How the news would look if everyone stopped waffling and told the truth.
Saturday, 30 June 2012
The Trouble With Demographics.
The baby boom generation has come in for a lot of adverse publicity recently. They are "responsible," it is constantly suggested, for placing a strain on public services that simply cannot be maintained. Their demand for pensions is bankrupting the nation and the NHS is buckling under the strain. At this year's Local Government Association conference, councillors, already under pressure because of government cuts, have taken to calling the demographics of modern Britain "the graph of doom." People are living longer, government ministers never tire of telling us, as if this explains eveything, but what does it all actually mean? Baby-boomers were born, roughly, between 1945 and 1970 and do represent a "bulge" in the demographic profile of the nation that gradually works it way up the age gradient. The oldest are now in their mid-sixties, the youngest are still only in their early forties and, it is generally agreed, they are probably the healthiest people of that age that this country has ever seen. Better yet, successive governments threw open the doors to immigration into this country which, at the time, was explained as reflecting the need for more labour and to smooth out the threatening demographics that the baby-boomers represented. So what has gone wrong? Have the baby-boomers suddenly become less healthy? Has immigration dried up? The answer to both questions is a resounding "no". What has actually happened is that a small number of baby-boomers, informed by the Thatcherite legacy, have become incredibly selfish and greedy. And they don't want to pay taxes. Desperately looking around for an excuse to not pay tax they have hit upon blaming those of their generation who have not done as well as themselves in terms of accumulating wealth. The "problem", they tell us, is too big to handle so there's no point trying. Better to reduce their pensions and withdraw services to fund tax cuts for the rich. As such the babyboom "problem" is simply another example of the Tory tactic of divide and rule - the comfortably-well-off against the the less-well-off, the employed against the unemployed, the able-bodied against the disabled, the private sector against the public sector. I am a baby boomer. I was once part of the solution - now I find that I'm the problem. How did that happen?