A field guide to understanding modern life for Terrans, Aliens and grandparents. Chapter 2: Baby Boomers to bytes.
is for Baby Boomers: ageing scapegoats who never believed they would get old and who in turn are keen on scapegoating others (I know, I know — not all sodding Boomer, OK?). Boomers seem to think they were all rebels and hippies who embraced the counterculture for civil rights and women’s rights or against the Vietnam War, the arms race and Apartheid, when in reality, many of them were yuppie followers of Maggie Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Ayn Rand. See under: Generation Gap.
is for Billionaires: a group as diverse as a Mormon bishops’ conference, that is, very little. Most of them are white, most of them are men, and most of them are from upper-middle-class backgrounds. Their power is in inverse proportion to the good they do in the world — too much power, too little good. Individually, some are thoughtful men with a social conscience, some are family men, some are weird geniuses (or simply weird people), and some are psychopathic narcissists. As a group, they are a big problem to the world because they hoard resources like old-fashioned misers, don’t pay their fair share of taxes, weaponise philanthropy or resort to old-fashioned bullying to create or influence the policy of entire nations, create cartels and monopolies, demolish organised labour, keep wages artificially low and manipulate the flow of capital. They talk a good game of freedom and liberty, but their practices are illiberal and rotten. In the past year, while the world has been bludgeoned by the pandemic, billionaires have become 54% richer. Worse still, they have distorted many peoples’ dreams and aspirations. You can meet paupers who identify with billionaires, believing the old con that if they work hard and have good ideas, they’ll be wealthy one day. There’s an entire genre of ‘billionaire romance’ that has replaced the prince in a fairytale with a wealthy, privileged bozo.
Here’s the rub: in practice, the most common way of becoming a billionaire is being born in a rich or well-off family and brought up in privilege. You have more chance of winning at Euromillions than becoming or marrying a billionaire.
Billionaires are the Robber Barons of our age. We got rid of the practices of Robber Barons through legislation, organised labour, cooperation between people and nations and fair practices. Now we must get rid of the same practices in 21st Century Billionaires. A good progressive’s work is never done.
is for Brexit: the ultimate rejection of human cooperation, a bad idea badly executed, which is turning into a narrative of victimisation and revanchism against the EU and Britain’s neighbours. It has led to Britain breaching international law, an old-world action that never went out of fashion; key Brexit supporters are Billionaires; many more are Baby Boomers. The subject has become so boring and intractable that hardly anyone cares to discuss it anymore, apart from the more extremist of the Brexiters, who have shifted their MO from ‘It’s the Will of the People’ to ‘It’s the EU’s fault, your Honour’.
is for Business jargon. The ultimate disruptor, business jargon has gained traction, becoming a modern plague. Too many people have drunk the kool-aid and it has leveraged its ubiquitous character. It has created a synergy with start-up jargon — a good ROI (that’s a return on investment for you Luddites, not the Republic of Ireland; although the Irish Republic has become an excellent ROI for the EIB). Everyone hates it and longs for linguistic blue sky thinking, but it has strong market penetration, so it’s not about to pivot.
is for Bytes: according to the Collins Online Dictionary, ‘a unit of data storage approximately equivalent to one printed character.’ Bytes are ubiquitous, we see and deal with them daily — they are the blocks we use to construct our world (if we live inside a computer, that is. Apparently, we do. )
Next up — Cancellation to Cult.