This week it was brought to our attention that an article was doing the rounds on media popular with younger people called Five ways our parents’ generation are screwing us. We’ve been in somewhat of a war of the generations for years now. How it started, I’m not quite sure.
It is likely that we threw the first punch labelling them as “lazy” and generalising the age group when only it has turned out to be a rare few. If we think of our children and grandchildren now I’m sure that lazy is a term that doesn’t quickly come to mind. However, we’ve undergone some serious trash talking from you and the five points mentioned in this article is where I’d like to start addressing this.
I don’t think anyone wants intergenerational difficulties – the world, the workplace, the home and the community works much better when we accept other people’s differences and work together using our strengths in any regard. So it’s time for us to put the rubbish aside and get moving.
I’d like to clear up these five things so here we go…
Cost of education
The thing that needs to be understood is that it is not our fault that we received free tertiary education for the 15 years between 1974 and 1989. The Whitlam Government abolished university fees and what that did was increase participation rates, giving Australia a more educated population that helped to improve the country economically. This, however, became unsustainable and some people regard it as one of the worst financial decisions made. The entire university environment has changed. While younger generations can pick and choose, chop and switch university degrees, we couldn’t. We were taught the long and hard way and didn’t have technology available to us that you do today. And there’s no point in us complaining about it because it’s helping you to help Australia just like that short bout of free education helped us to help Australia too.
While housing and land ownership has become more expensive and younger people call it less affordable, there’s also been a change in consumer behaviour between the generations. The idea of running on credit was not a common thing for our generation with a mortgage often the first form of debt we ever entered into. But times have changed and now the average age for a first time credit card holder is 20. While yes, living can be expensive the diminishing ability of younger people to live within our means and always need the latest, greatest and best also has something to answer for. If perhaps they adopted the same financial views that we did growing up they could be in a much better position.
Our taxes fund their pension
Here’s the thing, we have also paid our taxes all of our lives and to have the idea that we will reap the rewards of paying taxes in real time is absurd. Yes, we have a problem with the social services and welfare structure of this country however to have the idea that we are somehow getting away with your money is just wrong. To say that we are greedy and want government money is as much of a generalisation of our generation as it is to say yours is lazy. There are many self-funded retirees who will never see a cent of government money too. The reality is that the taxes your children pay now will also fund your pension in real time however it will be the money you’re paying now that ultimately contributes to your own future. Pensions are given when working is not viable or not possible and we don’t have the finances to fund our own lives, not just because we want a handout.
Yes, they are raising the pension age and your generation will be impacted whereas ours won’t, but the thing is that if we could work right now, so many of us would. There are thousands of over 60s who don’t want to go on a pension, who don’t want to retire and who want to work and use the skills they’ve spent decades developing but just like so many younger people, we can’t find jobs. This isn’t any doing of our own, it’s the economy and the fact that so many traditional jobs are being made redundant by technology. It’s a problem that we’re both facing and we need to work together to find an answer for everyone not fight about it.
Yes, a lot of us are better off financially than younger people but we’ve been working at our wealth for 40, 50 and even 60 years now. Wealth takes time, thought, smarts and strategy. It isn’t something that comes overnight. Like I mentioned before, we avoided living on credit, we chose to invest when we could and we valued housing and land. While it is becoming more expensive to own a home, it’s still an important piece of building wealth and although it may take years of hard work to buy it, pay off a mortgage and eventually own it, there seems to be a large number of younger people who don’t see that short term risk as a long term reward.
You see, we’ve faced our own challenges as you’ve faced your own. We aren’t trying to “screw” you and we definitely aren’t trying to make your life difficult. Each generation faces challenges and some are worse or better than other generations, but there’s no reason to point the finger.
If we want a smooth economy, we need to value each other and learn from one another – and that goes both ways.
Tell us, why do you think the younger generation has such distain towards ours? Why do they feel they are being “screwed” by us?