Sunday, March 25, 2012

Intergenerational equality

Today's precarity of labour - is there not the temptation to construct it as the end of a neoliberal project in which the baby boomer generation has pocketed all that was once the domain of the commons?

"New census data in the U.S. indicate that 37 percent of American households headed by someone under 35 now have a net worth of zero or less; households headed by a person over 65 have a net worth 47 times greater than younger households; the incomes of young people have fallen over 10 percent since 2000 even as the cost of living rises; and starting salaries are frozen or down even for those who do find jobs. 

And at present this problem is dealt with privately, by intergenerational wealth transfer (inheritance / rich parents), but increasingly, by making social compromises: 

Over a million more young people are living at home since 2008, and a "boomerang" generation (returning to live with their parents because of precarious work prospects) has grown up across North America and Western Europe. Traditional milestones of adulthood—living independently, marrying, having children, buying a home—seem as distant to the precariously employed as the traditional social welfare network based on "standard employment". 

In saying that, doesn't neo-liberalism then treat every disjunct between social (regulatory) life and economic (regulatory) life in terms of a crisis of efficiency? 

And isn't the inevitable solution we will be offered be the re-inscribing of familial relations into economic terms?




    Around the world, the response to chronic youth unemployment has been consistently traditional. The Arab world takes to the streets the way it did in the 1950s. Italy returns to its antique paterfamilias. England goes into its standard mode of underclass rioting. And what's happening in the United States would be instantly recognizable to any progressive of the 1930s.

  3. i find that quote above interesting