So much for entitled millennials – it’s billionaires such as Richard Branson who are begging for loans


Richard Branson on Bondi Beach in Sydney. PHOTO/Joel Carrett/EPA

Don’t fritter away your money on avocado toast. Stop buying frivolous flat whites. Live with 15 housemates. Subsist on beans and tap water so you can set aside money for retirement. Make sure you have three months of your salary saved in case of emergency.

We have all seen variations of this financial advice, which is normally written by a “sensible grownup” and directed at feckless millennials. Young people are entitled, we are told endlessly. They need to learn good financial habits instead of demanding freebies. They need to fend for themselves.

Well, look who is demanding freebies now. Look who thinks they are entitled to be bailed out with taxpayer money. Look who thinks free markets are not such a good idea when it means their company might fail. Look who thinks we should overlook their irresponsible financial habits. It is not impoverished millennials.

Sir Richard Branson, who is worth an estimated £4.7bn, is begging the UK government to give his Virgin Atlantic airline a £500m loan – and he is offering his private Caribbean island as collateral. Very generous of you, sir, but here is another idea: sell your damn island and bail out your company yourself.

While we are at it, if you want British income taxpayers to help you out, why not become one yourself? While Branson loves slapping union jack branding on his planes, the patriotism that he practises involves living in the tax-free British Virgin Islands and suing the NHS. (Branson, by the way, would prefer that we refer to Virgin Care’s legal battle as a “dispute” and would like you to know that the entire thing was the fault of NHS commissioners.)

I can understand why Branson thinks his aviation baby deserves a state bailout; many of the other airlines are getting one. “Airlines around the world need government support and many have already received it,” he said in a blogpost on Monday. He is right. In the US, the airline industry is getting $25bn (£20.2bn) from the government in grants and loans.

The Guardian for more

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