt but is the force driving broken Britain.

He begins his article by painting the image of parents returning home to their broken house after a teenage party and then 'ever so cleverly' says : ' The image plays to a deep-seated fear that the young will not appreciate and protect what has been achieved by the older generation. But what if, when it comes to the big things that matter for our futures, it is the other way round?

What if it’s actually the older generation, the baby boomers, that has been throwing the party and leaving a mess for the next generation to sort out?'

He defines 'The boomers' as those born between 1945 and 1965, in other words, the 44 to 64 year olds. Hold on. That can't be right, surely a 'boomer' was a baby, like me, born after the War and not during the War because their parents postponed having a baby because of the War. The War lasted 6 years and ended in 1945 but rationing continued for another 5 years, so that means those born between 1945 and 1955 - the 54 to 64 year olds. So born in 1956, David 'generously' defines himself as a 'boomer', but he isn't, if you know what I mean.The Willetts argument Part One :

The boomers, have concentrated wealth and power in the hands of their own generation. There are a lot of them - 17m and 'they have presided over huge social change and prosperity.' Now they are getting old, the bills are coming in, and it is the younger generations who will pay them. 'We have a good idea of what some of these future costs are — boomer pensions and servicing the debt that the government has built up, to name but two.'

Hold on a minute David, you can't blame government debt on the boomers too . That's a bit unfair.
Now we are in a court of law : 'The charge is that the boomers are guilty of a monumental failure to protect the interests of future generations.'

The boomers are wealthy : 'There is about £6.7 trillion of wealth in our country, and my personal rough estimate is that the boomers — those aged between their mid-forties and mid-sixties — own about £3.5 trillion of this, with the older generation owning most of the rest.' So they are not short of a bob or two.The old pattern was that the young always earned less but caught up but : 'The younger generation today has much worse prospects of building up wealth in the same way. The ladder has been pulled up. That is the real injustice.'

Don't worry youngsters, you have a brave knight in Sir David who is championing your cause.
Part Two : 'How we can learn from hunter-gatherer' societies, David will enlighten us tommorrow.

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