...hedonism, greed, and lack of foresight...Britain struggles with what it has become:
Tory MP Accuses Boomers of Theft, Dodges Nasty Truths: Books
Review by George Walden
March 30 (Bloomberg) -- “A politician thinks of the next election,” a wise man once said. “A statesman thinks of the next generation.”
On that score, the U.K. has been short on statesmen, according to a book by Conservative Member of Parliament David Willetts, “The Pinch: How the Baby Boomers Took Their Children’s Future -- and Why They Should Give It Back.”
In housing, pensions and other assets, postwar baby boomers grabbed the biggest chunk of the national wealth, borrowed and consumed massively, failed to invest in the future, and allowed the environment to go to hell, the Tory legislator says.
The year 2030, he forecasts, could be the “pinch-point” of the pressures he describes -- the moment when public debt, environmental costs, falling real pensions and demographic pressures threaten to come together.
I don’t warm to intergenerational debates. They’re too generalized and encourage the young to pose as victims. Yet Willetts’s analysis is clear-eyed, if sometimes paradoxical.
In some quarters, for instance, the boomers are cast as selfish hedonists whose sexual revolution and high divorce rates have left a legacy of social damage. Yet the origins of sexual promiscuity, Willetts shows, lay as much in the 1950s rush to early marriage as in the sinful Sixties.
Wave of Divorces
By 1965, 22 percent of brides were pregnant. Then came the divorces: Between 1970 and 2005, the population increased by 8 percent yet the number of households rose by 30 percent, putting a massive strain on housing, not to mention on the children of broken families.
Other startling statistics include those on demography -- a pinch-point in many senses, though one that has more to do with the failure of politicians to stem immigration than with the alleged recklessness of boomers. In recent years, the population of the U.K. has rocketed to 61 million, and the European Union projects that our cramped little isles will hold 77 million by 2060, overtaking France and Germany.
Immigration has always existed, mostly to the country’s benefit, but for these figures there is no precedent. Millions have squeezed into the nooks and crannies of U.K. cities. Some legacy for the young, immigrants included.
Fear of reviving the Tories’ reputation as “the nasty Party” inhibits Willetts from making simple demographic connections. Education will be crucial to paying off our national debt, he writes. Yet what are the prospects of children in bloated inner-city schools, where 50 languages are spoken?
Four to a Room
Yes, there has been little foresight in transport planning. Yet how can any infrastructure keep pace with demand in London, where the number of mothers born abroad is now 30 percent? Then there’s housing: Only the readiness of young immigrants to tolerate Third World conditions, four to a room, allows them to live in this grotesquely expensive city.
And what of the National Health Service, which Willetts mentions only briefly? Moralizing baby boomers assured us, grandiosely, that it would treat all comers -- rich or poor -- free of charge. The NHS is now buckling under the strain.
Thoughtlessness about the future extended to culture, and Willetts sighs over the trashing of the canon. Yet Tory leader David Cameron used to be a PR man for Carlton Communications, a down-market TV company selling raunchy programs like “A Woman’s Guide to Adultery.” Today Cameron laments our broken society and exalts the sanctity of marriage. Nauseous cant would be a restrained description.
Baby boomers lived for the day, Willetts writes: The unwritten contract between generations was broken and must be reinstated. How, he doesn’t say. Politicians exist to change the world, not just analyze it, even if it means upsetting people.
Their unwillingness to call for sacrifice and restraint was part of the problem in the first place. Even Margaret Thatcher, a non-boomer, stoked housing prices to produce an illusory “cascade of wealth,” as the Tory slogan had it, from one generation to another. A Niagara of mortgage debt, more like it.
Willetts says his book isn’t an attack on the boomers, but an appeal for the generations to behave unselfishly, as humans are wired to do. Not very precise, but then hiding behind pious generalities to dodge the issue is what baby boomers did -- and do.
“The Pinch” is published by Atlantic in the U.K. (336 pages, 18.99 pounds).
(George Walden, a former U.K. diplomat and Conservative member of Parliament, is a critic for Bloomberg News and the author of “Time to Emigrate?” The opinions expressed are his own.)
...majestically enthroned amid the vulgar herd...
Fourty years of very poor planning vis-a-vis immigration matters and where is it going to put us.
Right bloody in the mess we're in.
I've been saying it for years.
Were the boomers responsible for the lack of vigalance in ensuring that multinationals and their political whores shouldn't sell our collective asses down the road to benefit their very short term goals?
To some extent, yes.
R D Laing. He had it pegged. So did Nash. The most beneficial to the individual is not to trust anyone.
Last edited by jonny danger; 31st March 2010 at 12:37.
Riddle me this brother can you handle it
Your style to my style you can't hold a candle to it
Equinox symmetry and the balance is right
Smokin' and drinkin' on a Tuesday night
It's not how you play the game it's how you win it
I cheat and steal and sin and I'm a cynic
You want to sell a stolen diamond but don't trust the buyer so you tell him to meet you in an open field, you with the diamond, he with the cash. No way! He could ambush me. Okay, I'll bury the diamond in a field and won't tell him where it is until he pays for it. Wait! He won't pay for it until he has it.
Since they're at a stalemate the only way a "transaction" can take place is for one to trump the other.
Both Laing and Nash are British, Ken. You blokes invented this shit.
^ LoL...yeah I 'get' the example.
But really mate going through life trusting no one??? Nah!!! I'd rather lose the odd diamond now and again
My apologies for us inventing it....we also invented you lot....sorry about that as well
I didn't steal it, it was stolen.
The idea is that we live in a world of manipulation; husband to wife, wife to husband, offspring to parents, big business to consumers, a chess game society.
Women don't do it as well as men. Women do it less than men.
Look at 9/11, AIG, Goldman-Sachs, all prime examples.
^ Sociopaths 'do well' in business etc. but don't mean I wanna be one.
And you really think women manipulate less and worse than men???
It isn't an opinion, Ken. It's empirical.
Yeah, I've known a few folks who didn't believe in science. I've heard people say Gravity was just a theory.
^ Not sure manipulativeness is measurable to be honest mate....kind of like love
I'll tell you what probably happened....women are THAT good at manipulating they've managed to manipulate you and others (the EMPIRE) into thinking we're the best at manipulating....now that is class on their part Respect
And yeah until we prove magic and/or God exist....gravity is indeed a 'theory'
So again...I don't believe it personally Women manipulate more than men And are better at it (just by having tits and vagina gives they have the edge).