Friday 15 June 2012

Intergenerational Theft? - What The F**k! Guest Post by Jill Ovens

High Flyers? Students belonging to Generations X and Y accuse the Baby Boom generation of committing "intergenerational theft", but, as Jill Ovens points out in this guest posting, these students might benefit from a course in New Zealand's recent social history. For many of their parents, particularly those born into the working class, life in the 1970s and 80s was not as easy as they're being encouraged to believe.

THERE IS A LOT of idealised commentary on what it was like to be a university student in the 1970s compared with the lot of today’s students. This is leading young affluent university students to accuse “baby boomers” of stealing from the next generation.

It is a concept of affluent students because the kids of working-class parents don’t generally get to university. Those few who do make it know how much their parents struggled, working two or three jobs, night and day, to get them through school.

Working-class kids didn’t get to university in the 1970s either, unless they had a scholarship. University Entrance paid 9/10 of your fees, but that still meant a bill of $90.00 (the equivalent of two-and-a-half week's pay, or more than $1,000 in today’s terms). There were student allowances in the form of bursaries, but if your parents lived in a university town, you couldn’t get a boarding allowance.

There were no fast food restaurants to provide jobs throughout the year, so you had to earn enough to live on during the varsity holidays. That was okay for the guys as there were well paying jobs in the freezing works and car factories. For women students, it was very different.

Equal pay didn’t come in till 1972. That meant that if we did the same job, men and women were to be paid the same. But we weren’t given the opportunities to do the same jobs. They didn’t let women into McKechnie Brothers, the aluminium extrusion foundry where my boyfriend worked in the holidays (except in the canteen).

I packed peanuts at Eta Foods, screwed lids on Vick’s jars, sorted indescribably filthy linen in Christchurch Hospital laundry, and I earned $15.00 a week cleaning people’s houses for Nurse Maud, a district nursing association. But I could never earn enough to go flatting, so I spent my whole varsity life living with my parents.

When we graduated, the opportunities were very limited. I didn’t want to be a teacher, and the Bank of New Zealand said I’d make a good teller because I was good at maths. I turned them down.

We got paid a lot less than our male friends, and despite women’s liberation, there was a cultural expectation that we would soon produce babies (at least three of them).

We bought houses in huge Neil Housing subdivisions way out in Massey, Manuwera and Glenfield where there were no trees, no amenities (certainly no gym!), and no public transport.

I washed the nappies in a wringer washing machine and hung them on the clothes line. We ran an old VW between the two of us so I was stuck at home. The couch was Mum and dad’s hand-me-down and the bed was bought at a second-hand store.

There was no paid parental leave and limited childcare, so we women graduates had a big gap in our careers that made it difficult to come back into the job market. We had no superannuation as Muldoon scrapped the Kirk scheme.

If we got divorced, as many of us did, any equity we had in our house was divided up. And when our kids came out of high school in the 1990s, there were no jobs, so they stayed home for years, along with their girlfriends and eventually their kids.

Because our kids can’t afford to buy houses, we bought houses for them to live in using the equity from our house, and now all our money is tied up in mortgages. At the same time, we’re supporting our parents in their old age.

That’s how life is and always has been, for most of us. Our parents worked to give us a decent start in life, and we worked hard so our kids could have a fair go. We’re looking after our parents in their old age. We hope we’ll be looked after in our old age.

What about this is “intergenerational theft”?

This posting is exclusive to the Bowalley Road blogsite.


Anonymous said...

You will no doubt take some flak on this, because it sounds a lot like when white people complain about suffering discrimination.

You've also very carefully made some alterations to artificially inflate your case.

For a start, most people I know aren't complaining about those people who graduated in the 1980s. We're complaining about those born from 1946-1960. Those born after that have a bit more in common with we Xers due to the economic slowdown of the late 70s and the problems of the 80s.

Secondly, you conflate gender equality with overall prospects. Again, nobody will deny that we do better on that count, but that doesn't hide the fact that it is compatible with both men and women having worse prospects than your generation.

Thirdly, you complain about people having the sorts of summer jobs that students would have killed for when I was at uni. These jobs were what allowed working class people to go to uni in many cases. My own teachers described just this when they were telling us about their tertiary studies. The demand for jobs created by policies of less than full employment meant it was really hard for students to get summer jobs like that. Plus most students had zero allowance (with no distinction made about where we lived). I was 21 and had supported myself for three years (some of that overseas) when I went to uni, but I was to them still dependent on my parents, just so baby boomers would have to fund a student allowance.

Then you admit that your kids have to stay at home and can't buy a house unless you give them the deposit. Ummm… this is the problem. Who wants to be dependent on their parents like that?

Here's some facts. The baby boom generation (46-60) was born into a society with a generous welfare state, where government policies meant it was easy to find a secure, well paying job in order to build a career (you will find many boomers with degrees who got them because their state employer paid for them to do the degree – I know loads of people like that). Where buying a home was possible for working people (many of whom like my parents bought a state house at an artificially low price with guaranteed buy back at market rates – guaranteeing them a free deposit for their next house). Where you could go to a university for a reasonable fee (today's students would kill for $1000) a year. I could go on.

Why did this stop? Well, in large part because just as these baby boomers reached the age where they started paying more in than they were taking out of the welfare state, they used their voting power to elect governments that gave them tax breaks and cut opportunities for the younger. This happened in every country like ours over the same period of time, and it started right at the point where your generation didn't need the welfare state.

And that's without getting into the infantile popular culture you lot created which has dominated the airwaves since I was born. The generations preceding you defeated fascism and flew people to the moon. You contributed the blimmin' Beatles and consumerism.

Worst…. generation… ever...

..and you still don't get it.

MPledger said...

I heard a great talk by Len Cook about intergenerational theft. He was formerly the chief at StatsNZ and National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales so he had a good grip on the numbers and the economics. And although I can't remember the details, he made a pretty compelling case for intergeneraional theft.

Brendon said...

I think economic policies could be altered to give fairer oppportunities for more people in New Zealand. But it is a little simplistic to blame selfish baby boomers. I blame Roger Douglas and Neoliberalism, I blame Muldoon for not adapting to the loss of the UK market and destroying kiwis trust in their government with his crazy think big schemes.

Having said that young adults pay a huge tax -at least $50,000 to get onto the housing market. That is the fees councils charge to build a house. This 'buys' them clean water, sewage treatment, rubbish collection and basic roading.

These are fundamental public health services. They probably have a greater impact on life expectancy than the rest of the healthcare service.

So why charge this 'poll tax' on housing for community public goods?

You could argue the young and poor could and do buy existing houses. But this doesn't really help them as existing house prices rise to a level just below the cost of a new home. All it means is the rich get the Mc Mansion new subdivisions and the rest get cold damp older homes.

Of course young kiwis could avoid these 'fees' by joining the half million other kiwis overseas

Anonymous said...

The fundamental sense of betrayal comes from the annulment of the secular post-political myth of progress, by which political elitism was tacitly consented to on the premise of increased standards of living for successive generations, technology improving labour circumstances and, ultimately, paving the way for an equitable and more enlightened cosmopolitan society. Instead today’s generations are confronted with the prospect of worse living standards than their parents and a political imperative of austerity propagated by a distinctly insular elite.

It is unfortunate that this is being played out as intergenerational criticism instead of being raised to a systematic level recognizing the underlying class exploitation, but that matter is not helped by the media/political elite doing conspicuous foundation work for policy reform (such as the retirement age) that is anti-egalitarian and set for delayed implementation so that these current generations bear the brunt—it betrays political opportunism by an elite pandering to the vulgar self-interest of an increasingly reactionary social glut big enough to swing the vote.

If the argument for intergenerational theft is so weak, why do you react to it with counter-claims rather than theoretical refutation? I would caution you from provoking those volatile parts of the population starting to tremble with a militancy not seen in this country since long before you were born.

peterpeasant said...

Anonymous at 4.07pm appears to have a chip on his shoulder. a pity he does not have a logical mind.

Now that he has had a rant he probably feels better. Has not contributed a lot to rational discussion.

He should buddy up with Watkin at Pundit and Bradbury at Tumeke and grumble how they have been cheated out of their entitlements.

OBTW I am too old to be a baby boomer.

I went thru Jill Ovens rite of passage in the '60's

Pete said...

Why does this remind me of Monty Python's Four Yorkshiremen sketch?

One of the reasons why the population is aging is that younger New Zealanders aren't feeling secure enough to raise children. With the stresses of handling your student loans, housing being out of reach and an insecure job environment (not only due to the GFC, but also thanks to the decimation of the unions and other anti-worker measures), would you be eager to raise a family in this day and age? Gen X and Y just want a measure of security and we feel angry and betrayed that this is not the way of the world any more.

Anonymous said...

"It is unfortunate that this is being played out as intergenerational criticism instead of being raised to a systematic level recognizing the underlying class exploitation"

There are other factors, but none of this had to happen if the boomers had stuck to the social contract. As a group, they did not. it just goes to show that class is a limited explanatory category.

It is no accident that Jerry Rubin died a stockbroker.

We're only in the first stirrings of this. I get annoyed about it, but I know an awful lot of people who are absolutely ropeable. Boomer denials just make it worse.

Anonymous said...

" I blame Roger Douglas and Neoliberalism"

They would have gotten precisely nowhere if the electorate had not gone along with it, as they did in the UK, US, Canada and Australia, all at about the same time.

Olwyn said...

Anonymous @ June 15, 4.07pm. Firstly, it is normal for a generation to tick off the previous one; baby boomers often growled at their parents for having gone to war, along with dismissing their conservative morality as hypocrisy. Secondly, "the worst generation ever" is a bit steep; spare a thought for the descendants of German war criminals.

"...they used their voting power to elect governments that gave them tax breaks and cut opportunities for the younger."
The governments, both Labour and National, that introduced these measures did not announce their plans in advance, so you cannot say that people voted for these things at all. In fact their introduction by stealth led to NZers choosing MMP, hoping that it would curb such deceit in the future.

Finally, the Beatles & consumerism. The term "baby boomer" is not meaningless. It refers to the large number of people born after the war and the consequent population bulge. They were pursued by popular music from the womb on - songs about pregnancy cravings, children losing their milk teeth, wanting hippopotamuses for Christmas, etc. Right from the word go. And consumerism was seen as a way of rebuilding industry after the war. Baby boomers invented none of these conditions, but it can be prudent to aim at a population bulge if you want to sell something.

Shona said...

Thanks Jill, for telling the uninformed young some of the truth.
The most significant difference I see between my youth and that of my offspring is that I could earn an average wage and have enough to live on and to save. My children have had to cross the ditch to experince that. Oh and like most baby boomers with half a brain I too crossed the ditch. All of our family's assets are owned as a result of bailing out of NZ and earning overseas. We have fought every way we can to retain and regain the the positve parts of the NZ system of governance and taxation and education. We have been active life long members of the environmental movement , community volunteers, and also the first generation to experience large scale unemployment( the boomers were the punks kiddies)Yes you've been shafted. BUT divide and rule is a tactic that has been used by the power elite for centuries to retain control of the masses.What astounds me is the unwillingness of the younger generation to go without and to do the dirty shitty jibs. Methinks they whinge too much.

Anonymous said...

Those who think the boomer generation betrayed the social
contract are only partly right.

Every election was contested and a big chunk of the population consistently tried to vote out parties that weakened the welfare state. The problem was too often there was nowhere to turn.

Furthermore the post war boom peaked in the 1970s and Keynesian economics failed to cope with new challenges capitalism produced. By the 1980s it had become clear that our political system needed to make a step change from social democracy to democratic socialism if our standard of living was to be retained.

Instead we (and the rest of the world) got neo liberalism.

The failure of the social democrat experiment cannot and should not be blamed on a generation but viewed as the result of the contradictions within that system.

Indeed many boomers lost their jobs and never worked again during the 80s and 90s.

That's not to say there isn't an extaordinary number of selfish, greedy and stupid boomers though.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that Jill-great to read a different point of view than most of the rubbish on the subject.
Rather pointless of course as there are just many aspects that make comparisions very difficult.
Born in 1941 I went to Teachers' College 1960-61. I was paid 9 pounds 10 shillings and threepence per fortnight-about the same as an apprentice of the time.That's about 10 dollars a week. It was hard to live on. We HAD to wear clothes that were acceptable and clothes were MUCH more expensive in those days relative to wages. A sportscoat was around 15 pounds. We had to buy our own textbooks etc etc. It was many years before I was earning wages that even came near the average. Teaching for around 3 or 4 years I had students leave my class and earn more than I was paid. Holiday jobs were not all that easy to find and if you did get a day on the wharves then you did the hard jobs and the wharfies loafed around. In the early years of teaching we were forced to go into remote areas. Students today seem to me to live better than we did even though cigarettes were 25 cents a packet and beer 5 shillings a flagon at that time. Our parenst had been through the depression and war and I paid board to my widowed mother.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it, the real victims here are the baby boomers, because erm arr, err, reasons, right? I mean, none of my friends will ever own a house or have a decent job, and serves them right for being moaners, eh Jill? They should just jolly well go tens of thousands of dollars in debt to get an education on the off chance that by the time they finish, there will be decent jobs available that pay enough to make it possible to raise a family or live the kind of life our parents have lived. Meanwhile, the over 50's have the majority of the countries wealth (how many houses do you own, Jill? )and are now frantically pulling up all the ladders that helped them get there.

Madison said...

Anonymous, what a wart. Since the language and tone for most of these comments is on the line with you @4:07 I'm guessing most of them are the same person. Jill isn't claiming that she had it worse or that the current generation is committing theft, she's telling you that every generation has it difficult.

You just don't seem to realize that because the barriers and difficulties that she faced are different from the ones that you face that she didn't have it tough. What Jill is also pointing out is that a far higher percentage now rather than when she was younger don't want to bother putting in the hard work it takes to get ahead. I know there aren't many jobs available that pay well and especially out of Uni it's hard to get a job you think is worth it, I faced the same problem, but of course that was 15 years ago so it was the Baby boomers then right? What about when my father (a boomer) had the same issue in the 1970's? Boomers then as well? We all bucked down and did some crappy jobs and scrimped, saved and worked our budgeting. GUess you have to give up drunken parties and lots of brand names to get there and for too many younger people these days that's too much.

Anonymous said...

The boomers may individually be nice, pleasant, decent people (like my parents) but the decisions they made as a group over the 60s, 70s and 80s are largely responsible for the generational differences we have today. The boomers enjoyed unprecedented advantages because of the welfare state compromise "won" by the generation before - the post WWII "world fit for heroes". Whether Jill Ovens likes it or not, the boomers, as a group, did very little with that inheritance, probably because they spent their time prosecuting identity politics at the expense of genuine lasting change.

And whether Jill Ovens recognises it or not, the Gen Xers (and those who come after) know we will live in a world where our prospects as a generation are not an improvement on those which come before us. And, as Pete rightly pointed out, that is because the boomers did not stick to the social contract, no matter how nice they are as individuals.

Gerrit said...

So generation X, as expoused by the various anons, wants to play the blame game. Boomers are to blame for the terrible conditions they now face. How sad.

Guess what anons, the situation is not going to change.

More interested in your solutions as your anons blame game does not provide any.

Maybe vote to cancel all superanuation?

How about compulsory state aquisition of baby boomers assets for redistribution to the young?

You can always sit there with a chip on your shoulder and blame the boomers but that is not fixing squat.

Your anon solutions would be insightful.

Anonymous said...

Was it really the boomers' generation that broke the post-war social democratic consensus?

A quick look at some key names driving the neoliberal agenda through the 80s and 90s suggests most of the perpetrators were born before 1945, many of them well before, and some after 1945:

Ronald Reagan – born 1911
Francois Mitterand – 1916
George HW Bush – 1924
Margaret Thatcher – 1925
Bob Hawke – 1929
Helmut Kohl – 1930
Jacques Chirac – 1932
Nigel Lawson – 1932
Jim Bolger – 1935
Roger Douglas – 1937
David Lange – 1942
John Major - 1943
Paul Keating – 1944
Bill Clinton - 1946
Mike Moore – 1949
Ruth Richardson – 1950
Jenny Shipley - 1952
Tony Blair – 1953

Since the generational "analysis" is clearly a crock, can we get back to a class analysis now please?

Victor said...

A good rant, Jill and rants are sometimes valid.

To play the "Three Yorkshiremen's game", my slightly-older-than-you wife didn't even get a chance to go to university.

At some stage in her early teens, parents and teachers got together and decided her education should be limited to what she needed to run a home and work as a typist, until such time as she found a husband.

Yes, they actually did that to my brilliant gal! And not only that. They did their best to convince her that this was the natural order of things.

Of how many thousands of other intelligent New Zealand early baby boomer women was this true? How many of them have managed to throw of the tyranny of early imposed circumstance? And how has this impacted on their ability to earn enough to retire in comfort?

We can all, of course, play the Three Yorkshiremen game in one way or the other! The current anti-boomer agitation is, however, to my mind, too serious for such an approach. This is because any assault on societal cohesion is significant and potentially dangerous. We all suffer if we start putting labels on each other and, in consequence, disrespecting each other. Anecdotage has its place but I also think rational analysis is needed.

So let's look at the charges of substance against us boomers.

Firstly there's the charge that Superannuation is taking up too big a slice of the tax take and that this slice will grow expotentially in the decades ahead.

This is obviously factually true. But it's primarily a result of people living longer. And, frankly, no-one ever asked me if I wanted to live longer than my parents. Moreover, having experienced my dear old mum's terrible last years, I know that I don't want to.

In addition, the high cost of Super is only a matter of overwhelming immediate consequence if you regard New Zealand's total government indebtedness as of huge immediate significance. And, at just 29% of GDP, it really isn't.

There's time to solve the Super conundrum in a humane and rational way. We need to start doing this now but without a false sense of urgency and certainly without the beating of generational war drums.

.....more to come

Victor said...

....continuing previous post

Another charge is that boomers have failed to pass on a properly functioning economy to subsequent generations.

To the extent that they were amongst those who voted for Rogernomics, there is some substance to this charge.

But the leading Rogernomes were all 'War Babies' or older, as were many of their voters. Moreover, any New Zealand government in the last third of the twentieth century would have faced dramatically straightened circumstances, as a result of the UK's entry into the EEC.

There's no inherent reason to assume that a successful economy can exist on these far distant islands. We have to do our best with the tools and circumstances available to us. Some will do better than others. But just don't expect miracles.

And then there's the charge that baby boomers have spent their children's inheritance on real estate and are preventing others from having decent roofs over their heads.

Well I agree that property ownership is an all pervasive and largely destructive meme of New Zealand culture. The young are its primary victims but they are, by no means, the only ones.

Obviously, we need something like CGT. But we also need adequate instruments for savings and investment. And what are the now dominant Xers doing about it?

Ultimately, moreover, we're all in the same boat and nothing can be gained from inventing yet further reasons for dividing us up into mutually hostile and rancorous quartiles.

Future generations won't thank Mum and Dad if they fall out with Grandma and Poppa and start calling them names. We should surely all know this in our bones, even if rheumatoid arthritis hasn't yet set in!

Brendan McNeill said...

If everyone who contributed to this column paid an extra dollar in taxes every time they engaged in 'blame', be it towards the baby boomers, neo-cons, National, Labour, Roger Douglas, et al, then our current account deficit would be solved virtually overnight.

Life is not fair. We are all dealt a hand of cards, its up to you how you play them. Blaming the dealer or other players around the table for your circumstances is futile.

The sooner we remove blame and self pity from our vocabulary the sooner we find our circumstances begin to change for the better.

Why not try it, what can you loose? You may even begin to feel better as an unexpected bonus.

Tim G. said...

Goodness gracious!

This post reflects some of the most despicable aspects of intergenerational change. The older leaping on the younger for being "spoilt little brats", etc.

But the younger generation has spoken eloquently for itself in this column. How many of them can really expect to buy their own first home before 40? Very very few in New Zealand. A minority.

The funny thing is - my middle class - late 50s, early 60s parents would both admit that contemporary NZ is no kind of place for young people. I don't live there, because it is such a difficult place to eke out an existence as a young qualified person compared to so many other OECD countries.

So ask yourself this hags and windbags - is the NZ of today any kind of place you want your grandchildren born/growing up? Can you even imagine what a heartless place the country will be if it continues on its current trajectory?

Who's to blame? ANYONE but you, of course.

Victor said...

Tim G

Why should you assume that two rocky, storm-tossed, quake-ravaged little islands, thousands of miles from their markets and from most international centres of excellence, should be able to provide you with career prospects equivalent to those available in much of the rest of the OECD?

New Zealand owed its mid century prosperity and its membership of the rich man's club to being Britain's farm in the South Pacific. But that was all a long time ago. Since then, we've been like the Yukon after the Gold Rush or twentieth century Argentina, that other Southern Hemisphere protein producer which famously had a golden future behind it.

We look fitfully for silver bullets. But the only bullets we have are our own hard work and ingenuity. Even our propinquity to Australia is as much curse as blessing, as it siphons off so many of our best people and artificially inflates the value of our currency.

I agree that your parents' and grandparents' generations may not have done the best conceivable job of managing this decline. But they haven't done a particularly bad job either.

They've provided you with a first world education and, presumably, with the ability to pass as a citizen of the first world and to achieve in your area of choice.

You grew up, moreover, in a country which, despite its reduced circumstances, remained largely peaceful, democratic, egalitarian and free and provided for at least some basic human needs. This will probably have given you a self-assuredness that others might well envy.

I'm not calling you a 'spoilt little brat'. But I do think you have many things to be grateful for.

So I would respectfully suggest that you stop playing the blame game, accept that life is full of vicissitudes for everyone (both young and old) and, above all, stop hate-mongering.

We know, or should know, that racism, snobbery and sexism are wrong. Why do you think ageism should be any more acceptable?

Anonymous said...

" I was paid 9 pounds 10 shillings and threepence per fortnight-about the same as an apprentice of the time."

What's an apprentice? You mean the TV show?

Anonymous said...

Since the language and tone for most of these comments is on the line with you @4:07 I'm guessing most of them are the same person.

Being 4:07, the answer is no.

Jill isn't claiming that she had it worse or that the current generation is committing theft, she's telling you that every generation has it difficult.

Except they don't. Some have better overall opportunities than others. The boomers had probably the best opportunities of any generation that has ever existed, due to the welfare state their parents provided for them. The same welfare state they voted to cripple.

You just don't seem to realize that because the barriers and difficulties that she faced are different from the ones that you face that she didn't have it tough.

She didn't. Her post proves this. As explained above, it is a whine about how hard she had it that lists opportunities that we Xers and Yers would have killed to have. That is what is insulting.

So what if boomers had to work hard in order to afford a house. We work harder and still can't afford a house. Geddit?

What Jill is also pointing out is that a far higher percentage now rather than when she was younger don't want to bother putting in the hard work it takes to get ahead.

Lol. Xers and Yers are no less hardworking than their parents.

You and the other defenders of the indefensible simply cannot understand that the point being made is not about how hard people work, but about the opportunities presented to them. Xers and Yers simply do not have the range of opportunities that their parents did, in many cases because those same parents voted themselves tax cuts rather than pay their fair share.

As the logicians would say, working hard is a necessary, but not sufficient condition of doing well.

Guess you have to give up drunken parties and lots of brand names to get there and for too many younger people these days that's too much.

Many could give up eating and still not be able to afford to own their own home. The government more or less gave my parents and my wife's parents the deposits for their home.

JFYI students don't really drink that much any more – at least not in comparison with 20 years ago.

And this is not a NZ situation. It is worse in the UK, for example.

But you carry on in your state of denial.

Anonymous said...

Paxman gets it.

Jill said...

Anonymous accuses me of inflating the facts to suit my case. I was born in the baby boomer period and graduated in the 1970s, not the 1980s. And yes I did raise the issue of gender equality. That was the point!
I am proud to be part of the generation that fought for women's liberation, for an end to nuclear war, and to have spent my life working to improve women's lives (most recently for a union of low-paid women workers, predominantly Pacific and Maori women).
I believe in the welfare state ("from the cradle to the grave"), in progressive taxation to redistribute wealth, in energy-efficient affordable housing, in universal education from early childhood to tertiary, in GST-free healthy food for all, and in a living wage that allows all workers to live in dignity and fully participate in our community. I agree with capital gains tax and clamping down on tax-avoidance trusts. And no, I never voted for Roger Douglas.

Tim G. said...


I'm amazed that standing up for my generation, use of the expression "hags and windbags" aside, can be construed as hate-mongering.

I would have thought that the original poster, who has gone out of her way to point out that she was brought up in a shoebox in the middle of the road, is so cavalier about that fact that young people have no prospect of the types of opportunities she was afforded in terms of home ownership and the cost of education (the equivalent of $1000 per semester - LOL!) and bemoaned the fact she had to work in menial labour on certain days because she didn't have the glorious opportunity to work at McDonalds. It is just such low grade rubbish.

Many, many of us worked throughout the year (holidays and throughout the semester) at similarly menial and low paid work.

The original poster attempts to deflect criticism for baby boomer choices by levelling the simplistic accusation that we are all just spoilt little brats with enormous senses of entitlement. That is complete bullshit.

Victor said...

Tim G

Unfortunately "hags and windbags" can't be easily dismissed, either in reality or from the record of your rhetoric.

I look in vain through Ms Ovens' piece for equivalent levels of vituperation.

Posterity will not be kind to those who add new forms of hatred to all the festering old ones.

Anonymous said...

Hit 'em where it hurts and tax their land.

Madison said...

Anon @ 4:07, sorry to mash all the other posts in with yours, don't want to accuse you of things you haven't said. From my experience there have been 3 groups of x and Yers. Those that haven't ahd a chance, those that are throwing theirs away and demanding new ones, and those that are grabbing like hell to what they can get.

I've been around all three. I work in manual labour and the number of people I work with who can afford a home in their mid 20's is still a reasonable number. With the Welcome Home Loan I know many couples who have bought homes due to some planning and saving. Even those working menial jobs, one of my coworkers has done it through 2 years of saving and a combining of his and his partner's low salaries, and they now have a house. Would you believe they both earn less than $20/hour?

The ones who haven't had a chance hurt, but the ones that hurt most are those I watch throw away their chances. Those that I've watched quit, walk out or even throw tantrums with lines such as "you can't make me come to work it's raining," "this job is cutting in to my social life" 'I can't do mornings because I like to stay out late' "Anything involving physical labour is demeaning to me" 'If I do all my shifts it will ruin my benefit(also been told it will cancel their student allowance)' "I can't work weekends because all my friends and family only have m-f jobs"

These are all excuses I've heard myself. Pathetic examples. All generations have them but in recent years I've seen the numbers of these type of excuses increase exponentially. There are plenty of people getting screwed out of chances at home ownership, but that's been a constant through the years. If times were so bad I wouldn't have been through more than 10 interviews a while ago when I was looking for work, and the trainees under me had even more offers and less trouble finding jobs than I did.

You may not have a golden dream but the chances are still out there, think I'm delusional if you want but I'm still seeing and finding them from my menial job, how many others are turning a blind eye to them just because they've been told they don't exist anymore and to stop looking?

Jill said...

Interestng, Tim, how you can read all that into a column that was contributing an element of "herstory" and "class" into a dialogue that does seem to be bordering on ageism!
I didn't say I objected to menial work. In fact working in the hospital laundry has given me a great deal of empathy with the laundry workers whose Collective Agreement I am currently negotiating. I fully understand why sorters deserve additional dirt money!
I was pointing out that women's earning potential in holiday jobs was considerably lower than men at the time and so difficult to earn enough to live on.
The pay differential and limited opportunities continued on graduation, and the childrearing gap permanently disadvantaged women in their careers. Older women's poverty is exacerbated if they divorced during their lifetime. This is all well documented.
It's why we introduced an Equal Pay Act in 1972, and Paid Parental Leave in 2002. It's why we had 20 hours free childcare and a Pay Equity Unit under the last Labour Government.
As for home ownership, I live in South Auckland in a low income area. And yes I did help my son and his family into a house, just as my parents helped me. I was trying to say that's normal. I can't see how it's stealing from the next generation to use equity to get over the deposit hurdle.
The housing problem is a complex mix of factors. There is a housing shortage as no one is building affordable housing any more, whether it be the State or the private sector. Population pressure is driving up the price of housing in Auckland. Land is over-priced, building costs are high and exorbitant local government charges don't help. This Government is scrapping support for first home owners to get into housing. We don't have capital gains taxes to cool down housing speculation. And a lack of superannuation provision until KiwiSaver was introduced relatively recently has meant middle-class people have used housing investment as insurance for their retirement.
Finally I don't think the next generation are "spoilt brats" at all. I have great respect for the current generation of parents who so willingly share childrearing responsibilities and are doing such a great job.

Victor said...


Paxman's piece might be a good summary of the situation in the UK but not of that in NZ.

The former country, after more than 60 years of economic decline, enjoyed a spurious but spectacular boom in the 12 to 15 years prior to the current slump.

Many older boomers maxed out both their earnings and their investments during this period, whilst younger boomers found it easier to climb up the earnings ladder.

Having moved to NZ from the UK in 1985, I'm personally very aware of how beneficial this period proved for my stay-at-home contemporaries. For example, my perpetually poverty-stricken, social worker best buddy has just returned to Essex from Budapest with a gleaming set of Titanium fangs.

These were probably the best years for the Brit Bourgeoisie since before 1914. But, because, they'd bought into the post-industrial fantasies of Thatcher and Blair/Brown, there was nothing left for the kids when the markets went sour.

In contrast, although the NZ economy experienced a bit of a rise in the early and middle years of the last decade, we were still basically just bobbing along at the bottom vis a vis most other OECD countries.

Mum and Dad may not have made brilliant choices, but in the context of their economic circumstances, it's hard to see what better choices most of them could have made.

In other words, we can't view inter-generational issues in isolation from the broader economic situations in the countries concerned. And for this and other reasons, we should avoid harsh judgemental attitudes.

Anonymous said...

I live in New Zealand, and I am on the cusp of Gen X and Gen Y, and I believe, as do many people in my generation, that there is intergenerational theft.

Before 1992 everyone had free education regardless if you were wealthy, middle or lower class, it was all free.You were expected to work part time to pay for yourself, as many students do now. Children in Jill Ovens generation also had free milk in schools and there was social housing available for many people with the option to buy. My generation had 2 years notice to save up fees after a lifetime of being told fees were going to be free. In addition, I worked three jobs whilst at university (summer) and one job during the university year. In addition, we were charged interest of 7% per annum on student loan, but in 1999 this was stopped to being inflation only interest.

When I finished and started working I was charged interest of 7% PA when my parents and those born several years before me had a free education.
Then the government made our loans interest free which helped.

My parents generation were asked several times and discourse was had several times about their saving for their own retirement. They chose not to, and opted for my generation to pay for it.

Then came "Kiwisaver" , where our generation was encouraged to save for our own retirement as it is unlikely there will be any superannuation here for us. This was in addition to paying of our loans, as well as our taxes now having to pay for the Boomer's retirement.
Coupled to that:
1. House prices in Auckland were 2 - 3 times the annual wage in 60s, 70s and 80s, now they are up to 8.
2.Two people need an income to survive hence subsidised childcare.
3. Most of the older generation complain to us that they paid up to 66% tax, when this was only for a short while, when many people until 2010 were paying 38% top tax in the dollar, as well as 12.5% GST as well as 10c (10%) in the dollar being removed for student loans, making 60.5c in the dollar.The boomers had free education and thus were less inclined to have to pay back the loan.

In 1992 the Australian Government made saving for retirement (superannuation) compulsory. New Zealand chose not to. In the early 1980s, New Zealand chose not to.

Now we have an aging population who have not saved for their retirement, when they could have 30 years ago. Taxes in the 80s went down to 38c in the dollar and university was still free. Our generation now must pay this bill, as well as save for our own retirement, as well as pay of our loans, as well as buy a house, as well as pay for our parents retirement.

So I hope people can understand my frustration with Jill's blog. Her "walk down memory lane" of how she was on struggle street, I find hard to swallow. Because many people are on struggle street now in New Zealand, many young people. I am sure her parents thought her car was not a necessity. I notice she says "Muldoon scrapped" the Kirk scheme, when it was the voters and the population who did. I know Jill will get a free superannuation of over $13,000 a year for the potential 30 years she may live, whilst we will not be getting it courtesy of "Kiwisaver". This is in addition to the medical bills and retirement home costs, that we will be paying for.

In regards to the gender imbalance, I wonder how Jill would feel knowing that women now get paid less than men, and have to save for their own retirement, and pay of their loans, as well as pay of their parents retirement?

We are seeing our parents climb up the superannuation ladder, we see the lifting it up before our eyes, just like they did with student fees. That is intergenerational theft.

Mark said...

Through the eyes of a 1970's child:

It is true that working class boomers in the 1970's could raise a family of three, own their own home, a car, possibly a boat or bach - on one income (usually the man of the house earned this income).

So what happened???

Along came Reaganomics... and his sidekick Volker... apparently the world was going to run out if oil (same old straw man) so we had oil shocks - the price of oil (and oil/petrol taxes) increased dramatically - which fueled inflation... so then (to reign in inflation) we had massive hikes in interest rates - mortgages rates went over 20% sucking money out of every western economy in the world including NZ...

This put an enormous strain on families... divorce rates increased dramatically. Talk of second mortgages was on the lips of adults - they had to cover the huge increase in interest.

Women increasingly had to work to help the family finances.... family units broke down.

The end of the working class boomer as we know it occured when Govt policy moved away from manufacturing... the end of govt incentive... unemployment went up...

Now we have immigration to fill the void of the Kiwis who sold up and went overseas... immigrants have money and bid up the price of property... meanwhile the media spin machine still encourages working class kiwis to look overseas for work (we had an earthquake in Christchurch yet instead of enlisting unemployed kiwis we bring in hundreds of Irish to work on the rebuild).

Today we have incredidbly high taxation on everything from petrol (over 60%) to books and basic food items... the state has made no concession on electricity prices given our grandparents paid for the dams and infrastructure.

There is also a lack of government transparency on oil and gas and metals wealth...

No long term focus on the economic welfare of future NZers...