The great baby boomer failure


The FT has a fine piece today that is worthy of comment:

Throughout the developed world, record levels of youth unemployment are spreading feelings of hopelessness across an entire generation. Yet what is striking is that policy makers hardly seem to care.

…Written off by their critics as gerontocracies, the interwar democracies started to see their young people as a national resource as well. Looking back from the perspective of the 2008 financial crisis – with its paltry regulatory or legislative response – one is struck by how far western societies moved after the 1929 Wall Street crash. They did not change course immediately, but over a period of two decades they brought in welfare policies – in health, public housing and industrial relations – that transformed generational prospects.

…Today things look different. Heirs of the Golden Age still run the show, and septuagenarian rock stars hog the limelight. Meanwhile the young face dismal employment prospects, insecurity if they do land a job, and soaring bills for their housing and education. Their plight is an extraordinary generational triumph for their parents’ cohort. In the US, escalating college tuition fees have prompted little protest. Occupy Wall Street was supposed to spur a larger social revolt on the debt question but it failed. In countries on the front line of the eurozone crisis, a doomed generation – facing something in the region of 65 per cent youth unemployment – backs neither the existing parties nor any of the radical alternatives, seeing in all of them, indeed in politics itself, the expressions of the era that got them into this mess.

Understandable as this attitude might be, it is also self-defeating. For until the grievances of the young can assume a political expression more threatening to the established order, the sad truth is that nothing much will change.

I mostly agree with this though I’d add two points. The first is that baby boomers were a radical generation, they reformed society extraordinarily deeply and swiftly from a monolithic and inwards looking patriarchy to a much freer and choice laden milieu. This applies as much to geopolitics as it does social contracts. For that I think we can all be grateful.

But that is now part of the problem. That same spirit of self-expression has morphed today into a grasping claw of selfishness that rests upon its former glories and refuses, point blank, to risk the pleasures of its power.

Second, much of this is the failure of the baby boomers children who have spent most of their time seeking to emulate their pleasure seeking parents rather than booting them the f*ck out of the way.

Australia needs a youth political party, an idea I’ve been toying with for a while, to threaten boomer power at the ballot box and send the feathers flying!

David Llewellyn-Smith


  1. I am a boomer and you are right that only political power will achieve a re-balancing. No parent wants to see their children disadvantaged-but it is the interest of the political establishment to,for example, maintain tight control on land supply-and to maintain tax benefits(eg super) that are indefensible on social equity grounds.You might be surprised how many boomers would vote for a re-balancing.
    I have been surprised at the acquiescence of the younger cohorts. Many I guess have eyes on the inheritance?

    • disco stuMEMBER

      Your kidding yourself – most young people can clearly see the morals and attitudes that permeate boomer culture and recognise that there will be bugger all inheritance left after your generation sloth off of the face of the earth.

      Any feeble coin that is bequeathed will most likely be spent of paying off a small fraction of the massive debt your lot have forced us to take on if we’ve wanted any chance to buy a house for ourselves (as a place to live as opposed to a 2nd holiday home or another investment property).

      Eyes on your inheritance my arse – I’d rather the debt/housing market you’ve rigged for yourselves unwinds quickly and abruptly – that would do for all the wealth transfer I’d ever care for. That way every subsequent generation could get on living life for themselves and their kids, instead of paying an unearned economic rent to a generation of free loading bludgers.

      • Harsh, but being early 40s myself I’d agree that waiting for an inheritance to fix these problems doesn’t seem a practical solution to many in my age group, so I cant see those younger seeing that as a way out. Bank of Mum and Dad for a house kickstart, maybe, though I feel this is open to less people than might be assumed (mainly because boomers themselves have Super worries to fret over and mortgages to pay off).

        I think most people intuitively know that the only way out is via an asset deflation and the longer this doesn’t happen and extend-pretend continues, the more uncomfortable everyones getting.

      • arescarti42MEMBER


        I’d add that in addition to political apathy, the young have an obvious demographic disadvantage in the sense that the boomer generation is so large relative to other generations.

      • Davel it might be harsh, but I’m in my early 40s too and that suggestion that we’re all simply greedily waiting for our inheritance has been put to me more times than I care.

        First up, the suggestion flies in the face of economic theory as to the time value of money – ie a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

        Most people from a normal background can realistically expect a moderate inheritance, anywhere from nothing to maybe the equivalent of a couple years median income…. paid across at some distance indeterminate period of time in the future.

        In the meantime, according to the inheritance thinkers, we’ll all be happy sitting here waiting, while paying across upwards of 35% to 40% of our disposable income PER YEAR either in rent or financial charges, to the boomer class who hold the overwhelming majority of our property (and our banks thanks via their super).

        It is outright generational theft – nothing less.

      • Spot on Stu. I’m mid fourties and I agree entirely. KRudd was supposed to be for the young person, until he sold out and introduced more policies to boost prices, no doubt, his own portfolio and those of his boomer mates, influenced this.

        BTW. If you start a party, I’ll join.

      • ”you’ve rigged for yourselves ”
        How? pray tell? No politician has ever asked my opinion believe it or not and Im a so called BBoomer, whoever you vote for sits in a jerk circle and divi’s things up as suits their pockets and political aspirations.
        A vote for Labour is a vote for high house prices, a vote for Libs is a vote for high house prices, a vote for the greens is too small to count.
        As you may know the UK now has a decidedly genX government, and guess what? they are setting the country up for another house price boom, futher than the moon this time and the only people that can afford it are the landlords, film starts and Russian oligarchs.
        You need to look at the source of the problem, ie the bankers and the economy that they have been able to hijack due to policies put in place 30 odd years ago (Reagan-USA, Thatcher UK with Aus to copycat)
        Simplistically blaming the recipients (a small portion of the war babies, boomers and genX) is no better than dog logic. ie Madame FiFi has 2 poodles which she gives a treat to every day, one day dog1 gets a treat and dog2 doesn’t, dog 2 bites dog1, meantime the bankers and already mega rich landed gentry (Madame fifi) has a massive supply of treats locked away and is sitting smugly and comfortably while enjoying the dogs fighting.

        as an aside, most boomers have fk all, I don’t personally know any who fit the picture you assume to be universal. Most I know have not paid off their mortgage, have little super and have been tossed out of work for being too old and will have little choice other than to be on the state pension, mostly they have handed money over to their gen y kids for cars and house deposits. They know the elites are to blame.

        So get real, collectivise and take on the pollies, bankers, landlords (commercial too) instead of just moaning around the edges waiting for your free cargo cult boat to turn up. I would support you all if you did.

    • Many I guess have eyes on the inheritance

      You give them too much credit, I doubt many of us are even considering the possibility of inheritance, especially given the consistently rising life expectancy statistics.

      No, if anything many of us have our eyes on greener pastures – travelling beyond the shores of Australia is more fashionable than it has ever been. You can’t campaign when you’re too busy planning your next overseas dalliance. Things will have to get a lot worse for the youth here to take notice, and ridiculous house prices is not enough when the young these days are delaying everything in favour of experiences abroad.

    • Frederic Bastiat

      Have to agree with Disco Stu here, I am astounded the baby boomers let things get so bad. For most of us 25-35 year olds, we are not in positions of power within the work place, we are too busy making end-meet to get politically active outside of work.

      What dramatic political changes did the boomers fight for? What exactly are we supposed to be so grateful for? They set up unaffordable schemes that they will benefit from, but not pay for.

      Most of the boomers I know start charging their kids board at 20 and think that giving them 10% deposit for a $400K house makes up for the massively distorted system they have supported and continued to support. Free Uni degree, house and land package at x3 annyal income of single wage earner…etc…

      Go to Europe and USA, you will see tons of grey haired nomads that use to travel the nation in a camper home, now going overseas 3 times a year – all the while thinking about buying their 3rd investment property.

      Where is the outrage about Chinese property speculation stealing the homes from local kids? Where is the concern about Government debt, about the scarcisty of our environmental resources?

      Many boomers show no concern for the world they are leaving behind…

      And all they say in response is “we had it harder than you”…so you friggen should have, its called progress!! I hope my kids have it far easier than I did.

      As Stu says, bring on the crash and let their asset values burn as far as I am concerned

      • “…And all they say in response is “we had it harder than you”…so you friggen should have, its called progress!! …”

        I’d have to disagree with that. Culturally and economically things were inherently different. Free education, vastly lower costs of living and a very (very) different employment market.

        Sure, there was a very short time where interest rates were at astronomical levels – but so too was price and wage inflation. Even at 17% a mortgage was still much more affordable than it is today. Not that you want to tell them that. In the mind of many, history has been (and will continue to be) distorted.

      • Good one Fred & Disco. Read HnH second sentence. The BB’s apparently saw the problem AND did something about it.

        Just keep hiding under the bed with your keyboard getting all angry.

        What are you doing about the situation; too busy, no power blah.blah etc. What is different to back then.?
        Just waiting for daddy politicians / bankers etc. to give you some consideration. Fat chance.

        Put up or shut up wingeing, you will be surprised how much support the majority of BB’s will offer you. They are being screwed too, have been for decades.

    • I would also add that we did not get where we are today in the last five minutes.

      It has taken at least ten years.

      The problem I have is that even though Pre-boomers have been voting forever, and even the youngest Gen-Xers have been voting for ten years (and the oldest for thirty years ffs), it is apparently the boomers alone that are responsible.

      Frankly, that is absurd. Pre-boomers, and Gen Xers have had any amount of opportunity to change the political landscape over the past twenty to thirty years. Together, they outnumber the boomers, and even if that were not the case, we have seen how very minority interests have got elected to the Senate and influenced public policy in Australia. I mean if minority religious right parties, and even a motoring enthusiast group can do it, surely somebody from the Gen X or the Pre-boomer could crank up enough interest? Even one, just one.

      By all means, let us discuss who is responsible for the present state of affairs, but Pre-boomers and Gen Xers are in it up to their necks as well.

      • What a load of gump Emess – the baby boomers have skewed political outcomes in their favour right from the day they started coming of age, and they have done so ever since.

        As HH says: “That same spirit of self-expression has morphed today into a grasping claw of selfishness that rests upon its former glories and refuses, point blank, to risk the pleasures of its power.”

        To which I would add is that in all the constant baby boomer navel gazing that everyone else is subjected to in the MSM, there is rarely if ever any acknowledgement that they, and their values could be part of the problem.

        So now that articles like this FT and others in the same vein are starting to emerge, it produces nothing but revulsion in the typical baby boomer that they could be in any way part of the problem – I mean they are supposed to have spent their entire lives fighting the establishment, only be now told that they are the establishment?

        No wonder it produces shrill cries from the likes of yourself seeking to shift any portion of blame to anyone but themselves.

        Where they even bother to acknowledge that there could be some intergenerational injustices out there, they inevitably fall back to the left/right prism through which they formed their early political awareness and views, and which continues to dominate their line of thinking, blaming it on evil right wing boomers or GenXers, or pre-boomers, as opposed to the grasping bulge of boomers stuck in the middle, sucking the life out of everything for everyone else.

        Fact is the left/right debate of your youth has morphed in to more one of young/old, or up/down.

      • Sorry DS,

        You Xers have been voting for between ten and thirty years. No amount of twisting and turning can deny that.

        Religious and other minor groups have been getting their policies adopted in the Senate and other upper houses round the country forever, There is even a motoring Senator ffs. So what stopped you guys this past twenty years? Mum and Dad wouldn’t let you out of the garage?

        Stop bullshitting that it is someone else’s fault when the evidence is plain to see, and has been for the past twenty years that land supply was becoming a problem…and you guys as much as anyone else did stuff all about it. And you never even tried.

        What is even stupider is that increasing the supply of developed blocks isn’t that hard. Governments used to develop both low and middle income blocks en masse. The template is right there to be used. It worked. Well.

      • Mining BoganMEMBER

        Wouldn’t it be cool if one day we find out that Disco Stu is the long lost son of Emess…

      • Gen X+ Y is THE voting demographic. and guess what? they want high house prices on account most of them have houses and mortgages and not a single one of them gives a monkeys knickknack about the locked out buyer, not till their kids want to buy that is (like where most of the boomers sit now.

        not that it matters what genx or y want nor the bboomers either (who are too small to matter now anyway), the pollies work out what they want, both for their pockets and their political seats.

      • Disco dude
        The f**ckers I deal with in the finance sector and in policy and planning around land use/building development are rarely boomers (though admittedly, a large part of their constituency of bleeding heart NIMBYs are). These are well and truly Gen-Xers who have picked up the baton of bad policy, determined to show they can run much harder and faster with it. The closest thing we have to an ‘activist/reformist’ party, the Greens, are by and large a Gen-X/Y party – even though ther policies on housing/land development, the environment and banking regulation will do nothing to solve the cost of housing other than perhaps as a result of otherwise strangling the economy. The pragmatic approach for those Gen-Xers with capital is to take the opportunities presented to them by the demographic shift (aged care, allied health, retirement villages, etc). But I agree that we need a completely new mainstream political party (that would not be the Sex party by the way, as sound as much of their platform is) to press the type of structural issues championed by macrobusiness, and I have long said that MB is in a pretty good position to instigate such a political movement. My only concern is that David Llewelyn Smith is a crazed egomanic who would be no more interested in democratic party process than KIm Jong Un.

    • +1

      I’m heartily sick of the ‘it’s all their fault’ mentality that permeates the discussion and replies in this and other forums.

      I heartily agree. As a boomer, I’d like to see a reset with a return to the values of my youth and life.

      Scream from the rooftops ” You must learn to live within your means, nobody is entitled to anything!” Everything must be earned and ‘until you can pay for it you can’t have it’.

      We all have choices in life. The only reason that house prices are as high as they are is because people continue to CHOOSE to incur the debt to pay for them.

      While ever we define the ‘battle’ as Gen X/Y vs the BB’s, we squabble amongst ourselves while the puppet masters enslave us with debt. Like the heroin addict, we can’t live without our debt fix. Once addicted, the junkie loses focus on the things that really matter, focusing on servicing the addiction, no matter what. The cynical supplier cares not for the junkie, only the profits and while he has the ear of the cop on the beat ( government ) nothing can stand in the way.

      Nobody has the answer. The cracks will keep getting papered over until the wall crumbles. There is a black swan out there circling, tiring and wanting to land.

      • I knew it! The boomers are regressing to hippies and denouncing everything they put in place in a gambit to still be popular with the kiddies. Oh! And don’t blame them! I knew it I knew it.

      • Mig,

        There is an election in less than a month in SA.

        Is anyone, I repeat anyone from Gen X or Gen Y saying anything at all about these issues here?

        Gen X have been voting for between ten and thirty years ffs. Are you seriously telling me they have no responsibility to share? Seriously? That time is twenty or more years in the past.

        I have some sympathy for Gen Y, but a change in government policy could free up land supply within a few years – should they take the effort to press for those changes. I can’t think of many boomers who would stand in their way should they agitate for it.

      • emess: The reason you don’t hear it is because of MSM. Owned and controlled by?

        As a cusp X/Yer we ran away from politics a while back, some still feel duty to turn to the ballot box and myself and many I know never have.

      • Are you kidding, the baby boomer cheerleader in chief John Howard oft said “nobody ever complains about rising house prices”.

        Which is basically the same message his protoge and younger boomer brother Tony Abbott has taken to heart.

        Any hope at change means overcoming the mindset of these sort of politicians, which funnily enough derive most of their support from the boomer class.

      • Emess. You cannot put forward the argument of elections. The only choice is do you want the switch or the belt.

      • Frederic Bastiat

        I agree that Gen Xers are also partly responsible for the perpetuation of the housing bubble and other related ponzi schemes in our economy.

        You only have to look at the contestants on shows like The Block and you see the next generation of house flipper / speculator licking their lips at the prospect of capital gains from asset price inflation.

        But the Boomers lit the fire and stood by smililing while young people had to take on more and more debt to buy their expensive houses.

        And now they have the hide to not admit there is a problem – if you are reading this post you are most likely an exception. But overwhelmingly the economic commentators (think Gittins, Pascoe, Joye, Andrew Wilson)…have claimed people like myself (31 year old renter) are just aiming too high or not making the sacrifises neccesary.

        In summary, Boomers dont even admit there is a problem. Gen X recognise the game is rigged, but if they wanted to buy a house then they had to play the game….the Gen Y (who dont have wealthy parents) sit back and feel hopeless, until we revolt (either through protest or through a strike – Atlas Shrugged style!).

        Who is John Gault!

    • Terry I always enjoy your thoughtful posts.
      To counter the intergenerational disequity and to stop it becoming much worse some radical decisions need to be made
      1.reverse the Costello mistakes of making super a tax avoidance rort and attempt to reduce the arbitrage in the tax system by lowering income tax, raising CGT,quarantining negative gearing to deductibility against future capital gains, increase and extend the GST to catch the tax evaders in their consumption, implement the anti avoidance tax provisions to catch Apple, and Google etc from shifting profits to Ireland, introduce a Federal inheritance tax at a low level eg 15% to stop concentration of wealth to undeserving offspring whilst disadvantaging the other non recipients who are paying the income tax and GST,include the family house value in pension assessment claims

      Then lower HECS charges and give the young aspirants a break with the lower income tax rates.

      • High land price and consequent high debt for the young and the economy in general is the fundamental problem. The best way to address that is with a broad-based land tax. Supply-side improvement would not work without it.

        This makes generation irrelevant because as soon as anyone becomes a landowner they would oppose it, no matter what their generation. Maybe gen X and Y most of all as they have to pay such a fortune for a first home.

        That is unless there was an effective education campaign about it, which would not happen via the MSM.

    • dumb_non_economist

      If your parents have the asset base you are ENTITLED to inherit it, your generation is the one that will inherit the debt. Problem is a lot out there will have nothing to inherit.

      For me, can’t wait until the mining CE falls off the cliff and for the $ to go down the drain, IRs to go through the roof and housing down the gurgler! That’s about the best result for coming generations. Will it hurt? Sure, but no pain, no gain and no one will do anything unless it’s forced upon them (pollies or boomers).

    • Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to achieve rebalancing through higher inflation? The boomers wouldn’t even know that its happening.

      • Realy? Im a boomer, I can see that’s what they think they are doing already and in the UK where I sometimes go they are going hammer and nails at it, (the genX government that is) however the turd in the waterpipe is that they are not supporting higher wages, on the contrary they are doing everything they can to keep wages down, immigration, offshoring, take-it-or-liveonthestreet employment contracts etc etc. Only inflation with higher wages works in that scenario and I see that Abott twat already gearing up to do the same here (but a bit different maybe)
        you will get your inflation but not the wages, you will see prices going up but ‘they’ will deny it with false accounting and in the long run it will not work due to political dogma getting in the way of pragmatism, ie no wage rises for the working classes (that’s 80% of the population even if you wear a suit)

    • “Many I guess have eyes on the inheritance?”

      My parents think that sometimes, which pisses me off, as it is 100% not true.

      • Mining BoganMEMBER

        Mine used to. Now they get cranky when my two siblings and myself tell them we’re orright so either live large and spend it all or sign it off to someone who needs it.

        In saying that though, I know a lot who have eyes on prizes. That makes me sad.

      • I think inheritance is absolutely normal to be expected for one simple reason:

        When parents are paying mortgages, the children, as a part of the family, are also involved in this sacrifice. So why not expecting inheritance?

        I would like to leave to my children what we have. It won’t hurt the taxpayers, because we saved for our retirement without using the tax system for that purpose. We don’t plan to use age pension neither and we are BB and very angry to the government policy regarding housing.

        Reading how BB are to blame is annoying sometimes, but I can see how many BB renovate and extend their huge houses (which are empty nests), because they expect to be even more eligible for age pension after blowing their savings on house extension. That makes me angry too, which makes me think that the problem is not generational, it is systemic and cultural.

        The problem is also most people are conditioned to live with huge debt, not savings and the government encourages taking on bigger debt.

      • I also have seen a wealthy x-gen buy out (read save) parents who went for a second house, lol. Probably a good deal for both.

    • Hmmm…is this 1920 and the early signs of the National Socialist Party forming. Seems like Herr DiscoStu is agitating!

      Democracy affords participation…do so! Don’t carp and snipe…do something positive.

      As a baby boomer I’m surprised at the agitation and outright spleen venting and yes, I will be leaving an inheritance for my children and their children for that matter.

      Part of it has already been gifted…it’s called good manners, respect for others and a desire to support the family and others. The other gift already made is an education without compromise and far better than I was given.

      Add to this a trust that will ensure they have the excess assets in due course and I know they are happy, appreciative. Heck, we are even friends and I intend asking them what they think about Herr Disco and his venemous destructive remarks. I think I know what they will say.

      Besides, study the demographic trends. As baby boomers we are the pig in the python and residential prices will be driven down by excess supply caused by more dyers than buyers! I just hope I get a chance to do that in dignity and on my terms without having to worry about the Disco brown shirts!

      • disco stuMEMBER

        We don’t want an inheritance, we want a level playing field.

        What about Australian’s who don’t have rich boomer parents, or even boomer parents who’ve managed to buy a house… what about new Australian’s arriving and wanting to contribute to this country?

        The way we’re going it’s going to turn our country where your station in life is determined at birth.

        As for good manners – get your foot of the face of your children’s generation and start agitating for things in their interests as opposed to your own.

      • Problem is, Porty, everything is conspiring against releasing the Boomer housing stock onto the market – ease with which BBs can release equity to fund new IPs, super rules, pensions eligibility test, talk of reverse mortgages to fund care etc etc.

        The goal of the ruling class appears to be to keep BBs in their oversize homes that has the unfortunate side effect of maintaining inflated prices and locking a generation or two out of the market. This is the problem.

  2. disco stuMEMBER

    “Australia needs a youth political party, an idea I’ve been toying with for a while, to threaten boomer power at the ballot box and send the feathers flying!”

    Sign me up!

      • Frederic Bastiat


        Renters and Savers party – two massive constituencies with no political representation!

        I am trying to do something in the ACT and would like to meet for a coffee / beer with similarly like minded people.

        When the Commission of Audit hands down their findings, Canberrans will be in a world of hurt and there will be a lot of disgruntled Gen Xs and Gen Ys looking for answers

      • arescarti42MEMBER

        “Renters and Savers party – two massive constituencies with no political representation! I am trying to do something in the ACT and would like to meet for a coffee / beer with similarly like minded people.”

        I’m Canberra based and would be very interested in being part of something like that. If you want to get in touch, my email is arescarti at gmail dot com.

      • The infrastructure is there i.e internet for mass communication, we just need a core group of cadres that have specialists skills to give direction to the masses:

        1) talking heads
        2) researchers
        3) publicsts
        4) graphic designers, non linear video editors, motion graphic artists..
        just to name a few

        5) and maybe a dash of ‘filial piety’ to ensure one cohesive unit (don’t laugh because both major parties practice, they either don’t know it or call it another name)…

        If an internet community like MB can’t ‘light a spark’, I don’t have much hope for the an online community like providing a catalyst…

        If anything a movement should have a mission statement of making this nation a better place for our children, even if it means we have to take a hit, it shouldnt be centred around a contemporary wealth distribution issue. I don’t want to commit the same mistake as others, nor do I want my children to either…

    • I agree! Fredrick, I am based in Melbourne and would like to be involved. Very reluctant to post my personal details but is there some way to get in contact?

      • OK. Just created a New email address. Anyone interested email nextgenparty at mail (not gmail) dot com 🙂

  3. Yes, good article. The world over there is a massive tide of youth, in many developed countries youth either is or soon will be the dominant segment of the population. In developing countries like Aus, this is less so, but the problems afflicting youth are the same – no jobs, no access to housing, looming public debt burdens that they’ll need to carry etc. And yet they refuse to do anything about it, whereas previous generations including BB would take to the streets at any opportunity and was very active politically.

    Can only put it down to the greater relative security of the world today, the homogenisation of politics, and the rise of media which has given people alternative things to concern themselves with (e.g. celebrities, social media). But you’d think this apathy cant last forever, at some point they’ll realise they’re being destroyed to the benefit of their elders. There’s also the fact that the 90s-00s when many were growing up was also an unparalleled golden period of growing economies, wealth (eg debt) and freedoms (eg break up of Soviet Union, rise of the Internet). Many including their elders appear to be expecting that old dynamic to reassert itself. When it becomes clear it won’t, they might wake up.

    • One major aspect is that the boomers had a preceding generation that bent over backwards getting decent housing built at affordable prices so their descendants would be better off. The boomers response has been to rebel against all that “sprawl” and “automobile dependence”, and brainwash the young today into accepting that servitude to a property rentier class is normal and acceptable for the sake of “the environment”.

      • Phil, Gen X has been voting for the past ten to thirty years. It is during that time that most of those policies were dismantled. Gen X were notably silent while it happened here.

        Furthermore, it could easily be reinstated that Governments could do their own developing and land release. However, I have seen no indication that Gen X or Y would agree to that sort of Government intervention in the market…despite, as you have pointed out – it works.

        In South Australia, the Liberal Government under Playford built entire suburbs for not only low income, but also middle income levels, and was ruthless in keeping house prices down. Such an apparatus could be set up today and running full blast in a year or so. But do you think this is an issue in the coming State Election in just under a month?

        FFS, if the Gen X and Y who spend so much time complaining about the injustice of it all were to spend one tenth of that effort and speak up, now is the time to do it in SA at least. But what do we hear?


      • Emess, what do you expect when the MSM which you sit down to over a coffee and croissant every morning to, is basically written for and targeted too the likes of yourself.

        Take one look at various other forms of media, such as represented by this type of blog, and you will find that there is a significant undercurrent of discontent by informed non-boomers, towards the boomer economy/class.

      • Disco,

        The MSM have been dying for the past fifteen years at least.

        And I for one have not bothered with any of Murdoch or Furfix’s publications for the last ten years. I should imagine that Xers and Gen Y are even less wedded to MSM.

        The MSM are effectively able to be ignored as a case.

        Given that most older voters are likely fixed in their voting patterns, and that is roughly 50:50 to the major parties, even a small swing in the X and Y vote would be significant enough to get major concessions…or that’s the way that minor parties in the Senate get up normally.

        The pity is, that if you guys even just reset to the land development policy templates of the fifties and sixties, you could reduce prices by increasing supply within a few years easily.

        If you were to do this AND THEN the Boomers were to oppose it, then you would have a reason to complain. However, if you spend that time complaining beforehand, and not making the necessary policy changes, don’t be surprised if in ten years things are just as bad or worse.

      • Because you obviously missed it from before, I will repost it again here:

        “Are you kidding, the baby boomer cheerleader in chief John Howard oft said “nobody ever complains about rising house prices”.

        Which is basically the same message his protoge and younger boomer brother Tony Abbott has taken to heart.

        Any hope at change, ie increasing land supply, means overcoming the mindset of these sort of politicians, which funnily enough derive most of their support from the boomer class.”

        Believe me, there are plenty of young people, as well as Boomers (obviously including yourself, given your comments) that are agitating for this reform.

        But it essentially means unwinding all the rules governing land supply and taxation, that a lifetime of boomers have worked at for the past 40 years to put in place.

        Easier said than done, when you need to overcome a wall of ill informed, self interested boomer reluctance (the type of which both HH and the FT article point to) to do anything to reform the land rules upon which most of their ‘wealth’ rests.

        You also need to overcome a bunch of co-opted GenX’ers and below, who’ve given up waiting or agitating for reform, and bought a house in order to get on with their lives, and don’t have a lifetime of land wealth that they’ve syphoned off from everybody else to fall back on.

        But with home ownership rates amongst all younger demographic levels plummeting, the have nots are getting bigger and a tipping point will eventually come.

  4. “freer and choice laden milieu”. For that I think we can all be grateful.

    grateful for what?

    They turned an inward looking society into “forced congregations of inward looking unhappy consumers”.

    What happened to human society in last couple of decades is complete failure: transformation from society ruled by stiff tradition to society ruled by greed, depression and anxiety.

    • +1.

      The broad concept of “freedom” is automatically accepted as being an intrinsically “good” thing. It is not so simple.

      The various “freedom” revolutions — predominantly social — that have swept the West over the past 100 years, have in reality simply swapped one form of control for another, more insidious form. Hence the outcomes we see today, such as those speculator correctly identifies.

      Presently reading this:


      • Just because a term is highjacked by Bernaisian propaganda does not make it the opposite of its true sense.

        Freedom is state of being unmolested by arbitrary power over ones actions.

        Take gay rights, it undoubtedly resulted in freedom in that arbitrary restrains on same-sex relationships were done away with. HOWEVER the PC machine that grew up around the battle to regain those freedoms is a malignant cancer and wishes now to impose arbitrary restraints on the rest of us!!!

        The first action was freedom the second is repression. Not the same thing at all.

      • @ Mig

        Freedom is the right to have a choice. With all rights, there must be balancing obligation.

        How often do you hear the word ‘rights’? How often ‘ obligation’.? Hardly ever.

        As others have said, our society is disintegrating and I feel it is due in no small part to the loss of recognition of that ‘contract’. You have the right to make a choice, the obligation to choose wisely, accept the consequences and not abuse that right.

        As an example. A right was conferred on investors to offset the cost of their investments against their income. There is obligation to use that right as it was intended. When that right is then abused by using it purely as a means of reducing tax, that is an abuse of the intent. Nobody ( except perhaps me perhaps )sees an obligation to ‘Australia’ to abide by the intent.

        Don’t blame the government, the blame lies with all of us when we see only rights without obligation.

        ” The price of freedom is eternal vigilance “. A famous quote but a valid statement.

        I think we’re all enjoying the party and the night watchman is snoozing….

      • Take gay rights, it undoubtedly resulted in freedom in that arbitrary restrains on same-sex relationships were done away with. HOWEVER the PC machine that grew up around the battle to regain those freedoms is a malignant cancer and wishes now to impose arbitrary restraints on the rest of us!!!

        For example ?

  5. A political party targeted at youth will never succeed while the youth adopt the shortsighted political views of their parents and upbringing.

    • Cogent analysis of their future in an easily accessible form that appeals to them would usurp the views of their parents pretty quickly. That said, the lure of the inheritance pay off will be strong. Problem is boomers are living for longer so they may have to wait a while and they may well have cashed it all in by the time they pop off.

      A “young” political party therefore should seek to have policies that focus on life expectancy especially focusing on disease and illness that predominantly hits the boomers in order to reverse life expectancy. Would also be a budget saving of course which is no bad thing.

      Morally reprehensible of course but then the boomers have shown the way in that regard.

      • If we cannot begin to seek change from a basic moral position of holding respect for the life of others as sacrosanct, then we really are doomed as a species.

      • We’re doomed anyway Op8 given the concept of respect for future and past generations is long gone so I’d say it’s gloves off at this stage.

      • Or geez we could just increase land supply.

        It was done in the fifties an sixties by governments developing and building, not only for low income, but also middle income housing.

        It wasn’t hard then, it shouldn’t be hard now.

        But no. Let’s just fart around complaining.

        Might I observe, that if the relatively easy process of reinstating a preexisting successful system for land supply is beyond the current generation, I hold no fear whatsoever that socially repressive policies of untried method will be able to be introduced.

    • I tend to agree to some extent. A lot of my peers (`30 years old) investment strategy involves buying investment properties. It is the only investment they know of. They have also grown up in the Howard era and expect to see the handouts and support that our parents have got.

      The political party should be not so much youth targetted, but targetted at those who envision a prosperous future for our country. There are a huge swag of voters whose polital beliefs sit well to the left of Tabloid Tony but who can’t stand the Labor party’s constant pandering to the Union movement. And the Greens can be off the planet sometimes with their views.

    • If you are under 35 in this country you are getting screwed. Shouldn’t be a difficult message to sell.

  6. Rather than a youth party, I think we need to reduce the voting age to 16 and perhaps exclude all those over 90.
    The youth are in protest now, leaving Oz in droves as our emigration shows.

    • migtronixMEMBER

      NO WAY!! Letting a 16yld vote is guaranteed to you’ll end up with stupid policies like iPads for dole-recipients…

      • You lack faith in our youth. A 16 year old of today is far more socially and politically aware than the BB’s were at there age. Social media and a strong MSM has made it so.

        On reflection, an iPad for every unemployed person may actually be a great idea… Not much different than a set top box for all pensioners really and perhaps far more productive.

      • Frederic Bastiat

        migtronix – that is the wortst post you have made, I really hope it was tongue in cheek!

        As Willy-Nilly said, 16 and 17 year olds should certainly be allowed to vote, especially if they are employed and paying taxes!!!

      • migtronixMEMBER

        @FB No it wasn’t tongue in cheek. Re pay taxes I think they should be able to work without having to pay tax until they turn 18! How’s that one?

    • migtronixMEMBER

      Disagree willy_nilly but I guess I probably don’t have much faith.

      I think social media has made it worse, they just think like one big hive mind when something starts trending on TWTR/FB. I can see them all being utterly manipulated — but I guess we all are all the time I suppose. They need maturity though and nous.

    • migtronixMEMBER

      Oh Ok fair enough. I mean I agree they are more savvy and in touch (don’t just consume MSM) but I also think they are more easily manipulate (then again more easily than BBs? probably not…)

      Well you’ve made me slightly more optimistic at least. CHEERS 🙂

    • The movie reflecting just that W.N. was called Wild in the Streets ( 1970’s ). The age range ended up over 14 ( fourteen or fight was the chant ) and under 50 ( over 50’s on LSD under guard.

      Ahh, the 70’s

  7. migtronixMEMBER

    Bravo H’n’ Bravo!! (standing ovation)

    “emulate their pleasure seeking parents rather than booting them the f*ck out of the way”

    Could not agree more!

    As for the young party — hmmmm I can just see the mismatched socks and tattoo covered Parliament now 😉

  8. If you think a youth party can disrupt politics you have never had a better platform to bring it about. Internet, mobiles, twitter, Facebook etc.

    Do a Clive, pick the marginal seats with the greatest possibiity of success and go ballistic about appealing to the under 30’s.

    Good luck!

  9. casewithscience

    There is a great BB failure, but it is not shown here. My father was a great businessman, he made a motza. But rather than pass it onto my brother and I, he sold up for about 20 mil and went to live in the south of France.

    If he had handed on the business, he might not have had all that cash, but the business would have grown (as my brother and I have shown some very fine business skills of our own) and my father would have had a great legacy for the future. Instead, my brother and I have had to start pretty much from scratch in our own businesses and his old business (which the large corporation that took it over has completely stuffed) will not be remembered by anyone.

    The great failure of the Baby Boomers is that they do not appreciate legacy, rather they think of themselves.

    • dumb_non_economist


      I’m most probably going to offend you and for that I apologise in advance. You didn’t have a father, you and your brother had something else, I’m just gob smacked at that. I think not just handing you everything was correct, but that just goes from one end of the spectrum to the other.

      • No apologies needed – If I were a lazy goodfornothing, then I would agree.

        The fact is that I have built my own business (practice) which is now about the same size as my fathers was at my age. Further, if I was weighted with the old business, then I may have resented it because it was not only “mine”. That said, I am not talking about my loss, I am talking about my BB father’s. In particular, that his selfishness (being the consistent theme about BBs) has ruined his chance for leaving a great legacy.

        I will not make the same mistake. Should my daughter want to take over the practice that I have built (rather than my selling it for a quick profit before retirement) then I will wholeheartedly help her out.

    • The young suffer from a kind of “Stockholm Syndrome” these days, seeing the policies that hurt them as a kind of inviolate religious devotion. Like anti sprawl policies that force up their housing costs.

  10. Leith, for your idea to work, the youths must get some real solid education about the political process. And they have to get out of their apathy stupor as well.

    It is reported that young people are increasingly not bothering to register to vote. This is STUPIDITY! Not voting, or even voting informally means handing over power to those who vote. If the youths understood how our political process work, they wouldn’t have done such STUPID thing!

    IF they continue being so apathetic or ignorant, they’re getting what they deserve!

    • I can see why youth are increasingly not voting. Only lib or labour will ultimately be elected. So the choice is really between two different types of corruption.

      The current global political elite are setting the world up so that people have no recourse or ability to challenge the system. Look at how the terrorism laws are being used against the Guardian newspaper in the UK and the journalists that leaked the Snowden information.

      • That’s why this is STUPIDITY. Not voting is a self-fulfilling prophecy!

        (1) Fatalistic attitude about election outcome

        leads to

        (2) Not voting

        leads to

        (3) Giving power to the BB who votes

        leads to

        (4) Entrenchment of the 2 party system

        leads back to (1) in a circle.

        So, they’re getting what they deserve!

  11. The only thing Oz needs it a proper electoral system. The two party system, either formal or de-facto, is bust across the globe.

    Proportional voting has its disadvantages but at least it offers choice (such as enabling a youth party if there is a need for it).

    Just be careful bashing boomers to much btw. Those boomers are grandparents and parents and I’m sure they want their kids and grandkids to succeed as well.

    Sometimes you read articles with statements that make it appear as if there is a full blown inter-generational war going on. 😛

    • Indeed … and there are those who are perfectly thrilled to see the rise of intergenerational “war”. Keeps us busy bickering amongst ourselves.

      Divide and rule.

    • Dont know what side of the fence you live on but I work with a LOT of 30 below people and ALL of them hate their parents. The ones who had to borrow 20% for a loan feel trapped and indebt. Often shacked up with a loan they struggle to service, in a location they didnt choose.

      The ones who dont have a house are simply living in their parents investment or counting on their parents dying before they can own.

      The remaining simply no longer give a toss about Australia and travel overseas for better prospects. Our cities are so small. Our culture so one tracked.

      House prices are turning a generation into a hate filled resentful slave population with no security. When you treat people like animals, stick them in a cage they dont get to pick and feed them garbage day in day out you shouldnt blame them for when they eventually turn on you and bite your hand.

      Boomers have trained their children to think they need them. When its actually the boomers who need their children to tend their gardens, pay their rent and cover their healthcare costs.

  12. A youth party- yes. But more importantly, a party with social justice and inclusive values. Remember, many boomers are not wealthy. Remember, many boomers have sacrificed much to give their children security and opportunity. Remember, many boomers will support a youth justice party

    Is the youth generation severely disadvantaged in relation to the boomers? Yes, massively so. Rebalancing must be fought for and demanded. But far more corrosive is the acceptance of market values, which have lead to growing inequality, cut-throat competition and the impoverishment of public goods- education, health, housing for all, a sense we as Australians are all in in it together. Such ideas are scoffed at today by many in all age groups.

    If the younger generations today were, say in theory, to win major gains, would the world have to be “saved”all over again by the next generation? Would there be great disadvantage, disparity and social exclusion amongst their own generation when they reached their 50s, 60s and 70s- because deep down they shared the deeply greedy values of their ancestors.

    A youth movement- yes. But also a need to look deeper. A movement to restore the balance between the market and the values of justice and inclusion. To invest in public goods for a fair go for all.

    The market must be used as our tool, not as the defining value by which we relate to each other. The latter is a hand-basket to hell and, believe me, we are well on the way.

    • dumb_non_economist


      That’s a point a lot of people miss over the boomer argument, that all are doing great, far from true. Many would like nothing better than to see a reset.

    • disco stuMEMBER

      CP 90% of the issues faced by young people today could be solved if our land prices were allowed to function freely, and the boomer wealth that has been unfairly tied up into released back into the community via higher disposable income.

      The remaining issues, including the obscene super rorts they’ve awarded themselves could be easily dealt with, mainly by addressing the inequities between rich cashed up super boomers and boomers without super.

      Even the inevitable boomer poverty that would result from wiping out the property bubble could be better managed.

      You’d have a working tax base who now have a larger disposable income, in an economy that is more productive and less constrained by high property prices and their inefficiencies, and so more capable of paying the sort of taxes necessary to meet the OAP requirements that boomers would need, once their no longer standing around collecting rent off their kids generation.

  13. As an example of how skewed everything is. My granddad who owns 3 houses each worth around 1 mill recently passed away. Each of his 6 kids got 1/6th each. However, each of those, the baby boomer generation, got the money and then simply bought more houses for themselves. One of them even bought a unit we were mentioning that we liked the look of. Bought it right from under us and then rented it out. Thats messed up.

    When discussing this with him prior to his passing he informed me. ‘You just have to do it. Borrow as MUCH money as you can and buy the most you can… Thats how he did it…’

    On reflection I told him, as I worked with his papers, his ‘house loan’ at the time cost him 2x his wage. the cost of the land was 1/4 the cost of the house. When I informed him that a house now costs 60/40 land/house and the prices are 10x our wage for 1/4 the land he didn’t understand. He put it down to me being lazy and not saving hard enough.

    I’m 28 and I’ve worked out of uni for 4 years. I have 30k in hecs debt and I have about 20k in the bank.

    I wont have enough saved to buy a house for at least 5 more years.

    We wont be able to start a family because my wife will also have to work to her late 30’s so we can service the loan.

    I like the freedom the Boomer generation gave to us but basically turning your children into slaves is not cool.

    Thanks Australia. Thanks Boomers.

    • dumb_non_economist


      Unfortunately most people don’t get that (P/I ratio) when it’s pointed out.

      To me the biggest inequality from now to back then IS the cost of housing.

  14. What I see in this discussion is an awful lot of whinging(some justified I grant you) but no inclination to meaningful action-in which case all you whingers deserve what you get.
    Is one of the byproducts of the social media age that having a good rant is thought to be “action” enough? God help us all.You all need a bloody good Depression to learn what deprivation is really about..

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      Kind of agree with you at that.

      Nothing is going to change until we regain the sense of society. We’re NOT going to regain it until it’s bludgeoned into us.

    • Generation X HAS experienced massive unemployment, 32 job seekers for every job advertised in the early 90’s. Many of us have lived on 2 minute noodles, thanks. It doesn’t surprise me you find it easy to ignore the ’90s, I’m sure most boomers were comfortable in their stable jobs and were quite immune to others’ discomfort!

    • dumb_non_economist


      did you live through the depression?

      I know a lot of boomers and to kind of portray them as “meaningfully active” is laughable. Boomers had the numbers and their numbers grew and the were able to use that to make change for their benefit.

      As to social media, from what I see it’s every age group glued to their smart phone.

    • This is what I meant above – people are waiting for the post-GFC world to return to pre-GFC. When that does not happen I think people might wake up a bit…

      This effect probably worse in Aus than elsewhere. Its also why the “leverage-up” argument is so strong – people have yet to see a downside.

    • Such twaddle (apologies for aggressiveness). What action can you take? When I was 15 I was writing to ministers and MPs by 20 I was thoroughly convinced of the impotance of those acts – and after attending a couple of lab/lib/new socialiste meeting at uni I disabused of the notion I’d ever see change down that path. All I saw there were the kids everyone hated in HS convincing each other how awesome they are and how they should rule everyone. *puke*.

      Tried the courts for the next 10 years. Another waste of time. Completely corrupted and most judges/magistrates wouldn’t know the law from a golf club!

      Only action one can take is build up FU capital and ignore the boomers. Turning off MSM is a great start.

    • There is a lot of whinging but thats fair enough. Solutions have been offered. I suspect some people just don’t like the solutions.

      Eg. increase inflation to 4-5% and inflate away the boomers nominal assets. Quick, easy, painless.

  15. ‘The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.’


    Get to it lads.

  16. Disappointed MB, where is a blog about Schappelle Corby today ? Editorial values are dropping ! /sarcasm off.

  17. Boomers are the disease, ignoring them the solution! They are so desperate to be popular among the yunguns if we ignore them they’ll shrivel up and die.

    Personally I talk to my parents maybe twice a year. Briefly. Their property can be buried with them.

  18. The article is quite good as you’d expect from a historian. He ought tot have focused on the destructive power of the old, after all it was the pension funds with a single mandate to maxmise profits that destroyed US and UK manufacturing in the 1980s which had far reaching effects on political and macro policy.
    Those 1980s retirees were born in the 1920s. The older generation has used power structures to benefits itself over a long time

    • Pension funds are not for pensioners, they are for city banksters and their chums in the insurance companies, dito Aus super funds. To believe otherwise is to be painfully naïve. As for power structures, once again they are organised by mega rich VI’s and not a single voter is asked for an opinion, the pollies do their bidding, end of. I you believe, and I think you do that BBoomers organised todays situation then you are an idiot. if this was so then why are things not being organised today for younger people, after all you are the major voting demographic, Check out the population pyramids at Aus statistics(google it)

  19. Help! I’ve tried posting 3 times on this forum and my comment keeps disappearing into cyberspace, nowhere to be seen on this page.

  20. OK, that one worked, but when I cut and paste my comment (fortunately saved to word) why won’t it get published?

  21. notsofastMEMBER

    Not being a boomer (nor a builder), I object to this criticism of boomers as the cause of the current problems.

    John Howard was a “Builder” and he is as much responsible for the massive rise in household prices and household debt as anyone.

      • notsofastMEMBER


        Quote from that most authoritative of sources.

        “A baby boomer is a person who was born during the demographic Post–World War II baby boom between the years 1946 and 1964, according to the U.S. Census Bureau”

        Howard was born in 1939 which makes him definitely a Builder. Even Keating born in 1944 was officially a Builder.

        Putting Australia’s current problems entirely at the feet of the Boomers isn’t really historically correct.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        @not_so_fast: I stand corrected! Now I’ll remark that he was, as he always did, playing to the gallery. But thanks for the head up 🙂

  22. Having a Youth Party, won’t we just end up replacing one self-absorbed generation with a narcissistic one?

    I would be worried we just end up with a militant party along the lines of The Greens. Imagine having a party full of SHY replicas, I couldn’t think of anything worse.

  23. i’m a boomer who has been grappling with how to help my 6 children engineer a future in this tortured world .
    so this long discussion has had my undivided attention .
    I do think that it is a political party that is needed Renters and Savers . I like it .
    it needs immediate momentum….with a minimalist constitution and say 5 objectives like “increase the land supply for residential development “. ‘reduce income tax for those aged between 14 and 24’.
    you contribute the other 3 objectives .
    I dont much care who the upfront spear carriers are: Disco Stu is OK with with me and kickstartme seem fine .
    just form the party soon and I will likely support it with money and sleep better tonite.

  24. Australia needs a youth political party, an idea I’ve been toying with for a while, to threaten boomer power at the ballot box and send the feathers flying!

    DO IT!!!

    • Join us Bubbleboy! We are interested in starting a party or movement. Email nextgenparty at mail (not gmail) dot com

  25. I think its worth considering that it was in fact the post war leaders, rather than babyboomers, who delivered a more choice driven society – in the global north anyway – and that the material prosperity underpinning those societies to some extent rested on the strictures of the bretton-woods system. During their stewardship, the baby boomers have successfully inverted that compromise, I dare say the end of choice will follow shortly.

  26. boomers
    set up this country just fine what they did was and is still good
    .It is for the next generation to use their expert knowledge and do better,try not to only play the blame game and start doing something using their skills do something better if they can.
    Taking on responsibility and risk that pay off later is just good judgement,and will make some people feel uneasy seeing that they did not want to do the same with the same opportunity.
    What if I…?

  27. Anyone who seriously wants to see a party who will be the voice of our generation email us on nextgenparty at mail (not gmail) dot com. We need a voice, but we need you to help us. We need your ideas and contributions. Pass this email address to your friends and anyone else interested.

  28. One of the challenges on this issue is that the potential Satre et al of our era are being systematically shut down by a status quo that has become a new financial aristocracy.

    Assange and Snowden, two peaceful activists that were rallying a call to people to wake up to the new political and financial hegemony that sees a rather sickening pact between the political parties and the bankers and corporate sponsors, has been quietly and effectively shut down.

    The inequality in all western countries is now so extreme that we are most definitely progressing to a new form of debt feudalism.

    The opinions I have read on this (h/t Op8 and fl.) have swayed me from a simple boomer v x/y debate. Boomers have played their part in this, for sure and the financial aristocracy is a boomer aristocracy, but really there are now more losing boomers than winners.

    The real enemy is a creeping debt feudalism and corrupt party corporate cronyism that lays to waste people and the environment.

  29. It is worth reading the whole FT article, because its focus is somewhat different to the way MB presents it. The conclusion in particular has a different focus. It seems to conclude that youth are less relevant now than they were in the era of mass war. Now, machines do much of the fighting, so a ready supply of cannon fodder is unnecessary.

  30. You’re all a bunch of CRY BABIES. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with many of you and everyone has valid points of view, but you all CRY ABOUT CHANGE and what are you doing about it. Sitting at your PC, nameless, faceless and taking absolutely no responsiblility for putting your thoughts into other users heads.

    EXCEPT ONE, AZREAL. This user is trying to make change by toying with the idea of starting a youth party. Personaly i think it’s little too late. By the time a new party has any power in this country, we’ll all be speaking Chinese.

    If you really want to make change, PROTESTING is how you make change. It’s how the BABY BOOMERS did it, and it’s how YOU CAN DO IT TODAY.

    Shut down your PC’s.
    Get off your arses.
    Show your faces.
    Sound your voices.
    Get out into the streets.
    Block the pollies access to their offices
    Close down the cities.

    Or is everyone too chicken s$%t to do so and perpetuate the stereo type that the pollies in government already know:

    “The Australia people are stupid voters. They vote how we tell me to vote and have absolutley no idea about our policies. But that’s ok for us because Generations X, Y and Z are lazy to do anything about it”