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Sleepless in Fulham: Rambling and gambling by David Young
Saturday, 13 September 2008
The Golden Age fallacy.
Topic: Misc.

I've been arguing with idiots again. I'd really cut down on this, since I gave up reading the Hendon Mob and Gutshot forums a couple of years ago, but I got drawn in again on the AOL comments section today. If you think that the people who write on the BBC's 'Have your say' page are morons (and I do) then wait until you've read the comments on AOL stories. On a recent piece about immigration, someone actually wrote 'Bring back Enoch Powell'. I kid you not. This sort of thing is so commonly parodied that you forget that such idiocy still exists.

I got involved on AOL today after reading a story about rural house prices and seeing some old git giving it the 'In my day blah blah blah' crap. Apparently in the past people saved for housing. Well I never. Anyway, after reading how young people are supposed to 'SACRIFICE!' I said:

"I love it when people who bought houses when they were at low multiples of average earnings start lecturing those of us born later to 'sacrifice'."

I went on to say that I wasn't wanting anything to be given to the young, just a more liberal planning regime. I won't bore regular readers of this site with any more detail; you know the score. Anyway, at the end I said: "The baby-boomer generation is perhaps the most selfish in history". There are clearly a lot of people around who don't know what the term 'baby-boomer' means because the next comment I got back from Mr "SACRIFICE!" was to tell me that I should be grateful to them for winning two world wars. LOL. Anyway, when I went on to explain what I was really addressing the generation born after that, I got taken to task by someone called 'Baby Boomer' who said, among other things:

"WE Sir, are the children of heroes. When we were at school in the 50's and 60's we were taught by heroes (in my case by a decorated ex-RAF officer with a DSO and DFC and two bars from The Battle of Britain in 1940) We looked up to these people because they had something to say...and we listened . In fact we we are the last generation that got told to "sit down shut up and listen" and (without wailing or making a complaint) and we got a stiff belt around the ear if we didn't. We actually went to school in school uniform because that was just the way it was. We also went there to LEARN and NOT to " take on" the system like some barrack room lawyer or to "know our rights" over the wearing of inappropriate clothes, religious head dresses, make up and jewellery."

I don't know when kids stopped wearing school uniforms. They still do where I live, but it's the stuff about respecting the older people that sounds false to me. I'd love to think it was true but I suspect there's a huge element of selective memory here and to present my rebuttal, I'd like to call four witnesses to the court. Their names are John, Paul, George and Ringo.


Watch how these four young men, born between 1940 and 1943 (slightly older than the textbook boomers) treat Paul's grandfather; not a lot of respect for the older generation there. Later there's this classic exchange with a war veteran at around 4 mins 50 seconds into the clip:

Johnson: 'I fought the war for your sort.'

Ringo: 'Bet you're sorry you won.'

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

UPDATE: Note that John Lennon clearly 'snorts coke' at 2 mins 26 seconds. Later we see Paul and John, then in their twenties, harassing teenage schoolgirls. Ringo is shown smoking. Fat chance you'd see any of that in an S Club 7 film today.

_ DY at 8:08 PM BST
Updated: Saturday, 13 September 2008 8:32 PM BST
Post Comment | View Comments (3) | Permalink

Sunday, 14 September 2008 - 8:37 AM BST

Name: "anonymous"

And the moral of this story? Ah, but you don't have any morals.

You want all that the employed world has to offer but are not willing to do any actual work to get it.

If anyone sounds like a moron whilst typing guff on the internet then it's you.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008 - 11:42 AM BST

Name: "Yaffle"

All the undoubted idiocy aside, I can see the original point. I read an article the other day complaining that 'most mortgage lenders are now demanding a downpayment of 5% or more', as if this was outrageous. But even with prices as they are, many people can get that much together with a few years of saving. Several of my friends spent years dropping stupendous amounts in bars and restaurants and on holidays before taking out 100% mortgages (interest only of course).

When I became a first time buyer, a few friends were buying their second property at the same time. I remember working out what I could afford and finding that it was more than what any of my friends said they could stretch to, even though some were earning nearly double my salary! I'm hardly teetotal and I thought I could hold my own when it came to wasting money, but it transpired that unbeknownst to me I simply wasn't being invited when they went out to really burn the cash - on cocktails and suchlike - because they knew I couldn't afford it and 'didn't want to make me feel bad'.

Despite their high salaries, many of my friends also manage credit card debts going into the tens of thousands. They work hard and deserve to have a good time when they can, but the baseline lifestyle expectations of a young professional in London today are unsustainable.

Unsustainable, that is, without sacrifices. I'm talking about a group of ten 34 year-olds. We have one child between us...

Also, do you think your views on the planning regime still hold now that housebuilders are mothballing their land banks? At the moment people don't want to use they capacity they have let alone apply for extra capacity.

Friday, 19 September 2008 - 2:55 PM BST

Name: "David Young"

To 'anonymous'.

I thought the point I made was fairly clear - the fallacy of the golden age, 'nostalgia ain't what it used to be' etc. The Beatles clip shows that not everyone in the sixties was as deferential as 'Baby Boomer' suggests. People didn't storm out of the cinema in disgust during A Hard Day's Night. The Beatles didn't suffer any loss of popularity for their display of insolence towards the older generation. Viewers laughed.

Speaking as someone who lives within his means (not been on a plane for a year now, never buy designer label clothes, plenty in the bank, etc.) I would like to agree with Mr Sacrifice. But I can't do it when it comes to the property market because when the ratio of average house prices to average earnings is at historic highs, sacrifice isn't enough. In fact, as far as people's other expenditure is concerned, it could work in the other direction. If young people work out that no matter how much they scrimp and save, they'll never get their own home, then they might as well splash out on foreign holidays and boozy weekends. It won't affect their home-buying chances one bit. If prices come down into reach, young people will have an incentive to make sacrifices. There's also another biological point - women's fertility. Most women would like to have a place of their own before starting a family, but today this can mean waiting until mid-thirties. There are far greater risks to older mothers.

I get annoyed with people like Mr Sacrifice because they don't take into account demography. They saved up at a time when they didn't have debts when they left university and got homes for 3.5 times average earnings. The dependency ratio was totally different as well. People did not live as long, so there weren't millions of pensioners living until their 80s and 90s to be paid for by taxes on those in work. It's worth noting that this year the number of pensioners exceeded the number of under 16s for the first time ever. This spells real trouble. People who are young today won't be retiring at the same age as today's pensioners. We'll be working long after Mr Sacrifice crossed the finish line.


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