A generation of greed cripples its children

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2012, 12:00am


Have we declared war on our children the world over?

Consider some recent news stories and movies. The Hunger Games - a new Hollywood movie about children forced to fight each other to the death in a reality TV show set in a post-apocalyptic North American society - has been on everyone's lips. Based on a series of books, the movie's premise sounds a lot like the Japanese hit Battle Royale, about an ageing Japanese society in which youngsters, dressed in school uniforms, are sent not to schools but to slaughter each other.

The killings in these violent fantasies are too literal, but they may be metaphors for what we are doing to future generations. A recent New York Times profiled a vibrant woman in her early 30s in Italy who had been unemployed for more than six months and never managed to get any jobs beyond those at entry-level since graduating from university with a major in psychology. However, her father, a semi-literate former railway workman, received a full state pension when he retired in his early 40s. The article observed that similar disparities in entitlement benefits exist in many cash-strapped economies in the crisis-hit euro zone. No one should doubt the national debts accumulated in the West are a heavy mortgage on their children's future.

In the same issue, the columnist Nicholas Kristof branded the ageing baby boomers in the US the 'Greediest Generation' for grabbling resources at the expense of the young.

We have similar problems in Hong Kong. Our median wage had been rising steadily since the early 1950s until a decade ago, when the post-80s generation started entering the job market. You don't need to be a political scientist to see why some of our young have turned radical. Short-termism in governments and societies around the world has led to this sorry state. Unless we change, don't be surprised if young people in future have to kill to survive.