A war between generations

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A war between generations

“The young people are being taken hostage by the elderly. The situation has changed drastically, and the seniors are indebted to their children. The retirement of the baby boomers created an unprecedented situation in history. For the first time since the end of World War II, one generation is in debt to the next generation, leaving them the burden of liabilities and obligations.

“It is cruelly ironic that the baby boomers left the next generation with the sacrifice that they cannot bare to take while promoting children’s rights and respect for individuality and liberty. Young people need to pay back an enormous amount of debt. The baby boomers have become the ‘bankrupt grandfathers’ avoiding responsibilities. The young people are suffering just because they are younger.”

These words are taken from the preface of “Le Papy-krach” by Bernard Spitz. The Korean title for the 2009 French book was “The War between Generations.” The former columnist of Le Monde, Bernard Spitz, who received the medal of the Knight of the Legion of Honor, the highest French distinction, defined the established generation of France as “morally bankrupt.” He cynically criticized the older generation who drove the government into tremendous debt with public pension and health insurance and transferred the responsibility.

“The bankrupt grandfathers are far from the tripartite motto of the French Revolution, liberty, equality and fraternity,” he wrote. “It is far from liberty as the young people need to embrace the outcome of the events that the older generation caused. It is far from equality as the inequality of generations is aggravated. It is also far from fraternity, as confrontation is caused in order to protect established interests.”

When I read the book five years ago, I thought the situation was irrelevant to Korea geographically and in terms of the times. However, it has already become our reality. The revised civil servants pension plan is agreed upon by the ruling and opposition party leaders, who represent the older generation, and it is evidently unfair. It is hardly a reform since the civil servants, who are affected by the changes directly, do not protest, and the politicians who claim to represent the interests of the workers, including the public servants, do not raise questions.

Spitz wrote that the problem can only be resolved by “a political leader who is recognized for competency to carry out the reform.”

Unfortunately, no such leader can be found either in France or Korea. And more regrettably for the young generation, they do not fully understand the evil nature of the conspiracy their fathers and grandfathers’ generation is scheming.

*The author is a deputy national news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo. JoongAng Ilbo, May 7, Page 35

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