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?”