For the past few generations, it has been the standard, expected outcome that each successive generation would end up better-off than the one before.
While grandparents may have survived the Great Depression and scrimped and saved to afford a house and a car, the parents then owned a car each, a home and possibly a recreational vehicle, or even a recreational property.
The days of strict grocery budgets went out the window, it seems, and things like eating out were not the rare treat they once may have been, and foods like butter and ice cream or mandarin oranges became standard instead of exceptional.
Nowadays, children expect to own all manner of luxuries, including iPods, mountain bikes and skis, and many don’t have a part-time job to help pay for those toys either.
And while the progression the developed world has experienced over the past few generations is perhaps in some ways a natural one within our system, it seems as though it cannot go on indefinitely.
I have thought about this a lot, and about some of our society’s expectations for future generations.
A friend of the family once told me he learned my generation (and his children’s) was going to be the first one in history to end up worse off in later years than their parents. Talk about a depressing thought, and people wonder why younger generations appear to be lacking in motivation. We should be motivated to work harder for less? Tough sell, especially to generations growing up having been given so much.
While younger generations might have to get some tough life lessons later in life, having had few challenges in early years, maybe it shouldn’t just be a blame game on the youth.
We have an aging population we have to pay for, pay increases have been outstripped by increases in costs of living, and rises in real estate values versus annual income have gone up astronomically in many places.
This past week’s stock market fluctuation caused by the credit rating fiasco in the U.S. and their seemingly insurmountable debt load makes me wonder how much longer our system can function without some serious sober second thought.
While Canada may be seen as a much more stable and dependable economy, I’m not entirely convinced the country will not encounter its own crash and burn in the future.
While our government is cutting spending, by measures like slashing Environment Canada to the bone (because who needs to monitor water quality anyhow?), they are also relying on taxation from sources like the oil sands and natural gas “fracking.”
Both of these are widely criticized for their heavy use and contamination of fresh water, and both are the liquidation of natural resources, leaving future generations holding the bag.
I would just like to ask what my generation and future generations will be left with in the end?
I hope previous generations and our government stop to consider this, after all, none of us wants to drown in toxic water, debt or both.