Sunday, 14 August 2011
In Defence Of The Baby Boomers
Yesterday morning BBC News 24 broadcast a clip comparing baby boomers' younger lives and the lives of their children today. All part of their 'blame' series for the problems in England last week.
The BBC's definition of a baby boomer is anyone born 20 years after WW2. My definition would be anyone born during WW2 until the mid-50s.
The clip involved a mother - possibly in her late 40s early 50s and therefore born in the 60s - and her 20-something son. Both lived in London. The woman stated she had purchased her first house at the age of 22 and had moved onto her second property at the age of 27, but her son found it impossible to raise the money to buy his own home and even with the help of another sibling or his girlfriend, he was sure the combined salaries would make only £250,000 available from mortgage companies. Not enough for him to buy a home he opined and his mother agreed.
Is there nobody on the massive BBC payroll with a knowledge of sociology?
I know of only one couple who bought their home upon marriage back in the late 60s because most rented. Both were in their early 20s and the husband had received a small inheritance which enabled them to step on the property ladder. Cohabitating wasn't socially acceptable then and house title deeds excluded the wife's name. Few of us expected to own a home in our 20s. Were our expectations low? Indeed not, but we understood the rules of acquiring a mortgage offer involved saving hard to gather the mandatory deposit. Some didn't earn enough but it didn't stop them trying to put a little in the bank every week and astute housewives always managed to squirrel away a few shillings for the proverbial rainy day.
Until the early 80s it was impossible to find a mortgage company or bank which would offer a single woman a mortgage even though she was able to put down a bigger than average deposit. I wore out a pair of lovely Italian shoes walking the streets of Shropshire searching for a building society to lend me 75% of the cost of my first home. When I finally found one it was too late. The vendors had sold it to another bidder.
Baby boomers were content to furnish their homes with donations from family and friends or a purchase from the local saleroom. The salerooms of my youth no longer have weekly auctions bulging with excited twenty-somethings desperate to buy the gateleg dining table at which they would proudly entertain their friends with pate maison and garlic bread. Local auctions now concentrate on 'antiques' - although few of the items are more than a hundred years old - but I still enjoy a visit to a sale room
Somewhere between the 80s and today values changed. No longer are the young content to begin their married lives with secondhand items. More and more young people are having their children first before they consider marriage - if they ever do. Marriage is regarded as unnecessary, so is any form of religion - yet the church taught my generation our values as well as parents.
The flaws in today's society can't all be laid at the door of the baby boomers, but we allowed the destroyers of family life to push through their liberal policies, thinking they would improve the lives of our children. Even though most of us disapproved, we didn't fight when it was proposed under-aged girls could be given contraception without the knowledge of their mothers, because we wanted to believe that such a policy would greatly reduce teenage pregnancies. It hasn't. Many other liberal policies have had the same outcome - well intended but wrong.
As a baby boomer I feel guilty for not speaking out against the destruction of the values which were handed down to me by parents and grandparents and at times I shudder at the materialism which has crept into society in the past few decades. Is materialism Christianity's replacement? That's for another time.