NewsWhat Have the Oldies Ever Done for Us?

What Have the Oldies Ever Done for Us?

Intergenerational conflict has always been with us and oldies have been complaining about the young as far as back as Aristotle in the 4th century BC.

His wise words: “[Young people] are high-minded because they have not yet been humbled by life, nor have they experienced the force of circumstance. They think they know everything and are always quite sure about it.”

I was reminded of the philosopher’s sage sayings this week by the following:

First, there was an extraordinary blast at Baby Boomers by a demographer who claimed that Baby Boomers are: “…the greediest generation in Australian history: self-satisfied with wealth, loath to pay taxes…”

Second, retirees were fighting back at the Labor’s proposal to cut the tax break on franking credits, claiming it “mainly benefits millionaires” with a picture of a balding and grey-haired man at the event in Sydney illustrating the division.

To many older Australians his placard saying “Keep your hands off our savings” sums up what older Aussies might see as a blatant cash grab which targets many who are in no way the super-rich.

If Kim Johnstone’s vision of the aggrieved millennial generation is even half right, in her words, they see it’s all about “…the perpetuation of tax rorts for wealthy property owners and their self-managed shareholdings.”

Her piece in The Sydney Morning Herald should be required reading for those seeking to counter arguments which aim to blame, guilt-trip and demonise those lucky enough to belong to a certain generation.

The boldest claim is that younger voters will end the tax subsidies given for concessional super and negative gearing and “…if your hair is grey, you’ve already lost the argument.”

Economic and demographic change has turned the tables and now the argument between parents and children isn’t about the rights or wrongs of long hair, loud music, sex and drugs.

Boomers may have coped this growing up in the Sixties but now it’s more around what would have seemed far more boring issues, at least when I was younger, around jobs, education, housing even horror of horror tax and retirement incomes.

Maybe this is more of a “Phoney War”, a term for the lowkey hostilities in the first eight months of WW2, which it’s hoped will not escalate beyond angry words and posturing.

But others may fear millennials and others will scapegoat the Baby Boomers for enjoying everything from free uni education to clean town water and fattening themselves up in a time of plenty while they messed up the environment.

Aristotle might have been a Greek, but he must be laughing from Mount Olympus at hearing this latest twist on the chant made famous by Monty Python: “What have the Romans ever done for us?”


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Patricia from QLD commented:

What have the Oldies done for us, well just set you up for a life we never had. Young people are just so smug and arrogant, think they know everything, then ask can you help out I cant pay my overused mobile phone bill. Yes you young ones, I grew up having to save first, shock horror, then buy the item I wanted. I know the value of money and now as a 72 year old I am still working part=time because I want to and I sacrifice my aged pension, which is ok because I think you young ones are going to need it if you continue on your present path. The thing that upsets me the most is the lack of respect that is noticeable now, I find that offensive and I wont stand for it. If you dont like it then find someone else to help pay your bills because you cant do it yourself. I fear for the following generations they cant cope and who do they blame, certainly not themselves as they KNOW everything. End of story. 

Robert from NSW commented:

Kim Johnstone is obviously a millenial - you know - the ME ME ME generation. Enjoying the benefits of our hard work over the past 50 odd years, but whinging because we worked hard, did without, and saved for a rainy day. Don't mess with us old folk Kim. 

Robert from NSW commented:

The "oldies" provided this generation with examples of a way of life which generated much less personal stress : by living within your means, saving, & compromising until you could afford the things you really wanted. 

Gordon from NSW commented:

Borne early 50s & growing up in the 60/70s was absolute nirvana, likely better than any other era before or since in this great country! Our war experienced parents (often 10pound European immigrants) worked hard & expected same of us. All of us gained economic traction & a deep sense of responsibility as a consequence. Children of today seem too insulated from reality & spoiled? Inexperienced & pervasive media (social & mainstream) has confused them, where too many have no understanding of how well off they are & what the alternatives might be! Their perspective on reality & accountability has too often been lost &/or is someone else's fault. My advice to the young is to engage with your (great) grandparents while they're alive about their childhood. If you truly engage them & actively listen I guarantee your perspective on life's realities will be massively enhanced & you'll become a better person. In turn you'll be far more informed on how to run your lives, vote & look at life as a glass at least half full. Aristotle's words are so brilliantly accurate! 

ian from NSW commented:

I grew up in the 50s-60s and while at the time I never realised it at the time we were poor, but then again so were all our friends and neighbours. My father who was in the war was working 3 jobs and my brother and me very rarely seen him. But strangely enough, we were happy. We could go out and not worry about locking our doors with deadbolts and steel grilles on our windows. no air/con didn't even have a home phone. I could go on but would probably bore our hard done by younger generations who can't understand why we learnt to save our money for the future. Ian nsw 

stephen from NSW commented:

May be the younger generation dont respect the Babyboomers .but we love them the you g people are the parents had nothing in materials to leave me .they lived in housing commission housing or rented .we the baby boomers mixed at the dinner table with our parents we did not detach ourselves .i could fill a book with the things i have learnt anout life kindness .loyalty .respect .appreciation . King regards Steve Wood 

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