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Intergenerational Justice, Part 2

by Frank Schnittger Sat May 29th, 2021 at 06:32:25 PM EST

Further to the discussion in Intergenerational Justice - Updated 15/5/21, the Irish Times has published another letter of mine trying to move the debate forward:

Comparing the generations

A chara, - Many of the commentators who have taken issue with my letters (May 12th and 15th) 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 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

This is indisputable: 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 per cent 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 50 or 80 years ago. - Yours, etc,


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