The brief ramble below is an unedited Facebook post I made a short while after the UK’s recent E.U. Referendum (Brexit). It doesn’t pertain to the issues of the referendum itself but more to a (one of many) posts blaming the “older” generation for destroying the future of the young who are already having to “struggle so badly” to get on in life in the modern world.
I know lot of this may be U.K. centric but from what I read I suspect the generational attitudes demonstrated are reasonably consistent in pretty much all of the Western world. I also understand that, like the young gentleman who was pointing the finger in the first place, I am making some sweeping generalisations here about the younger generation but, as has been said before, “Sweeping generalisations exist for a reason!”
A few of the things said were intended to be tongue in cheek (although none the less true for that) but the emoticons have been removed for the printed page.
The original complaint was based upon a poll published breaking down the leave/remain vote by age group and showing clearly that the older you were the more likely you were to have voted to leave the E.U.. What the complainant failed to take note of (or mention by the way) was another poll that showed, with an overall U.K. wide voter turnout of 72% that only 36% of 18-25 year olds actually bothered to vote at all (which says a lot in itself I think), hardly a surprise then that the views of the older generation held sway.
This cropped up during a finger pointing session on the EU earlier by some “young people” but I thought it’d be good to de-couple this from that emotive subject (and start another one)
The comment was along the lines of us “old people” once again having shat* on the younger generation despite us having had it so good (in our time) with our “free education” and “affordable housing”.
My story is nothing special but it may be reasonably typical of the time so for what it’s worth here it is.
I left school in 1974 at the age of 16 and entered the workplace (I know, by modern standards that makes me a failure and a no hoper). This wasn’t due to lack of options but a personal choice. I left with 10 ‘O’ level passes (2 of which I took a year early), this was in the days when 4 passes was considered a real success (because at the time it was an exam system you could actually fail at).
I could have stayed and done ‘A’ levels and gone on to university and this was in the days when maybe only 1 in a hundred had that chance. However, I didn’t have a goal that would be served by further education i.e. I was of the opinion that it made sense to go to University IF you had something you wanted to do rather that spending an extra 5 years in education because “I don’t know what I want to do”! (and, of course it’ll be a “bit of a laugh”).
Now the reality is the choice was full time education or work, because I was in the work place for those 5 years I was earning a wage that I wouldn’t have done had I stayed in school. The upshot of this being in current terms that my “free” education would have cost me the current equivalent of £90-100k (assuming I hadn’t wasted another potential £20k+ on taking a gap year). I did go into further education but did it at technical college evening classes whilst working for a living!
(Just an aside, does a potential extra £120k sound like a good step onto the property ladder? just a thought)
I bought my 1st house in 1980, when interest rates on a mortgage were running at 16.5%. If you take my mortgage payments and the money I had to repay for having borrowed elsewhere to top up the deposit that accounted for approximately 75% of my income. That left me the remaining 25% to pay for food, household bills and running a car (so I could get to work and back). I used to be in the situation of putting petrol in the car 2ltrs at a time, because that was all the money I had, in the hope that it would get me to work and back until the next payday. I used to buy (when I was feeling particularly flush**) a 1kg factory farmed chicken for a £1, that would be a roast dinner for 2 days, a curry or pie from the scrapings for another 2 days and then stock for soup or gravy.
I didn’t have a piece of furniture that wasn’t something someone else was throwing out for probably the first 10 years of my married life. Holidays consisted of going to live with my parents for a week a couple of times a year.
Having got married at 22 and having 2 children to raise (both of whom went to Uni BTW) I would estimate that I first got to the stage where I had “disposable” income at around age 40 and maybe “comfortable” by the age of 50.
What I didn’t have was the latest iPhone, or Netflix, or a Snowboarding holiday and 2 weeks in Thailand with my mates each year, I didn’t have £20-40k to spend on a wedding because “it’s my special day”, I didn’t have the dilemma of “should we send out for pizza again tonight?” I didn’t have to have a TV in the bedroom and one in the kitchen, or a new sofa every 3 years etc.. etc…
What I also didn’t have was the mentality that I should be able to have everything I wanted whenever I wanted it and if I couldn’t then it just “wasn’t fair”, instead I worked diligently for the stuff I’ve got and improved my lifestyle as and when I could afford it (and I still know I had it a damn site easier than my parents or grandparents did!).
But there, that’s what happens when you come from the generation that “had it all so easy” and don’t understand how the young ‘uns struggle these days
Of course, I’m also about to become a burden on society drawing a pension (that I’ve paid into for the last 42 years) and not doing the decent thing and dying within 6 months of retirement like my grandfather’s generation.
*Shat – colloquial English, past tense, “to have shit upon”
** Feeling flush – to have spare cash