BY GENEVIEVE CLARKE
I am nineteen years old. I was born in 1998 a few months after Michael Owen scored that amazing goal against Argentina at the World Cup.
I was taken home from hospital to our family home which my parents had bought in 1992 for £52,000 and was already worth £122,000. Both my parents worked – my mother as an administrative assistant for the NHS and my father for an HR agency. My mother knew she would retire at 60 and my father at 65. Both were responsible savers back then and are now. Both had pensions in place from their early thirties. My Dad had been to university for free and my mother attended a polytechnic for free.
This autumn I am off to Warwick University to study for a maths degree. I am paying £9250 a year. This should set me up for a job with a starting salary of £25,840 a year. With that I can likely afford a home with a value of round about £80,000 after my disposable income is considered. I shall be able to just about afford a studio flat in the burbs and then a new car on finance.
Many people of my age are in the same boat. They face a future of debt and know that the flats they can afford once their income starts coming in are the size of their parents’ lounges. But – unlike many of my peers – I am not complaining. Why?
My life expectancy is 80. My mother’s is 72. Imagine what I can do with those extra 8 years.
I shall likely inherit the property value growth that my parents were fortuitous enough to gain while owning their own house. I do not wish to see the demise of my parents soon but know that any debt I am collecting now will be returned by my parents’ wise financial planning at some point in the future.
Even if I inherit nothing, let’s say my parents cannot pass me any money and I must survive off my own means throughout my life, I know that today’s technology (all my generation owns a phone and either a laptop or iPad or both) allows me to flog items on eBay or write content for paying publications or find some book-keeping or generate cash through surveys or trials. I do not need to go to the expense of posting hundreds of letters for jobs or queue at the corner shop to send a fax or pound the streets to put my CV in potential employers’ hands. Nor do I need to invest in blue tack or drawing pins to plaster boards with “job required” advertisements.
When I finally get my flat I can spend no more than a thousand pounds on Amazon and have all I need in terms of furniture and electrical goods delivered to my door. No need for hiring a van or begging my parents to buy a roof rack or paying a workman.
I can plug my electrical goods into the wall knowing they will work and continue to work without fear of power cuts. Into my freezer I can place piles of food – food which costs less than it did in 1998, is of far superior quality and is readily available on or offline.
Then I can sit back on my sofa and skim through the latest offerings on Amazon Prime or Netflix. Rather than heading down to the video store and spending money on videos, the journey down and large packets of M&Ms which I vaguely recall greeted you as you handed over the film you then had to go to the expense of returning the very next day.
Yes, our parents had it good. But not nearly as good as we do. My generation is an embarrassment. We are not the generation who received our marching orders and were sent off to hell (the stories this week of Passchendaele make me feel even more embarrassed about how much my generation whines). Nor were we the generation who drove the tractors and fire trucks while our brothers and partners rushed up the beaches in Normandy. Nor were we the generation who lived via food stamps, spam and corned beef – for whom chicken and orange juice were luxuries.
We are the generation of Starbucks cafes and Mac Air Books. We are the Instagram generation of narcissism, covetousness and slothfulness. Few of us know what a hard day’s work is. None of us know whether we will get on the property ladder or what the value of houses will be in the future. We are the healthy generation and have little to complain about – we are not short of employment as the influx of immigrants shows (they are doing the jobs now that many of our parents started out doing as students or as full-time work). We have no right to complain.
What upsets me most is that my generation – despite all the material available to us online – think that it’s the Government who are to blame for any disadvantages we may have. As if it’s the Government who can change everything and print the wealth we need to have all we ever dreamed of. Have we never met a civil servant? Have we not seen that they are not supermen and women? We blame bankers and Tories for our hindrances yet can’t we study the free pdf downloads or videos on YouTube which show what wealth the bankers have brought to Britain, what the Thatcher revolution did to reduce tax rates and set the working class free? Why are we so myopic and self-centred? Why can’t we be the buccaneering teenagers of the era of Drake or Raleigh and make Britain the greatest and wealthiest nation on earth through our inventiveness, cunning and chutzpah?
Some of us see through the bearded Pied Piper and get our heads down and graft.
Others expect everything to be laid up on a plate before them. As if by magic. Because that’s how they were brought up – feel hunger, order Papa Johns. Are we so uneducated and blind that we get sold a pup time and time again?
We are the spoilt generation. And I am embarrassed to be a part of it.