Time to stop the boomer bashing

Boomers may be an easy target for the media to bash but it has to stop.

boxing glove punching a middle aged man in the face

A few years ago I had the privilege of interviewing social psychologist Hugh Mackay. He had just written a book titled What makes us tick? and I had asked him whether baby boomers displayed certain traits.

“They do. And they don’t,” he replied. He then went on to explain the contradictory impulses of individuals and the diverse characteristics of so-called demographic generations, namely gen x, y, z, boomers and the ‘frugals’ who preceded them.

Hugh Mackay is quite possibly one of the old opinion makers of the ‘cultural lockout', who has so incensed Richard Cooke that he has lost any semblance of logic or objectivity. “Who is Richard Cooke?” you may ask. Richard is an author who wrote the article ‘Boomer supremacy’ for The Monthly – an article, which, as someone who is firmly in the targeted age group, I found quite staggering.

What damage can be done when a single-generational focus wilfully ignores disadvantage for other generations? As if there aren’t enough societal challenges and areas of disadvantage, do we now need to pit younger people against older people to make any progress? I don’t think so. And here is why.

Baby boomers comprise 26 per cent, or 5.5 million, of Australia’s population of 24 million. Born between 1946 and 1964, they cover a spread that is more than a generation – hence the literature often refers to two cohorts: ‘leading edge’ boomers born from 1946–1955 and ‘shadow boomers’, born 1956–1965. As with all other large demographic categories, boomers are a diverse bunch: black, white, rich, poor, male, female, gay and straight. Yes, they do have some common formative experiences, including the Vietnam War, the Women’s Liberation movement, relatively low-cost higher education, times of full employment and times when a full-scale recession meant far lower employment prospects, and inflation spikes featuring interest rates of 18 per cent.

Boomers do not lock step on social policy, nor do they vote as a bloc. They do not, in fact, support the overly generous tax concessions on superannuation, with a solid majority of 66 per cent in a survey taken just before the 2015 Federal Budget, stating removal of these concessions as the number one priority.

Currently aged between 50 and 70, boomers are now moving into retirement. And here is where the s### really will hit the fan for the majority. Far from being an ‘exciting’ time to be an Australian, retirement will herald the start of very straightened circumstances for many boomers. And this is because they too have an uphill battle to retain secure work, find maintain affordable housing and secure a sustainable retirement income.

In February the Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) released a research paper entitled ‘Too old to work, too young to retire’. The title perfectly captures the plight of many older jobseekers who are caught in the wastelands between secure employment and an adequately funded retirement. According to the report’s authors, Michael McGann, Dina Bowman, Helen Kimberley and Simon Biggs, almost 250,000 mature-age Australians (aged 45+) are on unemployment benefits, as they will not qualify for an Age Pension before 65 years of age (or some), 67 (for others).

Whilst there are fewer unemployed older workers that younger ones, the time out of work before becoming re-employed is more than 12 months for 70 per cent of these mature age workers. The average time for an older worker to become re-employed is a disheartening 483 days. For all jobseekers, the average is 294 days.

Unsurprisingly, many older workers become discouraged and stop looking. Often age discrimination is the underlying problem, with ‘gendered ageism’ a growing concern, wherein women are considered ‘too old’ at a younger age than their male counterparts.

Or, as one of the BSL report’s authors, Professor Simon Biggs notes, “This research shows that it’s not just younger Australians whose lives are becoming more precarious, older Australians are also increasingly at risk in work, housing and pension insecurity and for many the party isn’t over.

Affordable housing is the second major area of concern for a growing number of older Australians, as more head into retirement carrying a mortgage that will be impossible to pay off on a restricted retirement income.

The Index of Wellbeing for Older Australians (IWOA), jointly authored by the Benevolent Society and The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM), has found that housing affordability is the single most important factor in determining older people’s welfare. At one level this should hardly come as a surprise, as, with 70 per cent of Australians on a full or part Age Pension in retirement, there is clearly insufficient income to pay off a mortgage as well as regular household expenses.

And the third major pressure on older Australians? Not enough money to pay their bills. As noted above, currently 70 per cent of retirees live on a full or part Age Pension. According to the most recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study of developed nations, Pensions at a Glance 2015, Australia ranks second last out of 33 nations when it comes to social equity, with 36 per cent of Australian pensioners living below the poverty line, defined as half the median household income. The nation which came last was Korea, at 50 per cent, and ranking just ahead of us was Mexico, at 31 per cent. The average number of pensioners living below the poverty line in all countries surveyed by the OECD is 12.6 per cent. We are also the third-meanest nation when it comes to pension outlays, spending a mere 3.5 per cent of our GDP on older people’s welfare, compared with the OECD average of 7.9 per cent. And this from the second nation in the world to introduce a universal Age Pension?

So yes, younger people are victims in a precarious job market with the ‘uberisation’ of many formerly full-time roles. But so are older Australians who thought they might work and pay taxes for 45 years and then retire on an Age Pension. But no, Age Pension age is currently moving to 67, and planned to head to 70 if Liberal policy gets a green light. Tough luck for those who can’t get a job and keep one. Longevity is now starting to look more like a curse than a triumph of medical science.

And yes, younger generations can rightly claim that they are shut out of housing affordability – but so can older people. This is part of the reason why the fastest growing cohort of homeless people is that of women aged 50 and over.

And yes, again, many older Australians probably do wish they had saved more, as they are now carrying all of the risk for their retirement income. Perhaps many also regret the money they spent on their children’s private school education and the open-door policy they maintained to help adult children to save to travel or buy a first home, severely reducing their own retirement income in the process.

So instead of assuming all boomers are avid shock-jock fans who are trying to exclude young people from the good things in life, let’s move from the Sydney-centric discussion of lockouts and consider a nation of 24 million people, of whom a very narrow band (say 20 per cent) currently benefits from legislation that encourages them to use super as an estate-planning tool and negative gearing as taxpayer funded property acquisition strategy. Rather than starting an infantile battle of the generations, let’s talk instead about the other 80 per cent who do not get a fair go. The target should never be another generation. It should be the structural inequity that causes hardship for the young, the old and those in the middle.

What do you think? Do you feel unfairly targeted as a boomer who is punishing younger generations? Or has Richard Cooke got a point that older people are trying to lock younger people out?


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    9th Mar 2016
    I think the media, government, and a few dishonest self-interest organizations have succeeded in persuading large numbers of younger Australians to believe a great elaborate myth.

    I think it's time younger Australians faced the truth: that education was NOT free and readily accessible for boomers. Vast numbers never even got to finish high school. Housing was NOT cheaper than it is today. Incomes were much lower in youth and for females, and the two-income family was a far-away dream for many, who would have been worse off with mother working because there was no child care assistance back then. The family car, clothing, and everything we bought for the house was way more expensive in terms of hours worked on average wage.

    We didn't have access to the free information that is accessbile today to help us understand the finer points of budgeting, tax and investment and to solve costly household or personal problems. Nor did most of us have access to adult education until well into middle age, when it was far too late for many of us to start over in a new career.

    Many of us had huge struggles to raise families and service mortgages, and I know many who lost homes when interest rates surged -through no fault of their own. Some never recovered from that blow.

    Things today's workers take for granted we considered luxuries and never even dreamed of having - new cars, homes with more than one bathroom and living area, back yard swimming pools, professionally landscaped gardens, regular restaurant dinners, lavish holidays. I spent my holidays working. Went 25 years with no more than 3 or 4 restaurant dinners, less than half a dozen outings to clubs etc., and not a single holiday.

    As for superannuation? What's that? Even when compulsory super was introduced, I didn't earn enough to benefit. I know boomers who got bills for the admin fees their employer-funded super didn't cover!

    And now they tell us because a corrupt government stole all the money we paid in to a retirement fund managed by the government, we shouldn't get age pensions. And a stupid government can't see that raising the retirement age t0 70 is going to cripple a nation that already has jobs for only 80% of the population. Unemployment will skyrocket further, and along with it claims for disability pensions and carer pensions, unless they cancel all those and leave the disadvantaged to simply starve to death! Crime will increase. We'll end up with civil war if the self-absorbed idiots keep telling the poor to ''eat cake'' and stop ''feeling entitled''.
    9th Mar 2016
    Hear, hear. Well said and very honestly put.
    9th Mar 2016
    Excellent points. The glorification of life in the 50's, 60's and 70's is something I've witnessed from my sons and their friends. But what they don't know was the reality - as a young woman I was told by an employer not to bother applying for a certain promotion since a man would get it. That doesn't happen now, thanks in great part to pushes by boomers, legislation is in place to prevent workplace discrimination. Divorce was not as accepted. Women stayed in bad marriages due to lack of financial means to get out. When I try to explain these things to my sons, their eyes glaze over. All they know about the 60's is how cool the old vinyl records were, and how hippy-great we all looked in those faded all photos, with our bell bottom pants and tie dyed T-shirts.
    9th Mar 2016
    Nailed it Rainey.
    9th Mar 2016
    Education was FREE when Whitlam got in and that lasted a long time. NOw we are following the US and hitting young people up for huge loans which many will not earn enough money to repay any time soon.

    I think that we are missing the wider picture in this nation. EVERYTHING (almost) has been sold off to whoever wants to pay....and I am talking about foreign buyers. So now we are left with little owned by Australians (including taxpayers) so we have to pay more with the profits going overseas, not into our own economy. WE HAVE BEEN SOLD OUT BY SUCCESSIVE GOVERNMENTS AND THEIR IDIOT ECONOMIC ADVISORS WHO COULD NOT RUN THEIR OWN HOUSEHOLDS PROFITABLY AND SENSIBLY.

    So here we are complaining about who has what and who is hard done by. As a boomer I would like to say that I never squandered the little I had early on. Now my wife and I are, whilst not rich, able to manage well. Our frugal lifestyle even allows us to travel overseas once a year.

    I would have more empathy for genYs if they did not blow their earning like they do: repetitive clubbing, pubs, venues and eating out. New cars when they do not have a razoo. Electronic gadgets laid on. I do not begrudge genYs any of the above.....until they come back at boomers and finger point. That's when the friendship ends.

    Kaye: I really do not agree with one generation being pitted against another. The media and vested interests in government have a lot to answer for. Do you not think that the anti boomer BS we have heard from governments for several years was a tactic so that the current government could try and hit retirees like they have? I think it was a set up!
    9th Mar 2016
    Well said Rainey. To put things in some sort of perspective, a Holden car (all models were all the same in the 60's) cost about 1.5 times a Bank Manager's salary. Today, a Bank Manager could buy 3.1 basic Holdens with a year's salary. Things are cheaper in some areas.

    Universities were subsidised for some Baby Boomers in that there were scholarships for the academically gifted students which meant that clever students from poorer families had a chance to gain a higher education. Rich people could still pay for their children.

    To mick I would say that Whitlam's dream of university education for all was always going to fail unless a price was placed on it. The HECS scheme appears fair because of the way repayments are scheduled after a salry or wage reaches a figure higher than the average.
    10th Mar 2016
    Old Man

    The dream of free education, free health and decent aged pensions would have been fine if Whitlam had nationalised the mines, built the gas pipeline and established a uranium industry as he planned.

    All our assets would still be owned by us as the IMF would never have been able to direct asset sales.

    Mick is right. We have been sold out by both government parties.

    The sheer fact that 36% of elderly are living in poverty is a total disgrace in a supposedly first world country.

    Mexico does better and we barely beat Korea. After a lifetime of working and paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes, charges and levies plus rates I'm disgusted by the lot of them.
    9th Mar 2016
    Pre boomers too are lumped in here if they manage to stay alive, I am sick of the misconceptions re "Free Education" the free university education period lasted about 8 years (I think) certainly less than 10, yet the nay sayers assume that ALL baby boomers had free university. Banks wouldn't lend us money to buy homes without a very substantial deposit, etc, etc.
    9th Mar 2016
    A great comment by Rainey and I have to agree with you too Placido. Free tertiary education? I would have loved to go to uni but there was no way that was going to happen because my father was a low income earner and ours was one of the single income family which was the norm back in the 50's and 60's.
    As far as banks and home loans went, after years of saving my wife and I had managed to put away about $3,000 but that still wasn't enough for one bank - which bank- all they were prepared to lend us was an equal amount. Nowhere near enough to buy a house for the family. With two little kids the only way off the rental merry go round was for me to take on two part time jobs on top of my full time job to boost the bank balance.
    9th Mar 2016
    Free university education lasted for 15 years: 1974 - 1989.
    10th Mar 2016
    It was well before my time, Mick, and I've only just retired. But even after 1974, many couldn't access free education because their parents couldn't afford to keep them at school once they reached working age. Hundreds of thousands left school at 15 or 16. Few of them ever got the chance to go back and finish school and go on to uni. They were too busy working to support families and pay tax.
    9th Mar 2016
    Well said Rainey
    9th Mar 2016
    YEP !!
    Polly Esther
    9th Mar 2016
    All of this sounds, to me, like "shrink" material.
    9th Mar 2016
    I am an aged pensioner (only just) but I am disgusted and have been for a long time, regarding the attitude of these younger generations.
    Most as you have alluded to have benefited from considerable assistance from parents to obtain educations at University etc, something most of my generation did not receive, especially if coming from poorer classes, as I did. But we did not bitch about it, we carried on, carved out a living and these younger generations benefited by that.
    Their greed and 'must have' attitudes as they grew up, have compounded the problems of the older generation as they tried stupidly, to their outrageous demands.
    Now they want to point the bone. Do they honestly think the older generation controlled market forces, we were just victims of it, as they are today.
    Get a life, generations x,y,z or whatever yo happen to be
    Happy cyclist
    9th Mar 2016
    Let's not forget who raised these people who have 'must have' attitudes. Some of the blame must be accepted by the generation which raised the spoiled brats!
    9th Mar 2016
    Good one Happy cyclist. Many boomers gave these little princes and princesses everything money could buy + an attitude of privilege. We have to take the blame for how this generation turned out, but the media and its teams of 'experts' have a lot to answer for too.
    Now the little darlings have found out that all that glitters is not gold, and they don't like it.
    9th Mar 2016
    Spot on.

    My girlfriend raised a daughter who totally disrespects her despite being spoiled rotten. If I had spoken (sworn) at my parents as she does (a woman in her 30's now) I would not have sat down for a week.

    The reason she was given everything was because "Mum" did not have it. None of us did (or very few) post war...times were tough and we were brought up to eat everything put in front of us, not to backchat our parents, teacher and others; if we did we got the strap.

    That did not happen often as we learnt very quickly to behave.
    9th Mar 2016
    I don't remember hearing any complaints when my taxes were paying for the education of the younger generations. That's how the system works; tax-payers support those to young or to old to contribute. What the "youngers" may loose sight of is that their turn will come.
    9th Mar 2016
    As it will. I'd be willing to bet that we have Estate Duties by then.
    old-age worker
    9th Mar 2016
    Even the term "Bay Boomer" implies that we lived through some sort of boom times! No, it just that lots of people had lots of kids!
    We did enjoy full employment, and cheap housing (relatively) but it was all hard work (still is!). And the housing "boom" has been caused solely by GREED. We were only allowed repayments on a bank loan of one third out NET wage. One wage only. If you couldn't afford that, then buy cheaper. When they relaxed those rules )out of pure greed) house prices shot up to the new affordability. Then they introduced the first home owners grant. That caused all house prices to shoot up to 105% of the grant. Now the banks allow two gross incomes?
    We didn't travel, didn't buy the latest gadgets, didn't even HAVE credit cards! No computers, no internet, no NEW cars. (hey an FJ Holden cost a YEAR'S average pay. Would you pay $60, - $70,000 for a new car now?)
    My first job paid me $3500 per YEAR kiddies, per year.
    But I started paying into superannuation at 18. paying the minimum and watching the market, I wont need a pension, nor will my fully-dependant wife NOR will my daughter who is also fully dependant. Oh, and my wage has always been VERY average! (Currently $68k which is the highest it's ever been)
    9th Mar 2016
    Unemployment figures might have been low but there was never FULL employment. When my now wife was laid off from her first job during her teens and before we married she was unable to find other work. Her unemployment benefit was a huge $2 a week. I can hear the screams now from people of an equivalent age if their Job Search benefit was cut back to an equivalent amount today, given the average wage now is about 6 times what it was in 1968 that would mean someone JSB would be paid $12. Yes, we had it so good back then.
    9th Mar 2016
    The housing boom likely caused by loosening of banking restrictions, fractional banking (malpractices) and THE SECOND INCOME. People had more money to pay so prices naturally went up.
    9th Mar 2016
    Remember the high interest rates; just imagine the outcry if the youngsters today had to pay 17%!
    9th Mar 2016
    Yes I went to university when fees were very low, but I was thirty before I could have a go at it. Also there was no internet to get information, students spent their time trudging between the libraries of different universities. I typed my assignments with a mechanical typewriter and had to learn to use a calculator because nobody had them at high school. People who went to university in those days were the dux of the school types and it cost parents a fair bit of money.
    Younger generation seem to lack reading and writing skills and seem overly concerned about their entitlements.
    9th Mar 2016
    I was born in '43 so I'm a bit ahead of the boomers, but still identify with them as part of a classification often called 'oldies'.

    Trouble is, life's a progression and we've worked hard and long enough to reach the stage where we are owed some time to relax. This is especially relevant for those of us whose health is beginning to falter.

    By 'relax' I mean to have freedom from worry - worry about medical care, worry about access to public transport, worry about paying ever-increasing amounts for rates, energy, fuel and even admission to national parks. Oh, and don't forget the growing cost of tollroads. We now pay $18 in tolls just to visit our grandchildren on the other side of Sydney, and more than that to just to visit the kids in the Blue Mountains.

    I don't feel at all guilty when I think about how everything out there - schools, hospitals, roads, public amenities, has been paid for out of my taxes, and the taxes of others in my demographic. Bugger those younger than me who feel I've somehow cheated them out of their entitlements. We didn't have any when we started and now we're entitled to enjoy what we've earned and what we've paid for.

    I've done what I could to provide for my retirement, which began at 72. No point in complaining about losing around 25% of my savings through the Trio Capital fraud, all by government-licensed and audited managers who turned out to be thieves. No point in wondering what happened to all the taxes and fees I've paid. I'll still make it to the finish line if I don't get screwed over by politicians responding to the current wave of 'boomer bashing' described.

    A warning to politicians of all stripes - Don't mess with the oldies! We're experienced and know more than you do, and if we get really stirred up you'll find yourselves thrown out of those cushy parliamentary offices.

    Let me live out the last ten years of so of my life without trying to extract more from me to give to someone else who didn't provide enough of their own resources. I'm not really asking for much. Just leave me alone.
    9th Mar 2016
    Well said Phil1943, we didn't get this old by being stupid. One day those in Canberra will realise that and start treating us oldies with a little more respect. I wouldn't expect that from Gen Y or Gen X, they are too self absorbed to see past the end of their nose. All a lot of them can think of is their inheritance and how they can spend it. Mum and Dad enjoying their retirement is abhorrent to them, how dare they spend the kids money, the money that mum and dad have worked for, saved, made sacrifices for.
    9th Mar 2016
    I don't find my gen Y and X kids like that at all Gra.
    They are pleased to see me spend whatever I like.

    The Gender War works both ways. We need to be careful not to put too many stereotypes on younger generations.

    Divide and conquer is a well known tool of the Elite.

    I think Phil has the right idea. We all need to ensure the politicians are a bit nervous of losing their cushy jobs if they do the wrong thing too often.

    The pension changes last year were definitely in the wrong thing basket as retrospective changes that cannot be adapted to are definitely not fair.
    9th Mar 2016
    Phil: your post is exactly why retirees need to unite and fight bad governments. Until then we are canon fodder.
    9th Mar 2016
    This is well thought out and stated.
    I have recently been thinking about this issue in terms of the current suicide numbers that the papers are putting out.
    It seems that suicide rates for women over 50 is also skyrocketing. They say they dont know why? Really I think...we have been made poor by a system that privileges white males of any age, over women of any race or class. We cant afford the next stage of life. We lose our jobs before everybody. No one seems to want to admit that women age and are working people, not ornaments in the office structure. I think this wedging setup by the conservatives causing an ageist battle sucking space out of the real issues of the day is a big problem. The more we face up to this and counter the crazy idea that pensions are given to all, are generous and set you up for life in the great house you just stumbled upon! stop ignoring the worth of people and recognising that they worked for years to get a house, having been promised that it was 'the best super any one could have', and the sacrifices they have made to bring up children in a culture that did not support children through education or medical programs and ere expensive parts of the family model. Further many recognised the opportunity they had at relatively in expensive education, noting that at that time only 5% of the youth population went into higher education, now a crippling 35% get access. That expense alone wipes much of the 'hip replacement' cheapscapes out there! Sorry this is a bigger question and we need not to defend ourselves...but rather question the wedge politic at large and the problems associated with the geneeral run down of facilites for ALL with the misplaced taxing and other issues.
    old-age worker
    9th Mar 2016
    Phil 943.
    Absolute classic.

    Vote 1 for Phil!
    9th Mar 2016
    The first thing I'd like to point out to boomer bashers is that none of us asked to be born. Our parents made the decision to have large, post-WWII families. Blame them. Secondly, my son has had a go at boomers in the past for buying up all the housing for investment, then driving up the prices so that entrants like him can't afford a house. I pointed out that when I was his age, there was no mandatory superannuation, nothing that would provide enough for us to retire on. I said that yes, my generation did turn to property investment but only because it was one of the few investment opportunities we had. We certainly didn't sit around laughing about how we were pricing our own (future) children out of the housing market - that never crossed our minds. In fact we were hoping to build a secure investment base so that we wouldn't be a burden to our children and help them get established as well.

    And help them we did. When my son and his wife did finally buy a house, it was with the help of all of their parents, who took money out of their retirement savings to gift to them. Many of my younger son's friends are driving cars gifted by parents, some who have moved out are still being subsidised by parents. Is this a sign of uncaring, selfish boomers, such as we have been labelled?

    Lastly, life was not easy for a lot of boomers. There were, quite simply, too many of us in the bulge - too many competing for university places, for jobs, for housing, and the competition follows us as we enter old age. 36% are living below the poverty level? We should hang our heads in shame instead of making strident demands to cut back on superannuation contribution levels, and to factor in things like the value of the family home when establishing eligibility for aged pensions. (That's another topic - yes, many retirees are house rich and cash poor, due to the prices in certain places skyrocketing.)
    9th Mar 2016
    A pretty good historical analysis. I wish genYs would read this...but then they may not want to know. Easier to just claim victim status!
    9th Mar 2016
    I agree with all you guys. I remember in the late 70's going and having a vasectomy(we already had one child) so we could get a home loan. In those days the wife's wages did not count as she could end up pregnant. Well the vasectomy put a stop to that and we got the loan and the house. I would like to see the younger generation doing that.
    9th Mar 2016
    I have said in other comments on here. We need to vote strategicaly sound like MKR!!. But we do. I don't believe that the Government will give us a fair go if they get elected after the DD. So we need to make our vote count - I was a LNP voter since Whitlam in 75 - but no more. I will be looking to give my vote to an independant. Or if no idependants as a last resort Labour. But the Lying Nogood Party will never see my vote again.
    9th Mar 2016
    Hear hear!
    9th Mar 2016
    Glad to see that a few of us are beginning to see the light rather than believe the propaganda.
    ex PS
    13th Mar 2016
    Jolly, like you I have voted for one party for a long time, only I voted for the ALP.
    I realised recently that the party I had supported for so many decades had changed its policies so much over the last ten years that there was litle to disquistion it from the LNP. I too have come to the conclusion that the two so called major parties are more interested in winning elections than providing services for their supporters.
    Wherever or whenever I can find a viable Independant I will vote for them.
    I know one thing and taht is that never again will I vote for the LNP who seem to only value the opinions of high fliers.
    As a group retirees need to carefully consider who has and will continue to provide government that repays them for the effort put into building and supporting this country.
    9th Mar 2016
    in my day(born47) nothing was free, I worked hard for the precious little I have....I am tired of hearing about retirees being on easy street ..getting this for free or that for free...Nothing is free somebody has had to pay for it...I paid taxes for 48 years to pay for the pittance I get for a pension and other so called benefits. We ,the boomers created immense wealth......taxes,spending,travelling,housing..etc etc ..and now we find our government telling us we have to tighten our belts even further...(mine is hard up against my spine already) ...What ever happened to the wealthy country?? Who squandered the wealth and assets?? Dont tell me I know already..its the poor,needy and pensioners "who are such a drain on our system"....Time for some drastic changes on how this country is run..methinks
    9th Mar 2016
    Well said Jurassic. It's sickening to think of how consecutive governments, both state and federal have sold this country down the drain. It's been happening for so long I think those in power have become blinded to it. From the early 20th century Australian inventors have had to go overseas with their inventions because there was no government assistance to help inventors take their ideas to marketing stage. To a large extent this is still happening and now the government stands by and watches our mineral wealth and farming lands being stolen by foreign entities. With these Free Trade deals now in place it's pretty much good buy (and yes, I meant to spell it that way) Australia.
    9th Mar 2016
    Whitlam was the last PM to actually care about the people and want to do something to set up a national wealth investment.

    I know the loan was dodgy but at $4 billion it was a very small amount to Nationalise all the mines, build the gas pipeline and establish a uranium processing industry.

    Of course if those things had happened we would now own the proceeds of the mining boom and still own the banks, ports, airports, telecoms, electricity assets etc.

    That idea must have scared someone very badly. What a terrible example to have a working mixed economy with free public education and health and a prosperous population.
    9th Mar 2016
    I still go skiing 3 or 4 times a year in Canada and Europe so no complaints there.
    9th Mar 2016
    The above is from our resident troll (Frank?). Not from me.

    Jurassicgeek: Australia has vested interests trying to push our country in the same direction as the US where 0.1% of the population own 90% of everything. Just like in Australia they cry poor all the time and want to pay less tax. A familiar chant to what we see here.

    Maybe it is about time to address the growing gap in this country rather than listen to the propaganda we hear pushing the wagon of those who have extreme excess.
    9th Mar 2016
    Well said Rainey agree entirely.
    9th Mar 2016
    Rainey has hit the nail right on the head.
    I can fully relate to all that he has stated!
    old-age worker
    9th Mar 2016
    Hands up, those who bought their lunch - at school or at work, every day?
    Macca's? Mum made my lunch when I was at school (thanks Mum!) and now, I do.
    "Go for coffee? " When did that start? "Do" lunch? really?
    I bought my house when I was about 30 years old. Saved all my working life (from 17) for the deposit. Was it cheap? Well, I COULD have bought FOUR Falcon GT's for the same money!
    9th Mar 2016
    Still don't. Never have.
    9th Mar 2016
    I agree with many of these comments. My parents could never have afforded me to go onto year 11 and 12 let alone university. With some welfare organisations now pushing for our homes to be taken into account when we apply or the pension I get rather mad. My wife worked until we started a family and then became as stay at home mum. I have worked for most of my married life of 49 years at least two jobs to buy our house and raise our family giving them as much as we could of the things that our parents could never have afforded. We never had the expensive cars that the younger ones all have to have now plus they must have two in any case the same as TV sets and all the latest gadgets. Holidays
    were spent in a tent at the local beach as we saved for the future and the "rainy day". And now because we own our own home these people want to use that against us. I just think that this is now bordering on elder abuse. We have worked all our lives and it seems for what!!! to be discriminated against? I think it is about time that the "Baby Boomers" started thinking seriously in voting as a block to make these do gooders and politicians of all colours wake up to what we have contributed to this nation.
    9th Mar 2016
    I agree with Rainey. I had to save up to be able to take my family for a counter meal at the local pub. Now that I can afford to have the restaurant meals I find that these places are full of the so called hard done by younger people. I know how hard it was when interest rates went to 18% and now all we hear about is mortgage stress when it looks like moving to 8%. I remember getting the national wage increase of $2.00 per week but 1$ of that went off the mortgage the rest was used for tax and the compulsory medical benefits that the company I worked or required any thing that was left went into the household budget. Now the plastic rules supreme for the younger ones who just keep on spending rather than pay it off. We, along with many others, only bought one thing at a time when we could either pay for it or else we may have had it on hire purchase one at a time until we paid it off. We had a concience
    9th Mar 2016
    Excellent article. A reminder to Gen X, Y & Z is timely as to why a civil society depends on inter-generational obligation such a funding old age pensions and other services for people who can no longer work.

    Some of my taxes support OAPs, and some of the taxes of the next generation will support my generation of OAPs, and so on.

    Benefits of being a baby-boomer? Free tertiary education for a 14 year period that was actually accessed by relatively few (1974 to 1988, free health care for over 15 years (1975 to early 90s), affordable housing if you were married and male.

    Benefits of being a Gen X, Y & etc? Accessible tertiary education to most, affordable housing if you are dual-income regardless of relationship, being an inheritor from baby-boomer parents.

    Drawbacks of being a baby-boomer? Got the sack if you were pregnant, paying women less for the same of similar job was legal, couldn't get a loan if you were female, no compulsory superannuation for most of their working lives - most boomers have little or none to retire on, no unfair dismissal laws until 1993, very few high-paying jobs

    Drawbacks of being a Gen X, Y & etc? Decent housing is not affordable unless you are full-time dual income, tertiary education is expensive and does not automatically lead to a well-paid job as it used to, no or little job security.

    There's more to add to the pros and cons for all generations. Both have had their and have their obstacles.

    I will add a personal gripe about gen x, y and etc, and that is a failure to accept that Boomers took (and are taking) DECADES to pay off their mortgage. Whilst housing was more affordable (looking at income to housing cost ratio as it's changed over the decades) it still takes and took years and years and years of non-stop working AND doing without a hell of of a lot of stuff to achieve this. No overseas trips, not eating out regularly, avoiding buying stuff where possible, not renovating the kitchen because it's not-quite-good-enough, buying second-hand cars and hanging on to them, sticking to the same or similar boring job year in year out as the concept of a 'career' was for the lucky few like tertiary education.
    9th Mar 2016
    One thing you overlooked Stretch is that interest rates on housing loans were routinely between 12% and 18%. Maybe hit genYs with that one when they complain about unaffordable housing. Latest look shows current rates < 5%. Life's tough!
    9th Mar 2016
    ah yes, I'd forgotten the late 80's and early nineties!
    16th Feb 2017
    I think there is some selective recall going on. It is not so simple an issue to portray boomers as represented by struggle street and entitled to their trappings of success while characterising the millenials as indulgent and hedonistic. Certainly patience was more a virtue of the boomers while the millenials have come to expect quick gratification.

    I also remember less expensive homes in real terms, high interest rates being applied to significantly smaller mortgages, banks limiting loan amounts so that repayments were less than 35% income (building societies lent more but insisted on mortgage insurance), inflation was higher so wage growth eased the mortgage pain, health and education costs were lower and the number of OAPs supported was fewer and for less time.

    The drawbacks and advantages list is good but far from ubiquitous. Many working in white collar roles or with the multinationals in the 70s and 80s had access to generous defined benefit super schemes. Boomer home loans were typically 20 to 25 years but late boomers and their climbing incomes paid them off sooner. Air travel was much rarer in those days because the real cost of air travel has tumbled faster than the loss of comfort, so we went camping etc. Eating out was was less interesting; ask yourself how often you would eat out given the choices we had back in the 60s and 70s. Careers existed for early to mid boomers when it was possible to start in an entry level role, be trained by the company and work your way up; today company loyalty is a lost concept. And if you were like me we hung on to our preloved cars because they were cheap, solid and easily maintained by home mechanics with limited skills; tried doing that with a current car?

    Don't feel sad for millenials and their HECS debt; income tax rates are now lower than those back in the day and for graduates it is more like a tax surcharge applied soon after they earn above average wages.

    It is unfair to blame intergenerational issues on the millenials as they are simply a product of the values held by the generations before them. The so-called 'frugals' from the interwar years shaped the values of the boomers. They remembered what it was like to struggle and save. The ones you should feel sorry for are the future generation for the children of the millenials.

    9th Mar 2016
    I think that Richard is Cookeing with the wrong recipe. I am not a Baby Boomer, as I was born prior to 1946, and I disagree that ANY older people are trying to lock ANY younger people out of ANYTHING - whether it's make younger people wait longer for retirement, pay more taxes, get less pension, etc, etc. If ANYONE is trying to do the aforementioned, it's the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT and it's all three of these, PLUS!! It's the government who makes these totally ridiculous rules of punishment, not older citizenry.
    9th Mar 2016
    Well said Fast Eddie, Stretch, Seadog, Old Age Worker and others. It seems we're all getting fed up, both with the criticism of our generation and with the government that keeps whittling back our old-age benefits until they're just about gone.
    Get angry, stay angry. I see Tony Windsor is running against Barnaby Joke - uh, Joyce. There's a chance for some in the Tamworth area. And if not the Libs or ALP there's always the Greens. I'm sure di Natale will rescind his support for pension cuts if he senses a large number of votes from us oldies.
    One way or another things have to change. An election could be just what we need to show our strength. We've had years to think about how to protect our backsides. Let's start applying this knowledge in preparation for the next election.
    9th Mar 2016
    Well said Rainey !

    Hard to believe the love some of the younger generation have for THEMSELVES , how they truly believe we are at a point in our lives where we are not only a burden on their society but have little or nothing to contribute....Perhaps they need look at the ages of many world leaders or contestants for high office..., Hilary aged ... .? And possibly just beginning an 8 year appointment in arguably the worlds top job .
    9th Mar 2016
    A continuation of the Anti Aged Australian comments that is in great favour these days. Have to find someone to blame and its the aged selected. Convenient for Govt to then hit aged Australians economically.
    The sooner we have some truth we can bloc vote on the better.
    9th Mar 2016
    I have suggested above that this intergenerational war may have well been unleashed by governments so that they could come after boomers.
    You have to demonise a cohort before an attack (from the current government) like we have never seen before can occur. Think about it.........
    9th Mar 2016
    Kaye Fallick --nb. it should read ' straitened' circumstances in your article, not 'straightened'. Sorry, just nit-picking ......
    9th Mar 2016
    .....oh, and please don't forget the " Builder Generation"ie, those born BEFORE the " Baby Boomers"! 1939/40/42/42!!
    9th Mar 2016
    Grew up poor, left school at 16. Low paying jobs. Married young. Took 6 years of saving to buy our first very modest home. Went to university in my 30s thanks to Gough. Finally decent paying jobs. No child care rebate, no family allowances, no first home owners grant, but have managed to save for a reasonable retirement. Our kids in their 40s do remember when we did it tough, but I see them try and give their children too much.
    9th Mar 2016
    The work ethic, frugality and lack of entitlement reflected in the many responses above are in stark contrast to the attitudes of some politicians. I am reminded that within last few weeks Barnaby Joyce, our Deputy PM, said that lower paid workers should receive the monies saved for their retirement via superannuation. Joyce’s position is that the lowly paid should spend on their money on consumerism and make no provision for a rainy day.
    It is difficult to understand the thinking of the second most important politician who would consign folk to live exclusively on Government handouts in their later years and place an even greater burden on taxpayers.
    Superannuation even if only modest savings provides some independence for the superannuant. It encourages frugality as opposed to spending every penny and hope for the best. Joyce’s attitude is in direct contrast to the common sense shown by correspondents to this column.
    How did we manage to elect such morons, hopefully a double dissolution will enable us to get rid of them and elect a few blokes like Tony Windsor who mirror our values.

    9th Mar 2016
    I am of what is termed the silent generation which is before the Baby Boomers. What is perhaps overlooked is that 15381, mainly Baby Boomers did National Service and of these 200 died in Vietnam or from wounds received in Vietnam. I don't much care for why they were there or any political claptrap about the Vietnam conflict but I think it worth mentioning about their service. These Baby Boomers served our country proudly and did all that was asked of them.
    9th Mar 2016
    Wrong again, 15381 Nashos served in Vietnam and 63,740 did National Service. Apologies.
    10th Mar 2016
    A lot of regular servicemen also served proudly and did all that was asked of them, too, Old Man - many in Vietnam and other war-torn places and on peace missions abroad. Let's not forget that by joining up, they VOLUNTEERED to make the ultimate sacrifice, if required, for their country. They put their lives on the line. What did they get for it? Many got absolutely NOTHING. Many were discharged decades before retirement age with no retirement benefit, no pension, no medical, no retraining, and no recognition, in ''civie street'' of the education or professional qualifications they earned in the army.

    Then there are those Baby Boomers who grew up hideously disadvantaged because their fathers made the ultimate sacrifice, or were wounded or traumatised by war. This nation did little or nothing for many of them. They went out to work at 14 or 15 with little education and no skills and they slogged their guts out to pay tax for 4+ decades, and educate families who are now paying tax, and now the government calls them ''leaners''.
    9th Mar 2016
    There is a great myth about the ‘baby boomers’ having free or inexpensive education largely promoted by the next generation that did have it. Only those born at the tail end of the baby boom had access to free tertiary education as it did not become available until after 1975. Even those who had access in the late 1970s largely did not avail of it as up to the early1980s only about 3% of the population went to University. (Check ABS stats). People currently over 60, had to pay UPFRONT for their tertiary education unless they were fortunate enough to win scholarships. In the early 1970s the fees were about $1000 a year at a time when average wages were about $2000. Scholarships were very limited, almost nonexistent for some of the more prestigious occupations, and often had to be repaid as a bond on graduation.
    The majority of baby boomers went to work at age fourteen or fifteen and received on the job training. Training for banking, nursing and the police force was provided on the job to people who left school at Intermediate Certificate level. There were also pathways to accounting and law through on the job cadetships. Many of the people who did degrees studied part-time at night while working full time. The major difference between the education and training opportunities of baby boomers and those currently completing high school is that many of the pathways to training have disappeared. The only pathway into most jobs/professions now is to complete year 12 and obtain a tertiary qualification. While apprenticeship training is still similar most apprentices are expected to complete year 12 before starting an apprenticeship. This was promoted by Governments in 1980s when jobs were scarce to lower unemployment statistics
    10th Mar 2016
    I am, personally, getting a tad fed up with being blamed for being a "baby boomer". I am now an aged pensioner who pays private rent, I do not live in a Housing Commission house, I pay my bills and look after my two cats and when needed, my two grandsons.
    My generation of women were taught that the man was the head of the household and was to be obeyed. Something I decided was not in my best interests. So I divorced and raised my sons as a single mother. We were not paid the same wages as men. We did not have the advantage of day care, such as they have now, having to leave children with trusted friends or relatives, if you were lucky enough to have any. There was no such thing as a baby bonus. I paid $75 pw for the first flat I rented after leaving my husband. It may seem cheap, but it was the equivalent to what I am paying now, which is almost four times that amount. I do not own my own home. I do not eat out or go to restaraunts. I do go to the movies, when I can afford to. I do drive a car. This year I am going on two weeks holiday, the first one for quite a long time. I am uncertain as to my future and where I am going to live because of circumstances beyond my control.
    We Elders are not to be swept under the carpet. We look after grandchildren, we do voluntary work, we make a contribution of time, which we do, in the main, not get paid for. So, stop trying to make us out to be the bad guys. We are Elders and we are proud of that fact. We have survived many changes in our life times. Just look at the technology that is available now. How did we manage as teenagers without a mobile phone, i-pad or television or computers? Or were we better off?
    10th Mar 2016
    Agree with majority comments. Believe ALL, especially single/widowed females, full age pensioners with meagre Super savings (thx to GFC losses which repeated again recently in Aus (altho' no Pollies admitting it!?) are living well below the poverty line. Ashamed to know that a couple of 3rd world countries value their elders more than do our own enormously "entitled" Pollies from both major Parties since Menzies (& Hawke) era. Only way to fix it is to vote 'em all out - have a good hard look @ Independents & pref ALP & LNP last. Council rates; water; elec; gas; all insurances including Health have been continually increasing far more than CPI for past approx 10yrs. Many of my friends have now opted out of Health Insurance when they need it most as can't afford it anymore & will now be relying on our also ever decreasing access to Public Hosp services. In addition, pensioners now need to pay for the Internet (charged extra if request paper bills); mobile phones & recently buy new TVs to enable us to access all available channels not available on our old TVs (our last remaining free pleasure). Need the above new technology, it's not a luxury anymore. So good to hear Tony Windsor has decided to stand as an Independent against Barnaby - wish I was in his electorate.
    11th Mar 2016
    This generation is a generation of sodomites, catamites and lesbians, the MONGREL generation, having no morality..... unlike the 'boomers' who were taught right from wrong and didn't put their boy in a dress and send him off to school to use the girls toilet

    11th Mar 2016
    As a boomer and coming from a poor family, higher education was never free for me. That is why I left school at 15 and worked full time in low paid jobs. Full wages came at 21. I got a degree in my 50s and that wasn't
    free either. The only thing that boomers were advantaged over the later generations was, there were more work options available with less job applicants thanks to governments that supported industry back then and a lower population.

    12th Mar 2016
    I left school at 15 because it was accepted that when I got married I would have to leave work anyway...that was how it was...you got married you had to leave the workforce.

    My parents did not see the point in continuing my education and in those days you did what you were told.

    However, when I turned 21 all that changed and you did NOT have to leave the workforce when you married....I wish I had continued on with my education.
    ex PS
    13th Mar 2016
    Maybe the younger generations need to be let in on our secret. If you want something, work hard and pay for it. I' m a bit tired of young people whining about things like the unaffordable housing market.
    There are plenty of affordable houses on the market the problem is that they aren't the minnie mansions that the younger generation seems to think they are entitled to as a first home and of course they aren't in the middle of the CBD.
    Most baby boomers I know have bought and sold a few houses before they got the house of their dreams they started with modest homes and worked their way up.
    I was 35 before I bought a new car I have always prioritised what I needed against what I wanted and am now reaping the rewards for previous restraint.
    14th Mar 2016
    Spot on, ex PS.

    What angers me is that in the debate about housing costs, nobody ever thinks to mention that everything else costs way less than it did when we were struggling to buy a home. The young can allocate a far higher percentage of their wage to housing if they are serious about wanting a home. But most prefer to spend heavily on entertainment and luxury items. In short, they want to eat their cake and have it too! And they expect us to foot the bill for their extravagance.
    14th Mar 2016
    Methinks our memory sometimes desert us. Most of the commentary makes the point that things were tougher for us baby boomers so I thought I'd do a bit of research to try to jog my memory.

    According to the RBA Inflation Calculator our first house which we bought in 1976 for $25600 would have an equivalent cost of $152,000 in 2015. I estimate the actual cost in 2015 would be at least $400,000. The average weekly male full time wage in 1976 was $202.40 per week or $10524 per year. Our first house therefore cost around 2.5 times average earnings. Average Male Ordinary Time earnings in May 2015 was about $68000 therefore to purchase the same home in 2015 would cost about 5.9 times the Average Male Ordinary Time earnings.

    I bought my first new car in 1973, a Datsun 1600, for $2300. According to the RBA Inflation Calculator this is the equivalent of $20,600 in 2015. I grant you that you get a lot more bang for your buck in a modern car but I think the relative cost is very similar.

    The foregoing reinforces my memory of how things were starting our family in the mid 70s. It was a struggle but we could afford to buy a family home, purchase and run a vehicle, and support a family of three kids on a single income (and my income was less than the average male wage). Try doing that today!
    ex PS
    14th Mar 2016
    You also have to take into account the differences between the modest home in 1975 and what is considered a modest home in 2015.
    A modest home in 1975 was three bedrooms, one bathroom, kitchen/dining room and a small living room, house situated probably 40 kl. from city centre.
    Modest house in 2015 four bedrooms, media room, one on suite, one family bathroom, one dining room, one living room and one rumpus room.
    My wife and I were astounded at the number of first home buyers that we bumped into looking at these homes while we were out looking at our dream retirement property.
    You can still get the home as described as 1975 modest home for between $240,000 and $270,000 but no one wants them, I know this from first hand knowledge as I just sold one and it took me 6 months to do it.
    So if you really are interested in comparing like for like you need to revise your figures.
    old-age worker
    6th Apr 2016
    My first fridge was 2nd hand - at $400. Ditto the 2nd hand washing machine (in 1980).
    Cost me $3500 to carpet the house (in 1980). Big money!
    In 1983 first child came along so we had to buy a new washing machine - $700+. TV? 2nd hand ex-rental colour at $395 (1980), but it did have UHF.
    Plug those numbers into the RBA inflation calculator.
    Houses are far more expensive than they should be because of combined GREED.
    Governments wont release enough land (to keep prices up), Developers overcharge for simple work, ie connections, roadworks, etc. Real Estate "industry" agents overcharge and create greedy expectations in the minds of potential buyers. Banks collude to overcharge interest rates and other charges, and buyers, as ex-PS says, have over the top expectations for their FIRST home.
    There simply is no factor that has the effect of reducing the price of housing.
    Still I was lucky. My first home was a house. My parents' first home was a flat, until they saved enough for a deposit on their first home.
    5th Apr 2016
    Yep. I agree your article.

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