23 June 2011 by Dan Jones

Dan Jones wants us dead

The Age Debate, day two. According to eminent young historian Dan Jones, his generation has been stiffed by ours. But is he too obsessed with money?

Dan Jones

Whatcha gonna do about it? Occupy?

They fuck you up, your mum and dad. That was Philip Larkin’s take. It’s mine, too. Thanks to you, the over-50s, the world has right gone to buggery. And it’s my generation, the poor old under-30s, who are going to have to mop it all up, along with your senile bodily emissions. But more of that in a second.

The biggest crisis the western world in general – and Britain in particular – will face in the next three decades is not global warming, or radical Islamic terrorism. It is a demographic crisis, caused squarely by your generation.

You had it good. Your youth coincided with the advent of universal healthcare and free education and the welfare state. You were born healthy, you grew up to be wealthy and bright.

You sit in the houses that you bought cheap and sold for a fortune, pricing my generation out of the market

When you went to university, you got to smoke crap pot and make peace signs on the government’s tick. When you got bored, you graduated and you finally got a haircut, and there was a guaranteed job waiting for you, during a period of full employment.

And then there was a house. You bought the cheap property sold off in the 1980s with the same vigour and dedication that you dropped acid and listened to knobby music like Caravan and Jethro Tull in the 1970s. You bought your houses cheap. You hung on to them. You climbed the ladder. You started a family, because you could afford to do so.

And now you’re sitting at the top.

The world your generation built was good. And I am jealous. Because I am the child of a couple of over-50s. I have a daughter who is the grandchild of these same over-50s. And the world we have inherited from you is ruined.

Your generation will live longer than any before it. You will live far too long. Your pensions have blown a hole in the public finances that our generation has somehow to deal with.

Your life expectancy will burden the NHS to such a degree that universal healthcare, free at the point of delivery, will no longer be an option for my generation, or for my daughter’s.

To add insult to injury, once my generation has raised our children, we’ll probably have to take on the burden of nursing you through your dotage, mopping up your nappies for decades as you chunter ever onwards, refusing to bloody die.

And that’s not even the last of it. Your generation, many of whom benefited from publicly funded higher education, has decided that my daughter’s generation will have no such luxury. She, or more probably I, will have to take on more than £50,000 of debt in order to put her through university.

You sit in the houses that you bought cheap and sold for a fortune, pricing my generation out of the market, enjoying the wealth that came from your property windfall, leaving the rest of us only to dream of owning the place in which we live.

I know you didn’t do any of this intentionally. But you did it, nonetheless. Your lot screwed my lot over. And there’s not a jot we can do, except write angry articles like this, mainly because we need the cash to pay the exorbitant rent, and put a bit aside for the incontinence pads we’ll be buying you in a few years.

So maybe it’s not Philip Larkin whom I should have quoted at the beginning of this rancorous, undignified rant. It is Emile Zola, who looked at the rotten mob around him in the 1890s and wrote, ‘J’accuse’.

Read the Age Debate, day one: Peter York mourns the youthquake

Dan is a columnist for the London Evening Standard and is Editor-at-Large of Men’s Health magazine. He also writes for The Times, The Spectator, GQ, The Telegraph, and The Literary Review. In November 2007 Dan was named PTC New Journalist of the Year. His new book The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings Who Invented England was published in May.


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Added 23 Jun 2011 - 1:12 pm

Well what a load of bollocks, i was just sticking up for the younger generation feat Peter York, when you popped up and let rip, whats your problem, you have just reinforced and stereotyped what he and most of his generation think about young people, you had a great chance to espouse the strength and hope of your generation .. As it happens i just happen to like Jethro Tull and its you thats Living in the Past mate, so what if life aint a bed of roses, yea bad decisions have been made, but its up to you to get out there and change it to what you believe it should be, and I would be on your side.

So no point in moaning about it, do it, you see life generations go full circle, things happen to be the same regardless, its only the time and place thats is different, actually thinking about it you need to get out and have some fun, so chill out or it’ll be you that gets old before your time.

Added 23 Jun 2011 - 10:35 pm

Rather whingy stuff. As it happens, I have a lot of sympathy (as would anyone, I suppose) with a younger version of myself. I came from a family with nothing, and through the social mobility available to me got a lot more than them, but, objectively, a modest amount when all’s told. Outside of London you can still buy property, as I did, on a modest income. Unlike me, you’ll pay a tiny amount of interest (I paid 15% on my first mortgage). Our generation weren’t driven everywhere by their parents, walked or bussed alone to school, worked in saturday or holiday jobs to get any money at all.
Were we more virtuous and deserving? Not at all. My generation raised idiotic kids. But otherwise we are blameless.

Added 24 Jun 2011 - 5:49 pm

Be gentle with the young man. Twattism is now recognised as a degenerative disease by the medical establishment.