Lots of Baby boomers weren’t that lucky

It is fashionable to say that baby boomers – people born from 1945 to the early 1960s – were the lucky generation. They got free places at university, had final salary pension schemes from well heeled jobs, and became rich just by buying and living in a house. Their parents fought a war and were poorer. Their children are also poorer, and are alleged to live in a much more difficult world than the baby boomers enjoyed in their younger years.

I don’t buy all of that. Lots of baby boomers did not enjoy all those goodies. Baby boomers had to be very competitive to get to university. For every one who made it to academe nine did not. Today the odds are much better. It is true some of us got a full grant to pay their expenses at university, but when they left they had to pay 83% tax on part of the income , which more than paid back the student fees they received. A student loan would have been a much better deal for successful students than Labour’s confiscatory taxes of the 1970s. The first job I got in the City almost disappeared under me when the department I worked in was halved owing to the chronic instability of UK financial and economic policy in the 1970s. City remuneration in those days was a fraction of what it is in state subsidised banks today.

Buying and owning a house did allow many baby boomers to participate in the huge house price inflation. It did not , however, make most rich, as they still needed the house to live in. In most cases the only people it is likely to make rich are the children of the baby boomers, as the value can only be released on death. If the children stay friends with their parents they will harvest the windfall, therwise we are going to have very well funded cat and dog homes. There was no income to stay on at school for poorer children, no array of income top up benefits. The economy of the 1960s and 1970s was much poorer, with fewer good job offers and far less foreign capital and talent in London creating more wealth and enterprise.

Today we have changing of the guard. A younger generation is capturing control of some of the large institutions of government, the public sector and the larger private corporations. Many baby boomers are still full of energy and ideas, so they are being driven to be more entrepreneurial. They will earn their money, and will contribute to the economic revival we need.

The baby boomers have stayed out of conscription for a large war, which is indeed fortunate and sensible. So too have their children, so it is not a unique good fortune to one generation. There is much about the modern world that is richer, fuller of opportunity and better than the world of the 1960s and 70s. The digital revolution has made sweeping changes to the way we live. The new generations have been living on debt and off the hard work of Asian exporters. The noughties were a decade when dreams for many came true. The next decade may be tougher, as the bills fall due.

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36 Comments

  1. Ian Jones
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Baby boomers without indexed linked pensions will be in trouble soon then….. inflation is here.

  2. Ruth
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    You are right in saying that not all baby boomers were that lucky, but it's not the whole story. Firstly, many if not most of that generation had final salary pension schemes, an option which is not available to those of us in subsequent generations. I know a lot of pensioners who are very comfortable as a result, having a disposable income higher than mine and who think a sacrifice is spending £2000 on a holiday this year rather than £4000 (due to poor interest rates).

    Second, while high earners suffered punitive taxation, average earners were proportionately better off. The upper tax band was effectively higher than it is now, many people worked closer to where they lived so had lower travel costs, there was more free parking, no speed cameras, no road tolls, lower fuel prices, lower rates rather than high council tax, etc. I could go on. Suffice it to say that a higher quality of life was possible on lower earnings, saving was possible.

    Yes, there were fewer benefits, but hence lower taxation overall, which was good for everyone.

    If I look back to where I lived when I was a child, and compare it to now, I would say that a family with the income level we had in the 70s and 80s could not afford that house now. That's the difference between then and now, and why some older people choose to give money to their children, recognising that those children cannot achieve what their parents did at the same time of life.

  3. Doppelganger
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Thank you for a timely reminder that not all baby boomers have laughed their way to the bank over the decades. You might also have pointed out that some baby boomers have had to take responsibilty (financial and otherwise) for their dotage of their parents generation.

    PS

    I know of one investment bank in the City which laid off 90% of their brokerage staff in one go back in the 90s.

  4. Kevin Peat
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    I've never expected the previous generation to pass on material wealth to me – and it seems that they won't – but I'm highly disappointed at the cultural poverty I am about to inherit, as well as the pot-holed roads and knackered power stations.

    Who can honestly say that the baby-boomers kept their eye on the ball ?

  5. Kevin Peat
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    "Baby boomers had to be very competitive to get to university. For every one who made it to academe nine did not. Today the odds are much better."

    University space for the baby boomers wasn't rationed to 1-in-10 simply because of tight economies … it was rationed because a university education, by its nature, is meant to be intellectually elitist.

    Grammars opened up these few opportunities to all classes. (what have the Tories done for grammars ?)

    Instead we got devaluation. And that is the baby boomers' legacy to us:

    Devaluation.

  6. Chris Goften
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    An optimistic viewpoint but I'd like to point out that much of the increased prosperity has been down to the enormous benefit of cheap oil and gas. That has allowed the UK to live at a level that otherwise would not be possible. Now with the ever increasing human population and an ever decreasing amount of energy our children will need to be much more resilient and strong minded.

  7. Stuart Fairney
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    You might add the Ponzi scheme of the state pension that we are forced to contribute to, but can expect little or nothing from as the scheme nears bankruptcy.

    Or the joy that was my comprehensive "education" No choice, no quality, you go to this school and lump it. The teachers knew this.

    And of course pre-Thatcher, credit was restricted so actually buying a house was rather tricky if you needed to credit finance it. I recall in the late 1970's you had to show the various financial institutions a savings record of two years equivalent to mortgage payments.

    I lived close to what I figured had to be a soviet primary target for their nukes, so I lived with the ever present propect of instant death in a flash of light, so a few idiots with ruck sacks bother me not at all. (Although as a multi-lateralist I realised it would mean instant death for the Soviets as well and since I thought they would wish to avoid this I could sleep nights).

    And whilst I am taking this forced-death-march down memory lane, how many of today's youngsters grew up in a home without central heating, or a telephone. The issues are different today, but the seventies were not some lost Shangri-La as you correctly say

  8. Javelin
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    John,

    People are being squeezed at a local level by increased regulations, rights, taxes and public spending and globally by less expensive economies. David Cameron doesn't seem to have set about re-educating the public the direction the wind is blowing. I hope his strategy is to keep his mouth shut and will take on the public unions once in power.

    Put simply politicians keep promising more and more and world keeps owing us less and less.

  9. Lilith
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    A lot of baby boomers have had their pensions destroyed too thanks to Mr Brown.

  10. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I should declare an interest – I am a baby boomer. Thank goodness you are speaking out with good sense and arguments against the guff that is being peddled by your colleague David Willets. I know he is trying to sell his book but with an election so near, listening to his pronouncements again makes me doubt the wisdom of voting Conservative. The incoherence of his arguments is worrying from someone whom I hear is described as "two brains". I realise that Michael Gove would probably consider me, and dare I say the majority who contribute to this blog, as a "backwoodsman" and, by implication, one whose views and vote are not regarded as important to the Conservatives. Do they really want to win this election? It doesn't seem like it.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted February 16, 2010 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Tell me about it. It's bad enough Cameron swallowing the AGW stuff wholesale, knowing that our nationalised schools and nationalised hospitals will continue to be run with the same efficiency that made British Leyland what it was. It's awful knowing that "cast iron guarantees" are cast aside and that our slide into an EU superstate seeems inexorable, so really Micheal Gove, put the cherry on the cake ~ mock your core supporters. Many of us are desperately looking around for reasons to vote tory and seeing precious few.

      So please, those of us who favour low taxes and a small state, long prison sentences not just tough but empty rhetoric, the primacy of the individual over the state, choice in education and health, not just what you are given, no more nonsensical green laws, actually building power stations for electricity and roads to get around on, we're not backwoodsmen ~ just tories that Lady Thatcher might have recognised.

  11. Matt
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    I agree to a point, but in the field of education, the post war generation of working class children had more opportunity to climb the ladder.

    Grammar schools were a lifeline. In the large council estate where I grew up, a few people went on to study medicine, the law, sciences and engineering.
    Those youngsters that didn’t make the grade often learned a trade.

    Viewing those same estates today (I have no facts) but it seems very unlikely that the children there have the same opportunities that we had.

  12. StevenL
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    A lot of the baby boomers are being forced to lend their life savings (pension pot) to the government at historic low interest rates to prop up their high house prices!

    I don't think there's anything evil about the baby boomers but this trap of high house price dependancy – and the government trying to game the markets to keep them high – isn't good!

  13. David B
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    I have a theory. We regularly hear the unions, Labour MPs and other commentators from the left saying how selfish society of the 1980’s and 1990’s was and how much better the 1970’s was.

    I disagree. The society of the 1970’s was very selfish. There were hard working people, who were tax to the pip squeaks, to pay for those that just wanted something for nothing. These were selfish times where people just wanted what others had, but were not prepared to put in the effort. Both groups came from the baby boomers.

    In the 1980’s and 1990’s we were asked to help ourselves, not to expect a free lunch. As a result those that worked hard improved their lives. If you worked hard you achieved and success was greeted with pleasure by those who enjoyed seeing others succeed and scorn by those that did not.

    Baby boomers that went out and worked hard, made a good life for themselves, and it is they that are now trying to make the most of life chances for their children and grand children. It is this next generation, taught by the baby boomers, who will drive us forward, as long as we do not return to the selfish, self interested policies of the 1970’s.

    This is the great legacy of the baby boomers

  14. alan jutson
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    John

    Agree with some of your points, not with some others.

    To my mind the overwhelming difference between then and now, was the simplicity of life then, to the mass of complications of life now.

    Back in the 60's and 70's (I started work in 1964) life was so much more ordered and straightforward.
    You left School to go to University (the minority), or you got a job with or without training.
    If you worked reasonably well you kept your job, if you were no good you were sacked.
    Youth unemployment was not heard of, as the only way to get money, was to earn it or break the law.
    Illegal immigrants were not heard of.
    The policemans job was very simple, the law was straightforward and some commonsense prevailed.
    The vast majority knew the difference between right and wrong.

    Since nearly all parents (single Mums or Dads rare) had a job (some families by choice only had one wage earner, with usually Mum staying at Home) the work ethic was normal and was thus encouraged.

    It was posssible, just, to live (a basic life) on a basic wage.
    Social Security Benefits as I understand them were at the time simple and limited.
    The NHS was operating resonably well with few infections (MRSA or C Diff)
    Public transport was inexpensive.
    Accomodation was either purchased with a mortgage (2-3 times joint earnings) after having had to save with a Building Society, usually for 2 years to show your financial stability and sense.
    Other accomodation was either Rented from a private landlord or rented from the Council.

    Council houses were all in Council ownership, and estates were managed and maintained with Council employees. People who would not look after their gardens (no dumped cars) were taken to task and either complied or were evicted.
    The Local Authority's primary job as I remember, was provider of refuse collection, lopping of trees, clearing of drains, resurfacing and maintainance of roads, maintainance of Parks and Schools, and some form of Social service (remember the School Board Man)

    Compare that situation with what we have now.

    The reason for the change:
    Political Dogma and the interference of Politicians on all sides, who have with their own agenda and with manipulation have complicated, the Tax system, the Benefits system, Employment Laws, the Rule of Law, Pension rules, the NHS (postcode lottery) etc, etc.

    No I do not want to go back to the period of the workhouse, but clearly we have not moved forward at all. In fact we have gone backwards.

    It is now impossible to have any standard of living at all when on a basic wage without benefits, because of the simple cost of Council tax, rent, utility bills and the low starting rate of tax on earned income.

    To compensate we (the Politicians) have come up with the magic solution of credits and benefits for the many, clearly this is failing as we can all see.

    The solution is more simplicity, not more complication at more expense.

    Encourage those who are willing to work, who do work, who create jobs and make it worthwhile to do so.

    • alan jutson
      Posted February 16, 2010 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      Mr Moderator a problem ??

  15. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Thank you John. I was born in 1947. I recieved no hand outs i stayed on 1 year at school in the 5th form. Had modest passes in GCE. I have worked very hard all my life and acheived modest success I feel on my own hard works and merits.
    I think we all pay far to much to governments for what we get.

    In Britain you need to be very poor or very wealthy. If you do not fit into either of those boy do you pay.

    • Michael Lewis
      Posted February 15, 2010 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      I have to say I agree with this, you can earn over 6 figures in this country and it still doesn't make sense to buy a property or settle a family here. It is, at least what the US call, the middle classes (i.e. those disliked by some sections of both Labor and Tory parties!) that generate the wealth of a country – and the ones paying the bills. At least in the US, both Democrat and Republicans do tend to know who it is that pays the tax.

  16. Guy de Moubray
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I was born long before the baby boomers – 1925 – and consider myself to have been very lucky. I enjoyed the war (sorry!). I shall never forget watching the Battle of Britain take place overhead on the Kent/Sussex border while fruit picking on a farm. I even enjoyed fighting the Japs in the Burmese jungle in 1944/5. I then got an ex-serviceman's grant of £90 a term to go to Oxford and got a full debgee after only two years. Had Tony Crosland as my tutor. I have a good pension and have acquired a substantial property capital to pass on to my children. I feel desperately sorry for today's young people living in a country almost irretrievably ruined by New Labour

  17. Guy de Moubray
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    I was born long before the baby boomers – 1925 – and consider myself to have been very lucky. I enjoyed the war (sorry!). I shall never forget watching the Battle of Britain take place overhead on the Kent/Sussex border while fruit picking on a farm. I even enjoyed fighting the Japs in the Burmese jungle in 1944/5. I then got an ex-serviceman’s grant of £90 a term to go to Oxford and got a full degree after only two years. Had Tony Crosland as my tutor. I have a good pension and have acquired a substantial property capital to pass on to my children. I feel desperately sorry for today’s young people living in a country almost irretrievably ruined by New Labour

  18. richard
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    As one who benefitted and suffered all those advantages I add another: we are the generation that has on the whole enjoyed the longest period of continuous employment in an economy that his reconstructed itself several times in our lifetimes – or put another way: we have worked very hard and variously most of our lives from factories, to trading floors, to online.

    On another issue at, inevitably, a 50th Birthday party this weekend there was wide and passionate consensus about the benefits in times of economic crisis of those great Tory initiatives the manpower services commission and enterprise allowance schemes…..not doles and benefits that encourage sloth and self-pity but grants that encourage enterprise.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted February 17, 2010 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      "those great Tory initiatives the manpower services commission and enterprise allowance schemes…..not doles and benefits that encourage sloth and self-pity but grants that encourage enterprise"

      Well now if you really want to see the economy grow, abolish dole as well as all the fiddling schemes and the MSC, watch taxes collapse, the government shrink and the economy, no longer burdened by having to fund either of these nonsenses ~ explode

      Just a small aside, my good lady considered buying a retail franchise some years ago in a new mall in Hampshire (not Bond Street London, or fifth avenue NY, Hampshire!). The council demanded £50K a year business rates!!

      Abolish these and two further jobs are created in the real economy, not nonsensical gender equality outreach workers etc etc

  19. APL
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    JR: "Lots of Baby boomers weren’t that lucky .."

    Lots won't be that lucky in future, either.

    For the next thirty years there will be a net withdrawl of funds from stock markets in an attempt to pay the pensions of those baby boomers who are just now thinking about retiring.

    The exact opposite of what happened during the last half of the 1900's and which contributed to the boyant investment markets last century.

  20. Ian Pennell
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Dear Sir John Redwood

    Talking of babies, I would like to raise the tangle the Conservatives have seemingly gotten themselves into over teenage pregnancies in poor communities. The person typing the document made a mistake in where a decimal point should be put, so we were on the cusp of releasing a document saying more than half of all teenagers got pregnant in poor communities! This comes after Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary was torn to shreds by the British Crime Survey for producing "misleading" results. And of course, last month Sir David Cameron blundered over taxes in the marriage system at PMQs!!

    Do the Conservatives want to lose the election and condemn Britain to five more years of irreparable damage under a Labour Government? It seems clear to me that the Conservative Leadership, those at CCHQ and those in the research departments need to smarten up quickly, some heads need to be banged together in some departments. We need to check the competence of all our stats departments much more rigorously! We also need to be much more thorough in ensuring erroneous information does not get as far as publication.

    We cannot give Labour all the ammunition they need to undermine our credibility in the voters eyes. Which is why, I think, we also need to be brave about cutting government waste and seriously consider the possible benefits of a Tobin Tax. We don,t have long to seriously get our act together!!

    Ian Pennell

  21. Jane
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Thank you. We did not all do well – many of us had a tough start. We had to save for years before getting a mortgage and undertake two jobs. When we did own our own homes, we could not afford to eat out and holidays were few and far between. Some of us went to University later in life having saved from years of employment to do so. Many of us also suffered fluctuating high interest rates for many years and mortgage payments were huge.

    Some of us were taught to manage on a budget and to live frugally. We did not expect the state to provide and knew that we would "get on" through our own effort. We prepared for retirement by paying into a pension scheme and saving. I have worked all of my life, never been ill and do not have children. I pay tax on my retirement income – indeed this government hammered my income by removing the 10p tax band – I remain £100 worse off.

    I believe in a society that looks after those in need and those who are unable to look after themselves. My tolerance has been tested to the limit when I know that people refuse to work in my area and for my local economy to survive, we need Eastern European workers who are willing to undertake the jobs that at one time the indigenous population once did. I now support feckless individuals and single mothers who should be the responsibility of their parents. We have permitted a cycle of welfare dependency where it is better to receive state benefits than hold employment if one has more than two children.

    Now, I may be forced to pay a death tax to pay for social care and to support those who have not prepared for their retirement. The FT reported last week that some 50% of over 55's have not done so and some 27% have mortgages over £75,000. I may have to pay for these people in addition to all those other "undeserving" welfare recipients. I have never been a burden on the State and do not want to be. The State is becoming a burden to me as I will be penalised because of the choices I made to save for my future. I loathe the concept of such a tax and condemn governments over the past two decades who have known that a crisis would develop. We should have imposed compulsory pension/insurance schemes twenty years ago. I am very upset and even those whom I admire such as David Willetts are stating that "baby boomers" have had an easy time and should contribute more.

  22. The Voice of Truth
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    John , I totally agree. Admittedly, I have not read David Willets' book, but I have read a number of summaries of his basic thesis and based upon that I would like you disagree with much of his rationale.

  23. adam
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    they are going to conscript us into EU citizenship.
    they dont need war to justify it anymore

  24. Alan Wheatley
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    That rings true.

    Those of us in the Baby Boomer pioneer core had to live through rationing, though as it was all we knew it didn't seem like hardship, just normality. I remember being scolded for eating a little piece of cheese I found in the larder (no fridge) as it was the whole week's ration.

    I think living through those times made us the "waste not want not" society, rather than the later "throw away" one.

  25. Robert K, Oxford
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    I reckon they had it tough. Their formative years were spent in the 1970s – Wilson, Heath, Callaghan, mega taxation, nationalised industries, three day week, power cuts, beer & sandwiches at No. 10, Scargill, Jack Jones, Leyland, Wilson, Austin Adagio, winter of discontent, Heath, Red Robbo, Callaghan, Grunwick, cemetery strikes, Green Godesses. But worse, even worse than all that, there was Slade and the Bay City Rollers and the Osmonds and FLARES. I mean, it's enough to traumatise a person for life.

  26. Mark
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    I actually did an analysis of the real cost of housing using Nationwide data and the RPI and estimated historical mortgage interest rates that showed that anyone who bought a house between 1952 (the start of the data) and 1970 ended up paying much the same for it in real terms allowing for mortgage payments.

    The beneficiaries of "cheap" houses were only the very early baby boomers, and mostly their predecessors. After 1970, the real cost rose rapidly on the back of the Barber boom (and of course the real interest rates over the next 25 years) – about 75% higher for those who bought during the Wilson/Callaghan years, and then mostly by step increases until the peak of the Lawson boom following the pre-trailed withdrawal of double MIRAS relief in 1990, at which point the real cost was almost 4 times the pre 1970 level. Acquisition cost fell back reaching a bottom in the mid 1990s at a little over twice pre-1970 levels, before zooming ahead under Brown's housing Ponzi scheme to stand at an estimated SIX times higher level currently (this could turn out to be even higher if real interest rates prove to be above the post war average over the next 20-25 years).

    In the mean time, the boomer generation is just starting to reach retirement age. Their money purchase pensions in real terms already look in danger, with inflation proofed annuity rates that don't return the capital over remaining life expectancy (i.e. a negative real return). Government is bound to renege on pension obligations in real terms because it can't afford them – so state pensions will be deferred and under-indexed. Many company pension funds are under extreme actuarial pressure as a consequence of poor investment returns and low interest rates. The succeeding generations are threatened with being priced out of a pension through overpaying for a roof over their heads. What you spend on mortgage payments can't go into a pension fund. Owning your home doesn't pay the heating and food bills, or the council tax when you no longer have a job.

    The position with regard to education is more doubtful still. Although the former student radicals who have been profligate with our taxes for the past decade have had the cash to flash, the foundation of that was laid by well educated predecessors and contemporaries. For all the numbers of qualifications of supposedly superior grades obtained by today's students, the reality is that these have been hugely devalued by grade inflation. In practice, the next generation is probably going to be the least well educated since the 1944 Education Act.

  27. Michael Lewis
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Interesting to see how the aging baby boomers influence elections in the future. For younger people it provides an incentive to move overseas rather than be saddled with the health care and other costs … those costs are starting to come in now…

  28. Nick
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    The legacy is debt. Pretty much entirely government debt. Personal debt is localised to a few, and in most cases backed by assets.

    ie.

    1. Student loans – not backed by assets.
    2. Mortages – backed by assets. Negative equity is relatively rare.
    3. Credit cards – in most cases, there is equity in property. However, in some cases this isn't true.
    4. Entreprenureal debt.

    However, the biggy

    5. Government debt.

    For most workers, their share of the debt is 300,000 pounds once you factor in pensions.

    If they have a full state pension, and its not defaulted on (Current tory plan to raise the retirement age 5 years I believe) its 120,000. Knock of 5,000 for each year the age is raised.

    It's still puts people in the negative equity range.

    So the main battle of the future is over these debts. Baby boomers have had their cash contributions invested by Brown.

    Will the receiptiants of that spending (sorry … investment) pay it back with interest? I doubt it.

    The short term battle will be cuts. ie. More tax, less receipts.

    If the Tories are sensible, its allowing people to opt out of government spending, and keep their cash.

    ie. If you want private rubish collection, and its cheaper, tick the box, and don't pay the council.

    Council lose the cash, they have to charge more elsewhere. Eventually people are paying vast sums for no services, and the questions are then asked, why? It's all past debts.

    Nick

  29. mikestallard
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Now has advantages: the internet, central heating, schools without teachers hitting you at every possible opportunity, the real possibility of living much longer in good health, the relative peace at the moment.

    Then had its advantages: trainspotting, it made a man of you, you learned Latin and Greek, full employment and the British Empire and the still unquestioned supremacy of the English, the Crown and the Established Church.

    Plus ca change….

  30. JimF
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    In my view the teaching in the 60s and 70s was dominated at secondary level by pre-"progressives", and infact several of my Grammar School teachers were ex-military, and brought with them a special discipline to learning. There was a pre-disposition to care, against waste. I remember being told not to hold hymn books open with thumb on the inside fold, as this shortened the life of the hymn book.
    The 80s, for all the benefits of consumerism and extra wealth, removed these values at the same time as the old Corporals and Sergeants were retiring from teaching. So a new age of "administrative teaching" was ushered in, with spoon feeding, tick boxes, National Curricula and prescriptive teaching.
    More wealth though fed through to more jobs and lower unemployment, until we became addicted to the formula and borrowed to enhance it.
    So for the baby boomers the 2010s could see a bit of a reversal through the 70s' strife to the 60s' relative austerity, and for younger generations the whole austerity scene will be new and maybe not so groovy!

  31. no one
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    lots were born on sink council estates served by rubbish schools which they were forced to go to

    lots were born in an area where they gained a working class accent which is looked down on by the ruling classes of this land

    lots lived in areas where there were literally no jobs because all the viable employment was shut down for one reason or another outside their control, and didnt have the financial means to "get on their bikes" elsewhere to try and make their way in the world

    lots were tied to their council or housing association house making it far too risky to try and move address for the chance of a new job, too much chance they would loose their place in the state housing sector

    far too many who even when they escaped from such an upbringing and made a success of their lives were still looked down on by the ruling politically correct classes, and found it impossible to be selected as a candidate for election for the main political parties

    far too many paid high rates of tax funding other peoples kids leaving them with little money to fund their own families

    far too many of the best gave up on the UK as a bad joke and moved overseas

    and far too many were displaced from the workforce by tens of thousands of indian nationals allowed into this country on work visas as social engineering by the governing classes

  32. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted February 18, 2010 at 4:44 am | Permalink

    Being born in 1946, I am one of the baby boomers. While it is not true that we were better off financially than today's youngsters, it is true that we have had a dominant influence on political decisions, if only because of our sheer numbers.

    In the 40s and 50s, when we were children, our parents received generous married couple and child allowances via the tax system.

    In the 60s, when we were in our teens and early twenties, there were Direct Grant schools with assisted places and generous grants towards University education. And we welcomed the sexual revolution.

    In the 70s, when we were in our twenties and early thirties, there were very well paid jobs available overseas, when foreign aid was still fashionable and the oil rich Arabs had not yet mastered the arts of getting value for money. Things weren't too good for us at home, but then they weren't for anyone else.

    In the 80s, when we were at our peak earning power, along came Thatcherism, privatisation and liberty.

    In the 90s and naughties, we consolidated and our asset prices increased.

    Now, in the new decade, we are approaching old age, and we expect the current generation to finance our protracted retirement, our health care, our care homes and our public sector pensions. This time I think we will be disappointed. This time the economically active population will say 'Enough is enough. We are not going to invest in yesterday.'

    Why should we be treated generously? The nation's character and independence have been wantonly thrown away – and it happened on our watch.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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