October 13, 2014

The kids aren't alright

Posted in Sunday Business Post · 58 comments ·

The other day a friend of mine, driven demented by her son, screamed: “Will he ever grow up?”

The son in question, a really nice young man – clever, sociable, kind and very funny – is still living at home, aged 26. So too are most of his friends.

His mother, knocking back the pinot grigio, asked rhetorically: “What were we doing at 26? We had flats, jobs, we’d lived in London or New York, and we were independent.”

While it’s true that each generation laments the failings of the next generation, when dropping my own children to the Dart on their way to school this week, this friend’s observation struck me as very important.

Growing up is difficult. There can be little doubt about it. Yet moving from the state of emotional, moral and financial dependency to emotional, moral and financial independence is a part of how the person becomes a fully involved member of the society. Ideally, this should start to happen in the late teens and should be finished by or before the late 20s.

The traditional route to independence goes through five broad phases, which can vary from person to person, but usually goes along this pretty well-accepted cycle:

1. Leave school

2. Leave home

3. Become financially independent of parents

4. Settle down with someone

5. Have a child

It is essential that the economy, which should be merely the facilitator of process, encourages the move from dependence to independence for our population in their 20s.

One of my fears, looking at the plight of twentysomethings in this country, is that despite all the energy, brains, enthusiasm, creativity, the fun, optimism and potential, the economic opportunity is stacked against them. This lack of economic opportunity is retarding the move from dependence to independence. This is the best-educated generation of Irish twentysomethings ever, yet they are not achieving their potential early. And not getting started early has costs.

Before examining the costs, consider the following:

The proportion of Irish “dependants” aged 18-30 who are living at home stands at 42 per cent. This is despite having the highest emigration in Europe in this particular demographic.

In total, 440,000 Irish people, aged 18 or over, still live with their parents. One reason has to be the very high levels of Irish youth unemployment. The Irish youth unemployment rate is 25 per cent, which, although down from 31 per cent in February 2012, is still incredibly high. Of those twentysomethings in work, many thousands are on unpaid internships.

For example, 86,000 people are working in publicly funded ‘labour activation schemes’ such as JobBridge. This number has nearly doubled in four years – up from 45,000 in 2009.

Now, 28.6 per cent of interns eventually progressed to employment with their host organisation, but this meant that 71 per cent didn’t.

Ireland is full of unemployed or underemployed young people, and this problem has costs which are much greater than simply annoying their mother with washing and borrowing the car.

In the US, where they have data for the long-term impact of unemployment and underemployment on twentysomethings, the evidence is truly shocking. The lasting negative impact of not getting started on the career path in your 20s is unambiguous.

Research carried out by journalist and writer Don Peck from the American magazine The Atlantic found that the psychological impact of being unemployed in your 20s is extraordinary. People who are unemployed at this crucial time are much more likely to suffer from depression in later life. They cling more tightly to jobs and become incredibly risk-averse. Their wages, over the entire span of their working life, never recover to the level of people who have jobs in their 20s.

They are much more likely to be alcoholics, and to beat their partners. Their physical health deteriorates. Amazingly, people who lose their job just when they are getting started, in the 27-30 age bracket, have shorter life-spans (one and a half years) than those who never lost their job. Some research in the US contends that long-term unemployment is the emotional equivalent of losing your spouse.

A person’s confidence can be permanently shattered by the loss of opportunity in their 20s. In short, they settle for much less over the course of their entire lives. Unemployment affects the quality of our relationships because it affects the quality of our relationships with ourselves – our self-worth.

The affirming process of moving from dependency to independence, is retarded by the lazy notion that the twentysomethings have time on their side. Sometimes we hear older people, when confronted by underperformance of our twentysomethings, retort that the young ones have lots of time and things will pan out.

But things don’t pan out. Things get worse. In a person’s life, nothing is more urgent than now. Tomorrow can wait but today can’t. Today determines tomorrow. If we leave young adults to drift, that’s exactly what they will do. They will drift from one dead-end job to another without ever amassing the knowledge, discipline and savvy to get the best out of themselves.

This is why all our economic resources should be focused on intervention in the labour market for young people to give them a chance. Maybe drastically reducing the tax bill on younger workers or giving tax credit to companies that employ the under-30s could help.

The worst thing we can do is have a recovery and not use it to help the people who will eventually help us.

We know that the economic fortunes of twentysomethings have a profound effect on their lives. We also know that confident twentysomethings can do wonderful things. What age were Page and Brin when they set up Google? What age was Zuckerberg when he set up Facebook?

Brilliant things happen when optimistic people in their 20s reach for the sky. We should never forget that.

  1. McGoo

    David, step 2 should read:

    2. Leave Ireland.

    You had to leave Ireland to get your career started. So did I. So did my father. So will my son.

    You and I grew up expecting to leave Ireland for work, so we were not surprised up upset by it. It was just normal. We did indeed live in London or New York, because there was nothing to keep us in Ireland.

    The kids these days grew up in the Celtic Tiger era, and expected to find jobs in Ireland. Someone needs to explain to them that the Tiger was a fake, credit-driven nonsense that’s not coming back, and that they’d better get used to it : “If you wanna job, get a plane ticket”.

    • douglaskastle


      Sadly your comment, while accurate, is the Irish solution to the Irish problem. But it is the lazy answer too. We don’t have to fix it, it is satisfactory to export it.

      However DavidM is identifying a real problem, and it affects you, if you live in Ireland. If you are employed now you are paying tax and driving the system, funding in no small way the current government and social welfare system which include current retirees. What happens when you retire? It would be nice to have a big chunk of well educated tax payers at that time paying into the system to give you as good a life as retirees get now. (Note the current system may have its problems and be far from great, I am only suggesting, imagine it being worse). The is more to life than just pensions, transport, services etc. all need to be financed.

      We should be doing every thing we can to get the youth of today educated, working and taxed. I believe the current generation of workers, i.e. those in their 30-40ies will have a much harder time when they retire than those who are there now, and it is because we haven’t prepared the path for our replacements. So the blame does lie with us, for not taking the pain now to fix it rather than export it.

      I do appreciate however the boon this country got from the people who emigrated and returned, I would not like to see this as policy.

      For reference, I emigrated and returned twice, but that was because I wanted to, not because I had to.

      • McGoo

        Douglas, I completely agree with you, particularly as I am one of those 40somethings who wonders where my pension will come from.

        But, no change in policy is going to take effect in time for an unemployed 26 year old who’s still living at home today. He, an his generation, need to get a job and a place to live NOW! And their odds are better in the UK than here.

        Actually, I blame his parents. They are obviously making life far too pleasant for him at home. Personally, I didn’t even wait to get a job – I left home the day I got my first dole payment. It was only a small room in a shared house with no heating – but it was mine!

    • SMOKEY

      Hard to disagree with McGoo, my kids are 7 and 8 and if they are like their mom and dad they will take flight. They also have the luxury of American passports even though they were born on Irish soil so I will consider it a small advantage for them. That said, I want them on their own before 26. That is bullshit, a 26 year old man living at home. He is a bum, end of story and it is your friends fault. I left at 17 and that was after leaving school at 13 with no real plan, zero skills and $450.00 well, except being able to play heavy metal and become a rock star, uh,..that was a good 10 years but I only have the memories, and no gold records!
      During this time I did two apprenticeships in painting and decorating and then electrician. I went out and got the most coveted of all licences in the 90′s and became a electrical contractor in San Francisco. A long way from humble beginnings and no college degrees in my house, we were bordering white trash, clean white trash and both parents always worked. I saw this and knew I could do better. Still not wealthy now, but I live better than most, and I have a vast array of skills that I WENT OUT AND DEMANDED FROM LIFE!! I also won another award this past week for my small food business too, again small revenue stream bordering on the negative but it keeps me creative. I do thermal imaging in the winter and once again, looked around and said, hmm the housing stock here in Irleand is pretty crappy when it comes to insulation, this might be a way to make some dosh! And it has been pretty good to me, albeit small and seasonal. My point?????? That friend of your son is a bum, he needs to be told he has 90 days to get a plan to be out of the house. Tough Love? Maybe, but mollycoddling him wont do any good. I cleaned toilets, mopped floors, washed windows,shovelled shit, what ever it took, and I am now doing quite well, oh and I still play a mean fuckin guitar too! Tell the lazy kid, GET OUT! He will thank them in few years.

    • DB4545

      This is the same as looking at an obese child and wanting to slap the parents. The mother needs a good kick up the arse. So does the twenty six year old “child”.Tell him to get a plane ticket and start earning. The end.

      • SMOKEY

        @DB4545 You got it in one. That pisses me off to no end too.
        @ David, I hope this is a makey uppey kind of friend used for writing and fleshing out examples, otherwise she is going to have to go and get a CASE of Pino Grigio to calm her nerves.
        Many here see this as Parents being weak. And lets face it, it is a difficult task parenting, love, discipline, work, family / friendship balance to find the sweet spot. But I don’t care how many of his pansy friends are still living at home, its past the time to get his ASS OUT.

        • DB4545

          Thanks Smokey. People need to get a grip. This is not the third world where some people have to live off the scraps on rubbish dumps. Just set the f**king alarm clock get out of bed and hustle. If half of Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa can find work here so can a Native. Do you think they’re walking into jobs “that reflect their qualifications and experience”? Do you think that they want a life of poorly paying jobs? They start at the bottom get experience and hustle. They pool their resources, don’t piss it up against the wall and just get on with it. It’s called the real world.

  2. JapanZone

    You had me until the last but one paragraph. If you need examples of hugely successful and confident youngsters, no need to go to the extreme when we have the likes of James Whelton (CoderDojo) or Patrick Collison (Stripe).

    • douglaskastle

      @JapanZone and @DavidM

      You might as well write down the names of people who won the lotto. You are correct these people have been young and successful, but they are more like statistical aberrations and it hides so many young and unsuccessful for all the reason the article is trying to get at. I imagine more people die from bee stings in Ireland.

  3. Vingtitis

    As a parent of a pair in this passage of time I recognise this strange dilemma that seems on a concourse where directions are absent and leaders are missing and emptiness prevails.

    My son for good reasons had no 18th or 21st celebrations .However I managed to secretly organise a meeting of family and friends to celebrate his 25th in a hotel on Saturday night .It was a dinner for everyone. What I found interesting was the need for everyone to meet and 50 attended of which half were his friends . Many of those have already obtained degrees and masters and already planning to emigrate in the new year .Others are doing their finals next year .They all knew that this was the only moment that all of them will be together and soon to be no more .

    Marriages and births seem absent from this ‘Vingtitis Generation ‘ so parents need to re-invent a new purpose to harbour the positive energies of these young people .Thus the reason why I did this .I would strongly recommend many parents to fill this void in the evolvement of things as we know it and its legacy will live forever .

  4. coddlesangers

    I’ve finally figured out why I get so irritated by your articles. Its essentially the same forumla every week. Step 1, find a noteworthy macro statistic about a poplulation group. Make sure this statistic is sufficiently sweeping and broad so as to give sufficient fodder to the glum, lemon sherbert visaged masochists who worship at the half empty alter. Secondly, apply said macro economic statistic to the specifc circumstance that attracted your attention on the dart that morning, and duly extrapolate a full disney movie worth of cliched deterministic froth from said circumstances. Step 3, is usually to preachily announce that all this could be fixed if we only had better/more/less governance…..I keep reading though, so the sucker is not hard to identify…

  5. cyberjohn

    I agree with the basics of the sentiment being expressed regarding young people having no opportunity.

    Would it be possible for the government to give the deposit to young couples who want to purchase a property under cwrtain conditions and to claw this deposit back through the tax system during the young couples working lives?


  6. cyberjohn

    However, houses would need to be supplied before we look at ways to sell them. On that note I think the banks are sitting on lots of buy to lets that should be repossessed and sold on to the young couples.

  7. eurotom

    Independence is a word often misused, Seems to me most people go from parent dependence to a kinda of institutional dependence (employers , banks, government etc) …in a some cases straddling both well into middle age (relying on granny for loans, child care , inheritance etc).

    Also …when it comes to developing a career the internet is misused , sending out a few CV’s via email is not job hunting , failure to do basic research for a job interview is inexcusable , …I’ve been approached by several 20 something’s with Degree’s who complain there is no work commensurate with their qualifications …I do my best for them but sadly as in the words of Edison …”Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

  8. one of the major problems for youth around the world is that they are over educated. Education has become a right rather than an option or even a privilege.

    Education in this context is in the form of higher education, i.e. college or university.

    One very successful form of education is or was the apprenticeship program that operated for centuries. Here people could learn a trade and the skills that prove useful for a lifetime. Having such skills today is proving to be valuable to the individual and to society. The plumber, the painter, silversmith, electrician, butcher, baker and candlestick maker etc are often in short supply and high demand.

    Perhaps the educational structures need redirecting to reflect this reality. A move from the academic to the practical realm is indicated. Also an attitude to manual work of any kind that is to denigrate needs to be reassessed.

    Many of the most successful innovators over the ages and modern times were self educated and followed their passion to success in life.

    Also expectations need to be examined as to what constitutes a successful life. Having a full belly, and warm dry place to abide, and some pleasant company constitutes a successful life in my opinion.

    The young should follow their passion, become accomplished and be happy with the above.

    Reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill lead me to the following.
    “What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve”.

    Have faith and all is possible!!!

    (Just my random thoughts on a generational problem)

  9. Adelaide

    “Global Unemployment Crisis” Two months ago the United Nations published a clarion call. They estimated world unemployment to be presently at 40% and rising, it’s been steadily rising since the early 70′s, so too has productivity. This trajectory won’t reverse because the answer to the question of what is driving productivity while requiring less and less human labour, the answer is obvious.

    The West is so fixated on ‘jobs’ that it is in denial of the future. I see the West as a society of futile jobseekers in an automated digitised mechanised world. The two realities will continue to diverge. Till this dichotomy is resolved we are on the path to destruction through our inability to adapt. In a simple soundbite, “Not only are the jobs not coming back to Ireland, they’re not coming back to planet Earth.” We deny reality at our peril.

    ps the reality experienced by older people in their 20′s can not be projected or rather preached on to the youth of today, in that case we should have Bill Cullen as the Minister for “Lazy Bum Kids Need A Kick Up The Backside” department.

    • midnightrider

      this is the only realistic comment I’ve read as passing down this page. This is the elephant in the room. All the other comments display an utter lack of real thought, received “wisdom” regurgitated for the umpteeth time. This “in my day” “all they need is a kick in the arse” horseshit TOTALLY ignores the reality. Your favourite people the UN have published it and Adelaide said it better: the future is automated there are only going to be ever more “redundant” human beings. It’d be good if people used the dictum mentioned above:”What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve” . I’d be nice if this was directed at a more human future rather than the robot profit at all cost we’ve got at present and look forward to in the future unless we get our value system together. I think the older generations need a kick in the head regarding their outmoded thinking.

    • Deco

      The problem is not jobs, it is value.

      And value has been under assault since the entire Ponzi Economics racket started, in it’s first inception in the 1960s, and in it’s second version in the 1980s.

      The obsession with leverage is destroying society.

      Embrace the default.

  10. tomahawk

    The big problem now for kids is that expectations are soo high and reality is reality.
    ‘Back in the day’ our expectations were coloured by the reality that was around us.
    Nowadays, expectations are what kids see on social media. This, coupled with the fact that the 50 something generation has pulled up the ladder and saddled future generations with paying for their penthouse means that disappointment (and kids who stay at home or leave the country) is inevitable.

  11. McGoo

    >no work commensurate with their qualifications

    That is funny :-) .

    I have an idea for helping this generation of graduates:
    We write a book detailing the career path that real people have taken after leaving college in previous. And make it required reading.

    I suspect that it would show us that:

    1. Less than 50% of people end up in work “commensurate with their qualifications”. Or in fact anything to do with their qualifications.

    2. Almost everyone works on a building site at some point. Or in a warehouse. Or a call centre. Or as a waitress.

    3. Employers aren’t really interested in qualifications. They want skills and experience. And most people leave college with absolutely no skills that are useful to any employer.

    4. Fresh graduates are paid less than their classmates who started working 4 years earlier. In some cases, the graduates pay never catches up.

    5. Almost everyone has lived abroad at some point. Usually because they couldn’t find a job in Ireland.

    • eurotom

      Yes I agree …In fact in a recent case I gave advise to a graduate on acquiring skills to make them as employable as possible , 2-3 simple steps…for my efforts I didn’t even get a reply back or thank you …coz it sounds like effort

      Seem’s to me the thinking is …Mammy encouraging me to job hunt …

      #1 I’ll email companies / recruiters
      #2 I’ll email someone I know
      #3 Get reply…”Oh you asking me to put some effort in?
      …Feck that!!! yeah mammy I’m busy job hunting …nothing doing out der, now where’s my dinner?

    • Deco


      Wages are permanently lower. A “benefit” of globalization. If inflation of the wages sector can be held down, then more money can be printed for the asset speculation sector.

      And asset speculation has taken over as the “driver” of GDP growth.

      As evidenced by both Ireland, and Britain, asset speculation has become a sacred cow, that is worshipped to ridiculous levels, and given primacy in economic policy making.

  12. eurotom

    In my experience …here’s the mind set (I’ve 2 -3 examples)

    Mammy encouraging me to job hunt

    Step #1 Email out a few CV’s
    No reply
    Step #2 Email a few contacts Mammy provided.
    Get reply and some sound advise …Hmm this sounds like work ..I wont even reply.

    Yeah Mammy I’m “job hunting” …nothing doing out der, is dinner ready yet?


    A mate of mine set up a business offering students summer work in Germany, Netherlands, UK, Austria. The deal was – work 1,000 hrs, earn € 10 K. When he tried to get Irish employers involved he was met with blank stares. They wanted school kids to come in and work for nothing !
    I know a chap who runs 3 thriving newsagents in Dublin, he only hires transition yrs from the local schools, even though he opens 16/7, he pays no wages!
    Why would any boss pay people when they can get interns @ no cost ? The min wage was supposed to compensate people for the extra competition that immigrants would bring to the housing and labour markets. Now, it is an optional extra that lots of businesses craftily avoid.
    The philosophy of many / most bosses is ” live with your parents/siblings, what money do you need ? In the 1950′s an average Dublin net salary was £ 350 p a, a new home 3 miles from the city cost £2 K , the same home today costs € 450 K. Jesus was Irish, aged 33, single still hadn’t moved out! LOL.

  14. Mike Lucey

    For as long as the Country relies on mostly a bunch of school teachers, auctioneers, trade unionists, accountants, lawers, doctors and the like, otherwise the predominant makeup of our current and passed governments we will remain in deep trouble.

    Will we ever see a time when the country will be looked on as a company that needs to be successful and deliver dividends to its shareholders the citizens of Ireland.

    Does anyone seriously think that the shareholders of a multi billion turnover company would even consider employing the likes of Enda, Bertie, etc as its CEO? I imagine they would more than likely be looking for the Michael O’Leary types.

    Until the country has more career business people running the show and less career ladder climbing politicians messing around we are doomed.

    • Gearoid O Dubhain

      The current Taoiseach, Minister for Finance, Tananiste and leader of the Opposition are from the teaching professions as are 3 of the 5 TDs in my own constituency…though none have seemed to spent very long actually teaching and all have deprived young teachers of permanent teaching positions…shameful.
      These are the people who have barred in the region of 10,000 unemployed people from registering as unemployed on the Live Register of Unemployment and have barred them from all the ststes re-triaing and re–educations programmers.

      • EugeneN

        The problem with that argument is it is a fallacy. Machines don’t kill jobs. If I told someone in the 19th century that agricultural employment would fall from 50% to 2% he would assume 48% unemployment. Instead the surplus allows more employment in newly created industries.

        • Gearoid O Dubhain

          The industiral revolution started around 1760.1770 so by mid 19th century there had already been considerable migration from country to city.

      • Mike Lucey

        Our esteemed ‘Leader’ appears to like backing the horse ‘each way’!

        I came across this article,


        Kenny Pension Revelation raises major issues – Kelleher
        Posted on 19/02/11 by Billy Kelleher

        “The revelation in the Sunday Business Post that Enda Kenny intends taking a €100,000 severance and €30,000 annual pension for a teaching job he did for only 4 years over 35 years ago raises major issues about what he has said during recent weeks.

        “He has already admitting to having taken €1/4 million in severance and pension while still a TD even though he has been campaigning against these payments but tonight’s revelation goes much further.

        “Having refused to answer questions about his teaching pension for over a week he has now admitted that he deliberately deferred it in order to get a bigger payout. It now appears that he will get paid 3 pensions – TD, minister and teacher and that he will get the teaching pension for 34 years service even though he didn’t set foot in a classroom for 30 of those years.”


        Now I can fully understand one covering their arse for a few years in case the old politics doesn’t work out BUT covering one’s arse for over 30 years is another thing! Surely it must be a case of no confidence in one’s ability or simple greed, maybe a case of both!

        I imagine Enda is not the only TD that has done / is doing this.

        • DB4545

          Mike this sickening situation has been discussed a number of times on this forum. One simple solution is a referendum to limit pensions paid from the public purse to a single pension linked to the most senior role that a politician has held and outlaw multiple pensions. This would mean that Bertie,Brian, Enda and Co. get one bite of the cherry only. Surely 150,000 Euros a year is enough for bankrupting the Country? They’re only “entitled” to what this little Country can afford.

          • Mike Lucey


            Didn’t think a referendum would be needed to sort this out but I’ll take your word for it.

            Its high time some kind of productivity benchmarking is introduced for the Government.

            I would have no difficulty seeing Enda, Brian, Bertie & Co. getting €1M bonuses provided they hit the high targets or at the very least delivered on their election promises.

            I’ll dream on…..

          • DB4545

            Mike the reason I said referendum is that pensions are regarded as private property and it causes all sorts of legal problems to attempt to “deprive” people of private property. However there is an alternative solution. If politicians have special tax concessions not available to the Citizens who elect them perhaps a “windfall tax” could be introduced to tax pensions received from public funds at a threshold (twice the average industrial wage?) and rate (99% tax rate) so that these obscene pensions can be recovered to the public purse. Pigs may fly first but something has to be done. Do these wasters really need three grand a week on retirement and more importantly can we afford to pay them?

    • woodsey

      I’d agree with that, Mike but we still go out and vote for them. I also think they’ve fooled us in the past into believing that Ireland has a viable economy, sufficient to support its people. But it may be that Ireland’s economy is insufficient for this task. Or, putting it another way, Ireland’s population is too big to be supported by its tiny economy. Hence, emigration?!

  15. Gearoid O Dubhain

    The reasons why some kids stay on living at home into late twenties is more complex than the article suggests and this practice is as part of irish tradition as is that of some kids moving out to cities and or emigrating. And now with teens having sex seen as being the norm, the pressure to have to move out to have somewhere to have sex is less of a factor. And of course now relations between young adults and their parents-tend to be more mature and easy going than in the past. And of course one of the great reasons why many young adult males dont move out earlier now is due to the typical Irish Mammy who thinks her son is God ! Why break up such a wonderful relationship ?

  16. Adelaide

    So the fingers of blame point at everything bar the prime cause of human labour surplus, and that is universal technological advancements renders human employment increasingly redundant. Period. Don’t waste your energy blaming the government or kids’ attitudes or waxing on about how industrious you were as a lad. Either society adapts to a future without work or we will tear each other apart chasing phantom jobs.

    Perhaps I’m in a tiny minority but I see a future without work as a glorious opportunity for mankind, first we have to get over our 20th century hang-ups about ‘jobs’ and then we can proceed to adapt to the new reality. In other words, we must mentally/culturally/socially give up the ghost of employment to advance to a post-employment reality. We’re heading there anyway, so we best change our mode of thinking.

    • Mike Lucey


      I agree with much of what you say with regard to current manufacturing technology and future technology resulting in less and less ‘employment’ becoming available to the consuming Western populations in particular.

      More and more the multinational companies are taking over control of World resources and production of goods and services. An example of this looks to be the ‘cloak and dagger’ Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations under way between the USA and the EU.

      Not many in the EU know about this possible ‘power grab’ by multinationals, if anyone is interested, here is a quick explanation video.

      What is the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership?

      I used to laugh at the so called NWO (New World Order) notion but the more I research and see what is happening worldwide the more I am starting to take it seriously.

      The 1% appears to me to be well on their way to World dominance and all that the 99% appear to be doing is hoping for the best.

    • eurotom

      interesting gaze into the future but the current reality is most people want stuff and stuff costs money …most people “wax on” when they hear others who moan whilst not doing anything for themselves.

    • douglaskastle


      The western world has been banging on about this future where automation will allow us all to quit work and live in some type of Star Trek Utopia where we can pursue our diverse interests since WWII.

      Since that time the rise of automation has been phenomenal, it is currently possible for one person to do the work of ~10 people thanks to computers and robots, the virtual death of the traditional secretary position can be attributed to this (I know secretaries still exist but not like in the numbers they did in the 50s).

      However is any body working less, no way, a person is still driven to work 40 hours (or more) because every body else is. Any one brave enough to work less hours has to embrace a pay cut and then figure out how to survive in a world where nearly every body else is working more than you and can then out compete you for mortgages, which is basically like the only asset any of us really invest in.

      I can see no future where any of us get to take our foot off the gas, it’s all a competition for resources and there are 2 billion Indians and Chinese who would love to have life as sweet as us in the west.

      The only thing I think we’ll have to adapt to in this glorious future is that we most likely have to be employed until we are 80 before pensions are allowed kick in. I know unemployed professionals in their 50s that are already considered too old can’t get any jobs. Will we all find ourselves back working in MacDonalds? Or sweeping the streets? I drove across America a few years ago and I was initially baffled by the amount of older people working in the services industry, of an age beyond what you would consider retirement age. They were forced back because their pensions got blown up in the Financial Crisis, it can, does and could happen.

    • Gearoid O Dubhain

      Well the Adelaide, the Public Sector has made great strides in this regard; the only problem is that it requires many, many private sector workers to continue working longer and further into their sixties to sustain the non working plans of the PS !

    • tomahawk

      ‘Perhaps I’m in a tiny minority but I see a future without work as a glorious opportunity for mankind’
      The only tiny minority are, and will always be the glorious elite who pull the invisible strings.

    • StephenKenny

      I agree with the last sentence, but not the premise: We need to change our mode of thinking.
      We have to accept that the current industries are going to change shape, and – if we manage to maintain a market economy – their products will become so cheap as to be available to everyone. Robots will make robots that make the products.

      It’s the idea of the disappearance of jobs, that I disagree with. As long as we have a system that enables supply to respond to demand, and vice-versa, human desires (demand) will, by definition, stay ahead of any system that the supply side can come up with.

      Everything we have these days is at least a luxurious version of something we need, or is something which is simply a purely unnecessary luxury.

      As a parallel, consider the food industry. 300 years ago we all ate food that was grown locally. Then came automation. This did two things: the first thing, which we all know about, is that it destroyed agricultural employment; the second thing was that it enabled us to start to import posh foods from elsewhere, and to use new technologies to create new foods. We could all live perfectly well on the available foods from 300 years ago, but as soon as we could, we moved on. Anyone for a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue?

      And so it will be again. We make production so easy that we can make anything – and we’ll start to demand products and services that are beyond the ability of machines to provide. People won’t want a $25,000 Armarni suit, they’ll want something like a product/service combination that cannot be manufactured.

      Why would anyone drive a BMW if everyone had one?

      I don’t know what this new sector is going to look like, but I’ll bet a lot of someone else’s money that we’ll see it starting to emerge quite soon.

      The risk is, of course, that without good and enforced regulations, we’ll regress to a pre-enlightenment social order.

    • Wills

      …fair point – in the 60s the sociologists and their predictions full of the new society and its tech doing away with work and leisure all the way. So funny how this is all but forgotten on and the powers at be are back to feudal attitudes of work and labour.

    • mcsean2163

      Agree, it seems crazy that I spend so much time in work, working at home and on the m50 when cavemen only worked 20 hours a week.

      A 20 hour week of horrible work would leave lots of time for family, fun and fun work.

  17. douglaskastle

    To be fair this isn’t just an Irish problem, this effect has been seen in America, Australia, the UK, Japan and probably more.


    Usually the common element is that a recession happened when the respective groups were supposed to graduate college and start on the bottom rung of a decent career to find out the bottom rung was still occupied by the people already there who were unable to get promoted.

    What is the common element in all these countries, rampant capitalism, the bottom line, all the menial jobs or gone or have a lot more competition. Outsourcing of jobs to cheaper countries or an explosion of immigrants that are happy to fill up the jobs that can’t be moved off shore. I believe they have every right to do that, however the end result is what we find ourselves in. I am a big fan of capitalism, but it is like the sea, it has no memory (thanks Andy) and can’t really functionally see beyond the next 2 quarters, which finds us here.

    In Ireland, I believe the jobless problem was compounded this time that the big sink hole of the United States was also hurting and it isn’t as easy to get visas there like it was back in the 80s.

  18. Deco

    David you got it wrong.

    Have a baby.
    Leave school.
    Go on welfare.
    Become dependent (on the state).

    It is a pragmatic alternative to being sucked dry by the state, and is gaining increasing popularity, because of the mechanism by which an increasingly ponzified state functions, with it’s “no banker left behind”.

    The system is dysfunctional. People have to adapt, to survive.

    Why go down the old path of old. The wages when you start are rubbish. There is massive social pressure to NOT save your wages. The Real Estate market (especially in Dublin) is bottlenecked due to lack of supply. A sizeable chunk of the available supply is pre-allocated to those that understand how the system works. And taxation is prohibitive in any case.

    The solution – try the exact opposite of what the three main political parties, RTE, the IT, IBEC, ICTU, etc.. are always advocating.

    The policy framework is bananas. Don’t moan about the fact that people have lost enthusiasm for choices that squeeze them into nothing.

  19. michaelcoughlan


    I am going to throw a right spanner in the works so before you all accuse me of being a racist you can all FUCK OFF.

    My uncle is now in his 89th year and has been in four different retirement homes in the past two years where by and large he has revived very good care. Two retirement home were publically funded by the HSE and two were privately owned.

    Almost everyone who works in the privately held nursing homes is female and either Indian or Philippine or the occasional eastern European.

    Almost everyone who works in the public HSE retirement homes is a middle aged white Irish woman.

    I wonder David how many of the people at home in their twenties hail from the outside Ireland?

    The post isn’t meant to bash anyone. It’s meant to highlight how DISGRACEFULLY we treat both Johnny Foreigner and our own kids in their twenties.

    By the way Dathi; the markets are going


    It’s not peak everything we need to consider its ponzi everything!

  20. Wills

    Anyone curious on the outcome of a society and its economy under the yoke of a weaponisation of the medium of exchange (institutionalised anarchic debt money usury system) you could do worse than read D’s article above IMO.

    • Wills

      Ponzi economics = hollowing out of society

      • Wills

        ..just to be clear – if anyone is reading my comment – I’m addressing the shut down of enterprise in the economy point in the article.

        In respect to family and staying at home in your late 20′s I am not too bothered about this idea. IMO if parents raise their kids in a balanced way it ought not matter a jot if the kids are still at base camp – home – no matter what age. One can cite the upper classes in UK and the kids never leave their family home. In fact parents give it to them when they get on into their 70′s. So its fine kids at home in their 20s.

        IMO its about the quality of relationship between parents and their kids at the end of the day is all that matters.

  21. Wills

    The article highlights the revolution society needs in respect to the concept of work. As a society we are too tied to the Victorian work ethic which is redundant when one looks out the window and sees an informational technological space ship sitting their and space and time shrunk to a pea.

  22. joe hack

    “We also know that confident twentysomethings can do wonderful things. What age were Page and Brin when they set up Google? What age was Zuckerberg when he set up Facebook” -freaks- no wonder some kids can’t learn to fly when these freaks a set on pedestals…

    what do you call a seagull who is bored with the daily squabbles over food but never learns to fly…

  23. joe hack

    this might help find a cure – the hidden class divide gets bigger under the cover of morons in mansions – bono and more -:


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