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The rising generation

March 28th, 2010

We just returned from Sydney where we saw our first grandchild, James, now two weeks old. (I’ll skip all the doting grandparent stuff, but other grandfathers and grandmothers can fill it in for themselves). It’s striking to think that he could easily be around in 2100 and, given plausible advances in medical technology, well beyond that.

When we (that is, middle-aged and older people) talk about the effects (good and bad) of our actions on “future generations”, it’s worth remembering that young people now alive will experience those effects long after we are gone.

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  1. Chris Warren
    March 30th, 2010 at 10:56 | #1

    gregh :
    @Chris Warren
    … the concept is derived from population stats and can’t be legitimately applied to any individual in particular except in the crudest probabilistic sense.

    It is still a symptom of a loathsome, debilitating malaise.

    How can we fix climate change if we have to rely on Gen X/Y spun consciousness?

    If they had any commonsense – they would blame their parents. The baby-boomers, as parents (and as previous hippes, yippees and Nimbinites and so on) probably contributed significantly to the stupor of the following generation.

    All this applies to each individual to a varying extent, but so what? This is a fact of life and does not deserve to be tagged as crude.

    The baby boomers knew about the problems (eg Club of Rome) and certainly joined with the then older generation (WWII) to fight off the Vietnam War, give Australian aborigines land rights and decent working conditions.

    However when the older generation exited, the baby boomers then had to deal with the new generation whose total conception of matters could be summed-up by Richard Neville’s PlayPower, and Germaine Greer’s Female Eunuch.

    Gen X/Y should admit their guilt, but blame their parents (allowing for exceptions).

  2. March 30th, 2010 at 12:35 | #2

    I said
    Well, the life expectancy at birth now for a man is eighty, …. by 235 [it will be] 126; so about 127 years old, then.
    Fran said
    I assume you are being tongue in cheek, but as is so often the case, the low-hanging fruit gets claimed early and past improvements are an inadequate guide to future developments.
    Well, I suppose if you go far enough into the unknowable future all bets are off, and I’d hazard that’s around 2060; but up till then — no, that’s a prediction that’s a damn sight firmer than most, and neither tongues nor cheeks need be called on. The graph of the rise in Australian life expectancy has been as firm as an iron bar since 1965, and with a few twitches consistent since 1881, in every year of which period people were saying that the low-hanging fruit had been picked and that this was no guide to the future and in every decade of which life expectancy rose between 2.5 and 3 years. Every girl born since 1997, every boy born since 2003, has a 50% chance of living beyond 100 unless we run into a species-ending event.

  3. wilful
    March 30th, 2010 at 13:32 | #3

    Mike :

    wilful :It’s not a placebo, it’s a half-measure, when half-measures are probably inadequate.
    of course, the originator of this thread was a person who doesn’t even understand basic climate science, and thinks we have far more gas than we actually do, so it’s all a gross distraction.

    Classic drive-by troll… hit and run. “Climate change not happening!!!” Followed by silence.

    Jesus christ you idiot. try reading first.

    I don’t have to defend my views against your breathtaking inanity, but for the record, I have been on this blog for about five years (far longer than you, certainly) and have consistently for that entire period advocated strong but pragmatic action to combat climate change. None of my words above contradict that.

    I’d like an apology once you’d reread and comprehended my previous replies, but I’m sure I wont get one.

  4. Michael
    March 30th, 2010 at 13:35 | #4

    Chris Warren :
    @Michael
    The statement – “I don’t feel responsible for the current problems in the world” is a gen X/Y moniker.

    I should have said – I don’t feel particularly responsible for the current problems in the world. I didn’t mean that I don’t have any responsibility for the current state of the world – just not especially because of my age. To the best of my ability I’m trying to set a good example for my kids and keeping my energy consumption low. The fact that the main way I can influence the world is through expressing consumer preferences and voting wasn’t initiated by gen x. The point about the ALP identities you mentioned is lost on me I’m afraid.

    My parents weren’t baby boomers – they were born during WWII.

    Generational stereotypes are a useful device as long as you understand their limits, but are your generational views grounded in evidence or media reporting? Sounds like you are misdirecting and conflating issues.

    Gen X/Y consciousness to corrupted by sweatshop labour from the Third World and the refusal by Gen X/Y to admit this fact. They think the goods and services they see in the shops (eh Nike sports shoes) are there by right.

    This is an interesting issue, but I’m not convinced this is limited to gen x/y. The commodification of labour is a global phenomena and not something that just appeared at the behest of gen x/y, consumers of all ages are benefitting from it and responsible for it.

    Where do you place yourself in this equation – are you a consumer? Are you an opinion leader? Mover and shaker? What substantive action are you taking to combat this “loathsome, debilitating malaise”?

  5. wilful
    March 30th, 2010 at 13:37 | #5

    Chris, while these generational labels remain odious bull****, “Gen X” is those currently approximately 45 to 30. Tanner, born 1956, is smack bang middle baby boomer.

    But I’m going to desist from this conversation, since I reject your founding hypothesis, that these labels have any descriptive power.

  6. Michael
    March 30th, 2010 at 13:37 | #6

    @wilful
    I read comment about drive by trolling as directed at “Rationalist”, I could be wrong.

  7. wilful
    March 30th, 2010 at 13:39 | #7

    Tony G, you’re making stuff up (again). Under what scenario would Australia stop exporting its mineral wealth? I thought you said that this was a good thing!

    We know you reject science, but to reject economic orthodoxy in this way is getting a bit North Korean.

  8. may
    March 30th, 2010 at 14:01 | #8

    oorrhh,a new littly.all well and healthy?grandchildren are fun and somebody else does the wurk.

    long life seems to be a matter of luck and proper maintainence.
    mine is a long lived family but those who don’t excercise,eat too much,have blob-brains and no sense of humour don’t seem to last as long.trite?

    how much does self abusive over indulgence cost the health system?

    the doc in NZ who was reprimanded for telling an obese impatient she was going on a f—ing diet when she insisted in saying it was her lifestyle,is probably not alone.

  9. jquiggin
    March 30th, 2010 at 14:33 | #9

    Search the blog for “generation game” to find my views on this marketingspeak.

    But, if 1956ers like me and Tanner are to be allocated a generation, it’s definitely Gen Jones, and not the Baby Boomers (culturally, those born from about 1940 to 1955, whatever the demographics might say).

  10. Fran Barlow
    March 30th, 2010 at 14:35 | #10

    On Possums Pollytics they call 55+ Gen Blue which I had never heard before.

  11. Chris Warren
    March 30th, 2010 at 16:24 | #11

    Dear all

    The issue is not about labels as such. You cannot negate trends and phenomena by switching terms.

    However the generational/cultural (or ideological or whatever) fog that has seeped into more recent generations has rendered them pretty-well useless compared to the previous generations. This stupor is a consequence of recent generations luxuriating in western wealth (based on exploitation of the Third World).

    I assume that most people born in 1956 would have benefited from a modernised secondary education system, free tertiary education, relatively easy permanent employment, and improved health facilities, plus never having to deal with, slide rules or pounds shillings and pence or having to crank-start a car. On the other hand, their parents, grandparents, and uncles and aunts would have faced Japanese invasion, fought Hitler, suffered economic depression, generally received no superannuation, long service leave or workers compensation, sneered at aborigines, were forced to sing God Save the Queen, ostracised single mothers, and would have been sacked from work if they married (in some occupations) or fell pregnant (in others).

    The politics of those born in the mid to late 50′s were very different to the politics in the couple of decades after the war.

    The generation subsequent to the 50′s was worse, and the next worse again.

    Irrespective of labels such as X Y Z or whatever.

    Anyway, the argument has already been put elsewhere in “The dumbest generation : how the digital age stupefies young Americans and jeopardizes our future (or, don’t trust anyone under 30)”, Mark Bauerlein (Penguin 2008).

  12. Alice
    March 30th, 2010 at 19:21 | #12

    @jquiggin
    Babies are so cute…wish Id had more of em! They make you look at the little things in life!

    JQ is this a baby JQ or a J something else? Then we know whether a blood daughter had this lovely grandchild or a blood son…we dont know?

    It doesnt make much difference its still a J, capital J! Its how much of you? Is it one quarter – I need an economist to figure that out?!

  13. iain
    March 30th, 2010 at 20:00 | #13

    @Chris Warren

    Given your convincing evidence that each generation (whatever that means) since the 50s is getting “worse” (and dumber), what insights and solutions are to be gained from this ?

  14. Chris Warren
    March 31st, 2010 at 09:30 | #14

    @iain

    Unfortunately it is not possible to delve into this in a blog format.

    For me, an essential insight is that the West obtains its standard of living through unsustainable processes while the economic and political understandings by each generation in turn, increasingly tend to ignore this fact, in their real day-to-day lives, their ideology and in their social and political practice.

  15. wilful
  16. Chris Warren
    March 31st, 2010 at 11:39 | #16

    @wilful

    Socrates is right … and that is why primitive societies were usually governed by elders.

    Unfortunately as global empire building capitalism insists on sending their kids off to war, we must include them in the governing processes today.

    But do we have to put up with their love of luxury, disrespect and chatter as well?

    I think not.

  17. wilful
    March 31st, 2010 at 11:55 | #17

    I’m sorry Chris, can you please spend a bit more time explaining why us modern kids are so useless? Your post at #11 was pretty confused to me, I couldn’t extract a sense of why or what is increasingly wrong with post-war generations. Without reading the book you linked to, I still have no idea what you’re on about.

    Oh, and I’m not entirely sure that the capitalists invented war or the participation of youth in it.

  18. Chris Warren
    March 31st, 2010 at 12:31 | #18

    @wilful

    I think I’d prefer to explain it to people who did not find #11 confusing.

  19. wilful
    March 31st, 2010 at 12:42 | #19

    Fine, whatever. I’m too soft to understand anyway.

  20. wilful
    March 31st, 2010 at 12:43 | #20

    Oh, parting shot, confused ? confusing. You work out where I put the onus.

  21. Alice
    March 31st, 2010 at 19:48 | #21

    @Chris Warren
    Chris – I know what you are saying even if Wilful doesnt understand. I do think the modern generation of kids are yet to acquire “media immunity”. They were not born in age when the media was more objective. They were born in the age of Murdered media when all they here is racist, anti government, anti environment, anti refugee rants from the likes of the small minded amongst us. When politics has degenerated into tribalism with only tribal views published, when universities have disintegrated into commercially client focussed sellers of education, when profit has become the core objective of public services, when kids are told its all up to the “individual and free choice” as to their success in life and stuff everyone else…

    Well they want the latest Iphone to demonstrate their success and in so doing they please the truly successul and impoverish themselves.

    I feel sorry for the youth of today. The guideposts went missing a long time ago as to what is truly meaningful in life. It isnt the latest Iphone at all. It isnt even the substandard uni degree they pay way too much for.

  22. James Farrell
    March 31st, 2010 at 20:17 | #22

    I’m late to this, but allow me to add my congratulations, including on the choice of name. He’ll go far.

  23. Anthony Obeyesekere
    April 3rd, 2010 at 05:41 | #23

    Belated congratulations on the grandchild! :)

  24. Freelander
    April 3rd, 2010 at 06:15 | #24

    Yes. Congratulations!

  25. Jill Rush
    April 3rd, 2010 at 20:51 | #25

    Congratulations – nothing like a baby to inspire and excite one about the future. All that is old becomes new again.

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