Monday, May 31, 2004

Paul Keating issues baby boomer mea culpa

Adding another welcome notch in the groove of my broken old LP record anti-boomer spiel is ex-PM Paul Keating (who in this respect has now joined the august company of RBA governor, Ian Macfarlane:

He described the young as being in two groups - the connected and the disconnected. Yet even for those in the better-off group, there were significant difficulties.

They were, he said, "a group who get along in the world without institutional loyalties, without lifetime employment, who have to pay for education, who live life in nodules of employment, who are locked out of property, who are slated to rent often sub-standard accommodation, who are weary of marriage and financial obligation, who watched the wealthy get wealthier and prevail upon their parents for sustenance or support and rely more or less on the camaraderie of mutual friends in similar circumstances."

Mr Keating said that although these people were contributing enormously to productivity, the "productivity dividends" was not going to them.

Apart from the age range for Australia's "new poor" being said to be between 18 and 30, Keating is spot on. Today's typical 30-somethings are certainly no better off than today's 20-somethings. Indeed, the younger you go within Keating's nominated age range, the more likely you are to encounter Children of Boomers, who in turn are inherently less likely to be under the illusion I was at the age of 18, viz that Australia is a meritocracy which rewards its smart achievers.

Meanwhile, the Ken Parish-style "Don't Blame the Boomers" counter-argument has been enthusiastically taken up by Richard Clapton - he of the "boyish, unlined rounded face" (look at the photo - if that is a boyish, unlined face, then my almost-40 y.o. face resembles that of a foetus, if not a zygote).

Like most such attempts at this genre (Richard Neville is another notable exponent, of course), reasoned rebuttal is almost gratuitous - Clapton's unintentional self-parody speaks volumes for itself:

The problem for my generation is that the music of the last 10 years or so has become so heavily marketed that it is as exciting as the shrinkwrapped products on a supermarket shelf [excluding those in the confectionery aisle, which, judging by the photo, Clapton finds exciting indeed].

In case you don't get it - That the music industry is an over-commercialised monster is undoubtedly true. But as for "the last 10 years or so" - what the? No doubt the drug-fucked (i'm guessing) Clapton's memory is now shiite, but I'm sure he must have at some stage pulled a cone or snorted a line along to the soundtrack of Pink Floyd's "Money"* (1973) - which is, if you've just landed from outer space or Saudi Arabia, a song about the over-commercialised monster known as the music industry, circa 1973.

But cutting to the chase - which for a boomer, always involves money, even if this contradicts what they've just said - Clapton then goes all Fuhrer-like about why all discerning music fans should rush out and buy his new album:

The general public will not be dictated to, especially when it comes to music, which in a primal sense is a deeply spiritual part of people's lives. We are not battery hens.

Don't "we" me, Clapton. I don't think anyone has ever called boomers the equivalent of battery hens. Try "greedy, spoiled wankers, who have to resort to genX-bashing to keep funding their unsustainable lifestyles". And if you're a "downshifter", who thinks Clapton's new "spiritual" sound is going to be perfect piped backgrounder for the Bose up at your new Byron Bay pad, that goes double.

* 3 June 2004 Correction Even though (amazingly) no Pink Floyd pedant has so far picked me up about this, I should now record that "Money" (1973) is not specifically about the music industry. I actually meant "Have a cigar", from the equally bong-tastic 1975 album "Wish you were here".

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