The (phony?) generation wars

David Seymour
March 16, 2014

The (phony?) generation wars

David Seymour
March 16, 2014
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

The past few years have seen a flurry of commentary about intergenerational fairness. There are substantial underlying issues that have led to this, perhaps best identified by Brian Lee Crowley in his book Fearful Symmetry.

Measured by almost any parameter, World War II is the most significant single event in human history. One of its most enduring legacies, the baby boom, is still with us. The existence of such a large generational block has set up a variety of cleavages in culture, public policy, and the economy.

Rich fodder for political commentary. This Issue of C2C Journal digs a layer deeper to ask what might be called the meta questions; how real is the generational divide, who if anyone is winning and losing and what, at a high level, should be the role of governments where generational groups interact?

Meredith Lilly kicks off by observing that there is something seductive about the neat organization of history and social trends into homogenous generational groups. We should demur, however. She argues that generations become less and less homogenous as they leave education, and that all cohorts have followed roughly the same pattern.

In case Lilly is wrong, Scott Hennig makes keen observations about how the fiscal implications of the Boomers retirement might affect the strategies of Canada’s historically pragmatic political parties.

Garrett M. Petersen presents a cogent argument that reports conflicts are inherently political because politics is inherently confrontational. The market, Petersen argues, is a far more just way of ensuring justice for the unborn.

Continuing Petersen’s market-salvation theme, Paul Pryce uncovers some stereotype-busting numbers. It turns out the baby boomers are Canada’s leading entrepreneurs, and that Millennials would be better to follow their example, perhaps in cooperation with them, than stoking the effigy of idle and parasitic retirees.

Andrew Pickford echoes Lilly with his thought provoking comparison of Canada in 1972 with Canada in 2019. Generations are one thing, he argues, but nothing compared to the external and internal changes that have affected all Canadians over this period.

Dan Osborne gripes, with some justification, that urban planners and property-rich baby boomers have conspired to withhold the supply of housing from Millennials in what may be the largest ever intergenerational transfer of wealth.

Finally, generational interloper Angela MacLeod Irons is bemused by the funny but somewhat narcissistic boomer P.J. O’Rourke in his recently published The Baby Boom.

If you’re like me, by the end of this Issue you’ll have a much richer view of the somewhat hyped rhetoric surrounding intergenerational politics. In the words of one author, generational differences are real, but they are not everything.

Finally, this is my final Issue of C2C.  I am returning to New Zealand to contest a seat in parliament.  Thank you for your readership, kind comments, and support.  Thank you especially to all of C2C’s talented contributors.  The new editor will be announced soon, and is an impressive and talented individual.  Until then, adieu.

David Seymour is editor of C2C Journal

Love C2C Journal? Here's how you can help us grow.

More for you

The First-Past-the-Post Way of Voting is Better-than-the-Rest

To hear proponents tell it, proportional representation is the cure for all that ails Canadian democracy. It’s fairer, less divisive, more diverse, makes voters happier and is less prone to “strategic” voting. About the only thing it apparently can’t do is make childbirth painless. But could replacing our traditional first-past-the-post voting system really improve how Canada is governed – and how Canadians feel about their government? In his grand-prize-winning entry to the 1st Annual Patricia Trottier and Gwyn Morgan Student Essay Contest, Nolan Albert weighs the arguments for and against replacing first-past-the-post with proportional representation, and in doing so uncovers the real cause of voter dissatisfaction.

The Runaway Costs of Government Construction Projects

Ottawa’s post-pandemic $300 billion spending orgy was coupled with the pompous claim to “Build Back Better”. As it happened, most of that spending was recklessly borrowed – stoking inflation – while Build Back Better was a dud, was discarded in embarrassment and, if recalled at all today, is told as a sick joke. Far too many planned projects now sink into a quicksand of political haggling, regulatory overkill, mission creep, design complexity and, if built at all, bungled execution. Looking at specific examples, Gwyn Morgan presents the lamentable results: far less is actually getting built across Canada, nearly everything takes forever and – worst of all – costs routinely soar to ludicrous levels. Added to that, Morgan notes, are woke-based criteria being imposed by the Trudeau government that are worsening the vicious cycle.

Adam Smith’s “Saline Solution” for Canada’s Health Care System

That Canada’s health care system is ailing is no longer news. That it is not only victim but perpetrator – killing patients through indifference and neglect – is also increasingly understood. But is Canada’s publicly funded and operated monopoly health care system an economy of sorts, a set of relationships that can be understood in economic terms, and one that might lend itself to reform by applying economic principles? In the second of three prize-winning entries from the 1st Annual Patricia Trottier and Gwyn Morgan Student Essay Contest to be published by C2C Journal, Alicia Kardos answers a resounding “Yes”. Drawing on key ideas and principles of the genius from Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Kardos envisions an overhauled health care system in which incentives are rational, self-interest is rewarded and the consumer – the patient – is king.

More from this author


What is it about rank-ordered lists that capture our attention? We appear helpless before the Siren call of any list promising the “greatest”, the “biggest” or “the best.” Given Canada’s urban nature, it is unsurprising that Maclean’s magazine – famous for its ranking of Canada’s universities – just days ago released its list of the “Best Communities in Canada 2019”. It’s good fun ridiculing this list’s absurdity for, as everyone knows, Toronto is hands-down the “best community.” In this interview/essay, David Seymour looks at two prominent urbanists – Richard Florida and Joel Kotkin – and examines their competing visions for what, ideally, makes for a prosperous and flourishing city.

Share This Story


Subscribe to the C2C Weekly
It's Free!

* indicates required
By providing your email you consent to receive news and updates from C2C Journal. You may unsubscribe at any time.