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

Did the new generation inherit a country with a healthy environment, robust democratic institutions and high levels of quality of life and equality? Or did they inherit massive debt, crumbling infrastructure and a depleted resource base?

In 2016, the question is what kind of job has the boomer generation done in managing the nation which was handed to them by the previous wartime generation.

On many fronts, boomers have done quite a poor job.

  • Debt levels have quintupled
  • Many natural resources have been exploited past their sustainable limits
  • A great deal of our industrial infrastructure has been allowed to decay with the massive loss of high-quality jobs
  • Home prices have inflated

In 1960, Canada had the second lowest level of inequality but the hollowing out of high-wage jobs and our dependence on cheap labour we now rank around number 20 on the international inequality index.

The costs of this slide in terms of health, the strength of the social safety net and fiscal balance broadly degrade the quality of life in Canada and will take decades to rectify.

Due to population growth and reckless resource extraction policies, the available reserves of many resources per person have gone down dramatically.

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.

Consequently, following generations face:

  • Poorer job prospects
  • A less healthy society 
  • Massive debt at every level 

Further, Canada has not been positioned well to deal with the challenges of a changing climate and a transition to renewable energy as fossil fuels increase in cost and decrease in availability.

Perhaps the greatest failure of the consumer generation is to adhere to a conventional, business-as-usual pattern. Rather than improve the tools by which progress is measured, we continue with the misleading national metrics of simple growth and the assumption that “more” 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 send their progeny in the direction of sustainable progress.

Please spread the message to your friends and contacts that business-as-usual is not a responsible option. Send them a cartoon to get the message across.