Morning Call: pick of the comment:

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's papers.

1. There's real hope from Haiti and it's not what you expect (Independent)

Johann Hari writes that the good news from Haiti is that the IMF backed down and agreed to work to cancel the country's entire debt. This is the first sign that exposing and opposing the body's agenda works.

2. Between the bomb and the barricades (Financial Times)

It's a relief that Iran's uranium centrifuges keep breaking down, says Philip Stephens. No one in the west knows how to punish Iran for its nuclear programme without playing into the hands of the regime.

3. My heart refuses to race to this cross-Channel love-in (Guardian)

Martin Kettle argues that while logic supports an Anglo-French defence partnership, a combination of cultural mistrust and divergent national interests means it isn't going to happen.

4. 1997 revisited (Economist)

The Economist's Bagehot writes that Gordon Brown's deathbed conversion to electoral reform reflects his nostalgia for 1997. It is an attempt to turn back the clock -- to a time when Labour seemed capable of being a force for change

5. The smell from Westminster hasn't gone away (Times)

Martin Bell writes that although most of the worst offenders of the expenses scandal will be gone after the next election, it is vital that voters watch the class of 2010 with an eagle eye.

6. The public sector could save the economy -- if only politicians let it (Daily Telegraph)

Andrew Haldenby claims that public-sector managers know that spending can be cut by 20 per cent without harming actual services; it's just the government that is holding them back.

7. The market has failed over bankers' pay (Times)

The City minister, Paul Myners, argues that it's time for fund managers to come out of the shadows. They have invited public scrutiny of their failures.

8. Scientists, you are fallible. Get off the pedestal and join the common herd (Guardian)

Simon Jenkins says that climate scientists need to rediscover the virtue of self-criticism -- or others will continue to question their evidence.

9. Stench that will linger long after stables are swept (Independent)

Andrew Grice predicts that the expenses scandal will play a prominent role at the general election, not least because candidates are bound to milk it at local level.

10. Britain has been hit harder than you think (Financial Times)

Samuel Brittan argues that anyone who bases their vote on the latest GDP figures should be disenfranchised. These initial estimates are not exact enough even to say where in a range of plus or minus 1 per cent the change occurred.

 

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In your 30s? You missed out on £26,000 and you're not even protesting

The 1980s kids seem resigned to their fate - for now. 

Imagine you’re in your thirties, and you’re renting in a shared house, on roughly the same pay you earned five years ago. Now imagine you have a friend, also in their thirties. This friend owns their own home, gets pay rises every year and has a more generous pension to beat. In fact, they are twice as rich as you. 

When you try to talk about how worried you are about your financial situation, the friend shrugs and says: “I was in that situation too.”

Un-friend, right? But this is, in fact, reality. A study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that Brits in their early thirties have a median wealth of £27,000. But ten years ago, a thirty something had £53,000. In other words, that unbearable friend is just someone exactly the same as you, who is now in their forties. 

Not only do Brits born in the early 1980s have half the wealth they would have had if they were born in the 1970s, but they are the first generation to be in this position since World War II.  According to the IFS study, each cohort has got progressively richer. But then, just as the 1980s kids were reaching adulthood, a couple of things happened at once.

House prices raced ahead of wages. Employers made pensions less generous. And, at the crucial point that the 1980s kids were finding their feet in the jobs market, the recession struck. The 1980s kids didn’t manage to buy homes in time to take advantage of low mortgage rates. Instead, they are stuck paying increasing amounts of rent. 

If the wealth distribution between someone in their 30s and someone in their 40s is stark, this is only the starting point in intergenerational inequality. The IFS expects pensioners’ incomes to race ahead of workers in the coming decade. 

So why, given this unprecedented reversal in fortunes, are Brits in their early thirties not marching in the streets? Why are they not burning tyres outside the Treasury while shouting: “Give us out £26k back?” 

The obvious fact that no one is going to be protesting their granny’s good fortune aside, it seems one reason for the 1980s kids’ resignation is they are still in denial. One thirty something wrote to The Staggers that the idea of being able to buy a house had become too abstract to worry about. Instead:

“You just try and get through this month and then worry about next month, which is probably self-defeating, but I think it's quite tough to get in the mindset that you're going to put something by so maybe in 10 years you can buy a shoebox a two-hour train ride from where you actually want to be.”

Another reflected that “people keep saying ‘something will turn up’”.

The Staggers turned to our resident thirty something, Yo Zushi, for his thoughts. He agreed with the IFS analysis that the recession mattered:

"We were spoiled by an artificially inflated balloon of cheap credit and growing up was something you did… later. Then the crash came in 2007-2008, and it became something we couldn’t afford to do. 

I would have got round to becoming comfortably off, I tell myself, had I been given another ten years of amoral capitalist boom to do so. Many of those who were born in the early 1970s drifted along, took a nap and woke up in possession of a house, all mod cons and a decent-paying job. But we slightly younger Gen X-ers followed in their slipstream and somehow fell off the edge. Oh well. "

Will the inertia of the1980s kids last? Perhaps – but Zushi sees in the support for Jeremy Corbyn, a swell of feeling at last. “Our lack of access to the life we were promised in our teens has woken many of us up to why things suck. That’s a good thing. 

“And now we have Corbyn to help sort it all out. That’s not meant sarcastically – I really think he’ll do it.”