Wouldn’t you know it - the generation that hoped they’d die before they grew old are still hogging the limelight at 60.
We were the “it’s time” generation who imagined peace and egalitarianism but too soon discovered that money, success and power were the ultimate trip.
But tell a Boomer that and we’ll quickly spring to the defence of our spoiled cohort and point out “our contribution”. There’s no doubt some truth about the nation-building capacities of Baby Boomers but we’ve seen to it that the spoils we enjoyed stopped with us.
The lucky generation had access to jobs, permanent ones, with sick leave and holiday pay thrown in for good measure. We could borrow money and plan a future. And if we dropped out of the workforce or had some time between study and the now long-forgotten 38-hour week, a welfare system stepped in to make sure we had money to pay for shelter and food.
While unemployment was frowned upon, it was more or less tolerated as a child's rite of passage: you might have been called a “dole bludger” but you weren’t made to feel like a Centrelink loser.
Most of us who went to university didn’t have to work 20 hours a week and more, in fact many of us didn’t work at all. Boomers got to laze around on manicured lawns beneath ivy-clad walls, enjoyed well-maintained facilities and had plenty of time for reading, research and university life.
And at the end of a hard day’s night, after smoking a little pot and pondering the meaning of life, we had stay-at-home mums who were ready and waiting to cook, clean and pick up after their too-indulged children.
We were free, Baby, and so were our universities. Now degrees are auctioned off to the highest bidder but are worth a lot less than when there was no price tag attached.
There’s less opportunity to study politics and philosophy - they’ve been ditched in favour of more vocational subjects. And there’s no time for existential angst anyway, when there’s a mounting HECS debt to repay, and a dole queue to join.
So, while literature and history units shut down in many Australian universities, degrees in business and economics that teach our children “bottom lines” and “economies of scale”, are flourishing.
But not even this economic “nous” will help Y and X generations when it comes to buying a home close to where they work and play. They’ll have to come up with a more than cool deposit to buy even a bed-sitter.
Ignore negative gearing and the Baby Boomer’s no-fault hegemon is preserved.
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