I am a little bit excited.
A couple of weeks ago, P found a video on YouTube by Lord David Willetts who is many things but among them he is the President of the Resolution Foundation’s Advisory Council and Intergenerational Centre. Anyway, he has been involved in a lot of research about the relationships between generations and the statistics that tell us about past and present influences on those generations. The video is called “Have the Boomers Pinched Their Children’s Futures?” or “Boomer Economics”. It’s a fascinating talk and begins with the question “If you had the choice, would you rather be born with a large cohort of people the same age as you, or with a small cohort of people the same age as you?” Lord Willetts has an engagingly humourous approach and an endearing humility about his own role in what he reveals. (I should say, that like his title, his talk is terribly British.) But the fact is, there are a lot of Boomers compared to generations since. It was after two World Wars and the population had suffered severe losses. What that episode of increased child-birth means now is that the Boomer Generation have strongly influenced the running of business and politics for the last thirty plus years and because they are a big generation, their voice (democratically speaking) is bound to be heard. Lord Willetts goes into far more detail than that but that’s all I want to say here because I am simply reflecting that his speech brought home to me the difficulty of overcoming the sheer weight in numbers. Sorry Boomers, I have nothing against any of you personally. I just want young people to have a say in their futures.
And now… events in Ireland have resurrected hope in that wish coming true!
So, as usual, my first port of call once the kids were at school this morning, was to make myself a cute little pot of plunger coffee and plug in my earphones for my daily dose of The Signal. This morning’s podcast is entitled “How a Whole Generation Got Mad.”
Sinn Fein (as close to Socialist as Ireland gets) just won the popular vote in the Irish Election and might even form government.
Ange and Stephen interview Kate – an ex BBC journalist who has just moved from Dublin to Sydney. To summarise 10+ minutes of chat into a couple of sentences, Kate basically attributes the massive swing to the left to the youth of Ireland being completely ignored in politics to date. Rental prices have been so high that most people (even with full time jobs like nursing or teaching) can’t afford to move out of their parents’ home until they are in their mid to late thirties. Furthermore, there have been some controversial referendums that have brought the attention of young people to political issues. Both same sex marriage and abortion were legalized in Ireland after referendums. According to Kate, once you get into politics, it’s hard to extricate yourself and I think I agree with that. So, even in a country where voting is not compulsory, enough young people were engaged with the political conversation that this kind of swing became achievable.
Of course, the question they then posed was, could this happen in Australia?
The housing issues are present but not as severe here. But I think what COULD take us across the line in 2022 is Greta Thunberg. We had our same sex marriage plebiscite which resulted in a resounding “YES”. But I think it’s Greta who has caught the imagination of young people and made them believe they CAN make a difference. And this government is so stubbornly deaf to the validity of their points or even to their right to participate that it might just enrage them enough to make a difference.
One can only hope.