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08 April 2009


lynne friedli

Sue, I find it hard to agree that 'boomers' are as multiply disadvantaged as you suggest. I can't speak for Americans, but notwithstanding the recession, in the UK, those who have owned property for around a decade or more(which would tend to be those who are fifty plus) have made very significant profits - money that those who were not able to 'get on the property ladder' couldn't dream of making through selling their labour.

In fact, many people in this age group have accumulated considerable wealth simply through the timely acquisition of property and the tax concessions of 'buy to let'. The people who have suffered from council house sales are those who currently can't afford to buy and cannot get social housing because it's all been sold. These tend to be the younger generation - young couples and families starting out - not boomers. I would say on the contrary, boomers have enjoyed both the remnants of the welfare state and the quick profits of capitalism in the boom years. Those who were never able to be part of the property bonanza are of course still poor, whatever their age, and are being joined by a whole generation of younger people who cannot hope to afford somewhere to live, even as prices fall.

When you and I lived in London, we were able to save up and afford to buy a house or flat, albeit in the cheaper areas, as single women on middle ranking salaries in the public and not for profit sector. This would be impossible now and has been for at least 7 or 8 years, if not more.

The uncomfortable truth is, whether we bought private housing or council housing, the property boom has meant that this has contributed significantly to inequalities and to the gap between those who have and those who do not have, decent housing. The personal is political and that goes for the purchasing choices we made - whether we anticipated the consequences or not. I'm not suggesting a mass beating ourselves up, but I do think boomers could spend more time acknowledging their privilege, rather than touting for sympathy.... and if we're going to march, it should be to secure greater equality, not to extract further advantages for ourselves.


Lynne, no matter what you think "many" have accomplished in the UK or here, the statistics on median is what I'd go by rather than anecdotes about what "many" have succeeded. Capitalism is screwing everyone, including the capitalists themselves, putting everyone on a high-stress planet-wrecking treadmill including the boomers which I'm a half decade too young to be a member of, but the statistics on US median wages for the last 30 or so years, most of their careers, tell a story of stagnating or declining wages, which is bad enough, but it's also with less public safety net and other give-backs,...on top of all of that, to have the worst crash since the great depression and what every honest person is admitting is "unchartered territory" and anyone's guess, is a horrible place to be in, and suggesting someone in that boat is whining (which without using the term your post smells to my ears to be doing, to mix metaphors) is simply out of touch with the facts and realities outlined above, and spelled out in detail in many places, even the business pages now and then. They are not trying to "Extract further advantages" for themselves, merely to have some peace of mind and security...say what you like about the problems of national health care in the UK or elsewhere, at least you have one, here you're thrown to the dogs, and even if you have health insurance, there are 100 ways for the company to twist the words of the fine print and try to deny you coverage, if you're dying of cancer, and that's the "lucky" ones with insurance, add to that very low payment levels from social security and the last backup of the retirement savings getting the wind kicked out of it means people do not have BASIC security, they are not asking to "Extract further advantages" but basic, retirment and health care and basic-needs security and it is a national disgrace that we don't have it for everyone.

Telling everyone to shut up and suck it up and how lucky they are and how this is fine and dandy does not accomplish anything

Except maybe wake more people up that if this is "acceptable" under capitalism (really: corporate feudalism) then we need a new economic model that is not top-down like USSR and this corporate capitalism but one that's from the bottom up

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