Generation Less, by Jennifer Rayner

This is a book review I wrote a little over a year ago, but I believe the topic being discussed is one that will be increasingly relevant.
It clearly hasn’t become less relevant, because I’m regularly seeing articles being published making similar claims to those raised in the book.

Sadly, the comments sections following those articles seem to show that many are falling for the misguided claims that blame a whole generation of older citizens for the difficulties being experienced by younger citizens.

Have the “older” generation robbed their children and grandchildren of opportunities to which they should be entitled? Or are those younger generations expecting to have benefits now that their parents and grandparents had to work towards over two or three decades?

One indication I’ve seen more than once are comparisons between the rates of home ownership for those under 30 and the rates for those in their 50s and above. Those comparisons seem to make a convincing argument, until you ask two pertinent questions:

1) How many of those home-owning 50+ year olds owned their houses or apartments when they were under 30?

2) How many of todays under 30s will own their own homes by the time they are in the 50+ age group?


Out of Shadows

Generation-Less_0 I really expected and WANTED to like this book. I agreed with its general message: that younger generations were being disadvantaged in today’s world. With jobs hard to get and housing, both rental and purchased, priced well beyond their means, they faced far greater difficulties than I did at their age.

Jennifer Rayner attributes this to an older more privileged generation (mine) not willing to give up advantages and effectively denying opportunities to a younger generation (hers). And in taking that narrow focus I believe she sets off on the wrong path.

It’s not far into the book that she started to lose my empathy, when I read:

In earlier years, our parents’ generation moved steadily through pay rises and promotions as people filed out of work at 55 and freed up the ranks above them. But having got old themselves, they’re not giving up on those great careers. That…

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7 thoughts on “Generation Less, by Jennifer Rayner

  1. I guess it seems easier to blame ordinary people. Older people, younger people, immigrants. Actually, some older people are selfish, and so are some younger people. But these aren’t rules or trends (while it does seem to be a trend that people need to keep working longer, even all their lives).

    In a video I linked to in a recent thread (August), it was pointed out that the famous economist, Adam Smith, only used the term invisible hand once in his classic book, “Wealth of Nations.” We’ve come to associate it with free markets or “conservatism” — like magic or God.

    That video starts out with an observation that we’re supposed to worship Smith but not read him. I think it’s the same one that ends with the clarification that “England would be saved from the ravages of global markets” because of home bias — he hoped.

    So, the particular term is almost the opposite of what it has come to designate in economic imagination. Contrary to a notion that there need be no limits, the idea was sort of like what we’ve seen on the topic of price gouging. Suddenly, price by demand of market is bad.

    But it wasn’t supposed to be something that has to be called bad or outlawed. Nevertheless, price gouging has indeed had to be outlawed. And reminders have to go out. Consciences are not enough, at least not for everyone. Consciences haven’t sufficed with global markets either.

    Another political economist, David Ricardo, said, “Most men of property would be satisfied with the low rate of profits in their own country rather than seek a more advantageous employment for their wealth in foreign nations.” Adam Smith saw that, otherwise, England would suffer.

    I would summarise this as constrained by caring about one’s neighbor. Merchants and manufacturers were counted on to invest at home (England or wherever each one lives) instead of seeking their own profit above the well-being of society. This sense of right and wrong has become broken.

    I will add to the thinking I started with my summation; I think this can be said to do with operating in a venue that can be witnessed… and witnessed by peers. The greedy would gladly reach out to where they can hide their activity from accountability. Take over among the simple, and never mind the wealth gap.

    And this then extends to the tendency to defend an operating policy of buyer beware. Even with a minor entry in the cannon that reputation can ruin profits, that reputation is not really important anymore. So, if profits aren’t hurt, then this is not something that matters. It’s just cute (and handy) if others are [still] fooled.

    {I wrote this last night, before I knew of today’s announcement… and forgetting that today — Tuesday — was said to be the day for an announcement. Also, I was tired; hope it makes sense.}

  2. {At the end, there (above), I was alluding to the announcement that DACA has been terminated — but that was not the reason I mentioned immigrants at the beginning (which is why I made the note).}

  3. {I also didn’t know, at the time of my writing about older people and younger people, that someone at the blog site I’m sure you surmised I was talking about recently [which I said, sort of, that I stopped posting at] was complaining about young people. I find it tiring to hear complaints about young people.
    All of my five young people are hard working, and they don’t complain.

    Then the guy there who I said wasn’t distinguishing between computers/robots/AI and actual people offered a derogatory affirmation (not to me, as I didn’t post) that the ACA “keeps on taking” — when my experience of it, among other things, is that my sons can have affordable health insurance and thereby health care because of the ACA (through their father’s policy). The oldest two have grown past the age that applies (26), but they now have accessed jobs that offer quality plans; previously, the jobs that were available were not offering decent policies. Sure their dad can complain, as conservatives are indoctrinated to do, that he has been now asked to consider what is happening with his sons (my five) when he renews his policy each year. He’d rather not think about them, preferring to be carefree and such. Who cares, right?}

  4. It was actually that person’s other blog site [while he does have more than two, but I haven’t gone to the third much at all] that I had felt I probably don’t want to post at any more, but especially not to interact with a particular person there. Yet I wanted to respond to the political whining at the one of the two sites I have continued to attend; I have posted a few times since, but I’ve avoided politics. It’s very difficult not to say something about healthcare/insurance there — the very people who have enabled the efforts (state by state) to make the ACA less successful and less available complain about it not being available enough. Reality check: states have made choices (usually based on the political leanings of their populations).

  5. To make matters worse, the current administration (president) has decided to proactively work against proper consumer education… information on how to get coverage and what it is to do; to act against the law rather than to carry it out. But it seems to be fun for Obama haters to gripe about the law itself, even while they would like to benefit from it, in place of facing the illegitimate behavior of their Trump.
    … Money to Run PR Effort Against [Healthcare Law Passed During the Previous Presidency and Still in Place, not Repealed and not Altered by Congress to Allow Redirection {misdirection} of Funds]

    The administration is tasked with overseeing the health care law. Instead, it has made a major social media push to undermine it. Sam Stein SAM STEIN 07.20.17 1:00 AM ET


    Perhaps the most glaring efforts to publicly undermine the ACA, has come on the Department of Health and Human Service’s own website. In the Obama administration, this piece of online real estate featured direct links for consumers to apply for coverage and infographic breakdowns of the ACA’s benefits and critical dates. Since Trump was inaugurated, it has been retrofitted into an bulletin board […] critical of the law.


    [I would say it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek to say there’s been significant subtlety.]


    To the great annoyance of its detractors, the Affordable Care Act is doing pretty well, but that doesn’t mean the system is immune to sabotage. The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend:

    The Trump administration plans to shut down, a website consumers use to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, for 12 hours on nearly every Sunday of the coming ACA enrollment season.

    The outages, which the administration says are for maintenance, will occur from midnight through noon on every Sunday other than Dec. 10.

    Just so we’re clear, the Republican administration has already shrunk the open-enrollment period, cutting it in half. On top of that, consumers will now have even less access to the federal exchange marketplace on Sundays, with Trump’s HHS shutting down the website for 12-hour increments.

    Frank Baitman, a former chief information officer for HHS, made the case on Friday that there’s no credible technological reason for this kind of decision. He added that the move reflects a “lack of will and respect” for the American people.


    {Healthier and younger and not-so-poor people signing up helps mitigate cost for needier (which includes older) people. I have chosen not to include articles and videos for generally handicapped people. That is integral to the present matter, but I’m trying to focus more on the [trumped up — a fitting pun because Trump is a manifestation of blind selfishness in less than half the population] resentment of young versus old. An older person can feel put upon that he hasn’t found a job with benefits. But people of all ages have to deal with that. It’s time to stop demanding superiority and recognise that greed doesn’t care about you more than your neighbor, although it may have used you for quite a few decades.}
    Trump cabinet member under fire for $25,000 jet charter —
    Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price – who wants to cut programs for the poor – paid $25,000 to take a private plane from Washington, D.C. to Philadelphia and back. Duration: 4:33
    Tom Price took $17K private flight for 90 min of work —
    Thing 1/Thing 2: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price reportedly took at least 26 charter jets in just the past four months, at least twice going to locations where he owns property. Duration: 2:45


    …. the cabinet secretary said he’ll stop taking chartered flights — at least for now.

    Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told Fox News on Saturday that he’ll stop his taxpayer-funded travel on private jets, pending a formal review by his department’s inspector general.

    “We’ve heard the criticism. We’ve heard the concerns. We take that very seriously and have taken it to heart,” Price said.

    That may sound like a good start, but as Politico’s latest report noted, Price continued just last week to take additional chartered flights, costing tens of thousands of dollars, even after the controversy broke. The new total cost to taxpayers for Price’s private flights is now over $400,000 — and that only includes the flights we know about since May.

    San Juan mayor: ‘This is a big S.O.S. for anybody out there’ —
    Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz of Puerto Rico’s capital city, San Juan, talks with Rachel Maddow about the desperate situation in her city and in Puerto Rico broadly, and expresses her frustration with an administration that is slow … [Additional lack of concerned leadership from HHS, for people.] Duration: 9:56

  7. The failing of Generation Less and those who subscribe to its generational accusations, is that opposition should not be directed at a scapegoat generation, but against a system that has made victims of ALL generations. A system that I see is based on the worship and accumulation of riches; what Naomi Klein has labelled “a system of bottomless greed”.
    A system that avoids meeting the needs of the most vulnerable while continually growing the wealth of the most affluent.

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