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Thursday, April 05, 2012

Baby Boomer intergenerational theft extends into political representation

Baby boomers' wealth explodes
This week Roy Morgan published its annual State of the Nation survey showing a stunning rise in the wealth of New Zealanders aged 55 and over.

The survey of 5000 older New Zealanders asked them how much they were worth and how much debt they had compared with the broader population.

The report confirms an extraordinary shift in the structure of wealth in New Zealand, raising important questions for politicians, policy makers and voters. Anyone aged 30 or lower should look away now. It may prove too painful to read.


Who will rid me of this troublesome generation? I'm not speaking as a bitter Gen Xer who has been forced to pay for all the privileges of a liberal democracy that Baby Boomers have exhausted while property speculating Gen Xers out of a first home. I'm not talking about the naked intergenerational theft of propping up their retirement funds while the rest of us pay for our own and I'm not talking about the manner in which these damned boomers hold on for dear life to the tops of the domestic career platforms exacerbating the fleeing overseas of Gen Xers, no I'm talking about the impact these boomers have on the election.

When the boomer weekly NZ Listener has Linda Clark on their cover bitching about having to change careers, you know that once again the cultural froth from the leafier suburbs of NZ are dominating all political dialogue.

Interesting research paper that the Parliamentary library has just put out “Final Results for the 2011 New Zealand General Election and Referendum”, highlights growing boomer power.

The 60+ age group is now the single largest voting block (821,500 voters) in NZ, representing 25% of all voters, and up from the 21% share this age group accounted for in 1996. The under 30 age group are 22% of the total voting age population, but accounted for 67% of the total eligible voters who were not enrolled for last year’s general election.

Boomer privilege is crushing the rest of the country, not simply in terms of reaping the benefits of a life of free public services and cherished rights watered down for the rest of society, but in terms of their vast political weight bearing down on the rest of us. We need strategies focused on empowering the rest of society to balance the never ending demands of the boomer generation, we need to re-enfranchise those disempowered. I've discussed these strategies in The Universal Suffrage Project 2014.

1: Lower the voting age to 16 alongside civics education classes in School to start the passion for democracy at a younger age. Taxation without representation is that most heinous of high crimes against citizens and taxing 16 and 17 year olds minus their right to say how that tax should be spent is worth expanding the franchise of democracy all on its own minus the wider social good of allowing the young their say.

2: Allow any voter to go onto the unpublished electoral roll and make the process as easy as ticking a box. So many of our citizens are on the run from debt collectors or abusive spouses that they refuse to enroll so as to not be detected. Any NZer can go onto the unpublished roll but the Electoral Commission goes out of its way to demand all sorts of reasons for it to occur. If the end point is to make it as easy as possible for citizens to participate, streaming this process and making it as easy as a box tick is a priority.

3: Make the date of the election a Wednesday and make it a public holiday. We bitch so much in this country about not having a day we can celebrate as NZers because white people feel so guilty about Waitangi Day, why not search for that which binds us and celebrate that? Election Day should be a celebration because we are one of the few privileged nations around the planet that allows political leadership to change minus violence and repression. Our exercising of the right to vote peacefully is celebration in itself and making it a mid week public holiday would do more for participation rates than any single thing the Justice and Electoral Select Committee review could endorse.

4: The National Party as part of their disgustingly unethical redneck tough on crime posturing passed law stripping prisoners of their rights to vote. Removing a prisoner incarcerated for less than 3 years their ability to vote removes any connection a prisoner might have with civil society. The argument is that prisoners who are inside for less than 3 years should be able to vote because the decision of the election will impact them one way or another once they are released within the lifetime of that Government. Nationals redneck worship by stripping prisoners of their right to vote puts us on the opposite side of the European Court of Human Rights who have argued against this type of prisoner flogging. Their argument is that incarceration doesn't remove your human right to vote, this is a positron far too intellectual for the National Party who seem more comfortable at farmer shed lynchings than the finer details of how the state should treat the incarcerated.

5: Expand the civics course in schools to immigrant communities and make the course a compulsory part of becoming a NZer so that new citizens know their civic rights and responsibilities.We do our new citizens a terrible disservice by not extending any hand of welcome when they become NZers other than a certificate ceremony. How can we expect them to interact in civil society with all the autonomy citizens have if the history and cultural norms haven't been explained?


We need to engineer a new democratic focus that promotes the interests of younger generations and doesn't leave the country to the whims of a bloated locust generation whose sense of entitlement is now putting the rest of the system at risk.

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17 Comments:

At 5/4/12 1:21 p.m., Blogger AAMC said...

That shift in power will never be willingly volunteered, it's up to Gen x&y to engage and demand to participate in the decisions made in society.

As log as we're all tied up in our prolonged adolescence, we are conveniently acquiescing to the boomers, not wanting the drag of being in charge, but naively thinking they should politely hand over what's fair.

 
At 5/4/12 1:55 p.m., Blogger Tim said...

@ BOMBER! FFS PLEASE!
"Who will rid me of this troublesome generation? I'm not speaking as a bitter Gen Xer who has been forced to pay for all the privileges of a liberal democracy that Baby Boomers have exhausted while property speculating Gen Xers out of a first home. I'm not talking about the naked intergenerational theft of propping up their retirement funds while the rest of us pay for our own and I'm not talking about the manner in which these damned boomers hold on for dear life to the tops of the domestic career platforms exacerbating the fleeing overseas of Gen Xers"
You're talking about the NATS as they've always been, and their recent appendages (that Johnsonville coiffure - whatever his irrelevant party is called these days, and surprisingly SharpleD and co whose asirations these days appear to be to become an Uncle Tom - older but no wiser, but SYMPAthetic [as opposed to EMPAthetic to his bedsie Turi Queen).
There were troublesome generations that went before Boomers. Often they were more racist, mysogenist any any other "ist" that was going.

What's more troubling is that their opposition wobbles between their past principles and what they perceive to be pragmatism.
FFS...even their "leader" thinks a shift right is what is in order - even GIVEN that the general swing has been to the right.

You're way way in danger of being considered ageist because it SEEMS you think an entire generation labelled BABY BOOMERS goes along with what amounts to a neo-lib agenda ( or at least all or part of what goes with it ).

 
At 5/4/12 7:25 p.m., Blogger Carol said...

This boomer would be more than happy if someone could find a way of getting more younger people to be politically engaged, including voting.

Over the yeqars I've heard many boomers complain that younger people seem not to be as politically active as the bommer generation has been.... and sometimes bemoaning the lack of support leftie boomers got when activiely protesting the neoliberal shift.

But be careful what you wish for. Are you sure getting more younger people voting would mean a big vote for the left (and by left, I don't mean a Labour Party that follows a watered down form of neoliberalism)? I would hope they would (vote left), but don't see it as a certainty. From what I hear, there's an attitude that the left-right divide is not considered relevant to many younger people. It sounds like many have a kind of blue-green outlook.

And as a boomer who has never been into property speculation or ownership, and been a lifetime renter, the sideswipe complaint that genxers can't afford a first home misses me completely. It does seem to me that many younger people are more interested in owning things, including homes, or buying that latest shiny e-gadget, than paying attention to politics. It looks like they've been conned into following the neoliberal individualistic, materialistic line.

However, I also know that's not true of all genxers. Many do get politically engaged. As Tim says, the real problem is with the neoliberal agenda, which has sucked in many people of different generations. The need is to get more people, young and old, focused on the neoliberal myths and ways to achieve a fairer, more co-operative, and caring society.

 
At 5/4/12 7:44 p.m., Blogger Frank said...

Actually, Tim - I'm a Baby Boomer.

And everything I'm seeing and finding out confirms to me that Bomber is 101% correct: my generation
is creaming it.

Example: Baby Boomers got free tertiary education. The idea being we then paid it forward with taxes to the next generation, who'd benefit from a free education.

Except, we rorted the system.

We scrapped free education; brought in student fees in 1992; and then gave ourselves SEVEN tax cuts from 1986 onward;

2 taxcuts courtest of Lange/Douglas
2 taxcuts courtesy of Bolger/Shipley
1 taxcut courtesy of Clarke/Cullen
2 tax cuts courtesy of Key/English

And Gen X ends up with $13+ billion of student debt.

If that's fair, then pigs are flying north early this year.

And this is another way that Baby Boomers are trying to riort the system - cos 7 tax cuts weren't enough; http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2011/08/28/greed-is-good/

Yeah, Bomber has nailed it pretty damn well.

 
At 5/4/12 8:06 p.m., Blogger Ovicula said...

I'm 55 and the others I know of my generation are not like those you describe. Unfortunately those of us who cared about other things than amassing wealth are not in positions of power. Many of the worst neoliberals I know would be in their 20s.

 
At 6/4/12 9:39 a.m., Blogger fatty said...

"Many of the worst neoliberals I know would be in their 20s."

That's true, they are a product of their environment and most likely the offspring of the privileged. I would take it further than that and say that a neoliberial ideology is the norm of 20-30 year olds. Neoliberalism is hegemonic now.
Nobody said ALL babyboomers are/were neolib nutjobs...but when considering the generation as a whole, Frank sums it up nicely.
We seem to go through this argument every time the issue of babyboomer wealth comes up.
My generation is addicted to video games, is overweight and has little knowledge of politics and history. (I am none of those, but the statement is valid and I am not insulted by it).
Finally, many babyboomers have suffered economically...surely that goes without saying...that is how neoliberism works!

 
At 7/4/12 12:23 a.m., Blogger Tim said...

Yep Frank....I know you're a boomer - followed your letter to the ed et al for years. Actually I agree with Carol, you and Ovicula in many ways.
I also well remember elements of the 'Onslow College brigade' - those that professed social consciences and concern - that is right up until the time they discovered the benefits of the AMEX gold. Others of course to this day don't have amassing wealth as a prio (As Ovicula suggests).
So yea - what I'm simply suggesting is that its the NACTs and Neo-Libs that are the problem more than any generational label applied to some cohort. Boombers just happen to come along at a certain time in history when as they entered adluthood, the neolib agenda came to prominence. Similar things have happened before in history as we know.
Just wait till Gen X/Yers get a little older - my guess is they'll be just as willing to make younger generations pay for their fuckups as the boomers have been. Let's be attacking the ideologies and crap that now CLEARLY hasn't worked rather than groups of people based on their age (or religion, or ..... etc. etc etc)
Ruth Richardson [for example] is a horror story (a boomer?). The likes of Gordon Campbell a very clever and logical man (A boomer?). [IMO]
And yes Carol, the number of 18 - early 20-something students I have tutored that were really politically unaware, greedy, self obsessed, disinterested in politics, thought Jonkey was/is charasmatic and a good guy....truly astounded me. The Kardashians (or whatever the fuck they're called) was a not-to-be-missed on their agenda. Not laying blame anywhere though - we've now got a generation that's grown up knowing nothing else. Thank God though theyre are also quite a number in tht group that seem to have things sussed.

 
At 8/4/12 5:51 p.m., Blogger DebsisDead said...

Part 1
It's crazy to consider everyone over 60 as a single voting bloc. I have been doing voluntary community work this year. My advanced age (57) has deemed me incapable of operating IT devices, despite the fact that it was 40 years ago this year that I first worked with a computer and have been in the 'IT industry' pretty much continuously since then.

I'm not complaining. I'm getting out and meeting peeps considerably older than myself. The vast majority are far too sensible to engage in political discussion with someone until they are sure the relationship is on a sound enough footing to survive any potential political stoush. That is about the only common feature among these over 60's.

Their range of political opinions is far more diverse than what I have found among generation X's or Y's. That is hardly surprising; 30 years ago the 'boomer generation' all shared pretty similar views. Not now.

Also some issues transcend age. Student loans is a weirdly cross-generational topic.

I thought most 30 somethings would agree that we need to abolish the student loan system. That is the predominant view among older kiwis, with only dyed in the wool old Nats arguing for their retention.
Thirty somethings appear to have so much resentment about student loans they would rather cut off their noses to spite their faces, by continuing loans to ensure that younger people had to suffer as harshly as they did, than have the lot wiped out by govt decree & have tertiary education costs regarded as an essential investment in the nation's future.

Aint it wonderful we all have anecdotal evidence to support what we believe. That human consciousness is great, the way it filters out any contrary data (we just don't hear/see it) to ensure our beliefs/prejudices are reinforced.

This is why I loathe these types of discussion, they're divisive and destructive.

Plus Bomber is being overly simplistic and concentrating on a symptom of the problem rather than the cause.

Young kiwis can't afford to buy houses because:

A/ so many have large debts from a silly system that punishes people for getting qualifications

and

B/ There are other people out there who can afford to pay more for houses than young kiwis can.

The two problems are linked. Business & its lobbyist doesn't believe it is worth 'subsidising' tertiary education when it is relatively easy to pick up skilled staff who obtained their quals outside NZ at 'no cost' (they incorrectly deduce) to NZ. cont.

 
At 8/4/12 6:02 p.m., Blogger DebsisDead said...

Part 2
continued from above
People can get great prices for their tumbledown MT Eden lean to because there are plenty of peeps with a good deposit for the house acquired when they sold their house 'back ome' which was bought with their native nation's first homebuyer scheme.

They don't have much in the way of student loans either. Until about ten months ago local education authorities paid for the bulk of the englanders' tertiary education costs outta rates and taxes. So these foreigners can afford a larger mortgage.

Instead of dividing the kiwi community on age, it would be more effective to unite the population against any further migrants from the Northern Hemisphere, especially the UK.

Remember our ancestors came to NZ to create a different better society than that which thousands of years of inbuilt injustice had born them into.
Peeps wanting 'more of the same but getting on top this time' emigrated to the quicker and far less expensive to get to, amerika.

Today's migrants are more interested in improving their personal comfort than improving their society.
The huge influx of NH migrants over the last 15 years has instigated a massive regression in NZers attitudes toward each other. Lots of the shifts have come straight outta the Thatcher playbook. Look at the shift towards harsh sentences for property crime (that is for unwhite defendants - bourgeois crims rip off millions & 3 months home detention is considered severe). Crimes against fellow humans used to be about the only thing anyone would cop a long lag for. When a bankrobber copped incarceration, the beak would make it plain this was because the robber had traumatically injured bank staff and customers, not because the bank might be down thousands of dollars.
Not now. Now gambling addicts cop a spell for a we accounting tickle.

Worst of all is the spread of the bullshit idea that a government is some alien external entity, rather than a servant of NZers' wishes.

Our population is still small enough for it to be simple to have a government that is a true reflection of the spectrum of NZers desires & beliefs.
This is what all kiwis should be aiming for; not some divided society where we cut ourselves off from others who are a different age/race/culture/employment.

It wouldn't even be hard to sell many of those egocentric assholes already here, on the benefit closing the gate to any more NH immigration. They too are having to confront the mess that has been created. They also realise their children will shoot thru to Oz when they grow up. Meaning they won't get to see their grandkids often either.

The term 'generation gap' was coined when boomers were at odds with their parents' generation. It was far messier and considerably more violent than what goes down today. Getting into a fight with some ww2 vet who didn't like yer haircut was a pretty commonplace event when you walked into a pub.

This is an aspect of these types of division Bomber prolly hasn't considered too hard.

By the time I had reached a sort of truce with the WW2 generation, a huge chunk of 'em were dead. Like bomber does now, back then I incorrectly saw that generation as a sort of monolithic mob of ignorant, self-serving, fascist assholes.

 
At 9/4/12 2:21 p.m., Blogger fatty said...

Its amusing to see that 'debsisdead' and 'tim' are happy to label generation x, but cry 'generation war' when we point out babyboomer greed.
debsisdead - "I thought most 30 somethings would agree that we need to abolish the student loan system...they would rather cut off their noses to spite their faces."

Tim - "the number of 18 - early 20-something students I have tutored that were really politically unaware, greedy, self obsessed, disinterested in politics, thought Jonkey was/is charasmatic and a good guy"...sorry Tim, but the token last sentence on your post does not mean you have not just essentilised generation x.

Both of you are of course right, but you must allow generation x to be right in return. Generation x are disinterested cause we grew up under neoliberalism...our lives have been built on individualism and greed. We were told from the beginning to look out only for yourself cause if you fail it is your fault...we don't have the opportunity to blame the system.

"Boombers just happen to come along at a certain time in history when as they entered adluthood, the neolib agenda came to prominence."
I'd say the exact opposite... Neoliberalism is rooted in the same selfishness that the counter culture was based on. The hippy movement was all about the individual, just as neoliberalism is. They did not just 'appear together'.
The hippy movement of the 70's and their obsession with individual identity created neoliberalism.
Identity issues such as Maori rights and women's rights were great, they should have happened long before they did...but they quickly developed into neoliberalism.
The counterculture movement is now neoliberalism...it was created by the babyboomer generation and it benefited the babyboomer generation.

Debsisdead; this is not a divisive and destructive discussion. We are already a divided nation. We need this discussion. Inequality is the biggest issue facing NZ at the moment, we need to look at how inequality is perpetuated...that includes looking at generational inequality.

 
At 9/4/12 3:48 p.m., Blogger Frank said...

Tim...

"Yep Frank....I know you're a boomer - followed your letter to the ed et al for years."

Yikes, I guess that kinda gives my age away. (I have written once or twice to various newspaper editors. No doubt they're always 'keen' to hear from me...)

"I also well remember elements of the 'Onslow College brigade' - those that professed social consciences and concern - that is right up until the time they discovered the benefits of the AMEX gold. Others of course to this day don't have amassing wealth as a prio (As Ovicula suggests)."

Wellington High School here. (The Best "Reform School/Borstal" in town, I used to joke.)

But yes, I get what you mean.

I had a go at the "amassing wealth" thing. Mainly in speculative property. Been there, done that, moved on. (Got bored quickly with it.)

"Just wait till Gen X/Yers get a little older - my guess is they'll be just as willing to make younger generations pay for their fuckups as the boomers have been."

Fair point. More than that, though, wait till us Boomers start retiring - the youunger generations may think twice before paying taxes for our retirement villas. In fact, they may start to apply the same User Pays principles to us.

And our property investments may not be much help; the country will probably be flooded with investment properties "flicked" onto the market, driving prices down.

So a bit of a rude shock there, methinks, awaiting us.

"Let's be attacking the ideologies and crap that now CLEARLY hasn't worked rather than groups of people based on their age (or religion, or ..... etc. etc etc)
Ruth Richardson [for example] is a horror story (a boomer?). The likes of Gordon Campbell a very clever and logical man (A boomer?). [IMO]"

There are Boomers who have insights, I've no doubt. Where the "generational cohort' argument enters into the equation is that (generally) we all had the same benefits of fully-funded social services and then (generally) voted for governments that gave us hefty tax cuts, whilst imposing User Pays to make up the difference in lost revenue.

I recall in the mid-1990s that The Alliance was at one time polling in the mid-high 30-percentages. (Labour was freaking out, I tell you.)

But come the '96 election, those respondents didn't translate the poll-choices into votes. The Alliance ended up with only 10%. The other twentypercent lost their nerve, and a chance to reverse many of the new right policies that had been implemented.

I understand what you're suggesting that it's unfair to label an entire demographic group with one paint brush. And yet, when I attention a Green Party meeting in Wellington a couple of weeks ago, only two of the 12 or 15 people who were there were my age (me being one. The remainder were young 20-somethings.

I don't know if that "proves" anything... but I found it intriguing.

 
At 9/4/12 6:32 p.m., Blogger Carol said...

fatty, I agree there's a tendency for some boomers to see their/our generation as diverse, while treating younger generations like genxers as a homogeneous group with one hive-mind.

But then you go on to treat the whole of genx as victims of circumstannces beyond their control, while treating boomers as architects of their own circumstances, not to mention of neoliberalism.

But you are re-writing history, falling into the over-generalising trap.

Try reading this about the diverse strands of hippie counter culture, especially the section on politics:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippie#Politics

David Harvey, and Naomi Klein are good sources about the diverse strands and struggles that neoliberals drew from and re-worked. In fact, many of the main architects of neoliberalism were a generation older than boomers (Thatcher, Regan, Roger Douglas, and the main economic theorists these politicians drew on).

Sure some boomers jumped eagerly on board, as did some people from generations younger than boomers.

There was quite a strong shift to the left during the post WWII and hippie years, and this is what the neoliberals set out to undo. Yes, there was an individualistic strand, focused on search for self identity, especially in the US mainstream, and their popular culture and Hollywood.

But there was a strong focus by many on co-operative struggles around a collective notion of identity (hence the feminist, gay and black civil rights movements). And there was a much stronger influence from socialism in the UK and Europe. The NZ counter-culture tended to take a selection of these ideas from both the UK and US.

The neoliberals looked at the popularity of these socially liberal ideas, and incorporated a narrowed,and far more individualistic version with their PR stuff about economic (neo)liberalism. They narrowed idenitiy politics from a collective movement to a more superficial focus on identity as brand image.

Shifts in politics and culture are rarely a smooth shift with one section of society being a prime mover. It's more usually the outcome of a struggle between diverse, sometimes conflicting and contradictory factions and power blocs.

Frank, my experience of Green voters in Auckland is that many are more in my (boomer) age group. Some of us see the Green Party roots in the Values Party we also voted for back then, seeing both parties as firmly left wing (at least, til the last election). But it's uncertain how left wing many of the new Green Party supporters are. I think some have missed the firmly left wing, class-conscious/struggle views of many Green MPs.

But seeing young people out supporting such parties, and on the streets protesting gives me heart that eventually this whole neoliberal juggernaut will be discredited and replaced with a fairer, more humane hegemony.

But we need to be sure where the real problems lie.

Sure, Frank, there's a load of boomers with expensive investment properties. But research also shows that a greater proportion of boomers are now renting in comparison with the generation oLDer than us.

 
At 10/4/12 2:34 p.m., Blogger fatty said...

"But then you go on to treat the whole of genx as victims of circumstannces beyond their control, while treating boomers as architects of their own circumstances, not to mention of neoliberalism."

Yes, I do hold that position and I base it on voting power. Gen X cannot out-vote the babyboomers until they die...that's why monetary policy, such as tax (Frank's post), has always and will always favour babyboomers...It is much harder for gen x to forge their own identity when they are subject to the voting power of the boomers...I don't see that as over-generalising at all, its democracy.

I completely agree with you about the diversity of the hippy movement...that is what made its factions it so susceptible to neoliberalism. The casualisation of the workforce used feminism...targeted welfare has used Maori sovereignty...the Green movement now justifies capitalism (do any of us really believe in green-capitalism?..'eco-friendly' has now replaced sex as the preferred marketing gimmick of neo-libs).

"There was quite a strong shift to the left during the post WWII and hippie years"
I think that post WWII society was situated as socially right and economically left. The hippy years moved towards socially left and economically right. During the hippy years there was a move to economic liberalisation...surely this is right wing economic theory?

Isn't it true that Neoliberalism is now 'socially left' and 'economically right' (outside of the US).
John Key loves his big gay out.

 
At 10/4/12 8:13 p.m., Blogger Carol said...

Fatty, yes the big problem with us boomers is that there is a greater proportion of us compared with other generations (at birth). But, in fact if you look at the current population profile for NZ, they do not out number (or rather out-proportion) younger generations, not even the genxers.

I take boomers as being born between 1946 & 1964 (currently 48-66yrs) & genx 1965-1980 (currently 34-47 yrs). (42- 60 yrs in 2006: 28-41yrs in 2006)

If you look at the age pyramid from the 2006 census, you can see the 45-60 year olds are already dying off. So the genxers are at least holding their own as a proportion of the population - then add in the people younger than genxers and boomers are noticeably out-numbered.

http://www.stats.govt.nz/Census/2006CensusHomePage/QuickStats/AboutAPlace/SnapShot.aspx?type=region&tab=Agesex&id=9999999

The mistake people make when talking about the NZ (and UK) hippy generation is that they assume they were exactly like the original US hippies. I think the California ethos was probably pretty economically liberal. But it wasn't so much the case in NZ, and it was very far from the situation in the UK.

I was in London from the late 70s to mid 90s. The people I mixed with of my age group at work and play, were largely socialist and it included a sizable number of feminists.

Neoliberalism resulted in a global spread of US economic liberalism. The boomers I know, here and in London were extremely angry about this, and kicked against it all the way.

NZ has long incorporated a mix of influences from the UK & US, but in the 60s and 70s the dominant politcal attitude was noticeably to the left of the US. Even Muldoon favoured the welfare state in many ways.

When I got back to NZ at the beginning of the 21st century, I was somewhat bewildered by the anti-UK & pro-US shift (especially with respect to popular culture) in younger Kiwis - it seemed like a kind of youth rebellion against their parents' generation. But with this was also a shift away from the more left wing attitudes of a lot of Kiwi boomers.

I still maintain, that although there are problems arising from the size of the boomer generation, hyping up inter-generational antagonism is a diversion. The real problem is the struggle against neoliberalism and the powerful right wing elite. I'm with anyone of any age who sees that as the main struggle.

 
At 11/4/12 11:54 a.m., Blogger fatty said...

"If you look at the age pyramid from the 2006 census, you can see the 45-60 year olds are already dying off. So the genxers are at least holding their own as a proportion of the population - then add in the people younger than genxers and boomers are noticeably out-numbered."

True...the eligible voting numbers now favour the non-boomers. However, as I agreed with Tim earlier, us in Gen x (and below) are politically unaware and disinterested in politics...this is the result of having our political voice silenced for the past 15-25 years as we saw tax changes and property prices favour the boomers...we also suffered from employment instability and unaffordable education. We were voted out then and the disinterest in politics does not naturally reverse itself...for gen x and below, political unawareness has become as hegemonic as neoliberalism. In many cases political disinterest is a political action in itself.
The numbers have to be taken into account alongside history. 'Boomers can be outvoted now' ignores the political experience of Gen x (and below). When boomers became eligible to vote their voice was heard...however, we were taught from age 18 that voting got you nowhere. That's why we can't forge our own identity the way the boomers did.
Even now if we do vote we have to choose between two boomers...or an Australian who is neoliberalising the Greens (probably why the Gen x voters lean towards, or forced into the oxymoronic blue/green ideology of eco-capitalism).

Your assessment of US vs UK neolib influence on NZ is interesting. You note that US popular culture dominates NZ - that I agree with. However I still see NZ as following the UK economically, socially and politically. I think US influence in NZ is still mainly limited to popular culture. Our economic and social policy is much closer to UK than it is to the US. National has more in common with the Tories than the Republicans. NZ Labour has more in common with UK Labour than the democrats.
John Key policy is NZ's 'big society'...also if you look at the Occupy movement in NZ, we leaned towards socialism (UK), rather than libertarianism (US). I also think you may be looking at the UK through left-tinted glasses...I hear their Tesco - 'work for the dole scheme' is creating record profits. Don't get me started on the UK Labour Party...they make Peter Dunne look like he has an ideology.
I don't think we have had a shift to being anti-UK at all...I think the UK has shifted to being pro-US. You sum it up well here - "Neoliberalism resulted in a global spread of US economic liberalism".

I agree with your statement that neoliberalism is the main struggle (I would actually say that capitalism is the real problem, neoliberalism is just its natural progression)...I'll happily stick to my 'generational antagonism', and I'll shout it from the rooftops (I call it neoliberal awareness).
I think that if we want to resist inequality and neoliberalism, we have to acknowledge the who, what, where and when.

 
At 11/4/12 1:57 p.m., Blogger Carol said...

Fatty, I agree with most of the details in your last post. The main points where I disagree with you are on the weaknesses of the boomer “hippy” culture and on the inevitability of boomer culture giving rise to neoliberalism.

I DO think the left wing “counter culture” (which I see as being more directly political than the hippy culture it was intertwined with) made one MAJOR mistake, which allowed powerful right wingers to regain power. And it was a harsh lesson to learn.

My rosy view of Britain was of the way it was in the 70s, and that was wiped away after living with the devastating consequences of the Thatcher government. That was one of the major reasons why I left the UK in the 1990s.

The mistake of the counter culture was in making a too strong a shift to the focus on culture, not on the self-focused “individualism" you allege, fatty. The idea, and one I took on board too strongly, was that if we changed ourselves and the culture we were involved in…..from the grass roots up, through networks of collective endeavour, there would be a flow on effect resulting in a change to the dominant political culture and economic structure.

What I learned from neoliberalism was that it’s really important to pay attention to, and struggle with/against the operations of power – especially where a powerful elite works to enhance their wealth and privilege at the expense of the few. I hope the occupy movement (which actually has a lot in common with the counter-culture I knew), is more hard-headed about this.

Consequently, I give strong support to David Harvey’s evidence and arguments as in his A Short History of Neoliberalism. He describes how the world stumbled towards neoliberalism, unevenly and imperfectly, following a crisis in capitalism in the 70s. Right wing think tanks had been working for a while to find a way to undo the success of social welfare policies with the public, and the decline of (upper)class power. He shows how neoliberal practices often contradicted their theory, and how they latched onto anything that would gain them favour with the voters (or enough of them to give them access to government under FPtP). This included making alliances with the (very non-liberal) fundamentalist Christians in the US, and the Brit mourners for the superiority of lost Empire (as blatantly shown with Thatcher’s Falklands adventure).

Harvey sums it up here (scroll back to p119):

http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=hZ-6T4pIV4cC&pg=PA222&dq=david+harvey&hl=en&sa=X&ei=WrCET5vOLcORiQeb3aG8Bw&ved=0CD8QuwUwAg#v=onepage&q=david%20harvey&f=false

He says:

It has been part of the genius of neoliberal theory to provide a benevolent mask full of wonderful-sounding words like freedom, liberty, choice, and rights, to hide the grim realities of the restoration or reconstitution of naked class power, locally as well as transnationally, but most particularly in the main financial centres of global capitalism.

And many Kiwis are now just waking up to the last part of that quote.

 
At 11/4/12 7:47 p.m., Blogger fatty said...

True, I'm sure that the counter culture had no intention of introducing individualism...and they did not consider their ideals to be individualistic in nature, but I see that as the end result.
I'm sure their desire was a less authoritarian society and more collective, but in hindsight...(easy for me to say now). I do realise the collective ideals were central to them (include ethnic minorities, woman's liberation, sexuality equality)...this is all based on inclusion and collectiveness. But the outcome was the opposite because it came with economic individualism.

Ideologically, I am always split. Not sure if I'm a socialist or a anarchist...I just know I'm not a capitalist.
I think the counter culture suffered from this too.

I enjoy Harvey and have a lot of time for him, but I have interpreted him slightly differently.

"He describes how the world stumbled towards neoliberalism, unevenly and imperfectly, following a crisis in capitalism in the 70s."

When Harvey talks of this I see it as a strong critique on capitalism...I see him suggesting that the nature of capitalism is the never ending drive towards efficiency....therefore noeliberalism is a natural progression following the crises in the 1970s. From the capitalist's perspective the only other option was to end capitalism (never an option). The current recession has resulted in austerity on top of austerity.
I don't see the 'third-way' or the 'big society' as any deviation from this...I just see those two ideologies as a normalising process in the never ending drive for efficiency (its an opportunity for the country to catch their breath before more austerity).
Hate to say it, but we need a revolution to overthrow capitalism...with what is the question.

 

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