Friday, August 27, 2010

Baby boomers of the world, stand proud

I never reproduce a whole artcle from a newspaper but I thought this one was particularly good and unless you are a FT subscriber it would remain hidden.

So please excuse me FT but I am going to break a rule (and probably copyright law) – promise I will not do it again.

The author is Martin Dickson the FT’s Deputy Editor

Psychiatrist: “So, Mr Babyboomer, please lie on my couch and tell me when you first became aware of this sense of persecution.”

Mr Babyboomer: “It’s not just a sense of persecution, doctor, it’s for real. Though I still find it hard to believe that someone hates me not for who I am, but just because of the way I look, just because of my – well, my skin.
“I mean, I can’t help how I look: the wrinkles, the liver spots, the yellowing teeth, the paunch, the white hair, the general pull of gravity on once-firm flesh. But it marks you out, doesn’t it? It says you’re a baby boomer. Well, that and driving a BMW, I suppose. And people hate baby boomers.
“I suppose it first began to sink in when I read this book – this awful, ageist book – by a man named Willetts. David Willetts, who just happens to be the UK’s universities minister and ought to know better. He blames us baby boomers for ruining our children’s future. If you ask me it’s a naked incitement to facial hatred.
“After reading that book, well, I started to notice the way people looked at me – people under the age of 40, that is. The way they curled their lip. And I began to hear voices:
‘You’re a baby boomer, you bastard. You’re a thief. No, you’re lower than a thief because you’ve not just robbed us of money, you’ve stolen our future. You’ve taken all the jobs; you’ve taken all the houses and pushed their prices up so far that we can’t afford them; you’ve taken all the gold-plated final salary pensions and changed the rules so we can’t get them; you’ve taken free university education and lumbered us with monster student debts; you’ve squandered the earth’s resources through your selfish, hedonistic disregard for future generations.
‘And now – to cap it all – you’re changing the law so that you don’t have to retire at 65, so that you don’t have to drag your nasty, tired, offensively crumbly body off into the retirement home where it belongs, and can keep us out of jobs indefinitely. Is it any wonder we hate you?’
“But you know what, doctor? I think it’s time to take a stand. I think it’s time for each and every one of us baby boomers to take a deep breath and say: ‘I will not be a victim. I will not give in to facial stereotyping.’
“So the next time some smooth-skinned babyface with a full head of hair curls his lip at me, I’ll give it to him straight. I’ll say: ‘Yes, matey, I am a baby boomer – and proud of it.
‘And you know what? Our generation hasn’t had it easy like you think. Not easy like your soft, spineless, self-centred generation. Yes, some of us have bought our own homes, but you know what? We worked for them. We worked damned hard – and endured the hell of negative equity along the way. And yes, a few of us are lucky enough to have final salary pensions. But you know what? We paid for them, month after month after month, out of our salaries, and lost out heavily if we moved jobs. And many more of us don’t have fancy private pensions, and have to just scrape by.
‘As for university – or “uni” as you young people put it – there just wasn’t much of it on offer in our day. Not like now, when every damned dimwit seems entitled to spend three years getting a degree in getting wasted. “Uni”: it even sounds like someone throwing up, doesn’t it?
‘And as for trashing the planet – don’t make me laugh! This from the most materialistic generation of all time! We didn’t have iPhones, we didn’t have Topshop, we didn’t have cheap flights to Ibiza, we didn’t even have computers. We had a scratchy Dansette, a family phone in a cold hallway and a week in Bognor Regis – if we were lucky.
‘But we did have political commitment: against the bomb, against apartheid, against Vietnam, against the trashing of the planet. Just who do you think founded Greenpeace? And what did your generation ever stand up for? The right to Happy Hour in some bar in Koh Samui?
‘So, let’s ditch this daft idea that my generation has ruined the world for your generation. In fact, we’re all in this together. Well, you know that, don’t you? You doubtless have a generous account at the good old Bank of Mum and Dad.’”

Psychiatrist: “All this sounds an excellent therapeutic response to your bewilderment and anger.”
Mr Babyboomer. “Well, it certainly shows how absurd it is to stereotype people. Although ... well ... of course we all know who the real villains are. Well, breathe it softly: the civil servants ... yes, the civil servants.
“They’ve all got these fat, final salary pensions – generously inflation-proofed, please note. And, behind the scenes, what do they control? Everything! Housing policy, pensions, the banks, the welfare system, boom and bust. . . .And they sit there, on their fat behinds ... Yes, doctor, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: it’s OK to hate the civil servants.”
Psychiatrist: “I am a civil servant.”

And so say all of us! Dick Stroud

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