Bagehot: Generation Xhausted | The Economist

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20:  British Prime M...

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 20: British Prime Minister David Cameron leaves Downing Street for Parliament on October 20, 2010 in London, England. The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is set to announce the coalition government’s spending review in Parliament. The review is designed to tackle the country’s deficit and will outline swinging cuts throughout the whole of the public sector with many public sector jobs set to be axed and budgets significantly reduced. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

This article from Bagehot in the Economist would be funny if it were not so sad. I recommend it for a read. Check it out!

Bagehot: Generation Xhausted | The Economist.

Being older than the author, retired and having seen a fair bit of the World, of course, I see matters slightly differently. In my generation too, I saw enormous pressure to make progress up the ladder, then to realize that at of a certain age, the ladder is withdrawn. Sadly, for the current generation of professionals and aspiring professionals there are three differences to my generation:

  • The ladder is being offered later in life and to fewer more carefully selected individuals;
  • The ladder is being withdrawn at a much younger age too, and
  • Alternative career paths, like independent consulting and executive interim management are disappearing, as they become commoditized by David Cameron‘s Public Sector procurement policy.

For me, society seems less egalitarian than in my generation. Success seems much more dependent upon class, school, privilege, family wealth and connections. In my day, hard work could get you a long way…

What do you think?

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5 responses

  1. Having revisited this blog in the light of current circumstances the situation has in fact become worse.
    We now see the UK,s productivity at 20th in the world and 16% below the average for the G7.
    The gap between those at the top and those at the bottom is bigger than ever with Times 1000 CEO,s on close to £8 million gbp a year irrespective of whether they perform or not and average pay running at £27,000 gbp a year or £32,000 gbp for London.
    The gap between a Hedge Fund Manager or “Master of the Universe” in the City can in some cases be as much as 1000 to 1 which is as bad as things were when Charles Dickens wrote his searing novels.
    The difference now is that there are no workhouses,no Beadles and there is dole,Personal Independence Benefits,Housing Benefits and food banks.
    The recent action against Wonga by the Financial Conduct Authority shows that an increasing number of people are simply not earning enough money to live on and are being driven to feckless behaviour.
    Many children come to school unfed and are malnourished,50% of our “rough sleepers” are ex forces personnel abandoned by local authorities and we now have a permanent and growing feral underclass of 6 million people who the authorities and the politicians are not even prepared to acknowledge.
    People wanting upward mobility from ordinary backgrounds need to learn languages,upskill themselves and emigrate,they will rarely find upward mobility on merit alone in the UK.
    This is not just my view, it is illustrated by survey after survey that shows that the UK is elitist,classist and has less social mobility than was the case in the 1950,s some 60 plus years ago.

  2. Pingback: Bagehot: Grounded for now | The Economist « Dr Alf's Blog

  3. Generation exhausted?

    Who on earth is he kidding?

    If he wants to see what work and pace is all about he should go to Wuxi and Shanghai and see how they operate–A day in those places will make you feel as though you have been on a bare knuckle ride whereas New York operates at half the pace and life here is akin to being asleep and walking in molasses.

    The reality is the UK is 15th in the World for productivity and has slipped backwards during the Olympics with every sign of the malaise continuing as huge numbers of people follow David Cameron’s and Nick Clegg’s example and go on holiday.

    What is most shocking about this is the fact that we have been told to expect:

    –Austerity until 2020

    –A series of estimates about growth, not one of which has come true

    –Action on the bankers, none of which has materialized

    –An Olympic “bounce”, when there is no evidence of any improvement whatsoever

    We have been told that “wer’e all in this together” when manifestly we are not and we have been lied to again and again about the costs of the Olympics, the rationale for overseas aid, the reasons for being in Afghanistan, why we are interfering in Syria, the state of the economy, our education system and the true levels of immigration and unemployment.

    The average British worker is lazy, unproductive, uncompetitive, lacks real motivation or drive and lacks foresight and language skills.

    Our shopkeepers, hoteliers and publicans do not know the meaning of customer service and the public sector is even worse in terms of lack of productivity, lack of civility and its propensity to lie, dissemble and overcharge.

    British management and our super elite are also not up to the mark and pay themselves too much whilst delivering no exports and no growth except in the sizes of their bank balances, bonus structures, pay and “other emoluments”.

    There are of course exceptions but not enough of them to make a real difference fast enough.

    This is not enough to create the “ladder”, let alone leave it in place to enable others to climb it.

    What is needed is economic growth from exports, business expansion, necessary infrastructure like airports and essential road /rail links,lower taxes and more inward investment and enterprise education in our schools.

    I have long realised that for anyone earning less than £250,000 gbp a year who is not a Freemason, there is no political representation and “no ladder” other than that which you create yourself and that short of something really dramatic like a war or revolution this will not change.

    • John, I see that you have strong feelings on this issue! Many thanks for sharing your views. I agree that these are exceptionally challenging times and the UK Government is not doing enough to redress matters.

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