It’s pure historical amnesia to say the Boomers had it good says Brendon O'Neill. 'Thirtysomething generational jihadists know nothing of history'

It’s pure historical amnesia to say the Boomers had it good says Brendon O'Neill. 'Thirtysomething generational jihadists know nothing of history'

By Brendan O’Neill*

To see how entrenched historical amnesia has become, consider this remark made by a member of Generation Y, those born between 1980 and the mid-1990s, in the Guardian this week: ‘My parents’ generation [the Baby Boomers] was luckier… they were able to go straight from university and move to London and afford their own flat.’

Excuse me? Whose parents went to university? Mine didn’t. I can’t think of a single kid at the Catholic comp I attended in the 1980s and early 1990s whose parents ever darkened the door of a university. As to that earlier generation, the Baby Boomers, buying flats in London — what are you talking about? I remember being surrounded by renters when I was a kid. You’d hear snatches of conversation about cobbling the rent together, keeping the council off your back, etc. Where is this generation, these Boomers, who all went to Uni before waltzing into a secure job and slapping down a few grand on a mortgage man’s desk and saying: ‘Gimme that apartment’?

It doesn’t exist. It is pure myth. And it’s a pernicious myth. There are many ugly things about the new generational politics, or what some refer to as the ‘generational jihad’ of Generation Y in particular, many of whom now devote great energy to slamming those born between 1946 and 1964, the Boomers, whom they accuse of having had such plush, resource-sucking lives that there is now no money left for the new generation to buy homes or be happy. But perhaps the ugliest thing is its myth making, its promotion of the utterly false idea that an entire generation, the Boomers, had it good. This is a slander on those born between 1946 and 1964, the vast majority of whom struggled. Has history ever been so casually rewritten as it is being today by Generation Whinge?

The occasion for the latest outpouring of generational angst, of youngish fury with the alleged comfort and wealth enjoyed by uppity old folk, is the publication of new economic data collated by the Guardian and the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. They claim that Generation Y is having a really rough time. Apparently they face ‘far greater hurdles to establish themselves as independent adults than previous generations did’. This is historical illiteracy. It is historical amnesia, fuelled by a wilful and self-serving ignorance of the trials of earlier generations — yes, including the Boomers.

It’s now commonplace to hear commentators, especially middle-class ones in their thirties peeved that their lives aren’t quite as fabulous as their middle-class parents’ lives were, talk about the Boomers as one big, lucky, indistinguishable blob. Generational jihadists claim the Boomers were the ‘fortunate generation’. A writer for the New Statesman says this generation was ‘richer and freer… than any generation this country has seen’. A Guardian columnist said new generations deserve to enjoy what ‘their parents’ — all their parents, apparently — enjoyed: ‘education, housing, steady income.’

Have any of these people ever met someone who doesn’t work in the media? Who isn’t from a nice middle-class family where mummy and daddy are university graduates? Who grew up in a house their parents didn’t own? It would seem not. If these media commentators think the Boomers, this most ‘fortunate generation’, all went to Uni, got instant jobs and bought places to live, then the press is clearly even more out of touch than we feared.

It’s not surprising that when I was growing up I knew literally no one whose parents had been to university — because the vast majority of our parents’ generation, the Boomers, didn’t go to university. In the 1960s, five per cent of 18-year-olds went to university; today, 43 per cent do. Most Boomers didn’t even stay in school beyond the age of 16. My mum left school at 15, and my dad at 16 (which was considered extraordinary — all his friends left at 14). In the early 1970s, just 28 per cent of 17-year-olds were in school; today, 75 per cent of 17-year-olds are in school. The Boomers all got free degrees? Please. They never went to university.

As for buying their own property after leaving those universities they didn’t actually attend… Well, yes, some of the tiny minority who went to university might have done this, but many of the other Boomers didn’t. In the early 20th century, the vast majority of households in England and Wales — 77 per cent — were rented, not owned. Yes, this changed from the 1950s onwards, but by 1971 still around 50 per cent of the population were renting. Today around 36 per cent rents. So, more people rented in the golden age of Boomer luckiness than today!

Yes, in very recent years, especially since the bite of the recession, there has been an upward blip in renting, reflected in some of Gen Y’s inability to buy property as quickly as they would like. But is this the end of the world? Welcome to the experience that the vast majority of Brits have had for most of modern history. For Generation Y to call itself Generation Rent is ridiculous: their grandparents, great grandparents and back were all renting before they were a twinkle in anyone’s eye, and they were renting far grottier places than the trendy if crammed Shoreditch shares these generational jihadists file their Boomer-bashing columns from.

In so many areas, it is just not the case that ‘that generation’, the Boomers, had a swell time. In 1951, when Boomers were kids, 20 per cent of homes in Britain had no running water. In 1961, when the early Boomers were becoming teens, 22 percent of households didn’t have a hot tap. Many had outside toilets. I have a vague memory of using an outside toilet when I was a kid, because my Boomer parents curiously lived in a house that had one. I’d like to know how many of today’s moaning middle-class millennials have taken a poop in a freezing cold cubicle in the black of night.

In 1961 — some Boomers are now aged 15 — people did six hours of housework per day. In the mid-1970s, when Boomers were having children, people did 5.1 hours of housework. Today it is closer to three. And on it goes. The myth of Boomer luxury and millennial penury is easily shattered.

Look, the recession isn’t pleasant. It is hitting some people very hard (the working classes and the poor, mainly). But the worst imaginable response to this crisis is to refashion it as a generational conflict, to mythmake about the old and drum up pity for the young. This speaks both to historical amnesia and to a depressing dearth of social imagination.

I hate to break it to the young-ish, but you are not a uniquely hard-done-by generation; in fact you have many, many things far easier than the Boomers did, and certainly than even older generations did. And what’s more you have it in your power to change how things are. Forget manufacturing spite against the old and demanding your ‘fair share’ of society’s wealth; instead create new wealth, new ideas, fashion a new, more productive society. The majority of Boomers fought hard to make a life: they migrated, trekked, slaved in naff jobs, handed wads of rent to irritating council people, spent hours cleaning, and often had no property to show for it at the end. And they did that for us. For you and me. Let the young now show some of the same self-determination as they wriggle free of ugly and misplaced generational envy and make some waves of their own.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked. © 2016. This article was originally published here and is used with permission.

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I agree entirely!

Me too


Note that this is purely cherry-picked anecdote and some deliberately deceptive straw-men, with a total lack of objective big-picture statistics. Takes one dumb-arse Gen Y quote out of context, and attributes it as a universal belief. Another that stands out is stressing the higher university attendance in Gen Y. True, it is higher. But it ignores the many reasons why this is, such as higher barriers to entry level jobs which make a degree the new minimum, where once School Cert or equivalent was plenty, and loss of so many the manufacturing and heavy industry jobs which were once available to school-leavers.

It's a propaganda piece that doesn't actually address anything factual. To debunk something requires data and to honestly address the facts.

Propaganda? Resonates with me - but then I'm a boomer

Is it your view that all boomers had it easy and are rich?

The boomer generation are simply a convenient scape-goat for those who need an excuse
Have you ever interviewed some boomers who found it tough

I'm a boomer. My old man worked with his hands. His constant refrain to his children was to work with your heads and not your hands. Get a job for life. Resulting in which I went to university part-time, worked 2 jobs while doing so, one of them was cleaning at the Auckland club Pub, getting up at 4:00 am each morning and washing the beer-hall and toilets which stunk like a piss-house.

The biggest shock was when the "large" company I worked for folded and I was out of work for the first time in my life at 30 yeas of age. Took 6 months to get my next job. Then in the 1980's it happened again when the company was taken over. My next job, the ownership changed 3 times in twelve months, eventually I was out the door. Again. My next job, the boss I reported to constantly changed. Eventuially my face didn't fit and I was out the door. Again

Job-for-life? har-har-hardy-harhar - at least my-old-man had the one job for 25 years - died at 50

That's the thing. I didn't say that at all. Neither did mythical Every-Y.

I'm an old fart (ish) myself. But I recognise a dishonest propaganda piece when I see it. Bunch of anecdotes about a selected subset of whatever age group is meaningless. Some had it hard, some were born rich, some were lucky enough to be on the spot when new industries couldn't get enough warm bodies on the payroll and wages were high. Some benefited beyond their wildest dreams from policies like the sell-off of council houses, some were clotheslined by whole industries closing down. But none of these are representative on their own, and their experience can't be extrapolated universally.

The only way to debunk (or perhaps not) this generational war thing is analysis of the big trends and structural aspects. Real incomes, diversity of jobs, diversity of industries, automation, social mobility, government policy, centralisation or decentralisation, all can have disproportionate and long-lasting effects on particular cohorts. Some cohorts have a disproportionate influence in a democracy because there's enough of them to be worth bribing for votes (something that may work in Gen Y's favour in a couple of decades).. So rather than demonising whole cohorts based on a lot of cherry-picked propaganda and stories about grandpa's longdrop, how about honestly addressing the facts?


A complete straw man article. The back lash against boomers is from the nonsense a lot of them spout. I've spent a lot of time reeducating my elders as to the reality of today for their children but mostly grandchildren.

Being from a small town most of the boomers I knew when I was a child left school at 14, some completed school cert and at the time I knew one who completed sixth form. They didn't need an education to get a job that could have a good lifestyle on. They also worked from 14 to 60 something.

They could afford a house and 2-4 kids no problem with a bit of hard work and saving. The contrast is people need tertiary education to get a start in a lot of cases. Getting tertiary education leaves people with large student debts. They don't with nothing they start with a negative net worth. It's worse in the US where they start with a mortgage sized interest bearing debt and are lucky to get a part time minimum wage job.

The perceived boomer bashing is that they are giving advice that isn't relevant today. Also those boomers at the tail end of the generation are substantially worse off that those who have been retire for quite a few years now.

Agree. As a generation Jones I can see the changes and Ive been in them. As my parents say when they started out working in the 50s and 60s getting a job was pretty easy, if you didnt like it there was another waiting and a job was usually for life. For me working for 35+ years so far I have been made redundant 3 times, threatened with it once or twice more and changed careers 3 times. During that period I have been out of full time work for about 18months, scrabbling to provide what is needed. Today their grandchildren face a far different and harder scene than even me.

The Y's have a similar split. All the 'spoiled and entitled' rhetoric started in the early 2000s, when things were booming, and they were in demand, and graduates got a pretty sweet ride. Whole different situation for the poor sods graduating since 2008, but they still get the smears.

There will always be intergenerational rifts. Hate to quote Mark Twain again but for me, this one sums up the issue nicely.

'When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years'.

As a mate said once, someone should hire his 17year old son while he knew everything....


More drivel. appears to be quite desperate for content.

Article: "I never heard anything about that growing up"
Oh and don't forget this gem: "It was different in England and Wales" (honestly, man, what are you talking about?)

You must be joking with this nonsense.

Anyone who thinks the 1970's and 1980's was easy had better think again , you cannot imagine how were battled to find our feet when we started working .

Low wages , unsafe working environments , high taxes to fund the state and armed forces , no cellphones , no computers, no internet , no credit cards , no shopping malls , shops only open a half day on Saturdays, no fast food , petrol restrictions , and I had just one pair of shoes which went for repair when they broke .

Most of us could not afford a car until our mid 20's , taxes were onerous , and here's the kicker ..... we actually had to SAVE the deposit for a home............. one cent at a time, it took years


Now that you mention it, I guess I don't properly appreciate the substantial things in life, like cellphones, computers, internet, credit cards, shopping malls, shops open all day Saturday, fast food, petrol, and multiple pairs of shoes. I must try in the future to be less focused on trivialities, like paying off student debt and a prohibitively high mortgage, while hoping that I still have a job in three months time.

"... unsafe working environments "
I can't help but wonder if you would be somebody who'd be decrying H&S rules and regs brought in over the past 30-40 years or so....
You can't sputter on about the nanny state on the one hand, whilst complaining about a situation which only exists because of a lack of government regulation....
And as other comments have pointed out - a personal experience can't be used as a lodestone.
the resentment most Gen Xers are feeling, is because even though the actual comforts (and what you're pointing out above, are comforts) might have been lacking, the playing field was a lot more level.
- There were unions
- A job - most jobs - paid a decent wage
- Zero hour contracts didn't exist
- Job contracts came with redundancy packages (not anymore)
- A tertiary education was not yet a prerequisite for getting a job
- Pollution levels were low (all rivers were probably swimmable, all seafood edible)
- Quality of life was immeasurably better
- Saving for a deposit was actually a possibility, house prices did not rise that fast that you were faced with continually moving goalposts
- the amount of debt you could get yourself into, was manageable (no mobile phones, hire purchase, credit cards)
- items like clothes and shoes would have been more expensive, but were quality made and would last you 10 years, if not more.
I could go on but you get my drift.
And the clincher is of course, that the boomers reaped the rewards from the extraction economy: plundering of the world's resources, and is leaving the next generations with a changing climate, a massively polluted planet, and a hell of a cleaning up tab.
As you were.

Hi Boatman. I was only a boy in the 70's but much of what you say is correct. However I would like to pass on an example my father told me many years ago and we still to this day talk about, that hopefully will illustrate the change.

In the late 60's my parents bought a house just on the edge of the town where they still live. Dad was a shift worker at a nearby industrial site. They felt the section the house was on was too confined and as luck would have it the next door section was vacant, and for sale. So dad said he did a bit of overtime and quite a few double shifts and after three months they bought the next door section as well. I said, you mean after three months you had a deposit put together?? That's incredible. He said no, after three months they just paid for it.

The point is my father wasn't qualified or educated, he left school at 15, yet after three months of overtime he could buy a section outright.


'no cellphones , no computers, no internet , no credit cards , no shopping malls , shops only open a half day on Saturdays, no fast food , petrol restrictions'

Sounds like a dream - when can we start?

Excellent article. This generational whinging seems to centre on the Auckland property market, which is atypical of NZ. Most area's property prices have gone nowhere since 2007.

In every other respect things are so much better for generation whinge than it was for boomers. Fantastically cheap and diverse cars and household goods, easy access to a wide range of educational opportunities, far less drudgery, entry into relatively high level positions (unheard of in the days when "seniority" was the basis for promotion).

Stop whining and get on with it. Things for the young have never been better for those who are prepared to roll up their sleeves.

This discussion has a "Radio Pacific" feel to it... where is Waitangi Bill?

Excellent article. It is all about expectations. The current generations expect it all now! The boomer and earlier generations did not, they knew they had to work for it and the better lifestyle that some in the commentary stream are mentioning? That was due to lower expectations, more satisfaction with their lot and a making the most of what you've got, not being jealous of the ones who had more.

But there is an element of truth in the newer generations moaning. The right wing, free market economics has destroyed most low skilled job, the ones that were not exported, as well as driven down the wages of all jobs that remain.


How true! The fact that in 1991 it took 30 years to save and pay off an average house on an average wage and now takes 50 years means nothing! Look at the shiney things they have! And lets not think about all the things the boomers had that their parents did not or their parents before them! No, the millennials are just whingers!

No journalist can actually identify what a millennial is. In fact some statistics on millennials include Generation X and Y. So you're calling yourself a whinger, which I think is a bit unfair to attack yourself like that.

Sarcasm not your strong point?

Just running with the comedy. We can look back in 20 years and call the youth of the day all sorts of names while claiming 50 years to save a house deposit as completely reasonable.


I'm nearly forty. It would be nice to own a home sometime in the next five years. Is this the "expect it all now!" thing you're talking about? Oh, and I've been in work for a couple of decades now and have been saving like crazy.

It is possible. I bought at 38 when I decided to move out of living in a city centre. Of course having no kids, low expenses and a business made it all possible. Even then I found it tough pulling together and maintaining a 20% deposit with increasing house prices. Although I did have an advantage of 8-9% interest rates on my savings account. Something unheard of in today's environment.

LOL, we finally bought at 34 and had no kids, then oopsie, been broke ever since, LOL.

Every house is just a money pit. Something that needs to be budgeted for.

I was born pre WW11 and I went to England for my OE in 1960 and I can remember an England the writer describes. A very primitive place. But this is New Zealand and there is some truth in what our Gen. Y complain about. In the 50s and 60s there were so many opportunities. You could change jobs and get another very easily. I trained as a School Dental Nurse In Wellington. We were paid. If we did not live in Wellington we had to live in a hostel provided by the Government which regarded itself as being in locus parentis to us mostly 17 year olds. We were bonded for three years and we had no choice as to where we went on graduation. Things started to change in the 1970s and in the 1980s the rot started with the change to a market economy. Yes, most of us did not go to University. For women the options were mostly teaching, nursing and clerical work BUT you could go to university, at no cost, if you wanted to and it was actively encouraged for mature students in the 1970s. I, with only School Certificate, went to University in 1970 and there were about 5 women in my law class. I was a solo mother and the university was most accommodating in arranging my timetable around my daughter. But the boomers, who did get all the opportunities, have taken that away from their children and grandchildren. Yes Gen Y can still do all that but the financial cost is huge and because of globalisation there are not the job opportunities today that we had. It will only get worse and my gripe is that there is absolutely no planning for such a future.

In my experience there appears to be more whinging from boomers about generation y than there is from generation y about the conditions of society that the boomers have created and enforced upon generation y.

I would therefore question who the bigger whingers are.

Boomers - if you had it so tough, and if you are so wise, why do we find ourselves in such a shambles and why do you all have your heads in the sand when it comes to the issues that we need to sort out?

The biggest whinge from boomers is yet to come when the young generations can't afford to be for their pensions. Generation X is going to be hit with the same problem as peak retirement population will hit not long after they've all retired.

I look forward to the Gen Y's now being demonised by propaganda about how spoiled and entitled they are turning it around and saying "Well, if you wanted to retire you should have saved instead of spending it all on boat shoes and Fleetwood Mac LPs." It will be glorious.

You can probably tell from my cynicism that I'm Gen X.

Please leave out the swearing. Thanks.

If you're going to edit people's posts, it's only courteous to indicate that with a 'snip' or whatever. So that we can trust you not to do even sneakier edits.

And it would have saved me about 5 seconds of wondering 'what swearing? He's nuts.'

Sure Kakapo, we normally do indicate where the edit was made and I'll do so in future. Believe it or not, we've actually got better things to do than make "sneaky edits." FYI, here's our commenting policy

No worries. It's not a problem in that one, fair cop gov, got me bang to rights. But it's important that what people say isn't misrepresented or distorted.

X and Y have both been pampered by the boomers. Travel, clothes, social media items and running costs, eating out and so. Then bailed out by mummy and daddy when they buy their first home only using kiwi saver which thankfully they can only use on a home and not travel. Us boomers have our uses when it comes time to get your first home.

That's a result of longer lifespan. A lot of people are choosing to gift things or money to their children rather than waiting until they pass away.

I ask people why they haven't booted their kids out of the house or why they let them drink their beers. The typical response is that they like having them there. I've also found that people who are getting older do like being needed. No one wants to feel that they don't have a use.

You repaid that double degree student loan yet Gordon. Oh that's right you got it free from the tax payer.

We paid fees Frazz but unlike your generation we worked the entire summer to fund the next year. No car and no overseas trips and bugger all clothes.

No you didn't, and no clothes crikey things must have been tough.

We paid fees. It was not free. Do your research.

I've been watching work pension plans start to make cuts in the US. People who have been retired for a number of years are suddenly finding their fixed income is now a reducing fixed income. This will eventually hit breaking point here although it'll start kicking off in about 10-15 years.

I've been advising people closing in on retirement to keep costs down and eliminate all debts. People are finding it tough with their 20 something kids still living at home, and struggling to manage moving out/studying/obtaining qualifications.

The retirement future of those with a reasonable sum in their kiwisaver will have a somewhat more pleasant retirement.


I sympathise with X and Y. You would be surprised just how many boomers are out there with multiples of tens of rental homes, far more than they will ever need and be able to spend in their retirement. X and Y have been shafted by the boomers and many as a result will have to live in rental homes for the rest of their lives. The ones I really feel sorry for are those who are now at school and university. Time has been cruel to them unlike the boomers who were lucky to be born in good times and who were able to leverage off their homes and buy their property portfolios.


Good article, I personally find it intriguing that history can be cut up into generational chunks and gross generalisations made which leads to how did this anti BB one arise? My theory is that it is actually a global mis-application of the commentary on the post WWII US empire. There has been a lot of commentary on how the rise of the US squandered resources and that generation 'had it easy' that has easily been transferred to all baby boomers (drop the national context). I'm sad to say that dear Bernard was one of the worst at beating this drum. I even think the people that coin these labels would be embarrassed by their application, the intent I believe was to put the sociological behaviour in context of the economics of the era and not the other way round! as a parent I pass on a lot to my children that not only comes from my generations experiances but also those of my parents and grandparents, so you won't find them pointing fingers

I am not sure why this article has been posted here - it is about a very specific context on the other side of the world that has very little relevance to New Zealanders. It smacks of trolling by the site's editors to rile up Boomers and youngsters alike - which has worked!

The word jihad is used 7 times in the article. It's not just emotionally loaded and biased but the author may be an extremist. It smacks of hate speech against a generation. The article should be retracted and written by someone else without the extreme viewpoint.

Well if Boomers had it tough their parents certainly had it tougher - two world wars and a Great Depression. They also earned more than they spent. The super generation IMO.

Here is where the Govt money goes.
86 YEAR OLD RELATIVE 3 hrs care a day at $35hr x3x7=$735 per week
Lawn paid by winz 18 per week
Alarm paid by winz 9 per week
living alone allowance 20 per week
pension approx$ 330 per week
He is shrewd because he has given 50% of his home away to his kids meaning when it's time to go into care he will pay next to nothing.
He keeps telling me that he paid taxes all his life and my reply is ,that may be righr but you never paid enough.
To make matters worse he need home help because of his boozing and smoking in years past.

If it bothers you so much, why not go hold a pillow over his face until the struggling stops? Or mow the lawn yourself. Whichever is more convenient.

At least the old bloke is creating jobs ...

I think you will find his late wife left her half of the house to their children absolutely when she died with her husband having a life interest in her half until he dies. This is quite normal and sensible as it means her half share could not be left by him to a new wife or partner. Sounds like he has not long to live anyway as he needs a lot of care. Maybe he should be in a rest home now.

O'Neill makes a fair point. The virulence of comments from a seemingly large percentage of XY contributors to the debate, is disturbing. My BB NZ upbringing was deprived by current standards but absolutely typical. Raising a family and buying a house during the 70's, 80's and 90's was grindingly hard but I did not burn with envy at the by then improved lifestyle of my parents and their contemporaries, let alone rage in anger at a perceived intergenerational injustice.

So you are dismissing that there are any problems and instead you want to support status quo even though it's unsustainable? Or do you think we should deal with house price bubble, the shortfall in money to pay pensions, the accumulation of large student debts that reduce spending in the economy? Just to name a few issues.

Who cares what you did? It's irrelevant except as one tiny insignificant data point in a huge set.

If in, say, 1971, houses had cost 3 times what they actually did, and incomes had been 10% lower in every quartile except the top 25%*, how many tens or hundreds of thousands of households would have been shunted from the 'no worries' tranche to 'grindingly hard'? How many more from 'grindingly hard' to 'completely impossible'? And as Mr Average, would you have been one of them? Very likely.

Denying reality gets us nowhere.

*All numbers made up, including the year.

Indeed, my experience is indeed irrelevant in a data analysis context and as you observe labels are meaningless (especially when retrofitted much later in a hugely altered economic and social setting) but I think you miss the point of my observation that the perception of we young BBrs was at that time one of a significant material wealth and lifestyle gap between us and our parents, yet I don't believe there was anything like the outspoken anger about that disparity that one sees today.

You've got some compatriots seriously undermining goodwill. If I had a buck for every time I've seen one of the boomerpeople simultaneously gloating about how their houses have tripled in value while gauging the tenants to the max to pay the mortgage, then insisting that buying is just as easy now, and if the youngsters can't afford it it's their own fault ... I'd have enough for a nice dinner somewhere. Some serious cognitive dissonance and denial getting in the way of actually honestly dealing with things. It's a feature of the privileged that they often don't recognise their own privilege, and flip out into denial when it's pointed out.

You knew you were starting at the bottom, but the general environment was in your favour, and you had that ladder to climb. Not so much for someone who's working their tail off to scrape together a deposit requirement that's growing faster than they can save. And that's the well-paid professionals. When they're going backwards no matter how hard they work, and how hard they save, making big sacrifices, and smug ... so-and-so's turn around and blame them for being on the wrong side of huge global trends, well, it's the wrong side of enough, and I don't blame them for getting tetchy. They need to get tetchy. Won't change anything otherwise.

Kakapo, the universal position of the numerous BB'rs I know is one of dismay at the struggles kids are facing in getting a first house in AKL. It is nonsense to claim it is as easy to scrape a deposit together as when we were in their shoes and I question how many BB'rs are actually saying that. And as for blaming XYrs for 'being on the wrong side of global trends'; it sounds a bit far fetched to claim this callous view is common.

Your first fallacy is in 1970, the price of houses in Auckland was not 3 x what they actually did cost (?), nor were they 3 x income. In 1960 the State Advances Corp offered our family the opportunity to buy the state house we were living in at a price that was 6 x my fathers gross annual income before tax - that was 1960

That's why I specified 'all numbers made up'. Because they were. Completely pulled out of my arse. Specifics weren't the point. It was about the concept of the wider population-wide effects of changes in the relationship between wages and prices.

I read your asterisk as applying only to the 25%

I'm just grateful it didn't turn the whole thing into random italics or a really messed-up blockquote.

My point is not about whether there are 'any problems' or 'something must be done about it', it is rather to simply observe the vehemence of the XY commentary and wonder why that is. But seeing you asked - I think housing in AKL is tougher just now for them than it was for us. But our AKL based XY kids are not property ownership obsessives. They note the effect on price movements in CHCH and elsewhere once the supply/demand equation balances and are taking a long view, meantime building equity in other areas than housing. I don't favour more intervention than has already been implemented or will be, on housing. Maybe apart from tweaking some of the 'quality' settings of immigration policy. Student loans (all ours had them) are a life investment decision requiring rational risk benefit analysis. They are not a callous instrument of BB oppression as some XY's seem to believe. Aspiring to a degree is laudable but is not always tempered with a realistic appraisal of the likely success or benefits. The reduced spending due to debt vs higher purchasing power from better qualifications and higher functioning economy debate remains an open one. Viability of the current superannuation regime is a spending prioritisation decision, not one of affordability.

The vehemence has come from years of baby boomer statements about the younger generations being entitled and all the other nonsense political catch phrases that are used. It's also common for boomers to be continually dismissive of other generations. The origin of this is likely neo liberal and often pushed in the media. It's useful for keeping right wing parties in power at the long term expense of the economy.

Younger generations have had years of being called privileged by those who are privileged. It's quite insulting and is only a tool to stop debate and discussion. This article calls 30 somethings jihadists. The author has a disgusting attitude and it smacks of bigotry.

Moving on from that students in NZ are fortunate not to have studied in the US. In the US the for profit schools turn students with bad or no credit rating into AAA bonds that are sold on the financial markets. A typical 4 year degree in the US including all costs results in a $120,000 student loan with interest rates of 3-6.8%. Some will never earn enough to pay the interest on a loan that size. Given that student loans are no able to be written off on bankruptcy in the US that means they are permanently enslaved (or at least 20 years if they can get that much work).

Here it's not as bad but if you start with a student loan of $30k to $40 that's a lot of money to repay. That's money that's not going towards house deposits, children's education or circulating in the economy producing economic growth. Whenever I see all the BA graduates go past I often wonder how many of them will be able to repay their student loans.

There is a further issue of loans with loan interest rates pushing up both the cost of housing and education. There needs to be a solution to this without placing the economy in a deflationary spiral.

As you say there are other issues that are open to discussion. Most times I don't know why people just don't do a 1 or 2 year course that leads to a job. They exist and the jobs are there, it just needs everyone in the community to help students understand their options and opportunities.

These generations eventually inherit the political arena so if they have any sense they will make their voices heard and get into parliament to change things.....along with some quite justified payback policies I would hope.

So now the BB/XY clash is a neo liberal conspiracy supported by media ( all of whom are apparently old or if young meekly submissive to right wing governments) which is the origin of the BB attitude to XY'rs. And here was little me thinking this sort of intergenerational tension was natural and had existed for millennia.
From observation of my kids, I saw the influence student loans had on study decisions and while the loan burden was onerous it was a powerful motivator to make the right call on subjects and incentivise them to work very hard.

For Gen X the motivation worked as the potential of the new legal environment in the 90s provided a lot of opportunities. Unfortunately those studying now are graduating and discovering a more grim reality.

I returned from Australia, by sea, in early 1968.
Everyone on the ship was saying "You wont get a job in NZ a lot of people are out of work"
I said "Crap, i have never been out of work. If you really want a job you will get one"
On ariving in Christchurch everyone told me "You better register for the unemployment benefit as there are no jobs"
I said "Crap, i will soon get a job"
They told me i was being foolish as i had to be registered unemployed for six weeks before i could pick up a benefit.
I did not listen.
Six weeks later i was still unemployed.
I went to the unemployment ofice and they told me i would have to wait six weeks.
I said "But i have already been unemployed for six weeks"
They told me i should have registered straight away and i would have to wait until i had been on the register for six weeks.
Go back and look at the Christchurch papers for 1968 and i bet you can find these stories.
So quit the crap about lots of jobs

With the boomers having smaller families and greater wealth the next generations should be coming into some handsome inheritances soon. Think about that.

It's likely I'll already be at retirement age before splitting the estate three ways. I'll be financially independent long before then. In fact that's why some bb are doing distributions to their family earlier.

You have a valid point but it doesn't help a lot of us right now when it would be more useful.

Most of that "wealth" is tied up in assets and with less ppl earning less money the Q is who will be buying all the houses/shares/assets etc at higher prices than they were bought for? or even not too much less? and that is before we even consider many of these assets are hugely over-valued.

They inherit the houses and can live in them or rent them out and earn an income. Getting quite tired of your deliberate stupidity quite frankly.

What is disturbing is a generation effectively blaming their parents for their problems. One could deduce from this the whingers don't have rich parents or parents that got far enough ahead in life to start giving you some of that wealth early. The fact is the youth of today have it sweet. I guess we conveniently get amnesia about all those world wars and the dozen or so wars that are currently raging away round the world so until we have a war that directly affects NZ you should be counting yourself lucky, it all relative. You think you got it tough go try and live in Syria.

Carlos67 - when you were growing up, was it common place for your parents to own 3,4,5 or more houses?

Carlos is just concerned because we're onto him. You can't sweep this under the rug with neo-liberal propaganda. Best to say people are whingers instead of accepting reality.

When I was a child my parents owned at least 3 houses, one was broken up into 4 flats. This was all triggered by advice from my grandfather. He had the idea but it was my parents who implemented it.

Excellent reality article
My mother grew up in he service as a land girl.. my father about to be shipped off to war.. their parents survived the WW1 in Europe..
Both those generations worked long hrs and hard.. and where not ble to help our generation for a 'hand up' In my case they died leaving little not afte I left school.
I did the same as them work long hrs 60/ 70 hrs pe week at a low paid job.. and brought my 1st low cost mass produced basic house at 22 yrs.. the worked long hr for the nest 10 yrs to clear 2nd and 3 rd mortgages... to the find mortgage interest rate hit the mid to high 20s %
We survived that with interest only payments... many didnt.
Now our children, no help from us .. worked long and hard... even commuting to Aussie 6 weeks on 1 week off, 16/ 18 hr days, 7 days a week....are now on their 2nd home, nice life style block on the edges of Auckland, and have nearly paid that off....At 28yrs old
OH and while comunting , back home was the pregnant wife and young child also with a long term vision for the future.
"If u want something, you will get it, .. and if u dont get it u wasted everyone's time talking about something you didnt really want in the 1st place"

The difference between the last 3 generations and the latest... we grew up without handouts, social and economic....the last generation, the previous generations created them into thinking they have a 'right by existence' not right by long hrs and hard work.
Something a small handful of baby boomers did not do...whos children dont look for or need handouts.