Saturday, September 18, 2004

The coming backlash?

Research from the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling at the University of Canberra showed that by 2003, those aged 40 to 54 held an estimated 38 per cent of total household wealth, up from 33 per cent in 1986. In contrast, the share of total wealth held by 25 to 39 year olds declined from 27 to 19 per cent over the same period. The centre's data also reveals that between 1986 and 2001, the over-40 group almost doubled its wealth.

The above quote is from today’s Age – try and guess, dear reader, what the broader article might be about.

Perhaps the future implications of a whole generation of highly-educated Australians fast approaching middle-age, with no job or a McJob at best, and no assets or McAssets at best (as in some McSuperannation: at 40, my lifetime accumulated balance is a few hundred dollars)?

Not a chance. The generation of losers in the above stats gets no further mention, other than in this euphemistic dismissal:

Generations X (aged 23 to 29 [sic]) and Y (aged 22 and younger) struggled to maintain their share.

Actually, Leon Gettler, if you bothered to read what you had just written, you would find that there is not the slightest evidence of GenX* either (i) struggling, or (ii) maintaining its share. If only.

But it gets better:

[A] study from British research group Demos suggests there's trouble ahead for politicians. They risk a backlash if they fail to meet the demands of . . .

Try and guess the end of this sentence, dear reader. Okay, it’s a pretty lopsided challenge, because you already know that the said backlash couldn’t possibly come from GenX. Nonetheless, you’d expect it to be about something serious, like poverty or health care?

Again, not a chance – the cited much-feared backlash instead is expected to come from baby boomers “planning to grow old disgracefully and in a different way from their predecessors”.

Welcome to our future-free future, where politics is reduced to a bidding-war over increasing the consumption choices available to the old and rich.

* As far as Generation Y goes, it is still early days.

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