Archive for the ‘Society’ Category
Today’s Guardian features the results of an investigation into the financial prospects of those born between 1980 and the mid-90s, often known as Generation Y, The investigation found Generation Y is increasingly missing out on the wealth being generated in western societies.
In the 1980s young adults would generally earn more than the national average wage. In many countries they are now earning as much as 20% below the national average. However, pensioners, by comparison, have seen their incomes soar. The first, and inevitable, reaction is one of annoyance and anger that pensioners and those soon to reach retirement age are taking an unfair proportion of the nation’s wealth.
That reaction fails to recognise the reason we are in this situation, the fact that post war redevelopment and growth were big drivers in wealth generation. There was also a huge change in consumerism, not just in purchasing power but also the range of goods available to buy. The pace of change and growth was never sustainable in the long run and we are going through a period of adjustment which will end and things will probably catch up again.
As kids we used to spend hours up trees, wade through rivers, climb cliffs, ride soapbox carts without brakes, play with catapults, slide down the stairs on tin trays and use playground equipment for everything other than the purpose for which they were made. These were thrilling, exciting and slightly scary activities that got your adrenalin flowing, made our lives fun and taught us our physical limits.
Now we are getting so risk adverse its even been suggested the health and safety inspectors will be given powers to enter our houses to ensure our knives are blunt, our baths cannot hold more than half an inch of water, our beer and wine is kept under lock and key, our house plants and flowers are pollen free and we men put down the toilet seat after a number one.
I’m sure the pedants who work for the HSE could find a multitude of risks and dangers in every home in the land, including their own. Life is a risk and we must all learn to live with those risks. Several kids at my school had their lives cut short because of their own misfortunes, its very sad but it happens. Turning our homes into padded cells, regulating every interaction with other people and seeking an utopian idea of safety will leave us frustrated, lonely and dead from boredom.
Senior police offers are getting a bit twitchy at ate growing numbers of companies and communities employing private security to replace the beat bobby that went missing from our streets many years ago. Their concerns, and is some respects understandable concerns, are the powers given to some of these individuals and their unaccountability. We have all seen the way local authorities have abused the powers given to them, how long before the private police follow the same route.
Simon Reed of the Police federation said, ‘It’s the police who patrol public space and we should be very wary about giving those powers to private security companies’. Er, when was the last time he took a walk around our streets, many years ago I suspect. If he had he would know beat bobbies are rearer than hens teeth.
If the police are concerned about the growth of the private security service then I suggest they ask why the public feel it necessary to buy these services, why they consider their safety so important they will invest the time, effort and cost in contracting people to patrol their communities. The answers might just surprise them, the again they would have to stop wasting time and manpower going after easy targets and do some real police work.
The move to a mandatory graduate level qualification for entry to nurse training has been received with mixed response. On one side the traditionalists say a degree does not equip a nurse with the compassionate, caring and empathic qualities they need. The progressives say the change is a recognition of the way nursing has become a highly skilled role that plays an important part in the treatment process.
Its clear that medical knowledge, technology and pharmaceuticals have developed beyond all recognition; the seriously injured who would have died 25 years ago now survive; surgeons can now perform almost miraculous operations; and new drugs and treatments have brought hope to suffers of many cancers giving them every hope of a long life. All these developments have prompted changes to doctors training and greater specialisation, it would now seem the nursing profession is about to catch up with these changes.
There is a risk, however, the risk the vital tasks of personal care and the human touch that helps the sick and injured to cope with their predicament is lost. We do have care assistants, but these poorly paid individuals are often seen as little more than bottom wipers and spoon feeders. Their role needs to be grown to fill the gap left by the enhanced role of nurses. Otherwise it will be the poor patient who suffers.
It is a matter of enduring pride that both my parents served in the forces during the second world war. My father served with the 2nd/4th Battalion Hampshire Regiment from November 1942 to May 1945. He was posted to Italy in May 1944 and shot in the thigh and head on 21 July 1944 during an attack on the German lines about 10 miles south of Florence. Repatriated to England, he was finally discharged on medical grounds in May 1945.
My father never talked about the war or his time in the battle field but it was clear from the terrible scars on his legs and the stories we were told by his brothers that he had suffered great pain. Even in the 1950s he suffered with severe headaches due to the head wound and on occasions we would be confined to our bedroom while my father would lay in a darkened room waiting for his pills to take effect. My mother, A/C/W2, served with the WAAF, the forerunner of the WRAF, from December 1942 to June 1946. She was posted to RAF Stanmore as a cook and always talked with great fondness about her time in the services. She even kept in touch with several of her fellow servicewomen until her death in June 2002. I’m sure it was her forces training that made her such a good cook and wonderful home maker.
If you drive through the fields of Flanders you will pass many war cemeteries with their entrance archway and ranks of white grave stones. Even though several million people gave their lives fighting so we may live ours in freedom, the truth is few of us will ever have an opportunity to truly serve our country as those brave men and women. It adds an extra dimension to the importance of Remembrance Day and essential that we never forget.
Michael Barrett was the last person to be hanged in public on 26 May 1868. His execution brought to an end a spectacle that had been a very popular form of public entertainment for hundreds of years. Today our entertainment comes in many different forms but does not rely on people being killed as part of public retribution. However, there are a few entertainment shows that are starting to cross a very thin line between entertainment and persecution.
X Factor contestant Danyl Johnson has been the focus of a nasty campaign of intimidation and insults following his relegation to the sing-off last week. The disappointment clearly had an impact on his Saturday night performance, he looked vacant and his singing was lifeless. Fortunately he managed to garner public support and avoided the sing-off this week. That was left to two of the better performers in the contest, Rachel Adedeji and Lloyd Daniels.
The judges ducked the decision of which contestant to vote out by leaving it to the public. As it turned out one of the potential winners ended up being humiliated and Rachel left the competition even though the general consensus is there are others in the competition who stand no chance of winning. However, that does not account for the whims of the public who love to see the underdog getting through without regard for the consequences.
The frequency at which professional footballers feature in the non-sports pages of our daily papers is increasing at a significant pace. Their propensity for bad behaviour has become legendary and the latest footballer to fall victim to his own arrogance is Marlon King who has been jailed for 18 months after being found guilty of sexual assault and causing actual bodily harm.
Throughout the court case King demonstrated his arrogance towards everyone around him by continuously claiming it was a case of mistaken identity even though the evidence against him was overwhelming and included an eye witness statement from his own football coach. Perhaps he had convinced himself he is innocent, unfortunately for him the jury decided otherwise.
King is not the first league footballer to be charged with a violent crime and will not be the last. We now seem to have a class of player who have been so indulged by their clubs, the companies who sign them up for sponsorship contracts and the coterie of individuals who leach off them they believe they hold some privileged position that puts them above everyone else. We and the great game of football suffers as a result of their arrogance. Its time the big clubs acted to end this woeful situation.
Ten individuals have been named as being responsible for the failures that led to the crash of a Nimrod aircraft in Afghanistan. They were complicit in a process of cost cutting and failed to correctly assess the risks of the decisions they made. 14 serving militant personnel died in the crash, one of the single most deadly incidents in the whole Afghan war.
Having clearly identified the ten people responsible you would have expected their employers the MOD, BAE and QinetiQ to suspend the individuals and the Director of Public Prosecutions to issue a statement saying he would commence a review of the report by Charles Haddon-Cave QC with a view to prosecuting those responsible. All the families of the deceased have received is a further apology from the MOD.
Some of the people named have, since the time of the crash, been promoted, others have moved on to more prosperous positions. For the victims there has been no such opportunities, their lives ended in a fire storm caused by a culture that was led by cost and not safety that pervaded much of the MOD and their suppliers. Identifying those responsible should be the start not the end of the process of making those culpable accountable for their actions.
War heroes will tell you the last thing they thought about at a moment of bravery was their own safety or the risks of the situation; they just got on with the task almost as an automatic reaction to the situation. For those of us read the details of their exploits with the time to contemplate what happened the idea of putting ones own life at risk in what can come across as a hopeless situation seems madness and one we would never entertain.
Now we have a different sort of bravery, a bravery that stems from a slowly considered decision and one in which the likely outcome is known from the very start. L/Cpl Joe Glenton, of York, faces a court martial for refusing to return to Afghanistan and, against all advice, led a protest march against the war. He said, ‘I think what I am doing is in the British interest. I take my duty very seriously’.
In the first world war such actions would have led the deserter to the firing squad or the hangman’s noose. Today we may be a more enlightened society but the military will take action to ensure discipline is maintained. Some people will look upon Glenton’s actions as foolish and misguided, others may support his views but think his duty, as a serving member of the armed forces, it to his country and not the anti war brigade. I think your duty is to your conscious and sometimes that requires an act of bravery.