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Credit Crunch! Blame It On The Class of 1984!

Updated on April 9, 2012

How and why expectations have changed from my generation to my children’s generation. How this transition occurred, what changed in history to enable this.

Although this is mostly relevant to the UK, I am sure many parallels can be noted as significant in most of the Western world. There was social and economic change in America and Britain.  This is a look at how and why expectations have changed from my generation to my children’s generation. How this transition occurred;  what was social and economic change in history to enable this and why the cycle will be reversed.

I was born in 1968; the height of the 60’s revolution, when ‘power to the people’ was the advocate. There was a feeling of hope, love and unity. There was sexual liberation with the advent of the pill and opportunities for wealth.

Anything seemed possible. The UK was being re-built and stimulated growth. Great building programmes were in the throws of completion. Social housing projects were fulfilling the needs of those seeking affordable housing. At last people had disposable incomes as job vacancies outweighed supply.

'Flower To The People!'
'Flower To The People!'

Power to the People, Stagflation and the Winter of Discontent. Out with Callaghan, in with Thatcher. Let the Change Begin!

There were great changes during the 1970’s. No one could have foreseen the doom ahead. The 60’s were the party - the 70’s were hung over. Discontentment was starting to germinate as the hippy revolution turned from love, peace and harmony to creeping unrest. Political opposition to issues like nuclear war and Vietnam were products of this.

It seems that the idea of ‘power to the people’ was an idea that was starting to be implemented. From around 1973 the world started to suffer from recession. The party was well and truly over. There was an oil crisis, a stock market crash, high unemployment and high inflation (stagflation).

This had a marked affect on the world economy and Britain was no exception. Similarly, to our leader of today – Gordon Brown - the British people didn’t elect Jim Callaghan. He inherited his position as Prime Minister from Labour’s Harold Wilson. With ‘cap in hand’, Wilson went to the International Monetary Fund, for a loan. The UK, essentially, was bankrupt.

In 1979 Britain suffered ‘the winter of discontent’. Essentially, from the point of view of people power, the trade unionist was encouraging strike action. This was a backlash response to controlling inflation by freezing pay. The British people were disheartened throughout society. As a result, Callaghan was defeated by Margaret Thatcher (Conservative Party). This discontent was documented in the media and music of the time. Out with the happy hippy days, in with the anarchists (or activists?) – The Punks.

Our mother’s and fathers were brought up in wartime Britain. They had to endure rationing, family splits and went without clothes and toys. Christmas was a treat where, if you were lucky, you might get some chicken and a piece of cake! It is these things that our generation took for granted. Furthermore, some children were evacuated or had to fend for themselves whilst father was at war and mother was working for the war effort. They suffered social, emotional and physical deprivation.

The children of the 60’s were brought up with the ideal of ‘waste not, want not’. We were told to eat up ALL our food as waste was discouraged. Most things were recycled – we got money for bringing back lemonade bottles, for example. This was a great incentive. If there was wasted food, this went to feed the pigs. We ate our fish and chips in newspaper and used old newspaper for toilet tissue.

On our birthdays or Christmas, we might have received a token present - which was more than our parents got when they were children! If we were very good and lucky, we might have got a bicycle, but as this was a once in a childhood opportunity, we had to look after it. We knew that our family had to save hard and long for this gift, so it was appreciated.

We Ate Fish and Chips Wrapped in Newspaper - Yum!

We ate our fish and chips in newspaper and used old newspaper for toilet tissue.
We ate our fish and chips in newspaper and used old newspaper for toilet tissue.

Thatcher’s Britain took hold in the 1980’s things started to change. The rebellious punks, the trade unionists and the revolutionary rioters were controlled.

Our parents were role models for saving up before making purchases. They were paid weekly in cash, dispensed in brown envelopes. When we left school at 16, later than our parents did – they were working by 14 or 15 years old, we were paid like this too. We had to budget and make our money spin.

It wasn’t until Thatcher’s Britain took hold in the 1980’s things started to change. The rebellious punks, the trade unionists and the revolutionary rioters were controlled by Government initiatives. Psychological tactics were put in place to keep the people in line.

Ordinary folk were given just enough money so as they didn’t revolt, but not enough to be prosperous. Psychological barriers were created in government benefit offices. This was a tactical initiative aimed at belittling claimants, thereby dis-empowering them. Chairs, for example, were drilled to the floor and people were dealt with via a re-enforced glass panel, intercom and booth. When their number was called – they could have been waiting hours - they would be allowed to address their queries.

Brixton Riots of 1981

Where Does Money Come From? Trees? No..It comes from plastic!!

American Express?  That'll do nicely!
American Express? That'll do nicely!

American Express? That will do nicely!

It wasn’t until the mid-1980 before my generation saw changes. We were encouraged to ‘get on our bikes’ and find a job. Many of us did this and migrated to cities, like London, where there was growth. Thatcher had implemented privatisation of our industries and everyone felt they had a stake holding in Britain.

We could buy shares in businesses, for example, which was only exclusive to the elite. The social housing that had previously been built, were sold off cheaply to their tenants, giving them a sense of worth. Everyone was encouraged to be entrepreneurs and now they had equity in their houses, they felt empowered to do this. This wasn’t only reflected in our economy and society, but in our music too.

Bands like Duran Duran demonstrated the high life in videos like Rio – cocktail bars, yachts, fast cars and power dressing. This had a direct impact on my generation – like all young people we were highly impressionable. It was during this time that credit started to creep in. We were starting to be paid monthly in our bank accounts, instead of weekly by cash. This was difficult. How can people make one weeks wage, last a month? That is where ‘subbing’ came into force and where, I believe, our spending behaviour started to change.

We found ourselves trying to ‘catch up’ on our spending, but instead found we were paying out now and going into debt until payday. The ‘hole in the wall’ was widely introduced – wow, easy access too! Then there was advertising: ‘‘American Express? That will do nicely!’’ Credit cards had now taking on a new meaning to spending. For a fee, you can have the prestige of being one of the select few in this club. Working class people had never had such opportunity before! This was a chance to make something of our selves, to do better than our parents.

The rot was starting to set in. We could have money whenever we wanted it. We could have the world now! We started to have mortgages, work long hours to pay for them and develop expectations that we could have nice, new things. We could ‘buy now, pay later’. We started to have children. ‘Why should our children go without, like we did?’ was our attitude. So, our children witnessed us going to ‘the hole in the wall’, take out cash and get them that toy that they wanted. It was easy! They must have viewed this like money growing on trees! It didn’t seem to come from anywhere. If it didn’t come out of the wall, you could always use a plastic card!

Boom, Bust, Stability - Boom, Bust - Credit Crunch!

During this time, we saw a boom and bust. House prices soured. House prices dropped. Many of us went through negative equity. Many of us were made bankrupt. Some prospered through this and bought their own homes – lower house prices = more affordability! And so the cycle started again.

Those who were trapped by negative equity became free again as another boom evolved. This time, credit was easier than ever and, as such our attitude to it became more accepting.

Now, we have another bust - the natural part of the cycle. We call this the credit crunch! We are told that lessons will be learned from this. World Governments will and have intervened, thereby changing our behaviour. My generation, who were encouraged to be entrepreneurs and go-getters, have learned to be selfish.

Previous Governments have advocated this. It is our children, therefore, who will behave more like our parents. The cycle is reversing. Credit will not be easily available. They will be encouraged to live within their means and learn to be prudent. They will teach their children the value of money, behave responsibly and know what it is to go without.

They will learn how to appreciate what they have. And this is where our grandchildren will look to us, the selfish generation, and aspire to be what we are today, the opportunistic ones. Credit will be easily available, as the younger generation forgets what has happened today - the cycle starts again.

Housing Slump in the 80's - Negative Equity - Credit Crunch

How and Why Did Expectations Change?

It is from a social, political and historical view, that helps explain why expectations are ripe for change. . It is this that helped the transition to occur. Politically, this is through legislation where Government’s mould society’s behaviour. It is always the people who reap the rewards and suffer the consequence of those decisions.

This has a direct impact on our lives. Socially, this has an affect on music, fashion, marketing and education. This influences young people and their peers. Young people are more adaptable to change and this affects expectations. Historically, my generation, when young, developed changes in expectations compared to our parents.

Politically, our Governments at that time advocated this. Socially, this came from influences in the media, music and social establishments. Example of this: American Express, Duran Duran and cocktail bars. It is because of these factors, my generation was encouraged to develop selfish behaviour.

This behaviour became established over time with the advent of credit, salaries by bank transfers and owning ones home. This encouraged a ‘buy now, pay later’ mentality. This is how the transition occurred.

What no house?!
What no house?!

The Cycle Will Reverse.

It seems that everything goes in cycles. ‘Boom – Bust’ followed by stability to ‘Boom and Bust’. This has happened since time began. One thing is… nothing ever stops still. Behaviours that enable this go hand in hand and just as my generation was the transitional one formulated on selfishness so were the young people of the 60’s and those of the 20’s.

It is now that a change will occur and will be actively encouraged by world powers. My children’s generation will be moulded into traditional prudent spending. This will be achieved by starving them of credit so they will have to live within their means. This is how the cycle will be reversed.

This work is covered under Creative Commons License

If you liked this... you might like this: Blame It On The Parents - The New Scapegoats of UK Society

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    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Great Britain

      Thank you grinnin, I am looking forward to a reverse in our cultures. It seems to be happening!

    • grinnin1 profile image


      9 years ago from st louis,mo

      Such a well thought out, organized and executed article. I am one of the "class of 84" and I think you are spot on with your thinking. Keep writing! I'm following-

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Great Britain

      Thanks Entertainmentplus... drop by again!

    • entertianmentplus profile image


      11 years ago from United States

      Great read,very well done hub.

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Great Britain

      Thank you for dropping by. Im glad you liked it :)

    • betherann profile image

      Beth Morey 

      11 years ago from Montana

      This hub was really interesting to read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Great Britain

      Thank you Patricia Patricia! Love the name!!! Drop in again sometime! x

    • 2patricias profile image


      11 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Your Hub is absolutely packed with ideas and suggestiong. We will be coming back and reading it again.

      Glad to have found you.

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Great Britain

      Oh Paul... you are funny! Thanks for reading, and...err... agreeing with me in a round about way! lol

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Great Britain

      Hi Paul.. I was born in the 60s... 1968... I was Thatchers child and it is my generation that I am referring to. My generation was the selfish generation! My parents bred me... hehehe x

    • paul_gibsons profile image


      11 years ago from Gibsons, BC, Canada

      oh and just to clarify, I use the biologist's definition of a generation as you would expect from me: when it is capable of breeding. And although we/I certainly were capable and ready to when you were born, we generally didn't until a bit later age. Despite it being the sixties and "free love", a cultural thing at the time lol

    • paul_gibsons profile image


      11 years ago from Gibsons, BC, Canada

      interesting analysis, although I may disagree a little bit with some of the chronology (from my memory..). I was born in 1952, so it wasn't my generation that produced what we called "Thatcher's children" at the time; in fact it was Thatcher's generation, the ones that had suffered through and immediately after the second world war and its hardships (sugar was still avalable only on a coupon until well in the 1950's in the UK). Maybe it was the euphoria that that was finally over that did it.Thatcher's generation... remember her creed "greed is good" and her version of the parable of the good samaritan ("he had money and that is why he could be good"..)? that was what permeated all through society and shaped you, your generation. Not so much your or my parents, but the generation between mine and my parents, two generations back for you. I remained stuck in the sixties and to an extent still proudly am. Having said that, I was probably also the first person to make money out of the new Tory government at the time - I put 5 GBP on a horse called Troy, just a few days after the election, thinking: that is an anagram of Tory, the damn thing is bound to win... it did. Came in at 5:1...half my weekly wages at the time..

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Great Britain

      ~Thanks for your comment Art... Im glad you can see what I mean! Roll on the next generation to unravel the harm caused to day x

    • Artin2010 profile image

      Art Wartenbe 

      11 years ago from Northwestern Florida, Gulfcoast

      Very well written hub. It's seems as if the older we get the more we become like the generation that produced us into the world, yet the world is always changing, so we must adapt and change along with it! Thanks for the really good reading. So true, so true! Art

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Great Britain

      Thanks Dream on. It looks like as the environment changed, so did the behaviours. Over time, we were determined that we wouldnt go without! I think this made us selfish. Thanks for reading x

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      11 years ago

      My mother was born the year of the depression 1929.I was born 1964 and I was taught to respect the value of a dollar.Even with good values it is easy to get lost in the fast paced society of having it now and worry later.My mother and father went without a lot of times before I was born.I never really wanted for much but I believed in earning what I got.I have a strong ethic of working no matter what you get paid.You earn your keep and pay your bills.The life you live is yours to make what you will.Your hub nocked my socks off.Right on the money.I will be back to read more.Enjoy life.

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Great Britain

      Well a lot of it comes direct from our governments. They make the rules and regulations for business. Business is clever enough to find loopholes in their favour so as they can create profits for the shareholders.

      Whenever you have humans, you have human behaviour. This always ends in greed.

      As regards to our mortgages... we can, with approval, extend mortgage periods provided we have the means to pay them back. Most people average a 25 year term, but that can change if they move or need to release equity. The banks would never lend to a 70 year old because there is a great risk of death. This means they don't get their money back.

      Banks are only in it for themselves. They are not a charity and even though they attempt to promote a caring picture, all they really want to do is squeeze as much as they can out of us. No wonder we are known as limeys!!

      Thank you my friend for reading xxxxx

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Now this is random, but I heard that there are mortgages in the U.K. that can be as long as 50 to 100 years? Is that really true? Anyhow, this latest generation is going to have to pay for our mistakes.(I sound like a broken record here: but, I blame big business for the bad spending habits of the masses). Great hub and informative as usual. :-)

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Great Britain

      Once a behaviour has been learned from a young age, it is difficult to change it. It seems that your parents were so scared of going without, they over compensated. This made them frugal. You saw this and thought 'I am not going without... I am not going to be like my parents', so behaved opposite to theirs. Your example demonstrates one extreme to another. I could be wrong, but hope that your life will turn around for the best.

      Wishing you happiness,

      Shaz x

    • Askme profile image

      Rebecca O'Reilly 

      11 years ago from California

      You are on to something. My parents were from the Great Depression. I was born in the mid-50s and came of age in the 70's. I hated the way my parents saved and were frugal (cheap) but they paid off their home and had stocks and savings totaling half a million. If I had done that, I wouldn't be up at 3:30am reading hubs and worrying about filing bankruptcy and losing my home.

      Good hub tho'. yes..I think you are on to something here.

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Great Britain

      Thanks my friend. Dont worry for your grandkids, everything goes in circles and it only means that these children will live more like you did! Living in your means is not so bad - look at how well you managed! x

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 

      11 years ago from South Carolina

      You are so right in all this. I graduated high school in 1969 in the USA and it amazes me that things were/are so similar here. I worry for my grandkids .......and watch Glenn Beck every night!

      :) Peace and Love!


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