As the sub-prime meltdown was unfolding and as the current sinking of economies worldwide is dragging more and more people down with it, I've noticed that there are a lot of angry young people who feel that the boomers have gobbled everything up and left nothing but a big economic mess for young people. Most of us who are younger than 50 are unlikely to enjoy the same level of lifestyle as our parents. In particular, we seem to be in a situation where we will not be able to buy property and expect it to help smoothly pave the way to retirement. In fact, most people feel they will be lucky to stumble down a dirt road considering the collapse of the housing market.
I can't say that I know what is ahead. I tend to think it'll get better and that it'll happen sooner than most people expect. That being said, I must say that sometimes I also get angry about some of the things which I view as disparities between economic conditions and opportunities for our parents and those for ourselves. This anger is completely wasted of course, but it is not irrationally rooted.
Sometimes it makes me mad that people who have retired complain about younger generations not doing better and blaming it on their inability to control their spending. While I have no doubt that this is true for a lot of people, not everyone who is finding it hard to prosper is failing to live modestly or work hard. The truth is that a lot of older people have built their prosperity on real estate. That is, they bought houses which appreciated in value greatly and have been able to cash in for retirement. The amount of appreciation on more recent purchases, with a few exceptional areas, is less than that on homes bought 40-50 years ago.
My point is that a lot of people who cite hard work as the reason for their comfort at retirement actually just got lucky that they were buying in their era and not ours. They didn't necessarily prosper because of hard work and scrimping and saving. That was actually what our grandparents did, not our parents. Some of them just bought homes, others became landlords of one sort or another. Some simply checked out at the right time before the stock market bubble burst. In fact, a lot of the, supposedly inspirational, stories about people who became millionaires despite never working at very high wage or professional jobs emphasize frugal and simple living rather strongly and whisper and vaguely mention in a footnote at the end of the article that there were also real estate purchases. Such people can't stand as an example for us since our era is unlikely to yield such opportunities to increase investments ten fold (or more).
I'm not whining because I won't end up rich when I retire, because I've never been in a position to consider much investing anyway. That's not because I don't have a little bit of money to play with, but rather that I have been living in a foreign country on a mental lease that I renew three years at a time rather than staying in a place I expect to remain in. Rather, I am complaining because of the amount of blame that gets tossed around and the arrogant presumption that anyone who hasn't set themselves up for a comfy retirement has not lived in a manner that suits their income level. What is more, I'm probably more than a little jealous and resentful to see people who get to coast on their buying-based luck later in life, while I will be working until I no longer am capable of doing so. Going by a lot of the comments I see on various articles, I'm certain I'm not alone.