Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Britain's Baby Boomers beware David Willetts : Part 3

Let's begin by reminding ourselves that David Willetts is the Shadow 'Universities and Skills Secretary', so there is a fair chance that he will be a minister in the Conservative Government which will be elected this year.

Let's begin by looking at the end of David's argument against us selfish Baby Boomers and our neglect of the younger generation. His article has been political all along , he would deny this and say that he has been dealing with facts. Anyway, he ends by saying : ' This is where politics comes in, the kind of politics that is rooted in fundamental shared human experiences: the pattern of our lives as we move through the different ages of the life cycle.' Well I'm blowed if I understand what that is all about. Do you ?
Apparently 'The family is key to this: it’s there we first learn to help and be helped by others older and younger than ourselves and where the first sense of future obligations — my mother looked after me, one day I shall look after her — kicks in.' Oh I see, we are not talking about politics, as in running the state, but family politics.

Apparently : ' A family is a mini-welfare state — with several key differences. For the welfare state, thanks to the boomer pensioners, will soon be heavily weighted towards the needs of the old. And families traditionally have tended to focus more on the young.' Oh I see, the Bad Baby Boomers have hi-jacked the big, bad Welfare State.

A bit more tosh which lacks meaning follows : 'Indeed, you have only to look at how much people worry about their children and grandchildren’s prospects, their schools and their jobs to recognise the enduring power of the intergenerational bond — at the family level.'

Bit of a lecture now : 'Now we need to be more than just good parents; we need to be good citizens, broadening out this concern for the young so it includes our obligations to the next generation. If we are to tackle the mess created by the big generation, we all need to think big in our turn.

So that is his staggering conclusion. I'll extract the substance of his argument before he reached this by first giving his :

Points about Bad Baby Boomers in comparison with the youngsters :

* Are wealthy with assets from £40,000 to £160,000.

* Belong to an occupational scheme and have 'built up some pension rights that are inflation-protected with provision for their widow or widower too.'

* Spend a lot of money, as is proven by something David calls 'the average age of consumption.' This has apparently gone up to 48 and is still rising as the baby boomers age. David says : 'This is important evidence — because it backs up my intuition that over the past 20 years Britain has seen a real shift of power and wealth to the baby boomers.' Well we can't argue with that can we ?

* Have a lot of housing wealth. About four-fifths of boomers are owner-occupiers who ' came to think of their houses as not just places to live but their own personal gold mines that could pay for holidays or cars, or be their pensions'.

David is generous, apparently he does 'not believe that this is because the boomers are unusually bad and selfish. I think it is rather that we have lost sight of the importance of the contract between the generations that holds any society together. The breaking of this contract is above all what is broken about our society. It is what links the fragility of our families, the decline of social mobility, the burden of government debt, and even the costs of climate change.' Blimey, what a powerful insight that is. It's all about broken contracts.

Points about hard-done-by youngsters :

* Had to pay for a university education. Started work in debt. Has no assets.

* Has jobs which are likely to be temporary and modestly paid.

* Is in debt.

Well, fellow Boomers, this man, who will be sitting at the Cabinet table in the not-too-distant future doesn't like you and I'm quite sure that he shall not be alone.

I let the man speak for himself, albeit on another topic, but I think this gives both a flavour of the man and a measure of his stature as a towering figure in our next government :

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