The notion that today’s kids must be the most spoiled, ungrateful and entitled generation is nothing new.
It’s a sentiment that our parents’ generation felt and all generations before them. In fact, the writings of the Ancient Greeks express such sentiments.
Certainly, it’s a notion I heard when I was young ... although, perhaps not without justification. I am a baby boomer, but I do take pride in the fact that I was born in the latter part of this generation. As such I take some solace in not being as caught up with the self-indulgence and entitlement most associated with those of the baby boom generation.
Well, the first of the baby boom generation is now hitting retirement age and, sadly, it doesn’t seem as if that sense of entitlement has left them. Or so a couple recent stories emerging of the provincial and federal budget seem to indicate.
The first revolves around the decision by the federal Conservative to increase to 67 years the age in which one can apply for old age security benefit … but not until 2023. Evidently, special considerations seem to still apply to the baby boomers — or at least those born before 1958. Those born afterwards will now be robbed of two years of seniors’ benefit.
For a generation that benefited from the building of new schools and recreational facilities to accommodate their needs, reasonable tuition rates in university, plentiful job opportunities when they graduated and cheap mortgages in 1970s and low housing prices, the old age security benefit becomes just latest entitlement granted to this generation simply because of its size.
The generations that will follow — especially our kids that will struggle with tuition debt, high housing costs and uncertainty in the job market — will be working longer. So perhaps the generation that governments have always catered because of its extraordinary size needs to slightly careful when it talks about who has an inflated sense of entitlement and who doesn’t.
The other story that causes one to pause and think about generational entitlement is the provincial government’s budget day decision to increase the deductible on seniors’ prescriptions to $20 instead of $15.
Yes, it hits all current seniors (although it should be noted that provisions within the prescription drug act that prohibit rich seniors from qualifying also waive the deductible fees for those truly poor seniors that can’t afford it.)
But perhaps most galling is the argument from recently or near-retirement-age baby boomers that this is some horrific policy aimed at them.
The province will spend $11,195,913,000 in fiscal year 2012-13 $30,673,734 a day. Notwithstanding our fortunate, on-going rise in revenue, this is substantial amount of money that will leave us with a paltry $14.9 million surplus at year’s end. That is all we have this year to combat an overall provincial debt that will grow by a billion dollars this year. One might recall that debt. It was largely accumulated in the 1980s when the baby boomer generation did not demand better of governments that ran up 13 consecutive deficit budgets,
One gets why the more elderly seniors that have already been paying the full cost of inflated prescription drugs would be justifiably angry. But those that most benefited from low taxes (i.e. the removal of the gas tax in the 1980s) are outraged by a slight alteration to cheap drug policy implemented to appease them?
The cost of the province’s prescription drug plan has skyrocketed from $120.7 million 10 years ago to $309.5 million this year. Yet much of the grumbling seems to be coming from our newest seniors who see no reason why they shouldn’t continue to be treated as the privileged generation — even if future generations will pay for it.
Maybe it’s not necessarily the next generation that’s most spoiled.
Murray Mandryk has been covering provincial politics for over 15 years.