Henry, my six months old Grandson, celebrated Father’s Day by being sick all over me. Perhaps he was just in that mood. Perhaps he was sending me a message.
Britain’s young people are angry. This has been caught in a new book by the Universities Minister, David Willetts. In ‘The Pinch: How the Baby Boomers Stole Their Children’s Future – And Why They Should Give it Back’ the argument is that we, the post Second World War children, have feathered our own nests and saddled the younger generation with impossible debts.
Willetts’ basic stance is that two thirds of benefits go to pensioners. Virtually all – pensions, NHS spending, travel concessions, winter fuel payments, free TV licences, free prescriptions – are guaranteed by the State. Much of the money comes from taxes paid by younger people.
They, in turn, are saddled with University loans, have uncertain job prospects, cannot afford a mortgage, and are delaying getting married and having children.
Increasingly they blame the over 60s generation. We caused the economic crash, we borrowed too much money, we have funded our hospitals programme with PFI schemes that they’ll be paying for over many years. Our roads are full of potholes and we’ve allowed European Union regulations to significantly dictate our lives. Oh, and there are too many people free-wheeling within our society. And, by the way, why do the rich not pay their taxes?
The probable answer to this conundrum is that the reaction of the younger generation, as depicted, is purely a market cycle phenomena. The cycle (as Hayek would claim) is beginning to turn as money regains its value: credit will begin to flow again, inflation (thanks in part to quantitative easing) will reduce the loan to value ratios and restore the banks’ asset positions and everybody will feel better. Real incomes will grow.
There is just a nagging doubt that, as Nigel Farage and UKIP have brilliantly caught the Country’s mood over European, perhaps a new group of politicians (a sort of sane Notting Hill set) might capture the deep resentment of our younger people.
And perhaps the leader who could cash in (unfortunate term!) most is Boris Johnson.
Ok Henry. Now you know. Vote for Boris.