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Generational transfer is the passing down of assets, rights and privileges from one generation to another.
Everything can be thought of as part of the transfer including:
- All personal goods
- Public infrastructure
- Natural capital
- Debt or savings
- Social cohesion
In reality what kind of job has the Boomer Generation done for their children and grandchildren? On many fronts, not a particularly good one.
- Debt levels have quintupled
- Many natural resources have been exploited past their sustainable limits
- A great deal of our industrial infrastructure along with its high paying jobs has been given away.
- Home prices and costs have inflated
- Job quality has declined.
- Rather than a broad based economy we now depend mainly on the unstable and unsustainable sectors of resource exports and housing. – essentially selling off our asset rather than producing what we consume.
- Cities are becoming increasingly congested leading to a declining quality of life
- Reckless resource exploitation - Many instances of abandoned mines and wells and industrial sites with dangerous untreated waste leaking into the environment
- Rapid population growth has resulted in very high levels of public debt as well as perpetual infrastructure shortfall.
- Cheap labour mentality – mass immigration coupled with the Temporary Foreign Worker program which has seen more TFWs admitted to Canada than there were jobs created for workers under the age of 30.
In 1963, Canada had the second lowest level of inequality in the world but the hollowing out of high-wage jobs and our promotion of cheap labour we have fallen into the mid-20s on the international inequality index.
This slide in terms the strength of the social safety net and fiscal balance will take decades to rectify. And only if we change to a well-being based public policy vs one obsessed with simple growth.
One generation cannot solve all problems and it cannot change societal attitudes overnight. However, the boomer generation has left following generations with a resource base and industrial infrastructure significantly degraded from the one they inherited while social equality and cohesion have also steeply declined.
Consequently, following generations face:
- Poorer job prospects
- A less healthy society
- Massive debt at every level
- Unsustainable social safety net
- A declining environment
Perhaps the greatest failure of the consumer generation is their adherence to a conventional, business-as-usual course. Rather than improve the tools by which progress is measured, we continue to follow the misleading national metric of simple growth, GDP, and its assumption that a bigger economy will solve all problems.
In many cases “more” is the problem. Future generations will have to wonder why the most privileged generation in Canadian history, did not have the strength to look inward and set a course which would set their progeny on a direction of sustainable progress.
It is very late but still, now is the best time to change our focus from simple growth to real progress. An egalitarian society living within its sustainable resource and environmental means and focused on developing its human potential will ensure long term progress.