More and more I am reading or hearing about how Baby Boomers are responsible for the problems of the world today; climate change, cost of housing, budget blowouts from the Age Pension and expensive healthcare. It seems a number of millennials do not want us to enjoy our lives. They are angry that we would ‘spend the inheritance of the next generation’ and — as comedian Tom Ballard recently expressed in one of his skits on television — beg us to die. I’m sick of it!
(A word to the wise, don’t listen to this skit unless you have nothing better to do. I did not find it funny, just a petulant rant of a Gen Y, who can’t get his own way. A grown man, who admits he still lives at home with his parents, throwing a tantrum like a child in a shopping centre. Ballard should realise every generation leaves its imprint on the world and society, and his generation and time will come, and sadly, I will not be around to admonish him or his cohorts.)
After being deceived into watching Ballard entertain with comedy about my generation, I feel he and other millennials need to know a few home truths. Specifically, not all Baby Boomers got to attend university for free. I suggest a minority did, as most Baby Boomers left school early to work, to help support their families. They paid board in cash to continue residing in their parents’ tiny three-bedroom, one-bathroom home, which were probably mortgaged to the hilt, or rentals provided by the state government or war-service. Many post-war parents did not own their own homes, or make enough in wages, to raise the deposit to purchase even a tiny asbestos and tile home.
You read that right! Many Baby Boomers and their parents lived in asbestos houses, brick and tile was too expensive. In fact, the first home my husband and I purchased with a 14 per cent interest rate, was a tiny ex-state, asbestos and tile home. One bedroom, one bathroom, and a sleep-out. There was no hot water or air-conditioning! Imagine that, living in the Western Australian climate.
We thought we were living in luxury even though, with the high mortgage repayments, we could not afford a telephone or a television. We only had one car, which we shared going to our full-time places of work, or used sparse, bus public transport as there were no trains in our suburb at the time.
We were fortunate we married in 1970 and I could remain working in my government position, an option not given to women prior to that. Married Baby Boomers like me worked, without childcare and without shopping 24/7. We had to plan when to shop (most shops opened 9am to 5pm and shut at 12pm on Saturday, not opening again until Monday morning).
We did not have credit cards or online banking and had to do our physical banking before 3pm on weekdays. Figure that out, if you worked full-time.
Although, we did get paid in cash, a little brown envelope of money delivered to our desk every fortnight. With that envelope of cash, we budgeted, put aside for the mortgage, housekeeping, petrol, insurances, car payments and other necessary hire purchase items. We also set up a savings account. We taught ourselves to save, especially for our retirement! We worked hard to enjoy these later years of our lives.
We did not go on overseas holidays, we waited until the end of our working life. We only purchased what we could afford. Our children walked to school and we had no contact with them until they arrived home.
Women in my generation did not have access to paid maternity leave and subsidised childcare. The was no after school care either. We had to rely on family or grandparents being available.
Baby Boomer working mums also had to ride the stigma of raising a band of ‘latch-key’ children, who would potentially become delinquents because there was no mother in the home to greet them after school. In my opinion, it is the Baby Boomer women who liberated today’s millennial females from their apron strings!
Baby Boomers did not have it as easy as some may think. We strived for a lot of the things that work in the favour of the younger generations. The internet, personal computers, decimal currency, women’s liberation and equal pay and work, no fault divorce, better roads and transport, childcare, housing, women’s shelters, cancer treatments and superannuation, just to name a few.
We started you on your journey, amidst the inevitable government changes; the Medicare levy, GST, compulsory superannuation and the continual movement of the goalposts for retirement. As a government employee, my original retirement age was 55, and just as I got close, it was extended to 60, then 65 and now 67.
Baby Boomers have long suffered, with government broken promises and rule changes. Many of our men were subjected to military conscription when they turned 20, even when the legal age for drinking was 21. They could serve and die overseas, but were not allowed to drink alcohol.
Get off our case! Baby Boomers did the best they could with the knowledge, environment and world situation they were born into. We were not and never should be called the selfish generation something that sticks hard to Gen X and Y. Leave us alone in our retirement, be kind, encourage us to spend the retirement money we consciously prepared and saved for.