Thursday, 1 May 2008

Age of Innocence

A recent post on Tsifer's blog (a word of warning: it's in Hebrew) talked about him being amazed that there is hardly any resentment within the ranks of young Israelis towards them being treated as cannon fodder when they're being forced into an army that often sends them to die for causes that only serve the narrow political agendas of their leaders.
It was the second time in a relatively short period in which I became aware of a type of discrimination I wasn't truly aware of before, discrimination by age. For the record, the first time I seriously thought about it was while reading Bertrand Russell's Sceptical Essays.
We're all aware of sexual discrimination, where men tend to ensure women are put to their rightful place. We're all aware of sexual discrimination, where the blacks are the slaves of the whites. We're even aware of class or wealth discrimination, where those with the gold make sure the rules are in their favor. But what we don't tend to notice is discrimination by age, or rather the way in which this world's ruling class is not made of just white males, but rather of white middle aged plus males.
The Israeli example of sending the young to die in unnecessary wars is one example, but one does not need to go that far. In Australia, for example, you can see age discrimination at work in the real estate market: With houses getting more and more expensive, and with the way the Howard government made sure that this price escalation gets worse and worse so that those with the money become even wealthier, we got ourselves into a situation where the older folk own the house they live in plus a few investment properties while the younger dudes have to go out to the middle of nowhere in order to be able to afford a shit McMansion through a mortgage they might repay by the time they die. It takes a lot of time for the prospects of the young to improve, but it's an uphill battle for them until they inherit something and by then they're old. I don't need to look much further than myself: the same amount of money that bought us the small house we're living in now would have bought us a true mansion ten years ago which we could have sold today for a seven digit figure; however, we missed our chance because we're too young.
The previous government didn't settle with housing affordability. The Work Choices legislation, for example, was yet another way in which existing power holders (mostly older folk) could get themselves an even cheaper workforce made of mostly younger dudes who are put in a position where bargaining is virtually impossible.
When I think about it I can come up with many additional examples, but my point is simple: it's just amazing to see how far those with the power go in order to maintain their power. Indeed, power corrupts.


Uri E. said...

You have a second sexual instead of a racial.
If I were to buy Intel or Microsoft stock in the early eighties, I’d be quite rich now. But I didn’t, because I was too young. Age discrimination? Not really.

Moshe Reuveni said...

I'm not sure what you mean by "second sexual", but I catch your drift.
I disagree, though: there are always some shares that will hit the moon in a few years time; back in the eighties no one knew how high Intel would go. However, with real estate prices, there was a definite policy implemented by the Howard government that boosted house prices, with negative gearing on investment properties being the obvious example. Being that investment properties are purchased primarily by those who already own the house they live in (oldies), these people got to earn more money, while those who are into buying their first house (youngies) need to work much harder to achieve that purchase.
I will admit that this post was badly written, but I think the idea behind it is very much valid.