Young people: Baby Boomers did NOT steal your future

Let’s get one thing straight. When we baby-boomers were young, there was no future. We were going to be blown to smithereens by the atomic bomb.

We can show you the leaflets sent to every household instructing us what to do in the event of a warning – a siren telling us we had four minutes to get under the kitchen table, or to take the door off its hinges and lie under it. 

So whatever future there was, we built it. We worked hard, millions of us at jobs we hated. As a consequence of this hard work, an unprecedented number of us bought our own homes. No-one gave them to us. We had to save up – yes, SAVE UP, for a deposit – and take out a mortgage.

Not ‘Little Englanders’

And, being young and hopeful, we voted to join the Common Market, what you now know as the European Union. So, no. We were not and are not ‘Little Englanders’ pining for Empire. Having not been blown up, we developed a drive and an optimism that made us want to be part of something bigger than our little island nation.

Ah, yes, you say. But now you’re old, and you want your state pension, and we’re going to have to pay for that, we young folk.

Well, let’s look at that, shall we? We paid something called National Insurance. It was additional to the income tax we paid. National Insurance was supposed to be invested (by the government) to fund our pensions, and the National Health Service.

Except, guess what? Without so much as a by-your-leave, our government (your government now) quietly shelved the sensible bit of that plan. They simply took our National Insurance Contributions and mixed them in with all the other tax revenue and used them to build roads, or run the railways, or subsidise the steel and car industries.

Which is why our pensions are now paid out of your taxes; and your pensions will be paid out of your grandchildren’s taxes. So if you’re not happy about that, lobby your government; don’t be blaming us baby boomers!

Nationalised industries and the 100% tax rate

And talking of tax, you have no idea how lucky you are. Even a low paid worker was taxed at 8s 3d in the £ on some earnings. Oops, sorry. You don’t know shillings and pence, do you? Well, 8s 3d in the £ is more than 40% tax, which is all you need to know. 40% tax when you were earning, say, twenty quid a week.

But it didn’t stop there. There was also something called Purchase Tax. Purchase Tax ranged from 33% to 100%. It was levied on all goods before they reached the shops. Therefore, when we bought a pair of shoes, we were paying twice the actual price, without really thinking of it as tax.

And where did all this money go? It went on subsidising the car industry, the railways, the steel industry and everything else owned by the Government (oops, I mean by us, the taxpayer).

So no, we did not steal your future and your whingeing (perfect example opposite) is really annoying. And when we voted (those of us who did) to leave the EU, we were doing so with 40 years of experience under our belt. We had seen how far off track the Common Market we once so optimistically voted for had gone.

We also learned, the hard way, that nationalising industry is irrational. It leads to incompetence and budget-breaking tax requirements. In the case of the railways, it lead to dirty trains, late trains and a dire safety record. In other words, dirty, late and dangerous.

And not to mention the high rates of tax we had to pay to keep them running at all. In the case of the car industry, it meant built-in rust that would appear within three years of the car rolling off the production line, of failing brakes and paper-like strength in a collision, crumpling like a paper bag.

Less whingeing, a little more humility

But you think you know better, don’t you? Whatever we’ve done in perhaps 50 years of work and bringing you up, it all counts for nothing because you’re smarter than we are.

Well, you’re not. You may be smarter than we were at your age. But you cannot hope to match our experience and accumulated knowledge. Rather than trying to, you should listen more. Accumulate your own knowledge. And then form your views.

In other words, a little humility wouldn’t hurt. The kind of humility that comes from a piece of bread and jam for your tea, off to bed, hungry. The kind of humility that comes from knowing you grew up not even knowing what a hot water tap was. Or, for that matter, a bath. And the satisfaction of knowing that we progressed, we grew, we earned all those luxuries.

Try it for yourselves: a little growing; a little progressing; a little humility. All the luxury and advantages you grew up with were hard fought for and earned by your parents and your grandparents.

Oh, and by the way – we conquered space, we were environmentalists before the term was invented, we conquered communism, and we invented everything you hold dear – your phone, your computer, your video games. In fact, come to think of it, it is all our fault. We gave you everything; we spoilt you. Yes. Definitely our fault.

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