Attila the Pun
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Boomtown prats

Like you, there is nothing I enjoy more than listening to a member of Generation X bitch about how the baby boomers are ruining everything for them. It only gets better when the person complaining describes themself as a member of the "creative classes"

There's a disturbing trend in my well-educated, thirtysomething cohort.

Endlessly complaining?

At one end of the spectrum lie those who have been allowed to "grow up" professionally, provided they play the free-market game.

They have been "allowed" to progress their careers? Perhaps you mean "have" grown up professionally?

They generally work in finance and allied industries, have huge mortgages, high incomes, trophy spouses, nannies and membership of spa retreats.

They are in their 30s and they already have trophy spouses? Good work!

They think they're safe from the scrapheap because they're playing the game smarter than their peers stuck in a series of what generation X author Douglas Coupland called McJobs: "A low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low-benefit, no-future job in the service sector and frequently considered a satisfying career choice by people who have never had one."

So they went and got high-pay, high-prestige, high-dignity, high-benefit, huge-future jobs? I would suggest they are playing the game smarter, and I have a fair amount of respect for them. So what's the problem?

Writing in 1991, Coupland was talking about flipping burgers. Today the phenomenon has expanded to embrace the so-called career tracks of younger professionals working in universities and other sectors that traditionally furthered the common good and increased the common wealth.

The plot thins...

Like the wider public these sectors used to serve, today these Australians are widely treated with something bordering on contempt, as what passes for national wisdom and debate turns into a dumbed-down mishmash of Hobbes and Hayek, based on knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

And who is to blame for this lack of respect for "these Australians"? It couldn't be their own arrogance in dimissing the majority of Australians, specifically those that pay the taxes which fund public sector wages, as dumb?

Rather, it's about direct comparison with the career trajectories of gen Xers of the so-called creative class in many other OECD countries. Here, you should be so lucky as to have a three-year contract as a bottom feeder in an arts faculty, where your load of teaching and bean-counting leaves no paid time for what you need to do to hold your job - a doctorate and refereed publications - never mind anything else.

You poor thing? Imagine a member of the creative class being forced to teach or do adminstrative tasks as part of their role? Don't we know that they need to be creating things for the common good?

There, you'd stand a chance of already being an associate professor, senior political adviser, published author or other established opinion former.

Smell the conceit. These nasty boomers are denying the chance for her and her friends to become established opinion formers - ohh the humanity.

As a consequence, more thirtysomethings harbour growing resentment of boomers. Downsizing may have sent lots of middle-aged white liberal men (and women) to the scrapheap, but this hasn't opened up a critical mass of space for younger voices who challenge, as Davis puts it, the old monoculture of white patrician liberalism, never mind economic rationalism.

So you like the fact that a lot of boomers got fired, but are annoyed that enough weren't fired to allow your mates to move up? Ever heard of a meritocracy?

A colleague of mine puts it like this: "Boomers are sucking the blood out of Xers. We work like dogs, pay hideous rents, have no job security, are so exhausted we have no time any more to think, let alone raise questions about the status quo and take action. Boomers aren't interested in us, except as a source of tax revenue for their pensions and looming health-care costs. That's why they're freaked that we're not having babies."

Boo-hoo. Generation X (and following generations) have grown up in an era of unsurpassed luxury. They have had education and travel options previously unheard of. Some may still be complaining that they weren't born in time for free university education, but seeing as there are now 4 times as many people going to university it is obvious more people are getting the opportunity to challenge the white patrician blah blah.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not casting another stone in what's shaping up as gung-ho intergenerational warfare. Some of my best friends are boomers, and beyond. But they tend not to be Big. They're more at the end of the spectrum of their own generation that can't or won't play neocon roulette, and who are paying their own hefty price.

wtf is neocon roulette? It is lazy intellectual short hand to drop a scary word "neocon" "Howard" and assume that everyone in your lovey latte set will nod sagely, agreeing with you that it must be bad.

Then again, they can generally afford it; but so can the Big Boomers. For all our sakes, more Big Boomers need to start growing older with more grace and generosity. If they can't surrender tenure, this means using their resources and experience to develop the talent of more challenging thirtysomethings, and beyond. (emphasis added)

And once again, we come back to the point of this entire rant - she hasn't progressed as far in the academic world as she thinks she is entitled to, and it is all the fault of Mum and Dad.

Why on earth did the Age print this?

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So who's the real bitch here...
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