As one of the Baby Boomer generation (1945/1964) I can confirm that the following generations X (1965/1976) and Y (1977/1995) never had it as good as we did, “the Boomers”.
1) As growing children our health was looked after by a young enthusiastic NHS.
2) Our parents had security of employment, as we did when we entered the work force, unemployment averaged less than 2%, yes two %, until the mid 1970s.
3) Newly weds had the choice of one or both parties working; one income in the household was sufficient to pay affordable rents with lifetime security of tenure in widely available council housing.
4) Mortgages could be handled by a single breadwinner since house prices varied between 2.5 & 3 times the average wage.Two years after graduating I bought a semi-d in a good Nottingham suburb, 3,300 on a salary of 1,500, multiple 2.2.
5) We had free secondary & third level education plus “non-replayable” maintenance grants where needed.
6) Academic ability alone determined access to the expanding number of 3rd level places as the number of Universities doubled to 43 through the 1960s.
7) With a little forward financial planning international air travel became possible for average wage earners, my father & I visited the World Fair, NYC in 1963.
8) The normality of being able to find employment (remember unemployment less than 2%) gave one a certain degree of confidence which enabled some of our generation to voluntarilyemigrate with a stress-free belief that we would find work in our adopted country.
My comments above refer to Ireland North and South, London, Nottingham, Scotland and Australia where I have lived and worked. I emigrated to Australia 1973.
The 2 page PDF file, to follow, is my best attempt to understand how from the 1980s we started down a slippery slope.
The X & Y generations grew up being virtually force fed the doctrine of neoliberalism to the extent that it was considered entirely normal by them, as one PM said “there is no alternative”.
(The Boomers were subjected to the same propaganda but since most were busy paying off mortgages and raising families and generally “doing ok” little critical assessment of it took place.) It meant, minimal Government; low regulations especially in the financial sphere; low personal and corporation tax; privatisation of public resources & services built on the questionable narrative of private enterprise always being more efficient than public; individual success to supersede society wellbeing based on the “free hand of the market” doctrine that if we all choose what is best for us individually the summation of these efforts would give us the best societal outcome; finally the value of just about everything was reduced to its market price.
There will always be inequality of outcome in societies even where strenuous efforts are made to achieve equality of opportunity, it’s the extent of the inequality which is the major issue. The current levels of inequality have become gross and unacceptable and from extensive research we know that societies with greatest levels of inequality perform less well and the general well-being of the large majority of its citizens suffer. Particularly well documented in The Spirit Level & its follow up The Inner Level.
Should those of us who acknowledge that we have a growing problem be doing more to rectify the situation? We absolutely should; however we need to have some knowledge of the extent of the problem and an understanding as to how it came about. My attachment has helped me to more clearly understand the latter. What we do individually and/or collectively to resolve the former is more difficult.
Books referenced and recommended reading.
The Spirit Level, (2010) & The Inner Level (2018) R. Wilkinson & K. Pickett.
The Wealth of Nations. (2017) G Zucman
The Establishment. (2014) O Jones.
Treasure Islands. (2012) N Shaxman
The Great Tax Robbery. (2008) R Brooks
Why we can’t afford the rich. (2016) A Sayer
Injustice (2010) & The Equality Effect (2017) D Dorling
Capital (2014) R Piketty.
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (1914) R.Tressell (UK based)
The Jungle (1906) U Sinclair (USA based