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We can’t run our banks or trains BUT we have raised a fair and decent GEN Y?

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Life in the 21st century is a little grim

One of the pleasures of living in the UK is long commutes on overfull trains.  I am not talking overcrowding Mumbai-style (aka Bombay) to be sure. But there is a more than 50-50 chance in the UK that I will find myself standing for an hour, or finding a free wall and sitting on the carpet – damn the higher dry cleaning bills.

Two trips back, I plonked my teaching file down on the aisle carpet and sat on it, embarrassing the 50-something who had a seat next to me.  When I declined his kind offer to change places, he retorted, so you can tell your friends about how things used to be better!

But I think it has got better

Actually, I don’t think things have got worse.  I’ve been away from UK and because I pop in and out, I see change intermittently and I think have a less distorted view.  UK is cleaner and quicker than it was 10 years ago and much cleaner and quicker than it was 20 years ago.

And more optimistic

I also don’t think things have got worse for another reason.  I teach (college).  And teaching brings me into contact with Gen Y twice a week.

Gen Y may be many things.  What you can count on is that they want to do a good job.  They ask questions.  They are knowledgeable about what they have been in contact with.  They want to run fair and decent businesses.  They are intensely interested in any curriculum to do with being a good manager or a good leader.  I can hear a pin drop when I get onto topics like charismatic leadership.  It may be narcissism on their part (and mine), but I like to think differently.

So why have we done so well?

So lets pose  a question.  We see so much shocking leadership and management in today’s world.   Steve Roesler pointed to the obvious today.  Many of our workplaces seem to reward bad leadership.  The collapse of the financial system seems to be a case in point.  The post mortems will tell us eventually.

How is it that

We cannot provide decent commuting trains in the 6th richest country in the world, or fair mortgages in the 1st richest country,


We have raised our children to be intensely interested in being decent, fair and engaging?

Why did we do so well? I am asking sincerely.  What did we do to bring up such a pleasant, decent, energetic, and fair generation of youngsters?

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Published in Economy & International Relations


  1. Andy Andy

    Maybe the latter is their “rebellion” against our inability to provide the former?

  2. Jo Jo

    I thought about that, then I thought is that the reasoning of our generation? Negative, fatalistic, cynically taking what we want while declaiming the system doesn’t work.

    Of course they are young and not battered by life – but they aren’t lazy, they aren’t feckless, and MAYBE it is because we did something right.

    If we pursue the question – why did we do so well, do we come up with a positive process we should repeat . . . and repeat?

  3. I think our children are brought up to be more independent minded, they tend to succeed in spite of us, rather than because of us. We need smarter children going forward, because they shall be expected to pay for our own mistakes and excesses, sometimes I look at the next generation and wonder what we have passed onto them.

  4. Andy Andy

    @Jo. While I was really just playing on the tendency of the younger generation to rebel against it’s predecessor for kicks, I don’t think it follows that rebellion is inherently negative, fatalistic or cynical.

  5. As one of Gen Y, I will fully credit my upbringing for turning our “right” (or so I think). Although it is an interesting question that the world seems to be so haywire, but yet most of the people I know seem to have their head screwed on straight. That said, who knows in 20-30 years when they’re the head of some bank somewhere?

  6. Jo Jo

    Hi Daryl, Andy and UK voter: I think we all see to agree that Gen Y seems to be smarter that their parents!

    And we do seem to have mortgaged their future – that is perhaps something we have to sort out.

    Any ideas?

  7. Hi Jo – I just wanted to say how heartwarming it is to read a discussion on the positives of young people – GenY. One thing I think is that GenY has access to far more information on almost anything than their parents eer did at their age . This in turn should allow them – should they want to – to become more informed than GenX and it is how they use this information in their decision making that gives me great hope for the future.

  8. Jo Jo

    Hi Jackie! Nice to see you pop in. Yes, what did we do so right?

    I notice the question flummoxes people. We don’t believe we got it right? Or maybe we believe Gen Y is simply an accident of the internet age?

    Anyway, right now they seem to be the light at the end of the tunnel.

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