Stop Bashing the Baby-boomers, They're Not to Blame for Your Problems

Suddenly it's okay to attack the baby-boomers, describing them as the "lucky" generation and therefore a legitimate target for some serious abuse.

Suddenly it's okay to attack the baby-boomers, describing them as the "lucky" generation and therefore a legitimate target for some serious abuse.

Around the time of the General Election earlier this year, there were a number of sly little digs at the boomers from the commentariat half a generation behind the boomers (i.e. presenters and writers in their late 40s or just hitting 50) along similar lines: the phrase "lucky generation" was heard a lot; the Boomers owned million-pound properties; enjoyed a free university education; had jobs for life, etc... And then, in Saturday's Times, Caitlin Moran, who is, in my view, a goddess and an utterly brilliant writer joined the Boomer-bashing with this: "There is something very unappealing about an older generation - who had free university education, bought property when you could do it without blueing half your wages on mortgage repayments and entered the world of employment in a time before free internships and free content destroyed the media and music industry - having a go at a less privileged generation..."

So, as both co-founder of SoSensational a website (albeit a fashion and beauty website) for the over-60s and a woman born in 1950 (so very much a Boomer myself), I would like to respond to this wave of Boomer-bashing with some facts rather than prejudice and stereotyping.

Let's start with the most obvious cause for Boomer envy: property values. Yes, it's true you could buy a decent semi in a London suburb for around £10k in 1971 (when many of the Boomers went shopping for property). And, yes, if you could get in the Tardis and return to 1971 and scoop up a couple of semis, you could sell them in 2015 and retire happily on the proceeds. But, back in 1971, £9,000 was one-and-a-half times the annual income for me and my then-husband (and we weren't untypical); so however small a sum it sounds now, it was a colossal sum at the time and as I recall, we spent closer tothree-quarters of our joint income on mortgage repayments. Did property prices rise vertiginously in the next 40 years; they sure did but were the Boomers to blame? Successive Governments, were the real culprits here, I think.

As for free university education; well I didn't have one of those. As a female, born in the UK in 1950, I am fairly typical in not having had a university education. Had I been born in the USA or in the UK five years later, the Office of Population and Census statistics suggest that I would have probably gone to university. Look at the OPC stats and you see that a very small minority of 18-year-olds went to university between 1900 and 1960, and they were mainly men; the numbers of university students grew after 1965, especially among women; but when you offer a university education to virtually every 18-year-old in possession of a GCSE, it becomes impossible for the state to keep funding Higher Education. So, again, Governments, not Boomers were to blame.

As for free media and music, Ms Moran... I seriously doubt that the Boomers are the culprits, here. We are a generation far too accustomed to paying for stuff to expect free media or music. My guess is that it is the 20-somethings who expect news, comment and music for free because that is, after all, what the Internet has taught them to expect.

And then we get to Employment. Ahem, I think, Ms Moran, you have forgotten that there were many years between the 1960s and the 1980s when Boomers were unprotected by Employment Legislation and Gender Equality legislation, let alone able to enjoy the luxury of hyper-vigilance against the micro-infringements of working life which safeguard the 20-somethings in today's workplace... And even if Boomers were able to navigate a safe passage between exploitative employers and sexual harassment and pay inequality, they still had to contend with the 1980s crash under the joint stewardship of John Major and Norman Lamont which sent many Boomers into penury. As for salary-free "internships" isn't that at least in part because the entitled teens and 20--somethings wanted to dip their toes into the warm, fragrant waters of meeja and were prepared to let mum and dad fund them rather than take a less "sexy" job as a 20- and 30-something in or around 1975 might have had to do.

So, Get Over It. Stop thinking of Boomers as "lucky" and start thinking of them as the pioneers and pathfinders, who navigated the shark-infested waters of the latter half of the 20th century and made the world a safer, cleaner, healthier, more egalitarian and less exploitative place for 20- 30- and 40-somethings to live in... And if you can't do that Suck It Up.


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