In recent years the term Millennials – roughly referring to people born between 1986 and the present – has increasingly been used as a pejorative – targeting young people who voice their concerns about the job market or the cost of a university education.
Older generations shout them down with claims about how hard life was for them and how they didn’t expect everything handed to them on a plate – all the while regurgitating charges of entitlement and narcissism inspired by Jean Twenge’s book Generation Me.
This however hides the fact that preceding generations – those we refer to as Baby Boomers (1945-1965) and Generation X (1966-1985) were given much more than they care to admit.
In their desire to further their own fantasy of the rugged individual they forget an important aspect of social history – namely that they benefited a great deal from the largesse of the public purse.
At the centre of my criticism is that these generations benefited from massive public investment in infrastructure and services.
Post-war construction in the UK was essential – but in the United States this also involved the full development of Roosevelt’s New Deal and the Keynesian economics that stemmed from the Great Depression – an approach to economics that also benefited New Zealand and Australia.
Boomers in the UK particularly benefited from the incredible social mobility that was the result.
What annoys me the most then is when Boomers make claims about being ‘self-made’ without any comprehension or recognition of the huge advantages they received from an economy boosted by public investment.