Historian claims the dice are loaded in favour of baby boomers

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An Oxford professor and famed historian has stirred the fires of an intergenerational war by claiming the dice are loaded in favour of baby boomers.

Speaking in Knight Frank’s The Wealth Report 2018, historian at Oxford and Stanford Professor Niall Ferguson said that the battle between the generations was “the central problem of our time”.

“In 2001, I published a book called The Cash Nexus, and in it I predicted that the politics of the future would be about generational conflict, not class conflict,” Prof Ferguson said.

“Well, we’re here now. But most of us don’t really have the vocabulary to adapt, because we’re still used to thinking in terms of class, or percentiles: the 1 per cent against everybody else. That’s all anachronistic. The real issue now is, who pays? Is it going to be granddad, dad or the kid?

“This is an extraordinarily difficult question in political economy, because it’s about generational imbalances. Right now, the dice are loaded in favour of the baby-boomers, people like me who were born in the two decades after the end of the second world war, and they’re loaded against newborns, kids and the unborn.

“This is a striking pathology of modern times, this breach of contract between the generations. It’s very hard to fix because the unborn and kids don’t get to vote and the elderly now tend to stick around long after retirement age, and they vote in rather large numbers.”

Prof Ferguson explains that the best way to avoid problems was to try and iron out the inequities before they became too pronounced.

“The solution is clearly to try to strike a balance between the interests of the generations, but that must involve some elements of increased taxation, and some elements of welfare reform,” he explains. “Those are two difficult things.”

Opinion: Beware false claims of an intergenerational war

Professor Niall Ferguson is the latest in a long line of commentators keen to talk up the possibility of a looming intergenerational war.

These discussions always fall along the same lines. Whoever makes the claim is happy to lump all baby boomers into the equation together, as though all people over the age of 50 are all the same.

This is simply not true. The YourLifeChoices Retirement Affordability Index™ breaks down retirees into six different tribes to offer better insight to the retirement experience. These six tribes, defined by household (couple or single), home ownership (own home or renting) and primary source of income (private or Age Pension) offer a really helpful guide when discussing retirees.

The most recent YourLifeChoices survey on retirement income and financial literacy has so far gathered nearly 3000 responses, and of those nearly 40 per cent claimed the Age Pension was their largest source of income.

Prof Ferguson’s claims that the dice are stacked in favour of baby boomers simply don’t add up.

Most Baby Boomers have not benefitted from decades of superannuation that will ultimately benefit Gen X and Gen Y. Most are entirely underfunded for the long years in retirement.

The YourLifeChoices research also shows that those on an Age Pension who are renters (at least 10 per cent of retirees) are doing it tough. They are spending about a third of their income on rising rental costs and cutting back on health services and social activities to live within their limited means.

Those on a pension living in their own homes are barely covering costs, but are able to afford the occasional meal out. This does not paint a picture of retirees living large at the expense of younger generations.

The divide – as it has always been – is between the haves and the have nots.

Labor’s $59 billion tax plan, which we reported on yesterday at least attempts to address this imbalance between the haves and the have nots.

The policy aims to target those wealthy Australians who own shares, roughly 200,000 of the wealthiest retirees, rather than trying the more simplistic approach of cracking down on the Age Pension.

It would be great if more of the policy discussion could look at addressing the real divide, rather than beating up a fake intergenerational war.

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Written by Ben

70 Comments

Total Comments: 70
  1. 0
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    What an utter load of BS – I never got one thing I didn’t work damned hard for – up to eighteen or more hours a day at times. I doubt most of the young whine and dine generations could survive it.

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      If the ‘dice are loaded’ they were loaded with hard work and often far lower living conditions, and a hell of a lot fewer trips to Majorca (from Britain) etc.

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      Did he also mention that the dice are loaded in favour of overpaid, under-worked, and under capable academics full of sh!t?

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      Agree Trebor. The current lot only understand spending, lifestyle and complaining about what they do not have. If they learned about hard work, saving and going without they too would prosper. A few do.

      I have little time for academics who so not live in the real world and trot out this sort of BS as fact.

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      agree , Trebor . and the local academics in Australian Universities receive 17 % of their salary from their employer mostly State Government funded , while the rest of us receive around 9 1/2 % , they are a protected species and overpaid for not knowing much at all or a lot less than they think

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      Of course the dice is loaded towards the Baby Boomers. They inherited from the previous generation, they have the benefit of 40/50 years of asset gathering. When the BB’s cash out, their children will inherit the assets, and then they will be in the firing line for successive generations.

      Damn those Millenniums, Gen X, etc. They are the greedy animals who have stuffed up the generations yet to be born.

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      I agree a load of BS…we grew up after the war…no one had any money…anything I have I worked bloody hard for, no smashed avos or coffee on the way to work, eating out so many nights a week.

      I am sick to death of this crap about baby boomers . Where are these big inheritances they are talking about….my father was away at the war for 5 years and my mother did not work. When he came home he worked his butt off….all holidays if we had them were not that far from home…no overseas trips as you see families doing these days…

      He worked hard and saved hard and good on him and I did the same.

      The darn academics make me sick, sick, sick

  2. 0
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    Trebor, add to that list Federal,State and Local Govt politicians

    • 0
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      Sadly – how true. I just posted on the other strand about pension rise, that each politician costs us $2.5M or so a year on average – that is their effective salary and 92% of that is tax free benefits.

      Nobody else gets full found to go to work, unless they are a robber baron.

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      That’s over 100 times more than a single pensioner gets.

      Are they worth it? I say NO!

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      This Professor guy – has his credentials been verified or is he a fake? He clearly doesn’t have grasp of history like many here, such as Trebir & Rainey, have. Is he qualified for Age Pension – part or full? If not, e doesn’t understand either history or the current – the fifth meanest country in the OECD!

      The class warfare is and should be between normal people and Politicians – yes, that entitled class of leeches who have arranged undeserved, special pensions & perks for themselves far in excess of anything others can get. TURF THEM ALL OUT! TURF THEM OUT! (Class Warfare started!!!)

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      Find the Independents in your electorate and advise them they have your vote, but for that they must be the catalyst for the changes to Pollies Perks. the 2 Major Parties MUST BE TAKEN DOWN.
      If the Independent runs with the rats, it’ll only be for one term.

  3. 0
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    The younger generation want everything handed to them. The older generation had to go without to make ends meet and to provide for their families. We had no money when we were young either but we did not live on credit plus the interest that goes with credit, and we did not spend money we did not have. For instance, when my neighbour and I wanted just to knit a jumper we laybyed the wool and purchased a ball at a time. Can you see any young person doing something like that to stay out of debt? We also settled for a very modest first home and used public transport until we had enough equity in our home to improve our lifestyle. On tv the other night a 19 year old make bought his first home by saving every cent he could. He did not buy a new 4 bedroom 3 bathroom etc. It just shows that if you are willing to save and sacrifice a bit you can achieve ANYTHING even if you are young.

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      “The younger generation want everything handed to them.”

      Yes well that’s because up to now they have had it all handed to them. so they know no different. They have not seen a recession, they have not seen the struggle of the previous generation to get to where they are today. They have never been told ‘no’, they have not been allowed to ‘fail’, and they have been cosetted and pampered from birth. As a result we have a whole generation of indulged, entitled snowflakes with no resilience and no sense of personal responsibility.

      I am sure there are many other examples of that 19 year old you mention Priscilla, sadly I fear they will be made to pay for all those others who are too precious to do the same.

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      Unfortunately we, as parents, failed our children in some ways by being too lenient – and I can only thank my lucky stars that both my offspring had parents with a massive work ethic, which they’ve inherited,along with some brains.

      My son is a tradie and works hard, and my daughter makes movies…. like her mother… a long day every day sometimes.

      They learn more from the way their parents act than the things they say, and it seems more than they get from schooling these days.. schooling in their ‘rights’ and so forth.

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      Unfortunately I think they will have to learn the hard way through experience.
      Some of us learned by listening to the elders tales and working a couple of jobs, living within our means and saving diligently.

      Some young people have listened and learned and will get ahead too.

      They will also have the less successful looking enviously at the saving pools built over decades of postponing indulgences and needs based spending.

  4. 0
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    I happen to be of the generation before the Baby Boomers, the Silent Generation, and we do a great job at hiding from the experts who want to bash different groups. There is one comment I’d like to make and that is the ridiculous claim that Baby Boomers got free university education and their university was paid for by the government. This is totally incorrect. The system back then was that anyone who attended university paid for the privilege. There were scholarships which were earned by students who excelled in particular subjects or the overall final high school examination. These scholarships paid for the university courses with a little bit left over for books etc. The scholarships were also blind in the respect that they were granted on results only and paid no attention to race, colour, creed or affluence.

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      It was free for the late baby boomers during the Whitlam era. But no – you are quite correct.
      That’s why most girls either became teachers or nurses.
      Nurses were given residency at the teaching hospitals and teachers got scholarships. – We couldn’t have the girls costing parents money now could we! ..and that was the generation before the baby boomers.

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      Nurses had to pay board for their bed & meals. No free ride. I know because I was one of those nurses.

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      Know what you mean, OM – I finished full year high school at fifteen and a half, but had to go work in industry. Only the rich kids in the family got to go to university, or you could get a scholarship that would pay your fees and books but not feed and house you – for that you needed family which I did not have.

      I was supposed to be one of those bright med school boys… hard to do without any ‘network’ to support you. The Army fed me better at age 17 and even gave me shoes and clean clothes

      I don’t think people truly understand or grasp the reality for many ‘baby boomers’, which I fit into.

      I think that ran from 1946 to about 1960 or so… not sure.

      Ah – here we go:-

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_boomers

      “Jump to Definition – In the U.S., the generation can be segmented into two broadly defined cohorts: The Leading-Edge Baby Boomers are individuals born between 1946 and 1955, those who came of age during the Vietnam War era. … The other half of the generation was born between 1956 and 1964.”

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      Idiots who claim Baby Boomers had free uni education need a fact check. Vast numbers couldn’t even stay in school beyond age 15. Families couldn’t afford to keep kids in school to leaving or HSC level. There was no Austudy for senior secondary students back then.

  5. 0
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    Are we responsible for the younger generation demise? I don’t think so. I think you need to look to the generation just older than the baby boomers. The one between our WW2 parents and the baby boomers.
    That generation:
    Invented plastic,nylon, space travel, the pill, were the producers behind the rock and roll era, were the founders of mass production and the list goes on.
    Without the pill we would not have had 2.3 children, women would have remained out of the work force, one salary would have been enough to buy a home and limited excess wealth.
    Instead both parents work, they have a large home and investment property and the increased wealth from double incomes has forced up the property market damaging the potential for the younger generation to buy into the market. The generation before initiated the private funded superannuation schemes as opposed to a regular retirement scheme that has really caused a huge potential problem.
    So Knight Frank – blame your father – not my children’s father!

    • 0
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      “In 1944, eighteen year olds jumped out of aircraft and landed on hostile beaches to confront the enemy… in 2018 they need ‘safe rooms’ and ‘safe houses’ since words can hurt.”

    • 0
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      Trebor, Trebor, twisting the knife in the chest of our pampered younger generations. It is not their fault that they know nothing of the suffering and sacrifices of earlier generations.

      Computer games teach them that you can be killed and re-boot and you magically reanimated and continue on with your merry unawareness.

      Whose fault, not really theirs, but their parents who have never known privations.

  6. 0
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    I find it amusing that those who doth protest overmuch about how easy the baby boomers had it and how they are ruining the housing market for the Gen X Y and others are the ones who will ultimately benefit from those investments as inheritances. No wonder so many baby boomers wish to have a life now, rather than leave everything to some very ungrateful brats who demand everything now without having to put the blood sweat and tears into it previous generations had to.

  7. 0
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    What big load of BS. No validity. No reliability. The good professor is just as detached from reality as Bill Shorten and his Communist Union mates.
    What would the corrupt politicians/government do if all of the self funded retirees drew all of their super down, spent it, and went on the pension? The likes of Shorten, Morrison, and Hockey before would not have any basis for attacking self funded retirees who have worked hard and sacrificed to save for their retirement.

    • 0
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      Yep. But its always good to create an us and them division. Ask Hitler and Charlemagne.

    • 0
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      It’s called ‘expanding the frontiers of knowledge’ and will earn you a Ph.D in Utter Nonsense – all you need to do is find a nice little sinecure to ‘study’ and ‘research’ social issues such as the baby boomers and the changes THEY wrought for their offspring and future generations, cast it as some kind of conflict between the old and the young -the alleged ‘haves’ and the ‘deprived of opportunity’ sets – and off you go.

      Income for life lecturing brain-dead idiots about what is arrant nonsense, and publishing books and having those used as texts for students, and holding a research professorship with funding that requires a fine living for yourself, including several ‘research trips’ to foreign lands every year or so.

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      There is an Us and Them – they’re hitting Pearl Harbour as we speak… this is no drill……………….

      Same as dick-weeds in a QANTAS chorus who ‘feel’ ‘offended’ by the use of everyday terms – it is THEY doing the attacking – not the ordinary folk going about their business.

      It’s an old sheila’s trick – find some silly ‘issue’ to start a war over, then blame the other person for it all….. and get the government to beat him up to enforce your right to start that war.

      Crazy…. just crazy.

    • 0
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      yes I agree Baby Huey they are Communists or is it politically incorrect to call them that , stuff them and the Greens who are worst . They will take your house and car and everything in them

    • 0
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      There is a whole bunch of Fascists coming out of closets now as well fred. Very trying times.

      The young will willingly welcome in the Corporate State and Globalisation, as they have been taught, and when the consequences hit blame the baby boomers.

      You can see it happening right now all over the world.

  8. 0
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    Politicians And the like are taking advantage of x and y gens overdeveloped sense of entitlement to try to reduce what little support we get. It’s working. They want to raid our super and this is their excuse. They are too stupid to realise that what changes are made for us will be waiting for them when they retire.

  9. 0
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    I’me with you Pennweaver, what a load of blah blah blah!

  10. 0
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    I am a baby boomer who started work at 13 1/2 while at high school and continued working and studying until a couple of years ago when I developed a chronic health condition. Despite now being on the DSP, I still do the administration and small, light tasks for the family farm, 7 days a week. When I got married at 19, we were given hand-me-down furniture and fittings and baby clothes and equipment from parents and friends. I bought my first brand new, small car when I was 50+. I only qualified for superannuation about 20 years ago, so the sum available to me is much less than I require according to economists to live an ordinary life. I’ve had to work very hard for everything I have. Now because I live on a non-productive 160-acre farm, Centrelink deems 155 acres of that an asset, leaving just 5 acres and an old farm house as my principal place of residence and a much reduced pension. I see my children going on overseas holidays, buying big, expensive homes and the best of electronics and furniture, and driving good quality cars. They will have superannuation for their whole working life to set them up for retirement. My grandchildren are given the latest phones and electronic gadgets and are seasoned travellers. The adult children have told my husband and I that they will not help us on the farm, which ultimately they will benefit from on our demise….unless we sell it and have a grand old time spending all the proceeds!

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      Sell up and have that ‘grand old time’ ceejay. Clearly the younger members of your family don’t want or need it.

    • 0
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      Have you looked into subdividing off the 155 acres for sale just keeping the 5 acres and house or leasing the 155 acres to another farmer for a bit of income.

      By selling and buying a large block and house in town you could then have the latest things yourself, pay for some extra home help and have a grand time while you still can.

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