Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Generation ecstasy or Generation HECS?

There's a dangerous new drug in town, and it's called . . . shopping. Well, the supposed comparative affluence of today's twenty-somethings seems to be of extraordinary import to Julia Baird, and now Emma-Kate Symons.

Apart from challenging the dodgy empirics of twenty-something affluence - unemployment has in fact remained stubbornly high for teens and early 20s - there is a weird selectivity in moral outrage going on here.

So the kids are doing more stuff at home - and this is a bad thing? Oh right, I get it. Their boomer parents are usually out on the town, and would prefer it that their kids be "supervised" by nightclub bouncers, et al, rather than be home alone and caned - among the kilims, the Peter Booths, and the Cloudy Bay.

And the kids are taking pleasure now, rather than investing in their future - "material or social or emotional." As to what "investment" in one's "social or emotional" future consists of, I haven't a clue. And I don't see how, say, snogging complete strangers under the influence of e might detract from such an 'investment", in any case. (Or are we born with a pre-allocated number of pashes we can give out in a lifetime?).

The avoidance of "material" investment does hang out to dry today's twenty-somethings, admittedly. Yes, party drugs are expensive ($35 - $50 per e), and the money for them has to come from somewhere. Wouldn't it be better spent buying real-estate - right at the current very top of the market? Yeah, right. Twenty-somethings are as rational economic creatures as anyone else, and they react according to price signals. Boomer-centric asset price bubbles, and regressive taxation of the young - through HECS and through the private health insurance lifetime rating system - sends out a clear message: Pleasure, here and now, is the only investment worth having.

P.S. How many twenty-somethings are this pool of 335 high-paid bludgers? "None" would be my reasonable guess.

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