Thursday, 21 January 2010

Social comment on the noughties.....

I know there have been a lot of TV programmes recently summing up the noughties in many and varied ways but I caught a bit of one the other night that gave me some food for thought....

The main things that jumped out at me were:

1) The financial generation gap
I have always realised that the over 50s and under 30s financial gap was pretty huge and I even remember hearing that 80% of finance is owned by the over 50s but this programme worded it in a way that hit hard. In fact the one question, 'why aren't young people making more of a fuss?' jolted me!

While the over 50s are cashing in on property that they own outright (as it probably cost them just a four or five figure sum) and receiving pensions that have actually worked to fund relatively deluxe lifestyles, the younger generations are not only having to get seriously in debt for a university education (a great lesson in being used to debt so early on in life!!!), they are having to couple up and both work to manage their huge mortgages on tiny houses and are delaying having kids to ensure career progression and financial capability to be able to fund childcare and said mortgages.

This is a social inequality trend that people appear to have just accepted. It's having quite significant impact on the lifestyles of young people. For example, very few young parents can afford to stay at home full time. I can hear my mother moaning about the damage done to kids by not having a parent at home with the children when in reality it's simply a luxury few young people can afford. It also makes sense that because of the fraction of finance young people have to dedicate to education and house buying, that they will never make the progression to the lifestyle of the current over 50s.

Those young people lucky enough to have parents that can 'help them out' might be OK but the vast majority are living a lifestyle and budget the over 50s would really struggle with. Can this ever be redressed?

2) The mosquito - the machine that makes a high pitched noise that the over 20s cannot hear but the under 20s find incredibly irritating.

I had heard of this but thought it was an urban myth! About 4000 were sold. Wow - how come this was not understood to be an infringement of human rights? Is it because we don't let our young people have much of a voice?

How have young people become quite so demonised - to the point where some people want to irritate them away with a terrible noise - like vermin? Surely the vast majority are wonderful, vibrant, things with far more sense than I had at their age (or even now come to that). What an injustice and ill treatment of human beings.

3) Age segregation in the UK
London has become younger.
Former traditional retirement places are now for the over 70s and 80s
People are retiring to different places now e.g. Lincolnshire, Wales, Cheltenham
With different areas tending to having predominant age groups what social change will this cause? The generations don't tend to mix too well in the UK as it is.

4) Re-marketing alcohol to young people
In the 90s, young people were our raving: popping pills and not drinking enough - according to the alcohol companies. Thus the production of alcopops and marketing that tapped into the rave scene e.g. we have added caffeine to our alcohol so you can buzz all night. Now alcohol is well and truly back in vogue with young people. I saw that happen - I was there. But it's only when it's summed up like that that you see what really happened!
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Every decade in the 20th century appeared to have had a distinct 'flavour' and perhaps this is only ever seen retrospectively. I do wonder how we will grow to see the noughties. Perhaps it will become seen as the decade when technology took us away from real life and generations to come will have pictures in texts books of us sitting at computers and oh how they will laugh at us!

17 comments:

  1. I caught a bit of Telly last night too, It had Vinny Jones and a load of people I didn't know in it in a house together, I spent all of the five minutes I watched it for, wondering why Vinnie Jones hadn't just murdered everyone. Then I realised it wasn't a Brit Gangster Flick, it was celebrity big brother, and then I wondered again why Vinny Jones hadn't murdered everyone.

    When the housing market crashed, I was secretly quite pleased, despite mine suddenly being worth a bit less, i thought briefly that it might give my children a chance to buy something. It concerns me that my kids, after all the persuasion from our government to stay in education as long as they can, have to foot the bill for it; being socially where I am, I can only assist a bit. How the hell on top of that debt they're supposed to buy a house is beyond me.

    We've bought them up to take advantage of their intelligence. I wonder if they will use their intelligence to emigrate to somewhere where the debt incurred are not valid, and where house prices are either affordable or where "social housing" or publicly owned rental is available for nearly all without the sink estate stigma that Thatcher thrust on what remains of our pool of housing by allowing "the individual" the right to purchase our communal housing stock at a discount, turning huge tracts of housing into ghettoised dumping grounds, where people have little sense of community and little hope of finding work or getting out.

    I think the noughties will be remembered (and hopefully derided) as the decade when Capitalism really took hold of our very souls, and with a bit of hope in my heart, it will also be remembered as the beginning of the bit where people started to realise that liberal capitalism wasn't actually working properly for anyone except the greedy, the rich and the multi-nationals, and it was from here that we actually started to examine what to do with the individuality and the rights foisted on us in the preceding five or so decades, and started to use it for the good of society, rather than to buy expensive totems which really say very little about who we are, and people in general start to realise that "celebrity" and "ownership" are pretty empty vehicles to be driving through life in on your own.

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  2. Well concerning #1, the G7 governments could bring back hyper-inflation and 'level the playing field' with this hidden tax on the old folks that aren't smart enough to hedge against this risk.

    With a currency that is becoming worth less at a quick rate, young people that are still in the workforce and adding value by producing useful stuff & services can demand higher wages.

    I kind of hope they don't hyperinflate the currencies though, because it will cause further trauma to the world markets in a time when maybe it's not a good idea to do that.

    On the USA front, I think the politicians have no other choice but to inflate the currency.
    Step 1: Idiot bankers loan funds for housing to people that will not be able to pay back, no matter what, sometimes motivated by threat of lawsuits.
    Step 2: House values rise to unsustainable levels
    Step 3: Repeat steps 1 & 2 over and over until there is a really big interconnected problem.
    Step 4 (present day): government can inflate the currency, which will punish? the idiot bankers because the people can pay back their obligations with cheaper dollars (they are inflated, remember). People can stay in their homes instead of being foreclosed on because they now demand higher salaries because of inflation. No riots in the streets (my favorite outcome of this option)...

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  3. I could so go on about this - it was also the decade when the pension system for most young people was well and truly buggered. And in the long term that's a bigger issue than housing.

    What drove all this?

    My experinece of dealing with politicians is that it was a decade when political expediency came to dominate - all that matters is getting re-elected rather than doing what is RIGHT. Any idiot could see the spiraling housing market was going to cause an enormous social problem but politicians were happy about the short term gains: it boosted our GDP (falsely), it led to feelgood factor, it meant they stayed in power...

    But even now, after the crash, we British are still obsessed with housing. What I don't understand is why we don't do the maths - or perhaps I do understand; it's just that doing it is uncomfortable.

    Here's an example of what I mean. My house has increased in value three fold since 1995. I've made a fortune - fantstic isn't it! Except I have 3 sons who also need to live somewhere at some point. If I do the maths on what we will pay as a family the figures are not so good - in fact they are horrible.

    If we look at the UK population in terms of it being a big family we might get a sense of what the housing boom is really going to cost us.

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  4. Fantastic food for thought...

    I think the noughties will be remembered (and hopefully derided) as the decade when Capitalism really took hold of our very souls, and with a bit of hope in my heart, it will also be remembered as the beginning of the bit where people started to realise that liberal capitalism wasn't actually working properly for anyone except the greedy, the rich and the multi-nationals, and it was from here that we actually started to examine what to do with the individuality and the rights foisted on us in the preceding five or so decades, and started to use it for the good of society, rather than to buy expensive totems which really say very little about who we are, and people in general start to realise that "celebrity" and "ownership" are pretty empty vehicles to be driving through life in on your own.

    MADE ME WELL UP

    NICK STONE for PRIME MINISTER...problem is ideallism and politics - sadly no longer appear to go together. Power does corrupt.

    Mark - the 'family' idea is a great analogy...helps explain it in wonderfully simple terms and helps people understand a need to move from 'I'm alright Jack' towards some social responsibility - which surely we are finally ready for???? I have always thought that a benign dictatorship followed by assassination would work better because we are too many.... The voting masses appear to be forming their ideas through what the media dishes out to them....so the goal of being re-elected therefore appears to be about pleasing 'small minds' and making everyone believe their individual circumstances will be protected or improved - not about a long-lasting benefical vision for all.

    Eric: Inflating the currency will iron the huge inequalities out in effect...I can see that....I would guess it could cause unpredictable repercussions....as you say. Will ponder on that.

    You're all sort of talking about a greater collective 'social consciouness' and a re-adjustment of individualism as it is currently perceived. Time for development of individuals that's something quite different from acquisition and misuse of power over others perhaps.

    Found myself a delightful corner to revel in. Thank you. REALLY enjoyed that.

    I might have more to say after I have eaten!

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  5. Had a great discussion with my chap while I was washing up. It rambled round the houses and one of the points we arrived at was about population growth - as one of the key problems we face in the future. Apparently David Attenborough said that the best way to prevent women reproducing again and again is to educate them (not about contraception - just make them an educated being). In fact education would have a key role in any major societal shifts. Let's face it we haven't done too well so far...some mindsets need to change. A movement towards a truly collective responsibility towards humankind and its future......steady.... one idealistic step too far...sorry getting carried away.

    The other thing we discussed was how in different societies 'the individual' is defined.I am going to make some sweeping generalisations and in case anyone pulls me up - I accept there are always exceptions. Obviously in the western world, it's all about 'me'. In Japan, individualism is frowned upon. In India people view themselves as part of a greater spiritual existence - (all is one and one is all type thing) and Native Americans see themselves SO much part of their community and in no way separate from it, they way they speak reflects this.

    Thatcher huh!

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  6. Flippant comments also welcome.....

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  7. I belong in the 50s. (Is that flippant enough?)

    All I can manage today!

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  8. 'The generations don't tend to mix too well in the UK as it is.'

    They do in the USA, why one of the partners in a firm I know is 67 years old and has a 22 year old girlfriend.

    (flippant?)

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  9. Is that girl friend who is 22 or he's had a girlfriend for 22 years!

    I presume the former!

    Flippant?

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  10. I'm sorry I miss some posts - I just can't keep up with you.

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  11. Hah, it's a wallet so large that it allows him to travel back in time 40 years.

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  12. In the words of Mrs Merton: "What first attracted you to short, balding millionaire Paul Daniels?"

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  13. Yes - nicely delivered flippancy. One can think too hard you know.

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  14. Molly, sorry I missed this post. Glad I'm not the only one standing up for the yoof of today!

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