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Monday, April 05, 2010

Will the baby-boomers bankrupt Britain?

I was just about to start blogging about this article in the Independent with words along the line: “I am bored, bored, bored with this regurgitation of trite comments that masquerade as a logical arguments.” Yet another article about the bad old Boomers.

That would have been very silly. I should have read the final few paragraphs of the article.

What this debate avoids is the realisation that the notion of inter-generational unfairness is essentially a middle-class preoccupation. It may be a fact or for those with big houses and gold-plated pensions but it does not speak much to those we used to call the working-class, most of whom have experienced 30 years of stagnating real wages and yet who now face the longest working-time in Europe.

The bulk of Britain's increased national income in those decades has swollen the bank accounts of the wealthiest 10 per cent of the population.
All the talk about a tax on Baby-Boomer graduates to pay for today's universities ignores the fact that in the old days only 4 per cent of Baby Boomers went to university, by contrast to 40 per cent now. No wonder it is more expensive.

But the hard truth is that – whatever the sujet du jour on the metropolitan middle-class dinner-party circuit – most Baby Boomers were never that wealthy or privileged. Many of the population, including the majority of Baby-Boom pensioners, live on less than £22,000 a year. A recent report on retirement by the insurance giant Aviva showed that more than one in five people aged 55 and over have to survive on less than £750 a month. A good number live off their state pension, which, after 12 years of a Labour government, is the lowest in the advanced world.

A lot find it hard to keep themselves warm. For many Baby Boomers the greatest inequality is not between the generations. It is within the existing one.
OK, I could have a shot at some of these arguments but they are far more accurate than the normal anti-Boomer stuff that the UK’s press keeps publishing. Well done the Independent. Not words I normally write. Dick Stroud

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