The yoot have a point with their ‘OK Boomer’ meme.
The post war generation were the first and biggest beneficiaries of the magic money tree. In on the ground floor of the welfare ponzi scheme, powered by print-on-demand fiat money. In the face of privation by post-war malaises from rationing to fallen fathers, they welcomed the largesse of Clement Attlee’s Labour government with open arms.
Ever since then the welfare state has grown and grown, by turns squeezed and released, the toothpaste never quite going back in the tube no matter now much the Tories tried. What passed for austerity in the 2010s was simply a slowing of the rate at which national debt increased, and to call it austerity makes a mockery of the universal deprivation that coined the term in the 50s.
Unfortunately for the kids so keen to blame the boomers for everything and angrily express their feelings of betrayal, they don’t have any answers. and they’re actually part of the problem.
For as long as I can remember now, Gen-X right-wingers of a libertarian, Misesian persuasion like me have pointed out that debt-fuelled public spending today is borrowing from the future generations who would have to pay it back. And that’s all very fine in theory. But people – including Millenials and Gen-Z – want free stuff today, and politicians want the votes of people – including Millenials and Gen-Z – who want free stuff. They want the government – repeatedly proven to be inefficient, callous and incompetent – to do more and more things for more and more groups of people.
They deride their elders as resistant to change (in spite of their elders boldly voting for Brexit and them opting for the status quo), as overwhelmed technophobes while overlooking that every gadget they now cherish was designed by Gen-X’ers and built with boomer money, exploiting a mastery of quantum physics and applied mathematics that was earned in the first half of the 20th century.
They fret about the ‘climate emergency’, which amounts to a nagging feeling that we’re using up natural resources with gay abandon for frivolous purposes. But they’re blaming people who never flew abroad on holiday for the first halves of their lives, had one car per family if they were lucky, whose phones were wired to a table by the front door, and for whom recycling meant wearing your older siblings clothes once they had outgrown them, darning your socks, and eating soup on Monday made from Sunday’s leftovers.
In fact the whole damned ‘climate emergency’ was a spurious Boomer invention that took on a life of its own under power of lobbying, state subsidies, advocacy science and residual post-Christian guilt. A lot of slightly older people who have seen the evolution of this climate religion over the last 20-30 years are sceptical, having seen lots of evidence of corruption, cynical manipulation, and outright scientific fraud. But the ‘woke’ Gen-Z noobs have embraced climate change utterly uncritically and are shouting at us for lacking zeal.
It’s true that you could go to university in the 1980s basically for free. Your tuition would be paid and you’d get a grant to live on. But only 1 in 20 kids went to university in the 1980s UK. If we look at degrees that actually make you any money and do anything to empirically advance humanity, I suspect we’d still come out at around 1 in 20 today. But it’s actually 1 in 2 school leavers that attend university now – most of them learning something that will add nothing to mankind’s sum of knowledge or mastery fo our environment, fuelling a burgeoning class of aimless mediocrities, middle managers, charity workers, and lobbyists. We could not possibly afford to fund that publicly without piling on that national debt which we’ve already covered.
It’s true that it’s far harder now to get on the property ladder than it was 20 years ago. And it’s true that politicians and bankers deserve to be coruscated for this. But what’s the answer? It’s not one that Gen-Z will want to hear. Stop and reverse immigration, deregulate property development by alleviating environmental constraints on planning permission, build more roads and more railways, place a social expectation on families that that parents should stay together, rather than spreading their fractured modern families across multiple households, that siblings should share bedrooms and live cheek-by-jowl in less than salubrious housing.
Gen-Z are basically blaming older generations for – against all the odds – making progress and giving them everything that makes their lives different from those that went before. They’re tacitly or explicitly rejecting all that. They may think they want what we had in the 1970s. I say let them have it. Let them vote Corbyn into power, and have the lot. The oil crisis, the strikes, the 3-day weeks, the power cuts, the piled up garbage and the unburied dead, the brutal paleolithic dentistry.