Coffee House

Spectator Debate: Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Welcome to Generation Y’s world

18 June 2014

1:26 PM

18 June 2014

1:26 PM

The Spectator’s latest debate – Stop Whining Young People: You’ve Never Had It So Good – was most disgracefully skewed in favour of the proposition. Not only did the epically relaxed moderator Toby Young flagrantly and self-confessedly side with the proposers but so too did the event sponsor, Alan Warner of Duncan Lawrie private banking.

Warner recalled, in his introductory speech, how very difficult it had been as a young man coming to terms with the fact that he would never be able to afford to live, like his parents’ generation, in Chelsea. Instead, he had to venture to the exotic reaches of the Angel, Islington and had to endure years of taunts on the lines of ‘Well I know where it is on the Monopoly board. It’s the last pale blue cheap one before you get to the jail’.

[Alt-Text]


Still it was a good point well made and got to the very heart of the problem faced by those opposing the motion: yes it may feel right that today’s struggling yoof with their student loans and their unpaid internships are having it tougher than ever. But unfortunately there’s just no hard evidence to support it.

As both economics editor Jeremy Warner and social trends analyst Paul Flatters noted in their sparkling proposition speeches, on every measure – health, standard of living, GDP per capita growth, technological advances, potential longevity – today’s young generation are the most blessed in all history. Plus, according to the event’s comedy turn – a weird, nervy, skinny fellow called James Delingpole – they have much easier access than any before them to life’s three main essentials – sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll (Tinder/Grindr; Silk Road; Spotify – in case you wondered).

Faced with these overwhelming arguments, the motion’s opposers had no option but to die valiantly on the wire. Personal finance writer Katie Morley (at 25, the only actual member of Generation Y on the panel) did so with youthful passion and earnestness; Ed Howker – journalist and author of Jilted Generation: How Britain Bankrupted its Youth, did so with wit and magisterial eloquence; Tottenham MP David Lammy did so with a smooth, loftily wearied, and gently affecting plea on behalf of his Labour party’s brand of apparently benign and caring statism.

But it wasn’t enough. Though the opposers won the most votes in total, they lost on rhetoric: 15 members of the audience who had voted against the motion at the beginning had been persuaded to change their minds by the end.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
  • The Red Bladder

    Well I dunno about all that but I reckon I had a far and away better time of it during my young adulthood in the 1960s than the kids do today. I’ve seen both and I certainly know which I’d prefer.

  • dado_trunking

    When in OUR world of rising (not falling) levels of inequality of opportunity (not outcome) an exceedingly large number of probands will find it impossible to rise into the top tier of their respective societal haute volée, then why not consult the *median* GDP per capita level to shed some light onto the dire socio-economic future of Anglo-America? You cannot have it both ways.
    Stop measuring with tools that only support a fallacy. Utilise the brain instead.

  • Hello

    This is just a debate that the baby-boomers and generation X’s are having, to convince themselves that they’ve left behind a wonderful world. Generation Y really doesn’t care.

    But we’re glad that we’re providing an excuse for granny and granddad to have a little night out at the British Library.

  • dado_trunking

    If in a world of rising (not falling) levels of inequality of opportunity (not outcome) an exceedingly large number of probands will find it impossible to rise into the top tier of their respective societal haute volée, then why not consult the *median* GDP per capita level to shed some light onto the dire socio-economic future of Anglo-America?
    You cannot have it both ways.

    • Count Dooku

      Huh? Global inequality has been falling rapidly as well as global poverty. We met the Millenium Goals two years early!

      • dado_trunking

        you just shifted the goal posts there. Do you realise?

        • Count Dooku

          I don’t see how I’ve moved goalposts. You edited your post to include “of opportunity”.
          And even if you hadn’t, it’s still BS. Global inequality (see “in a world”) is still falling.

          • dado_trunking

            I did not edit the post, your goal post is now global, mine wasn’t. The poster above complained about that the other way round and I had to correct him, too.

            • Count Dooku

              I’m sorry for mistaking “world” as “global”. Perhaps you should be clearer in your writing if you don’t want to be misunderstood?

              • dado_trunking

                Apology accepted 😉
                Ok, now that this is out of the way, do you have a comment to make with regards to my point?

                • Count Dooku

                  No, your sentence construction means that I can’t understand the guist of it. Translate into simple English please and I’ll happily tell you my thoughts 🙂

                • dado_trunking

                  When you embark on an increasingly complex evaluation process of fine line economic art work by relying on broad brush tools in your tool box, then what other than a Jackson Pollock mockery of excreted effluvia are you capable of producing?

                • Count Dooku

                  It appears you have a talent for obsfucation. There is beauty in simplicity.

                • dado_trunking

                  In the real word I am a hands-on builder. Mouthy but I get the job done.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Puttting aside your weird and seemingly inappropriate desire to include genetic research into this debate (a ‘proband’ [sic] being an individual subject in a familial genetic disorder study) why you need to expand the debate to global proportions is unnecessary. The debate is solely about whether British young adults are worse off today than they were in generations past. Stick to the issue

      PS Is ‘*median* GDP per capita’ different from ‘median GDP per capita’ or is that just another of your weird affectations?

      • dado_trunking

        We could discuss Rawls and the ethics of overlapping consensus next if you wish. ‘Proband’ is very appropriate in that context.
        You will excuse that I focused on Anglo-America, just to give that little twist. *Median* was highlighted to emphasise the nature of the point.

        • Smithersjones2013

          Is that Lou Rawls? I like his music too. You haven’t made a point. All you have shown is a desire to impress people with your supposed knowledge which tells me you have little.

          What would be impressive is if you got some statistics such as these median GDP per capita figures you were banging on about and used them as the basis of an argument that proved or disproved a particular point (you haven’t even made it clear what side of the argument you are on either). but until you do please stop waffling. You are wasting people’s electricity!

          • dado_trunking

            I have no desire to impress you.
            Either you are capable and willing to understand my answer or you are not. My hunch is the latter is the case.

            • Smithersjones2013

              Unlike you at least I have made myself clear…….

              • dado_trunking

                There is nothing ambiguous about Rawls and the ethics of overlapping consensus. Have I made myself clear, lady love?

  • sir_graphus

    40 or 50 years ago, the average man on the average salary could afford a small house in suburbia when he married, and his wife wouldn’t have to work.

    Now, the average man on the average salary could never afford that house; he can afford a 2-bed flat, and would need his “partner” to continue working even after they have children.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Well did you really don’t think that those in the housing and financial industries would sit on their hands doing nothing about the fact that most households have gone from one income to two incomes significantly increasing heir net income do you? What sort of business man refuses to try and help himself to a larger share of such a pie? Its a self perpetuating cycle. People increase their earning capabiility, businesses do everything they can think of to relieve them of that cash. It was inevitable when two income families became the norm that the ratio of house price to average annual annual earnings would also double

      Oh and while we are at it both my parents were working from the 1970’s onward with its 25% inflation and 15% interest rates to afford their ‘small house in suburbia’ and both my surviving grandparents worked from WWII onwards for theirs too.

      The trouble with this debate is the people making all the noise haven’t a clue what they are talking about!.

      Life may seem tough for the under 35’s today but it always was!

Close
Can't find your Web ID? Click here