Most helpful positive review
32 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Brave and well thought-through
on 5 May 2010
How lucky my generation has been. Never called up to fight a major war. A student-loan-free education. An indomitable feeling that we can do anything. A generation approaching oldie-ship that will look different, act atypically and feel unconventionally about ourselves. No lawn bowls for us, or fawn windcheaters, or sensible shoes (unless we choose to wear them with a sense of post-modern irony, of course...). Heli-skiing at 73 - why not?
In a characteristically scholarly but lucidly readable fashion, Willetts provides a sociological, economic and demographic grand tour of a generation that has amassed great wealth and power and, he postulates, pulled up the drawbridge behind it. Reading it as a BB evokes pride and guilt in equal measures, but Willetts, a baby-boomer himself, stresses that this is not a book attacking his generation, but merely asking it to use its power wisely and fairly.
As a financial planner I deal with many made-it-big-time baby boomers, but watch with dread the younger cohorts sleepwalking into great poverty in old age. Many start life in debt; often have a misplaced obsession with property (Willetts cites research that suggests our decisions about what to invest in are shaped for several decades by the types of assets that were booming in our youth), and even their bosses, whose own pension planning might have been derailed by reductions in tax-relief for the better-off, may no longer feel quite so inclined to encourage their younger staff to save prudently for their later years.
I related strongly to Willetts' idea of baby boomers who were allowed to be 'free-range children', and that the social contract between parents and children is less trusting these days, for reasons I still don't fully comprehend, even as a father. Many children of that generation, this reviewer included, spent their days playing freely in the fields/bomb sites/streets - sans mobile phone or GPS kiddie-tracker or bicycle helmet - turning up muddy, grazed, but happy, for afternoon tea. We took risks, made mistakes and got messy, but, equally, so did our parents in allowing us the freedom of spirit that now seems to be emblematic of the generation.
So read this book - if you're not a BB, try to understand that although we're not an evil generation, we certainly got lucky, without necessarily realising it. If you are a BB, heed Willetts' words - that your children are the ones who might eventually choose your care home...