I have some much-needed encouragement for anyone born since the 1960s.
Let's first discuss the Golden Generation, those raised in the Great Depression and who fought and suffered for the sake of justice and freedom in the Second World War. Many would soon be rewarded for their pain.
These parents of today's "Baby Boom" had job security, pensions and benefits, bought their own homes at very low prices and paid relatively low taxes.
Because of two and a half decades of solid economic growth, they also benefited from the gradual addition of government programs like Universal Health Care, Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement and the Canada Pension Plan.
Their children were the beneficiaries of this boom, receiv-
ing great educations, experiencing prosperous careers and realizing substantial growth in their real estate and financial assets, despite their increasing tax burdens.
Fast forward to today. Our children are now facing their first real estate purchases that will require at least 15 years of after-tax income, whereas their grandparents only required three or four.
They will pay for those homes with jobs that are often being lost to technological and outsourcing "progress" and their future pension benefits, if any, are being restricted due to the cost of our increasing longevity.
To boot, they have experienced yet another financial meltdown resulting in a disappointing start to this much-anticipated new millennium.
It's time for some hope! Young people have an unprecedented opportunity to add new value to this world.
I don't know what that means yet because those new ideas and products that the world is willing to pay for have not been created yet.
For example, who would have thought 10 years ago that most of us would soon
carry around a device in our pocket that would serve as a phone, email device, internet browser, GPS, music centre, video camera, television and all-round supercomputer?
How many farmers in Central America would have believed that the market would one day demand fair trade coffee?
How many towns anticipated the day when they could replace fossil fuel generators with wind turbines?
The future is truly what we make it to be.
On the other hand, remember the adage that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
We can learn a lot by having conversations with our older seniors because they were the ones who set us up for the unbelievable progress of this past century.
They can teach us about hardships that most of us have never experienced and about the frame of mind required to take on tomorrow's challenges in the midst of scarcity.
Despite circumstance, they did without, sacrificed much, achieved even more and did not understand today's attitude of "entitlement."
We do not wish our children the pain of the past. However, those stories bear important lessons on the power of the human spirit and should continue to be told for generations to come.
The opinions expressed are those of Richard Vetter, BA, CFP, CLU, ChFC.
Vetter is a certified financial planner and owner of WealthSmart Financial Group (www.wealthsmart.ca).