I often think that I am very privileged to have been born when I was. I grew up when the technology was more mechanical than digital. Working hard was financially rewarded sufficiently that we could eventually, through saving, buy a car, maybe a second-hand one, and afford a mortgage on a reasonable property, probably a terraced house or even a semi-detached one. Presents were mostly for Christmas and Birthdays and were not very expensive (it's the thought that counted).
Pocket money was earnt at home doing chores or with a paper round. TV's were coming - black & white, portable radios ("Trannies" = transistor radios) and as the son of a tradesman (my father was a swiss watchmaker), I wanted an apprenticeship somewhere. We ate what was locally available, with the occasional exotic treat. I remember getting an orange when I was about 6 or 7, handed out as a Christmas treat. I had a bike, later progressed to a motorbike and much later a car. All very standard. Wages were paid weekly in cash. Not enough, of course, but then is it ever?
Managers earnt more than skilled workers, although with overtime and piece work, it was possible to make considerably more than lower management. When I went University in the 70's, I had been working so I was entitled to a grant for studying that was a little higher than the average student grant for those straight from school. We did not have to pay those back, i.e. we did not end up with a debt when we left.
When I got into management in telecommunications at the lowest level, it meant I could take out a mortgage without overburdening myself or my family. House prices were manageable.
Then came Margret Thatcher with the slogan "Greed is good" according to Boris Johnson. And the rot set in. People could earn millions investing other peoples money, managers became bonuses - for lower management a bonus was based on personal and company performance, which meant you got a good bonus if the company did well and nothing if targets were not reached. Upper management got bigger and bigger basic salaries and guaranteed bonuses regardless of either their performance or that of the company. Everybody had holidays abroad and not a week in Skegness or Margate anymore. The food we ate become more exotic and cuisines from around the world, and of course the imported food for that, became common place. No more tinned spaghetti hoops on toast for supper.!
The second world war had led directly to intensive farming, which got more and more intensive, monoculture became the norm, meaning loads of synthetic chemical fertilizers, which now is polluting most rivers worldwide. Fishing is now so intensive that many species are no longer available. And then came plastics. Plastics for everything from clothes to cars, from food containers to furniture - plastic in one form or another wherever you look. Of course all this meant we had to have bigger and better cars, we had to fly on holiday, the children stopped walking to school, 'cause mum drove them in the 4-wheel drive off-roader. TV required bigger and better screens, even though the content became indistinguishable from the advertising. And then the revolution with ever smaller devices which could do ever more things, like mobile telephony and tablets and computers.
I consider myself fortunate to have grown up at a simpler time, so that I did not feel the need to possess ever more and the latest and greatest. As a consequence, I've lived a modest life. Of course I liked the new and wanted many things. For example I own a flat-screen TV, but I bought the smallest I could find and I still have it now. It serves for my purpose. One of the greatest benefits for my age is not being involved in a war and not having to do military service (in my case) is an added bonus. I have not had to live through war, famine and extremes of anything - perhaps the closest thing to pestilence is the current Corona Pandemic. But even that has had the benefit of modern health services and excellent communication.
I see that our essentials have become far more difficult to manage. The food from the intensive farming contains all kinds of chemicals, meat, once a luxury for Sunday lunch, is full of antibiotics and who knows what - check out what many intensive animal farms feed their animals. Horrendous. Our water contains plastic particles and chemicals; the air we breath is polluted with all kinds of stuff from the transport systems, the belching factories and the crap air fuel contains. Homes have become stupidly expensive and most cannot afford a home and the companies in the rental market are demanding more than many low-paid workers can afford. The difference between the income for the rich and those that do real jobs is a widening gap.
Our planet is heating up, but there is only talk about doing something about that. It needs a planet wide effort, but we are too busy fighting each other to agree on anything. I could go on and on, but I'm sure you can create your own list.
So why do I see myself as lucky? Well, I'm 73 years old, so I am definitely at backend of my life and I guess that the change which is taking place on the planet and in the consciousness of the masses is unlikely to affect me too much in the time I have left. But for my grandchildren? There are truly hard times ahead for them. Will they have the opportunity to live as long as me? I'm not at all sure. Look at what the voters are doing - where voting is an option: they are choosing finances over humanity and health on almost every issue. The blame game is in full swing and that has never solved a single problem. We are so busy following the almighty dollar that we are destroying the planet which provides us with all we have. Basically, we have become an insane people and are carrying on getting crazy and sawing the branch on which we depend - it will fall at some point in time - probably when we have to pay Nestle or some such company, to have a drink of water which is becoming a limited resource.
I hope I am just being pessimistic, but I really believe that my generation is the lucky one - I've a had a good, productive life and have been able to enjoy much of it. Will my grandchildren be able to say that? I hope so.