Opinion: Rachel Moore was wrong about selfish baby boomers - we’re great!

How selfish are we, asks Sharon Griffiths. We do all the childcare!

How selfish are we, asks Sharon Griffiths. We do all the childcare! - Credit: Getty Images

Sharon Griffiths gives her riposte to Rachel Moore's claim that the baby boomers are the most selfish generation

Ouch! That was a bit harsh, Rachel Moore, laying into baby boomers calling them selfish, scowly, rude and self absorbed.

Hey, you're talking 'bout my generation. So let's get a few things straight…

'Sitting pretty, mortgage-free on homes that have rocketed in value…' True, but when we took on mortgages, the rate was an eye-watering 15%. We ate an awful lot of lentils and lived with hideous carpets and a leaking bathroom, because we simply had no money. Now fixed mortgages are about 1.5%.

Having paid huge interest on our mortgages we now get pathetic interest on our savings – hardly seems fair – yet we still give money to our children. One in four first time buyers is helped by the bank of Mum and Dad – with an average of £18,000 towards a deposit. How very selfish of us.

Yes our homes are worth a lot more than we paid for them. But that's meaningless unless we move. And who gets the benefit of all that dosh when we pop our clogs? Not us.

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Pensions. The next generation might not get their pension until they're 70. But now so many go to university, half of them didn't start work until they were 21, which makes a working life of 49 years – still a year less than many baby boomers who left school at 15 and worked until they were 65. Who got the worst of that deal?

Of course our generation was lucky – post-Pill and pre-Aids as someone once pointed out - and we certainly made the most of it.

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University was free but only a handful of us went – 5% of school leavers in the 1960s.

So just one or two out of a class of thirty as opposed to nearly half now. The rest went straight to work.

Students had a maintenance grant which barely covered the rent on our grim shared houses. Ten students, one bathroom – a bit different from today's luxury facilities. No loans, no overdrafts, the closest we got to binge drinking was maybe three halves of cider.

No cars or rail cards or cheap flights – we hitched everywhere, including across Europe.

Jobs were easer, true. We were lucky. There were plenty of jobs and we were very employable. Until you were pregnant. Very few maternity rights and you had to be with a company for a few years to get even those.

Workers' rights in general were pretty basic and those final salary pensions you envy so much were still a rarity outside the public sector.

You call us the 'most selfish generation'.

Really? Come on.

Never mind that you're enjoying the rights we campaigned for, who do you think runs sports clubs, charities, shops, village halls, cricket teams and community events? Mostly baby boomers.

Many of them are still working too.

Damned if we do and damned if we don't.

If we retire we're told we're living at the expense of the young and if we carry on working, we're stealing our children's livelihoods. But 10% of over 65s are still working and paying taxes.

And doing the childcare too. Grandparents now provide an average nine hours childcare a week – worth around £17billion to the country. Again, how very selfish we must be.

So those 'silver drivers' you hate so much might well have been zooming between work and the school gates and a charity committee.

(No excuse for rudeness though. I've found the worst offenders to be men over 70 and mothers on the school run, all with an overloaded sense of entitlement.)

Yes we take lots of holidays if we can. Not because we enjoy spending the kids' inheritance – most of us want to give our children as much as we can – but because abroad wasn't invented until we were almost grown up. We've a lot of globetrotting to do before we catch up with our children. Do you really begrudge us that? Or are cheap flights only for the young?

As for the perks of old age, I agree. TV licences and fuel allowance should at least be means tested. (Many 'selfish' pensioners already give the money to charity.) Bus passes should maybe give a 50% reduction so bus companies get some money too. No point in a free pass if there are no buses.

But damning an entire generation just because some of us were lucky and worked hard and try and do our bit? Not fair. Not kind. Not clever. Not accurate – especially from someone who put so much store on 'grace and wisdom.'

A few things will be worse down the ages, many things will be better. Starting an inter-generational slanging match won't help anything.

No wonder we grown ups are feeling a bit scowly…


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