Generation X rage against the baby boomer machine
I didn't want to get immediately involved in the friction fight last month between Gen Xers and Baby Boomers because i wanted to see what everyone else had to say on a topic I've blogged on for such a long time.
I've been pointing out this growing intergenerational tension on Tumeke for years and the thing in this current debate that fascinates me most is the utter denial of the baby boomer generation that they are to blame for anything that was repeated over and over again on the comment sections of the columns talking about the issue.
Fran O'Sullivan got the ball really moving with her post Dear John: Generational equity a must and Bernard Hickey threw more petrol onto it with his column Methinks boomers protest too much.
Baby Boomers were the first youth generation, they challenged the status quo, demanded reforms and forced their voices to be heard and counted. The Values environmental movement the anti-Vietnam war movement, the Springbok tour movement and nuclear free movement were all social activism that modernized our society.
Baby boomers demanded a more active State and benefitted most from the privileges of that active State be it the free education in a benign economic environment backed with fully funded public services that positioned them as a generation ready to speculate wildly on property.
It seems that once Boomers got a taste for consumerism they forget all that idealism and decided to never leave the taxpayer funded privilege they found themselves rolling in. Economist Brain Easton traces the venal 30 year impact of NZ neo-liberalism and how it's ability to amass wealth to the few while pretending choice for all has left the next generations following boomers with far less than they had been promised under democracy.
Gen Xers who have been trapped by student debt loan early in life have leant nothing other than selfishness as a virtue. They know what 'value' they are to society, because they have been given the bill. Turning education from a public good to a private benefit was one of the largest wins for the right during our neo-liberal revolution and with students leaving education with vast debt, the only place to clear that debt because of NZs low wage economy is overseas.
This displacement and debt either sends our students away or traps them into renting the rest of their lives as the boomer generation have property speculated everyone else out of ever owning a first home.
Gen Xers live in a NZ labour market where Boomers dominate, every Gen Xer I know who doesn't work for themselves bitches constantly about that Boomer above them who won't leave or move on so that they can climb the career ladder.. Boomers are smart enough to see the economic global tide turning and they are holding onto their positions in the labour market more fiercely than a heron addict holds onto their dealer.
Boomers dominate as an engaged conservative voting block and so will always keep their interests politically paramount. The median age for NZers leaving last year was 26, our diaspora is a generational issue.
Boomers dominate the punditry of nearly every single mainstream media news outlet, even the once glorious NZ Listener is just beige baby boomer commentator after beige baby boomer commentator (except for that delightful Toby Manhire). The Herald is full of them, the TV shows are full of them, Talkback Radio is full of them - there are no Generation X commentators because what we have to say don't mean shit while the Boomers have control of the wheel.
What's the solution for Gen Xers? It's time to fight back. Every point of interaction becomes a front line with boomers and it's time to challenge them and the bullshit legacy they are leaving us. It is time to push back on the scared cows they never want slaughtered.
Baby Boomers are acting like a petulant Paula Bennett, using state help to get ahead and then pulling that ladder of support up with them afterwards so that no one else can use it.
Perhaps Boomers need to dust off their record collections from the 60s and remember what they fought for and what they are leaving behind as their legacy.
PS - Oh and by the way, this new wave of neo liberal agenda being implemented by John Key through Private Public Partnerships will be another ideological intergenerational debt that Gen Xers will have to carry as well. As the ever brilliant Gordon Campbell points out... Private sector delivery as an inter-generational scam