As a baby boomer, it’s hard not to be defensive when you read this article. If you own a house in a big city, you are likely to be comfortable but there are many boomers who are surviving on the poverty line – either trying to get a job or scraping by on the pension. And Gen X are not showing much empathy for them.
The comments that appeared in the SMH following this article frankly demonstrated the chasm between generations.
This article was written by Tony Walker who writes on politics, North America and the Middle East. He was formerly the Australian Financial Review’s international editor.
“OK Boomer!” Let me rise on behalf of my own baby boomer generation, not in disapproval of our X, Y and Z children but in their support.
The “OK Boomer!” meme, popularised in the United States on social media and amplified across the Tasman by a young New Zealand MP to ridicule an entitled cohort, has sliced through generations to expose a widening disconnect between age brackets.
In Australia, the “OK Boomer” meme might just as easily be applied to growing tax-advantaged wealth disparities. My own Gen Y daughter has been going on about this for years, to which my response has been to accuse her, in jest, of “generational envy”.
After all, didn’t we Baby Boomers have our own generation gap in the 1960s, more pronounced than the one now, as we fought our battles with our “silent generation” parents? Didn’t we shift the country on its axis – and for the better – in the Vietnam era? And, by the way, didn’t Baby Boomers such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs create the software and hardware for the communications revolution to which Millennials are addicted?
All of this is true, but as the most privileged generation – with the caveat that many, many Baby Boomers born between 1946-1964 have fallen through the cracks – we have to admit that Millennials and their successor generation (known as Gen Z) have a point.
A lucky generation in a lucky country in danger of scorching its dumb luck has had bestowed on itself the sort of once-in-a-hundred-year windfall that is unlikely to be repeated in all our lifetimes, Millennials included.
The housing boom is the Baby Boomer Klondike. I’m talking about a period of supercharged wealth accumulation that has produced the sort of intergenerational-riches bulge that has distorted the benefits of a record-setting economic expansion to the advantage of one generation and the disadvantage of others. You would be hard put to argue that, if not intergenerational theft, this was not an intergenerational provocation driven by the most favourable giveaway tax regime for an entitled generation in the Western world.
In other words: Generation X, born between 1965-1980; Y, 1981-1996; the so-called Millennials; and Z, 1997 onwards, have a rather large point in their criticisms of a protected Baby Boomer species.