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Intergenerational Justice - Updated 15/5/21

by Frank Schnittger Tue May 11th, 2021 at 10:10:53 AM EST

Letter published by the Irish Times today under the heading:
Older people have never had it so good

A chara, – Several of your esteemed commentators have written letters bemoaning ageism and their perceived victimisation by society at large, and yet many older people have never had it so good.

Ireland's life expectancy continues to increase, and older people are consuming an increasing proportion of Ireland's ballooning health expenditure.

Older people have been favoured by earlier access to vaccines despite many younger frontline workers being more exposed to potential infection.

Unemployment is hugely skewed against younger people in our society, with 59% of people aged 15-24 currently unemployed.


/continued

Wealth inequality has never been higher in Ireland with most of the wealth owned by older people, while the current generation of younger people may be the first in living memory to be poorer than their parents.

Many older people were given council houses at low rents which they were later able to buy at knockdown prices and sell on at market prices, making huge profits and increasing the cost of housing for younger people generally.

Many older people were able to live quite well on one salary coming into their household while today’s young married couples need two salaries coming in to pay the rent.

They cannot afford to buy a house until much later in life and having children often has to be postponed until their late thirties to ensure that some semblance of financial stability has been achieved.

With both parents having to work, today’s parents of younger children are also faced with crippling childcare costs, longer commutes, and a “free” education system that is anything but free.

Many older people had secure jobs for life while today’s young are increasingly employed in the precarious gig economy where there is no certainty of income and where obtaining a mortgage is almost impossible. Many older people saw the size of their mortgage eroded by inflation and paid off within 25 years whereas today’s young are paying some of the highest interest rates in Europe on mortgages often lasting over 30 years.

An Inter or Leaving Certificate was all many older people needed to land well-paying jobs, whereas today’s young often require a degree, sometimes a postgraduate degree, and many with doctorates are living in relative poverty with no prospect of secure well-paid employment until well into their thirties.

Older people today can take advantage of free travel on public transport and much reduced prices for travelling to exotic holiday destinations abroad in off-peak periods, whereas younger parents are confined to expensive peak holiday prices during school holidays.

I’m not suggesting that everything in the garden is rosy for older people, but I do feel a little more appreciation for how hard today’s young have to work to achieve a foothold on the housing ladder and raise a family might be in order.

Younger people are being failed by our political system, controlled largely by their elders, and then people wonder why political extremism is on the rise.

– Is mise,

Discuss.

---

Two letters mildly critical of my letter where then published by the Irish Times in response:

Sir, – Frank Schnittger engages in comparisons between the generations (“Older people have never had it so good”, Letters, May 12th).

You could be forgiven for thinking that older people suddenly appeared, were never born, never worked or lived through wars, recessions, pandemics and losses of loved ones and were now taking and enjoying the spoils at the expense of all of society.

We are all cut from the same cloth and it is only time that separates us in our journey. We young and not so young can complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Embracing this will bring happiness and fulfilment to all. Older people’s most cherished gift is the legacy of family of all ages. – Yours, etc,

AIDAN RODDY,

----

Sir, – Frank Schnittger omitted a new element in older people’s lives, which is the increasing importance of “The Bank of Mom and Pop”. While many adult children are reluctant to draw down from this bank, the fact that they are aware that they can do so goes a long way to ease the stress of modern living – and most older folks who can afford to do so are happy to oblige if the need arises. – Yours, etc,

ANTHONY O’LEARY,

Following my request for a right of reply, the Irish Times also published my rejoinder

Comparisons between the generations

A chara, – I am indebted to your correspondent Aidan Roddy (Letters, May 13th) for reminding me that we are all cut from the same cloth.

The point of my letter was that there is more than time which separates us on our journey. Comparative wealth, employment security, opportunities at a younger age, the availability of public and affordable housing, childcare costs, and the opportunity to be a full-time parent have all changed to the detriment of the younger generation. I’m not saying that older people didn’t have their own challenges on their journey through life; merely that the nature of those challenges has changed for the younger generation of today. If we could provide affordable public housing for those who needed it back in the 1950s, how come we can’t do so now when our economy is over 100 times bigger, as measured by GDP, than it was then?

It is a matter of priorities, and we have chosen, via our political system, to make life very difficult indeed for our younger generation. Forcing them to remain living at home until well into their thirties or relying on the “Bank of Mom and Dad” (Anthony O’Leary, Letters, May 13th) merely infantilises them and does us no credit. It also further disadvantages those whose “Mom and Dad” have no bank. – Is mise,

Hopefully the exchange will have started a conversation about just how disgraceful the government's failure to provide substantial public housing is in the context of our growing wealth. The attempt by some to minimise or disparage the comparison of the wealth and public goods available to succeeding generations should be challenged. The growing inequality in our society is becoming so glaring we should not countenance it's dismissal by the privileged few who are over-represented in our public discourse.

Display:
Excellent ... for many years politicians have exploited intentionally the interest of each age group. In Dutch media for last decade, the younger generation display little knowledge of history. TV discussion has become an extension of social media. Polls have become a leading factor how policy should be shaped ... creating chaos. So many times in advertising, the elderly are depicted as foolhardy and not contributing. Cost of healthcare are blamed on the elderly and pensions will be cut or taxed. Stupidity reigns. ✨🌙
by Oui on Tue May 11th, 2021 at 10:40:59 AM EST
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue May 11th, 2021 at 11:14:53 PM EST
Younger people are being failed by our political system, controlled largely by their elders, and then people wonder why political extremism is on the rise. - Is mise,

A bit vague Frank and clearly not substantiated. In the US and perhaps in the UK, the average age of a MP could be described as an "elder".  Certainly not in The Netherlands. Many members of parliament stay 5 years on average, there is a high turnover. The economy and business leaders are middle age with university degrees. Student fraternities play a role in dividing leading jobs later in life. Similar, I imagine, how in the UK the Eton, Oxford and the Cambridge gang work. Likewise in France and its political system Macron seeks to eradicate.

Minerva: Bonding for life

With job offerings, it is normal to choose a fellow Minerva student above anyone else with similar accomplishments. There are other "secret" societies which too operate to influence politics and business policy. A source of corruption and lack of transparency. Dutch PM Rutte too is having a hard time to argue he is the right person for radical change in political leadership.

by Oui on Wed May 12th, 2021 at 12:24:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure it varies from country to country and party to party, but the Fine Gael/Fianna Fail coalition currently  in power in Ireland clearly favours the older, propertied class in all its actual policies, if not its rhetoric. That would not be a particularly controversial point to make in Ireland atm.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed May 12th, 2021 at 09:01:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Below is a comment by a US Millennial to a Boomer relative who was arguing against student loan debt forgiveness:
I'd be more compelled by your argument if your generation decided that they were willing to pay back the the tax payer subsidies that made their education so much cheaper than the current generation.
Your "I got mine!" attitude is not very civic minded or patriotic. And it is common. And is perhaps why "okay boomer" has become such a wide spread meme.


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed May 12th, 2021 at 03:03:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your conclusions are pretty much on target for the USA, Frank. One exception being that interest rates for homes are now quite low. But one still has to be able to make large payments, especially in coastal urban areas, because the price is so high - over $500K in very many places. So yeah, a just married couple CAN buy a home, IF they are both professionals and each earn more than $100K/year. But a couple making $15/hr each working 40 hrs per week will bring in a little over $5K/month combined. And it might not include medical insurance. Rent for a one bedroom aptm. in the San Fernando Valley, according to a friend, was $1800/month, utilities separate. And each may require a car to hold a job. So two car insurance bills in addition to the car loans. It will be a good while before this couple will think of having a child.

A lot depends on where you live. The above couple, if living in Mountain  Home AR would likely be able to find a residence, perhaps outside city limits, for under $1000/mo. But they are much more liable to lose everything in a house fire. There is a huge difference between having a Class I Fire Department and relying on the local volunteer fire department. But, if they take those risks, they may be able to purchase a three bedroom, 1&3/4 bath house. They may be able to get one or both vehicles paid off. And they definitely can send their children to the pretty good Mtn Home Schools. But they are still stuck with a 2&1/2hr drive to get to a city of any size with the accompanying cultural amenities.

Blue state/red state.


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed May 12th, 2021 at 03:19:57 AM EST
That's not rent for a 1 bedroom apartment, that's rent for 1 bedroom in a shared house.
by Zwackus on Fri May 14th, 2021 at 04:04:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My information was from my friend Shervin Khazra who was searching for an apartment for a relative in the SFV and is a few years old.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 14th, 2021 at 04:04:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The median house price in Denver is $500,000. It's not just the coasts.
by asdf on Sat May 15th, 2021 at 05:42:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And, in the USA, things started going to Hell in the '70s, culminating in Reagan's election in '80. Then it was tax cuts for the rich, approved by yuppies convinced they would soon be rich. Then followed cuts on social expenditures, like colleges and Universities and public schools. In LA and elsewhere there was opposition to busing. That fed into the conservative uprising. Prop 13 in California killed school bonds and state spending on even school maintenance until Latinos gained dominance in the electorate and passed Prop B in the second half o the '90s.

The Federal Government cut Pell Grants for colleges and universities, which had enabled students from poor and working class families to pay tuition and books while living at home. The state was forced to reduce spending on both the University of California and the California State University systems. A lot of the cuts were offset by higher tuition. In the '60s tuition was low. In the '90s we watched tuition double in four years in the Cal State System. Going to college four quarters cost close to $4000/year by the mid '90s for a resident of CA. Today, a student living at home with living expenses and two meals a day at home paid by parents will cost over $11,000 per year.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed May 12th, 2021 at 03:48:03 AM EST
In the sixties @SLU paid my way nearly $1k per year ... books added quite some expenses ... odd jobs in the summer ... White Castle burger @ 10 cents ... McDonald's just reached 300m burgers sold ... National Politics a mess ... space race to the moon ... McDonnell made a difference ... IMO costs of Vietnam War and Space Race plus collapse of Bretton Woods cause The Great Inflation 1965-1982.
by Oui on Wed May 12th, 2021 at 05:26:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LBJ insisted on 'guns and butter' and refused a tax hike. The heavy spending on the Vietnam War was a factor. Project Apollo was almost entirely done with US manufacturing and materials sourcing, but it contributed to making the economy boom. US output needed more currency than there was available gold. Robert Mundell advocated devaluing the dollar vs gold, perhaps set the peg at $45/oz of gold, but he never got the chance to make that case to Nixon. We needed to increase taxes, especially on the rich but we didn't. Going off gold was probably inevitable, given that the $US was becoming the de facto international reserve currency. The downside of having the world reserve currency is the subject of the Triffin Dilemma.  

Going off gold didn't CAUSE the ensuing inflation, but it did ALLOW it. There were other responses to the oil shocks, but we didn't seriously pursue them. Instead we cheered when Volker killed the economy with 20% interest rates. But the real trick is to bring inflation under control without killing the economy.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 13th, 2021 at 12:13:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some responses to my letter:

Comparisons between the generations

Sir, - Frank Schnittger engages in comparisons between the generations ("Older people have never had it so good", Letters, May 12th).

You could be forgiven for thinking that older people suddenly appeared, were never born, never worked or lived through wars, recessions, pandemics and losses of loved ones and were now taking and enjoying the spoils at the expense of all of society.

We are all cut from the same cloth and it is only time that separates us in our journey. We young and not so young can complement each other's strengths and weaknesses. Embracing this will bring happiness and fulfilment to all. Older people's most cherished gift is the legacy of family of all ages. - Yours, etc,

AIDAN RODDY,

Cabinteely,

Dublin 18.

Sir, - Frank Schnittger omitted a new element in older people's lives, which is the increasing importance of "The Bank of Mom and Pop". While many adult children are reluctant to draw down from this bank, the fact that they are aware that they can do so goes a long way to ease the stress of modern living - and most older folks who can afford to do so are happy to oblige if the need arises. - Yours, etc,

ANTHONY O'LEARY,



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed May 12th, 2021 at 11:16:32 PM EST
I would appear to have touched a nerve!

The whole point of my letter is that while we are all cut from the same cloth, there is more than time which separates us on our journey. Comparative wealth, employment conditions, opportunities at a younger age, the availability of public and affordable housing and the opportunity to be a full time parent have all changed to the detriment of the younger generation. The need to rely on the "Bank of Mom and Pop" merely reinforces my point.

I'm not saying that older people didn't have their own challenges on their journey through life; merely that the nature of those challenges has changed for the younger generation today. If we could provide affordable public housing for those who needed it back in the 1950',s how come we can't do so now when our economy is over 100 times bigger now as measured by GDP/Capita

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed May 12th, 2021 at 11:50:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A Chara,- I am indebted to your correspondent Aidan Roddy (Letters, 13th. May) for reminding me that we are all cut from the same cloth.

However, the whole point of my letter was that there is more than time which separates us on our journey. Comparative wealth, employment security, opportunities at a younger age, the availability of public and affordable housing and the opportunity to be a full time parent have all changed to the detriment of the younger generation.

I'm not saying that older people didn't have their own challenges on their journey through life; merely that the nature of those challenges has changed for the younger generation of today. If we could provide affordable public housing for those who needed it back in the 1950's, how come we can't do so now when our economy is over 100 times bigger as measured by GDP/Capita than it was then?

It is a matter of priorities, and we have chosen, via our political system, to make life very difficult indeed for our younger generation. Forcing them to remain living at home or relying on the bank of Mom and Dad (Anthony O'Leary, Letters, 13th. May) until well into their thirties merely infantilises them and does us no credit.


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 13th, 2021 at 12:32:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Boomer Generation used their size to great political advantage to accomplish their goals. But they are about to be repaid by the Zoomers, GenZ (1997-2012). They are already the largest age cohort in the population and all will be of voting age by 2030. GenZ is larger than the Boomer Generation, far more to the left on political and social issues and, from what we can tell, are happy to make their desires known. If they register to vote in large numbers and actually turn out, as they did in 2020 they can outvote the remaining Boomers, possibly by 2024 and certainly by 2028.

If the USA can avoid falling into a Fascist White Supremacist dystopia courtesy of Trump and his followers we may well be able to deal effectively with the huge problems that will face GenZ and the upcoming Alpha Generation. But the threat from Trump and the Trumpistas will remain serious at least until Trump either dies or goes to prison. I am hoping for prison, ideally before 2022.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 13th, 2021 at 02:47:51 AM EST
Some stats ...

On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What We Know About Gen Z So Far | Pew Research |

    In addition, an analysis of jobs data showed that young workers were particularly vulnerable to job loss before the coronavirus outbreak, as they were overrepresented in high-risk service sector industries.

Reagan's Recession

    The unemployment rate hovered between 7% and 8% from the summer of 1980 to the fall of 1981, when it began to rise quickly. By March 1982 it had reached 9%, and in December of that year the unemployment rate stood at its recession peak of 10.8%.

Real Median Household Income in the United States (Years 1984-2019)

Trends in income and wealth inequality

The Babyboomers (1945) have retired from active workforce in 2010. Their "wealth" are assets, savings and pensions in order to enjoy their last years of life. The majority across Europe pay rent and do not own their homes. I do not see the elderly spend beyond the level of a lower income household. Many with property will require to sell their homes in due course. I am more concerned with the legacy of a ruined environment left behind which harms the health of the next generations. Much will be irreversible as mankind still do not know or realize the risks involved.

As the entertainment services sector has taken a hit due to the corona pandemic, my advise to the younger generation find a career in the health services.

Study finds alarming levels of 'forever chemicals' in US mothers' breast milk | The Guardian |

Per- and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs - including PFOA and PFOS)

To enjoy retirement is of course a luxury problem of the Western nations, due to life expectancy at birth. I do believe the boomers were blessed with more enjoyable and longer life.

by Oui on Thu May 13th, 2021 at 08:24:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Letter also published by the Irish Examiner.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 13th, 2021 at 10:33:11 AM EST
Comparisons between the generations
A chara, - I am indebted to your correspondent Aidan Roddy (Letters, May 13th) for reminding me that we are all cut from the same cloth.

The point of my letter was that there is more than time which separates us on our journey. Comparative wealth, employment security, opportunities at a younger age, the availability of public and affordable housing, childcare costs, and the opportunity to be a full-time parent have all changed to the detriment of the younger generation. I'm not saying that older people didn't have their own challenges on their journey through life; merely that the nature of those challenges has changed for the younger generation of today. If we could provide affordable public housing for those who needed it back in the 1950s, how come we can't do so now when our economy is over 100 times bigger, as measured by GDP, than it was then?

It is a matter of priorities, and we have chosen, via our political system, to make life very difficult indeed for our younger generation. Forcing them to remain living at home until well into their thirties or relying on the "Bank of Mom and Dad" (Anthony O'Leary, Letters, May 13th) merely infantilises them and does us no credit. It also further disadvantages those whose "Mom and Dad" have no bank. - Is mise,



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri May 14th, 2021 at 11:18:26 PM EST
Whether the millennials and generation Z will continue to show up to vote, and who they vote for, will be the determining factors.
by asdf on Sat May 15th, 2021 at 05:45:45 PM EST
Fortunately I suspect.


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun May 16th, 2021 at 03:41:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Being the trendsetters we are. the US has been strip mining children's futures for a half-century.
by rifek on Mon May 17th, 2021 at 03:39:20 PM EST
By saving them from the terrible fate of having the benefit of 70 years of solid investment in their future, which, of course, would all have been 'paid for' by the time they reach maturity.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon May 17th, 2021 at 05:38:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Earth is going to end up nearly uninhabitable for anything beyond scattered bands and the occasional lucky farming community within the lifetime of people alive today. I suppose that witholding investment is just an acknowledgement that we have no future anyway.
by Zwackus on Tue May 18th, 2021 at 03:19:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US southern temperate zone will certainly be significantly impacted. The Gulf Coast, wherever that might be, will certainly be very unhealthy out of doors during the summers and agriculture will be severely affected. And who knows how severely West Europe will be impacted by disruptions to the Gulf Stream.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 20th, 2021 at 04:42:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just our luck, Ireland is projected to get colder due to an anomaly created by the cessation of the Gulf stream and North Atlantic drift.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 20th, 2021 at 07:53:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Paris (latitude 48.8 degrees) is at the same latitude as the northern border of the US (49 degrees). That is a long way north if you have a continental climate.

Think Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota. The average winter night-time low temperature in Grand Forks, ND (latitude 47.9 degrees), is -20 C. The record is below -40 C.

by asdf on Fri May 21st, 2021 at 01:36:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have just upgraded my house insulation to A1 (near passive house) standard...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri May 21st, 2021 at 06:52:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One wonders the extent to which this involves the "everything was so much better back the good old days of my youth" sentiment.
by asdf on Tue May 18th, 2021 at 03:55:19 PM EST
A Chara,- Many of the commentators who have taken issue with my Letters (12th and 15th May) arguing that younger people are getting a raw deal at the moment, have done so on the basis that they, too, had a hard time of it growing up in the Ireland of the 40's 50's and 60's.

This is unarguable: Ireland was a much poorer country then, and we must remember that many older people had to emigrate to find employment or never got onto the property ladder at all.  Those that did, had to work hard and scrimp and save to make ends meet.

There was no internet, employment and educational opportunities were lower, healthcare was much less sophisticated and many of the technological innovations we take for granted now were not available then to anyone, young or old.

However, my point is that Ireland is an immeasurably richer and more advanced economy now and yet many of our younger generation have to work longer and harder to be able gain a foothold on the employment and housing ladders, have two incomes coming into the household, have longer commutes,  and pay for childcare, car or health insurance to achieve a lifestyle that would be regarded as normal or average nowadays.

Economists have noted that almost all the incremental wealth that has been created in the world in the last 30 years has gone to the richest 1% in our society with the result that various types of wealth management funds are bidding up prices and buying up housing and other assets and leasing or renting them out to families and small businesses which would previously have been able to buy them.

This exacerbates the flow of money from the poor to the rich, which often equates to a flow of money from the young to the old.  Having become a nation of smallholders and house owners, we are regressing to an earlier age of tenants beholden to absentee landlords, only now it is international capital and not British imperialists who are running the show.

We rely on governments to maintain a reasonably level playing field for all in our society, and my argument is that they have become too beholden to the propertied and relatively rich to provide adequately for the needs of our younger generation - certainly when compared to average lifestyles of today, if not those of fifty or eighty years ago.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue May 18th, 2021 at 09:40:16 PM EST
Key Irish housing statistics 1971-2020

Ireland Home Ownership Rate

Highest in 2005 - 81.8%
Lowest today - 68.7%

Inequality has hit us all.  

Disposable income exceeds expenditure in 2015-2016

I was looking for disposable income per age group ...

by Oui on Tue May 18th, 2021 at 11:34:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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