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The generation gap

The thread started by T Norman was interesting.

I think one of the biggest things that struck me was the generation gap.  It reminds me of the book Generation X.

There seems to be an older generation who expect a job for life, to be sent on courses if they need ot learn anything new.

Personally, I was made redundant twice before my 21st birthday.  Now I take nothing for granted, and I have to work hard to stay one step ahead.

In several companies I've notice the devide.  Old timers with mortgage subsidies, generous pentions and decades of work with the company.  They seemed to remain because their redundany packages would be so expensive.

There there were the younger crowd.  None of the perks, having to keep one step ahead.  Almost everybody moved on within 5 years.

When it was announced that the whole dept would be closed and moved overseas, the old timers had little hope of finding a new job but most of them would be able to retire early on there redundancy.

We gen Xers will never have such luxury.  We've got to continue working hard to keep the baby boomers in the comfort they have grown used to.

Anybody else have similar experience.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Yep.  Sucks to be us.

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

To be honest, I prefer it the new way.

When I was 21 I managed to get a local government job, the last place you can avoid work by getting a job for life.

I had to get out of there after a month, I just couldn't do it.

I wasn't in an IT job, but I wanted a spreadsheet to get a job done.  I started to build my own.  Somebody heard I was buidling my own spreadsheeet and I was ordered to stop.

I could only enter data into a spreadsheet.  Creating a new spreadsheet template was a programming job.  Somebody from IT would have to do that.  My little spreadsheet would be added to there 6 month waiting list.

When I complained that I could do it myself no problem, I was asked how I would like it if people in the IT department started doing my job, putting me out of work!

Personally I share T Normans feelings.  It disgusts me that they expect everything to be handed to them on a platter.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Could you whine a little louder. I'm so busy stealing your birthright while being stupid and lazy that I can't hear you very well.

Stephen Martin
Wednesday, May 7, 2003

12 years ago I joined a startup as their 1st programmer. I worked 60+ hour weeks for several years, evolving the product from a DOS TSR written in assembler to a 3-tier distributed system mostly in C++ which is now being run by telcos. During that time, the company grew from 1 to 20 developers, from 2 to 60 employees. In 1999 it was sold to a multinational, which withered when the dot com bubble burst.

Some of the new programmers we hired didn't help me: I think they were more interested in feathering their CVs and moving on, than in working for the good of the company that hired them.

Maybe I was seen by these people as a stick-in-the-mud reactionary: for example, I typically wouldn't let people upgrade to the latest MS compiler or O/S until at least its first set of service packs had been released; for another example, one new hire spent his time arguing against the need for any programming that I wanted doing in C++ (he wanted experience in Java).

I didn't feel I had the leisure to dabble with the latest technologies: my early experience taught me that the company's success depended on my working at what was good for the product and for customers; by the time we had several hundred KLOC of debugged C++, it would IMO have been crazy to devote resources to rewriting it in Java.

If you're a junior programmer, it must be tempting to say that your being laid off was not your fault (just as I blame politics and top-level management of the multinational which bought us, stripped us of our independence, and then dumped us): but I'd like you to consider that, if you were more loyal to the company you worked with, then they would be more able to be loyal to you.

I've been using MSVC v6 for the last 3 years; I've neither .NET nor Java experience, nor Linux nor Windows CE, so my early impression with the current job market is that I am now "unemployable".


My managers liked me, and I know that I could learn whatever new technologies I need to do the job they want of me (my first NT device  driver was finished within 8 weeks of my first looking at the DDK); but, you seem to be saying that the way to keep abreast of things is to loot the company your working with: to take their money, but to work for yourself.

Christopher Wells
Wednesday, May 7, 2003

>>>  We gen Xers will never have such luxury.  We've got to continue working hard to keep the baby boomers in the comfort they have grown used to. <<<

So, Ged, any thoughts about something more constructive you can do about it?  Particularly concerning eliminating age discrimination so these people (and you in a few years) don't end up in a situation of "little hope" of finding another job if they want one.

I don't know much about UK politics, but this problem sounds like a natural consequence based on the vague impressions I have.

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Points taken.  There are always 2 sides, I guess.

No matter what the system there are those who will abuse it.

Before it was those who squatted upon the rungs of the corporate ladder.

Now it is the employment butterflys, fluttering from job to job without any real comittment.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, May 7, 2003

It'll sort itself in a little while. The boomers are /retiring/. My Dad's already had enough of trying to make headway through the aerospace industry and sloped off to a retirement of "still being young enough to go surfing"[1]

The huge stodgy mass of managers is nearing the end of their memo writing lives. We are, if anything, going to be damnably short of people in a very short while.

At that point, I suspect, age discrimination will fade away. It only works in a market where employers get to pick.

[1] Yes. As in the "catching Atlantic breakers off the coast of Cornwall". Brrrr.

Katie Lucas
Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Jed, has it occurred to you that there might be heaps of older contractors who've experienced the same travails as you, and been just as resilient, but who then find they don't get hired anymore after they reach a certain age.

So the only "flexible" people you encounter in the workplace are the young ones.

Learn from what you see and, as others have suggested, work towards making sure you don't become one of those discarded people.

Seen in happen
Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Having wallowed in the depiction of the  nauseating hypocrisy of the baby boomers in Richard Brooks in "Bobos in Paradise"

iit's refreshing to hear a good whine from Generation X ("chips on the shoulder with everything").

Might it not be that the whole problem is simply one of life not living up to exaggerated expectations?

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, May 7, 2003


Thanks for the book tip, it looks like a good read.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Parts of it are birlliant. I think the main problem is that the author can never actually decide whether he is doing a hatchet job or a friendly nod and wink job, so the tone keeps changing.

But a better description of the new orthodoxy is difficutl to find.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, May 7, 2003


I think the people in your particular dept. were lucky (just like a lot of 100/hr HTML designers), a lot of older former defense industry workers, who moved int o SW are having a hard time finding work.

As far a s them retiring, in the states this worries me, how can we pay taxes to keep them in the "Lifestyle They've become accustomed to" with Social Security, when there proprtionally less of us (as compared to them and WWII people) and fewer good jobs to do it with

Daniel Shchyokin
Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Many seem to think all us Boomers are going to retire and get out of the way, but I've got news for you. A lot of us have no desire to ditch this field yet. I'm still enjoying what I do. In fact I already draw a pension from one former employer while still working full time at another.

There is a dichotomy in the desire of corporations to put *old-timers* out to pasture and the health industry allowing us to live longer. If we can live longer, shouldn't we be encouraged to remain "productive" longer? That is, remain in the workforce, continue to pay taxes, not draw out of the social security trust fund, and avoid the white shoes and checkered pants syndrome.

If medical science can push the average life expectancy to 85, we have to start assuming we can continue our carreers to at least 80 on average. Now, if that thought makes you cringe, you may be part of the problem. While the Boomers are expected to live to 75, you GenXers are the ones expected to be able to reach 85. And a child born today in the US will have a 40% chance of hitting 100. Think of the costs if they all decide to retire at 62?

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

I plan to retire at age 55 (29 now) with plenty of my own money (currently only make a little over 60k).  I have met with financial advisor and expect *zero* contributions from Uncle Sam.

So I guess you guys can keep living just outside of your means, or you can do some thing about it now and enjoy your retirement.

I'll retire whenever I damn well please, and nobody will be supporting me.

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

I think the most important thing for anyone at any age is fiscal responsibility. Err on the side of caution when it comes to savings, and as you get closer to your retirement age, be cautious about your nest egg as well.

Live within your means. I think it's something a lot of the gen x'rs are learning right now. At least, I hope so.
Wednesday, May 7, 2003

naive fool, you willl be supporting a family.  Trust me,. you will not retire anywhere NEAR 55, if you decide to have kids.

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

The sky is falling. I agree with Bella.

Ian Stallings
Wednesday, May 7, 2003

I'd be surprised if anyone could retire early on redundancy these days.  I'm expecting to be working at something until I drop dead both for financial reasons and plain sanity.

There's too much to do to retire, I haven't even started my third career yet.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Ged Byrne wrote, "We've got to continue working hard to keep the baby boomers in the comfort they have grown used to."

T. Norman was talking about an experienced mainframe programmer who may have been earning less then he does (someone with considerably less industry experience).

The majority of baby boomers who are living in comfort off the sweat of others hard work are upper managers who work for corporations.

Ged Byrne wrote, "There seems to be an older generation who expect a job for life, to be sent on courses if they need ot learn anything new."

Your point is?

Should we be celebrating the view that all non-management employees must consider themselves to be temporary help and disposable?

Is the new mantra now, "Go to college, put yourself deep into debt, and be extremely happy if you are able to find work that allows you to climb out of debt only after you have worked for at least twenty years or more."

One Programmer's Opinion
Wednesday, May 7, 2003

"Go to college, put yourself deep into debt, and be extremely happy if you are able to find work that allows you to climb out of debt only after you have worked for at least twenty years or more."

bought into the illusion, still paying 10 years later
Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Having been through several economic cycles and being a yuppie by birth date,  it was amusing to watch the genXrs who thought that the .dot com bubble was normal and that their salaries reflected their intrinsic worth.

My observation is that more of these youngsters have left the tech industry than the experienced devlopers who understand that the economy moves in cycles and that your're only worth what someone is willng to pay, which is sometimes nothing.

fool for python
Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Also, cheeto, you probably haven't factored in your expensive divorce at age 40, which will leave you with the same amount of money you had when you were 18.

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

I respectfully disagree with Bella.  If you pay yourself first and don't have to constantly have a new car in the garage, then it is definately possible.

My parents are of similar means (~100k dollar household income in Minnesota) and the only reason they won't hit the 55 target is the cost of a fight with breast cancer.  So don't assume that I know little of the world.

I currently live in Houston, Texas where wages are decent and you can build a brand new 3200 square foot brick home for $165k (We built an 1800sq ft for $115k).  So I might agree with you if I lived in Boston, NY City, or the SF Bay Area, but I don't.

If we have a child, then we revise the plan and make it work.  We probably don't have to eat out 4 nights a week...

Until you run the numbers and get the different savings vehicles started, then you don't realize how attainable a secure financial future is.

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Possibly you were kidding about the divorce, but I am curious.

My wife and I both have virtually the same salary, so if we were still childless, wouldn't we just split or assets down the middle?

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

No, that's not how it works.  After a divorce, the ex-wife is awarded the legal right to maintain the same standard of living she had during the marriage, at the expense of the ex-husband.  Of course, maintaining that standard while living separately costs more, so you will have to make up the difference.  Ain't fair, but that's how it is and judges have made worse decisions ... like forcing a man to pay child support after he found out the children were another man's, AND not allowing him visitation even as he continued to pay for the other man's child.

So don't look at what your wife makes.  If you're a man, divorce will screw you royally.

Anyway, this a forum about software, let me not take this off on a tangent any farther.

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

I can't help the youngsters in other countries, but if you live in the US, there is something you can do to lessen the degree to which you support boomers like me.  You can tax us.

That's right, tax us.  Many of us are making a fairly good living, and the Head Boomer is passing out some big tax breaks.  And he's depending on you kids to foot the bill down the road.  So you can continue to fall for the "if you let me give back $10 to my buddies I'll give you back $1" okey-doke, or you can write to your elected representatives and demand that the nonsense stop.

Why would I, a boomer, write against my own interests?  Because I do not think there is the slightest chance you'll take my advice.  In fact, I expect to see some vociferous objections from you kids, complaining about how taxes are already too high, and that raising them for anyone is bad for the economy.  And about how government just wastes whatever money you give it, so why pay anything?  Well, have it your way (or, actually, our way, hee hee!).  Wait'll you see the bill at the end of our little national credit spree!

On behalf of all of us older folks, thanks for picking up the tab!

Hardware Guy
Wednesday, May 7, 2003

"Wait'll you see the bill at the end of our little national credit spree!"

Hey, we spend decades on reducing their attention span below the serious argument limit and trained them on "live for today, tomorrow might never come". Don't ruin it now buddy ;-)

(Note in LBB: Schedule more game shows. Reenforce message that life is a sequence of unpredictable happenstances so planning for future is futile.)

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, May 8, 2003

> and the only reason they won't hit the 55 target is the cost of a fight with breast cancer

Idiot.  If it's not breast cancer, it will be the daughters PHD, or the $100k kitchen renovation.  Get a clue, son.  You will NEVER retire.  It's a MYTH.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

You stupid child.  You don't even have a kid yet, and are talking about retirement?  You poor idiot, you haven't a fucking clue about how life works, do you?  Listen real good:  Your family willl suck EVERY FUCKING PENNY you ever earn.  For better or worse.  But forget about saving a dime.  Hell, you will be looking for a fucking NIGHT JOB after your 2nd kid is nearing college are.  (Right about the time you hit 55, you idiot)

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Let's talk more about how divorce FUCKS OVER men.  This is one reason I have LEFT PROGRAMMING.  Working hard is for SUCKERS.  Only a fool works hard and is married,.,    Your only reward for working hard and getting ahead will be to KEEP DOING SO, while you live in a studio apt, and she gets to keep everything YOU worked for.  And some other guy is riding on YOUR efforts.  Fuck no.  .  So much for your early retirement!  Learn to read b/w the lies.    Only an idiot works hard under these laws.  Men are exploited and fucked over routinely.  No thanks, I'll take my part time work, bird in hand,  no fucking lawyer will fuck me out of that. 

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Disclaimer:  I am not married or divorced or have kids.    I do, however, have pre-emptive foresight.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Bella, what's the matter with you? I think you need a doctor, not a lawyer.

Saturday, May 10, 2003


time to turn of the box man. You've clearly overdosed on reality shows. While sadly they are a sort of self fullfilling prophecies, you are clearly running ahead of the curve.

Maybe fulltime employment can help you kick the haboit?

OTOH, it is always nice to know some cynics that are less restrained than yourself. Keeps one from having to shout of ones mouth too often.

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, May 12, 2003

---"I am not married or divorced or have kids. "

Considering your general cheery outlook that is probably a very good thing.

Stephen Jones
Monday, May 12, 2003

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