Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Quote of the Week

I once again neglected to post Quote of the Week yesterday on its designated day, so here it is a day later. It's too bad that I forgot to put it up, because this week's quote is a doozy.

While the Red Cowboy didn't steal my Quote of the Week material as he'd feared, he did have the topic right--the UK riots of last week. In one of the most brilliant cranky-old-man rants of all time, Max Hastings of the Daily Mail absolutely tears into England's youth, obliterating them with his keyboard.


"The depressing truth is that at the bottom of our society is a layer of young people with no skills, education, values or aspirations. They do not have what most of us would call 'lives': they simply exist."
                           - Max Hastings, Daily Mail columnist

Wow, big guy. Tell us how you really feel.

Of course, for all its bitter vitriol and (at times) insightful analysis, Hastings' elitist rant against young hooligans who--apparently--don't respect society and just want to watch the world burn is also brutally one-sided. Among other things, it ignores the fact that for over a generation, the British working class (of which Hastings is of course a part) has systematically raped its younger generations by voting for unsustainable benefits backed by debt--debt that will be paid for, eventually, by the younger people. The "austerity measures" that are now sweeping across Europe are a direct result of those decisions, and the young people are pissed off.

Is it true that the people doing the looting are a specific subset of that disaffected youth, and that those individuals in question are almost certainly deserving of our scorn? Probably. But it ignores the over-arching issue at play here, which is that the currently aging "baby boom" generation has consistently and dramatically overstated its own contributions to global society, and that it has enjoyed the fruits of one of the greatest increases in indebtedness in world history. I can't say that I blame the younger generation (myself included) for being a little pissed off about the world (and the tax bill) that they've inherited.

That said, you should still read Hastings' column. It may be one of the best-crafted polemics I've ever read. Pure literary brilliance, even if it is at least in part a work of fiction.

[Daily Mail]

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