Gen X-it

Why does the Generation raising young kids today accept the Bad Deal?

Others often call this Generation lazy.  But I don’t buy it.  Statistics Canada data show that Canadians age 25-44 perform more employment hours and more unpaid caregiving than Canadians over 44.

Many suggest the Generation is consumerist.  But this charge seems off the mark too.  The additional time they devote to employment is as much about being stuck on a hamster wheel as it is anything else.  Don’t forget that dual-earner Canadians age 25-44 make on average a household income that the Boomer generation often earned with one earner.  Worse than that, the Generation raising young kids now faces housing costs that skyrocketed.  When they get in the housing market, they aren’t buying granite countertops; they are buying fixer-uppers without yards.

The main problem with the Generation raising young kids, as I see it, is that too many bought into the name Generation X, and ‘X-ited’ formal politics.  It’s almost a badge of honour now to claim that “Politics aren’t about me” or “It doesn’t matter if I vote.”

And so we don’t.  We’re a third less likely to vote compared those older than 44.  Indeed, we seem much more interested in who gets voted off some island on TV than who gets voted to Victoria or Ottawa.

We may not worry about our X-it from Politics.  But will our children?  Might they not someday question why we didn’t grow up politically to challenge the decline in the standard of living; to challenge the fact that an especially affluent generation of Canadians approach retirement intent on cruising rather than remedying the fiscal debt, the environmental debt, or the family policy debt they leave for those who follow.

Boomer politicians play politics well for their generation, reducing seniors poverty, strengthening pensions and investing even more in medical care to treat illness at the end of life.

The Canadian Council of Chief Executives play politics well for their stakeholders, ensuring Canada’s corporate taxes are very competitive.  KPMG, a firm specializing in taxation, ranks countries in terms of their competitiveness for attracting businesses.  The 2010 report shows only Mexico has lower corporate taxes than Canada.  Canada has lower corporate taxes than the US, the UK, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan.

By contrast, the Generation raising young kids doesn’t play politics well, and we tolerate our Bad Deal as a result.

Our poor play is partly a problem of X-haustion.  Reality TV was bound to gain popularity when families are squeezed for time, income after housing and services.  When tired, who doesn’t want to veg on the couch watching some mindless program?

But we can’t let our X-haustion get in the way of the solution.  It’s time to grow up politically.  It’s time to start demanding a New Deal for Families with young kids.

On one hand, this means taking politics more seriously.  We can’t keep treating politicians as punchlines more than persons who deserve respect.  Presently, just 15% of Canadians trust our elected officials.  More of us trust New Car Salesmen!

Reaching out to MPs and MLAs is imperative, if we are to make progress on the New Deal.  Tell them the fast facts about Canada’s untold story — the decline in our standard of living.  Tell them there is a ready-made solution:  the New Deal we propose, or some variation on that theme which you prefer.

Moving from Generation X-it to Generation Enter need not be boring.  Many repeat Emma Goldman’s famous line:  “If I can’t dance, I don’t want any part of your revolution.”  So… let’s follow her lead to organize the serious business of politics around fun activities.  Let’s dance.  Let’s rekindle the politics that were pervasive in the Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll of the 60s, and adapt it for our time.

No one’s ever called me the life of the party before, so I’m a wee bit out of my depth here in making concrete suggests.  Perhaps people can throw “New Deal” discos.  Or, if you are feeling more feisty, host a “Generation Screwed” party.  Or a WTF event (Where’s the Family?).  Maybe it’s a “Just Say No (to Generation Cruise)” soiree, or a “Family Preservation” Picnic.  Whatever you do, pick times and locations that work for parents.  Include kids, so parents will come.  Have the Fast Facts for a New Deal available.  Show the website.  Share the the 7 minute video From a bad deal to a New Deal for Families.

Or maybe just do what so many of our Generation do – hang out on-line.  Tweet.  Facebook.  Blog….  Create an on-line Declaration, or Pact, maybe even Manifesto.  Imagine it:  the “Generation X Manifesto.” Or better yet, the “Generation S Manifesto” (for Squeezed, or Screwed).

Whatever you do, do something because the status quo is a Bad Deal for the Generation raising young kids.

And we all need a New Deal for Families… if we want Canada to Work for All Generations.

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