Posts by BenWilson

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  • Hard News: A few (more) words on The Hobbit,

    Something just occurred to me - the fact that baby boomers are copping so much crap recently is a sign that their hold on power if slipping. And one of the first things you do when you take power is to blame everything on your predecessor. Blaming them for looming crises etc is the perfect way of copping out of responsibility now.

    To some extent my generation bears responsibility for the same crises. So what if property has gone nuts? We don't have to own it, there are affordable investments we could have instead. The expectation to make money from property comes partially from a sense of entitlement. I don't think the boomer generation were expecting what happened, their obsession with property came from their parents who had lived through the depression, and actually experienced or seen homelessness. Also, having a roof over your head was a much bigger proportion of the basic comforts expected in times past, whereas now we expect a lot more than that.

    Also, I haven't really heard legions of X-Generationers or beyond demanding a return to 66% tax. If that happened, my income would halve, and I'd have to sell my house immediately to be able to afford to live.

    The blame game isn't really helpful - I see it being lined up as an excuse to cut pensions. That might be necessary, but I don't think it's helpful to add a "moral" dimension to it, as though somehow it's baby boomer's chickens coming home to roost.

    I do, however, think there's nothing wrong with the use of all that property to pay for aged medical care. If the state takes a lien out against their property, it's means the kids inherit less, sure, but that's vastly preferable, IMHO, to the kids being required to shell out of their own pockets or taxes for that care. If there is no property, then a welfare state should look after those oldies who've really got nothing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10280 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A few (more) words on The Hobbit, in reply to Sacha,

    And it means hearing people of a certain age banging on compulsively about certain popular activities and topics.

    That's definitely not unique to boomers. I just happen to come from the generation below, so have had to put up with a lot of it from them, but they copped it from their parents, and my kids are definitely going to hear about my interests.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10280 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A few (more) words on The Hobbit,

    I didn't intend a rag session on baby boomers when I said they might have liked some films I didn't, way back when Once Were Warriors came out. I guess some rags just have to come out. There's only been like 5 threads in 3 weeks....rags will find the flimsiest excuse.

    But that's part of the charm of PAS, it's conversational. Strictly on-topic threads get pretty stale pretty fast.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10280 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A few (more) words on The Hobbit, in reply to Islander,

    Islander, what you describe does sound like what she lives on when she is here. But of course the "demonstrated their skills and commitment" part has to be administered by someone. Which means basically a bureaucrat (or panel of them) deciding if her art is good, on a fairly frequent basis. For any art that is right on the fringe, like modern dance, finding anyone who has the first clue about it that wants to work for the government is not easy. It's likely to be lumped with other forms of dance, like ballet, which has very different standards. If she ends up before a panel of established practitioners in small country like NZ with a tiny pool of money for such things as dance, we're talking about being judged by one's competitors, hardly fair.

    It's an emotionally grueling process. Naturally it's going to be the production of accolades that leads to the main part of a panel deciding that you're any good. So your work simply being unpopular counts against you. Which does make you wonder why even bother having such a system - the popular stuff is self funding anyway.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10280 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A few (more) words on The Hobbit,

    But there's another factor at play: wealth distribution in NZ- and the UK and US- is now much less equitable.

    Again, I don't lay that at the feet of the baby boomers, though. It's a flow on from declining incomes - baby boomers also earn proportionately less now than they used to, but they mostly have assets that have grown. Declining incomes affects the younger generations, that's just a fact of life. If everyone's earning heaps, then differences diminish. If everyone's not earning much, those who already have a stash will start to pull away. Inequity is at it's worst in poverty stricken countries.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10280 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A few (more) words on The Hobbit, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    I don't think this is true, at all.

    I don't disagree with anything you said there, but it doesn't seem to point the finger at individuals, which is what you're reacting to there. Monetarism is a political ideology, and the baby boomers of my experience don't hold much truck with it, with a few exceptions. Most of them are socialists, at least in rhetoric.

    So I repeat, it's not their fault that NZ's economy went the way it did. It's not even the fault of the collective baby boomers of the whole industrialized world. I think it's much more systemic than that - our declining wealth is a natural consequence of capitalism generally, which follows the means of production. When that was monopolized by Europeans and Americans, we got a flow on from that. Now it is not. So our relative wealth simply has to decline. Or we could up our production, somehow, don't ask me how. But it's always going to be a hard fight to get back to former glory if that former glory happened to be lucky access to a monopoly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10280 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A few (more) words on The Hobbit,

    but if your sister can handle that kind of stuff, I sincerely wish her
    that kind of success.

    I'm not holding my breath. She's determined to do the art that she believes in, although she does grumble a lot about the poverty. Dancing's probably the worst remunerated art ever invented, not to mention physically grueling.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10280 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A few (more) words on The Hobbit,

    Your parents are obviously educated and intelligent people

    Yes, and in my mother's case, from a wealthy background too. It was only after I realized that they had been lent the deposit for their first house by her father that I swallowed my pride and did the same thing. But it's funny to think that they were purchasing their first holiday home at my age, whereas I just refinanced so that I could afford to pay my provisional tax bill.

    I'm technically (and actually) a very high income earner and have been for about 15 years. But somehow I don't seem to have any more money than they seemed to when I was young, I drive second (or more likely 10th) hand cars, live in a modest suburb, and have to think hard about any purchase over a few hundred dollars. I have often considered retraining, but simply couldn't afford it, now that I have 3 mouths to feed. My mum did her Masters at about the same time I was studying, at about my current age, something her workplace actively encouraged (she's a teacher/lecturer), and she was instantly rewarded with a much higher salary on completion. If I did any such thing I'd be taking a huge pay cut.

    The great irony is that most of my friends who did not go to university are in a comparable position to me financially, or much richer. They also had kids a lot younger.

    But you do have to wonder about the quality of a tertiary education that fails to provide the means to understand a changing world

    Nah - that's unfair. Understanding a changing world is always hard work, and also something you have to keep at. If you get old and comfortable, you might let it slide - one of the best things about this site is that all ages are allowed, but you can't stay comfortable if you want to push your outdated misunderstandings. The demographic I miss is kids - are there any teenagers out there? Anyone early twenties? I want to hear what life's like for them now. Sounds like varsity is 100% swot now.

    Bursaries, especially the kind that gave you a livable income, were far from universal, and were generally granted for academic achievement.

    Yes, I was an "A" bursary myself. But it was, like, $100. I used it to buy a couple of text books.

    I didn't help by being exceptionally lazy and not doing much additional work aside from the summers.

    I see it as a sign of the times that opting not to work weekends would be considered "exceptionally lazy".

    Only who knows if the property market will bubble again in the next 5 years putting it out of reach again.

    If you're dead keen on property, and your Dad's pushing the idea too, get him to put his money where his mouth is. The least he could do is offer to guarantee your deposit, which would cost him nothing, so long as you don't default the loan. But I'm not offering any advice on whether property in NZ is a good thing to invest in at the moment. I'm not qualified for that, and I think financial advice is a dangerous thing to give people if you don't specialize in it. In fact, I think it's dangerous to trust anyone else with investments and the best thing you can do is learn up as much as you can about them. Maybe another class of investment would be better, and forget about property, just rent. I'd feel a heck of a lot more economically safe if I was renting, and had all of the equity I now have as cash in the bank instead. You can spend cash. Cash doesn't cost you money. Or there's stocks and any number of other assets which have higher liquidity and returns than property. But I do love my property. Old 5k00l, uc.

    I'm still paying off my student loan which means the amount of money to put towards a house, marriage and kids is reduced - i'm hoping to have it sorted by the time i'm 35.

    Word. Went through exactly the same thing, and it feels odd to look back and realize that these colossal life choices were economically dictated, that all the struggles that so many of my friends have gone through with having children due to the women being in their 30s, didn't come from the X-Generation's "failure to commit", but rather because the X-Generation didn't want to put their children through hardship that they didn't have to endure themselves, when their parents lived through times of 100% employment, great penal rates, low property prices, etc. Always it seemed that economic stability was just around the corner. I have no particular evidence, but I can't help but feel that the disabling birth accident that happened to my first son wasn't helped by my wife being mid-30s. This isn't something you usually appreciate in your 20s. My parents and their friends didn't have to consider any of this.

    Andin, whilst I appreciate that the generalizations about baby boomers might not apply to an artist like yourself, it's worth comparing what the life of artists my age is like. My sister is a professional dancer (arty, not sleazy), and has been on the bones of her arse for ... ever. Her student loan passed the $100,000 mark years ago, now I don't even ask, I think my parents are paying the interest, and will subtract that from her inheritance. She's not lazy, quite the opposite, she's one of the most driven people I know. But the year you topped $26,000 is an unthinkable dream for her. There is just NO MONEY in the arts, unless you are lucky enough to crack the big-time, which does also seem to mean "selling out" as well. She's only able to do it because of support from Mum and Dad. The subculture she dwells in is very much an underclass, bearing all the hallmarks of lumpen proletarianism, lots of scamming, abuse, and a generally grasping attitude, as you'd expect from people drowning in poverty.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10280 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A few (more) words on The Hobbit,

    I can't speak for lots of people, but my parents went through university in the 60s and reported that it extremely easy. Not only were they able to buy a house during that period, because houses cost very little in central west Auckland, but they lived comfortably on Mum's bursary, and Dad working weekends in a bottle-shop, to the point that they were able to afford to pop out 2 children, and take a 6 month vacation all around Europe. Contrast that to when I went through university, I was faced with a $3,000 bill at the start of every year, for which I had to borrow money. My bursary was the same amount it had been for decades, about $100. I got a student allowance for exactly one month, being a November baby, the princely sum of $45. After that, means-testing was introduced, and my parents were too wealthy for me to get an allowance. So I worked weekends, and got paid $43.50 after tax, for 2 days work. That was about enough money to cover petrol and a little bit of food every week, no way I could possibly pay rent, or even board. So I was basically required to continue living at my parents' house for my entire degree. Buying property was totally out of the question, indeed despite being a high income earner since I left university, it took until my mid-30s to be able to afford it (by which time I'd also paid off my student loan). This comparative hardship meant that I and most of my peers borrowed the "living expenses" part included into student loans, which ended up accounting for more than half of it.

    My parents could not understand any of this because it did not tally with their memory of how things had been in their day. This inter-generational misunderstanding was widespread, basically the parents of everyone I knew were unable to believe that inflation had made relative paupers of their children, whilst making them fabulously wealthy (most of my friends' parents are millionaires from property). So they did not act like millionaires, who will typically fully fund their children through tertiary education, giving them large allowances. Instead, everyone was expected to work, as they had to "pay their way". But, as I show above, unskilled work in the late 80s/early 90s was paid very little (there was no such thing as penal rates any more), it was barely worth the time spent, considering how much time it took away from studying, and that other useful thing that weekends are for, relaxing (let alone studying, which I was doing every night). I was extremely stressed out most of the years I was at university because I never stopped working. As soon as term was finished I'd get a full-time job, and over the 3 months would earn probably about $2000, which didn't quite cover student fees for the next year. But this period was at least a bit relaxing because on the weekends I got to do what most workers do, actually rest.

    I don't really want to hassle "baby boomers" by any of this. I don't see them as selfish people. They just didn't know how things had changed for young people. When they went to university, it was quite a rare thing and a virtual guarantee of high income afterward. When I went, it was a norm, and unless you did a specialist degree that led straight to a career path, it meant very little. I realized this early and elected to double major, picking up computing, despite the fact that I didn't really want to study it at all. I'm still doing it today, because I need the money, not because I love it. When I left the country for work, again it was mostly for the money, at that time.

    Ultimately I don't think you should blame a demographic for macroeconomics. Individuals are not responsible for the fact that NZ has become steadily less wealthy over the last 30 years, despite the steady increase in wealth of those who were working age before then. It's a phenomenon that covers most of the First World. I don't even claim to know exactly why it's happened, although I can speculate that WW2 caused a lot of it, in the way that it massively intensified industry, and forced government expenditure to that end. It's far easier to justify a command economy in war time than in peace. This possibly is behind the continued position of the US as the number one economy - essentially they've never stopped being at war.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10280 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A few (more) words on The Hobbit, in reply to Islander,

    Well, I've noticed financial records to be the one thing most hoarders don't keep.

    Hoarding is something I'm slowly training myself out of. But there's still a draw at my parents' house with all my exercise books from primary school. I chanced across them in my 20s, and discovered that I had once actually mastered cursive handwriting, and completely forgotten that I had done so. "Print script" was introduced when I was 10, and it's still what I use. It's quite scary to come across years of your own work and not recognize it at all.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10280 posts Report Reply

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