NEIL BOORMAN - IT'S ALL THEIR FAULT: PART ONE
Here's the first of five extracts from Neil Boorman's new book It's All Their Fault. Last week's interview with Neil got you all riled up about your stations in life and how those bastard parents of yours deserve to be bitch-hunted to oblivion, here's the rational reasoning behind your rage. If you give a shit about the election and the future, Neil's a good man to listen to.
Every new generation is defined by the icons and events of its time. For Generation X, it was supposed to be grunge; MTV and the internet for Generations Y and Z. All that went the way of Woolworths on the day the Boomers took control. Forget about iPlayer or YouTube, the symbol for generations born after 1964 is the credit card, because each and every one of us is sitting on a mountain of debt, built up and handed down to us by our folks. You don’t need to read this book to know how tough it is to live a normal life these days. You are living with the reality everyday. Everything is expensive and in short supply. Nothing comes easy. And it’s going to get worse. This manifesto will tell you what you can do about it.
Every baby in the UK is now born owing £22,500 – his or her share of the £1.4 trillion credit crunch bailout. Added to which the average student graduates owing more than £20,000. Add all this together, and you’re left with a generation owing more than £40,000 before they’ve earned their first pay packet. That’s if you can get a job; there are 2.5 million people unemployed in the UK. One million of them are under 25.
Pay packets, when you do finally find work, don’t stretch beyond the absolute basics. First-time buyers need to earn an above-average salary to afford an ex-council flat, and you need a partner earning a full-time wage just to cover the food and heating. It’s getting to the point where having children is a luxury.
Student debt is sold to us as an investment for our future, but that BA (Hons) certificate isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. The more companies streamline and outsource their manpower, the less chance we have of winning well-paid, long-term contracts. Forget about jobs for life, university graduates are settling for part-time shop work or volunteering abroad.
These days, it’s not unusual for 30-year-old professionals to go begging cap in hand to the Bank of Mum and Dad for bailouts. And branches of the Hotel of Mum and Dad are springing up all the time – providing beds for a generation that studies hard for grades and toils diligently at work but still can’t afford to make their own way. And where are the proprietors of Mum and Dad Plc, now that the credit crunch has killed the party? They’re safely tucked away in gated communities, or on permanent vacation in their places in the sun, leaving us to fight over the expensive dregs. If we have one certainty in the future, it’s that we’ll be working long past retirement age – which incidentally is being raised – to pay off the debts. Heaven help the kids who are being born into this mess. Go here to see how the exact same problem is kicking off overseas.
It was a different story when our parents were growing up. In fact, their lives sound like fairytales compared to ours. They fully expected to live a better life than their own folks. They drew decent wages from long-term jobs and received generous benefits from the welfare state. For them education was free and houses (not flats) were cheap and readily available. When prices boomed in the Eighties, they paid off their mortgages overnight. Suddenly flush with new money, rather than saving it sensibly, even working-class families were out buying new cars and colour TVs and taking holidays abroad. Mothers returned to work not just to cover the bills, but to improve the living standards of the family.