Wednesday, 28 December 2011


I have been shouting again, this time at the radio. A member of the audience on ‘Any Questions’ asked Are we looking at a jobless generation, with over a million unemployed young people? Ian Martin a political Commentator who was on the panel answered, albeit rather tentatively, that these young unemployed school leavers should be offered less than the minimum wage in order to put them to work.  Needless to say, this did not go down too well with the rest of the panel. I did wonder if he knew what the minimum wage was. Can we truly expect anyone to work for less than the minimum wage?
It seems the government are thinking of revitalising something along the lines of the ‘Youth Opportunities Scheme’ which was introduced in a time of great unemployment in 1985. It was something to do with tweaking the unemployment figures at that time. In most cases it involved exploitation of the young. Of course you might say that gaining work experience is a good thing. I would not argue, young school leavers need some kind of work experience but not work that reduces their morale by paying them peanuts. They must be given some training to boost self-confidence and to prepare them for a life of satisfying work.
For generations we have observed to the differences between the ‘haves and the have-nots’ in our society. Recently we are witnessing the ever increasing gap between the working salaries in the UK having risen by 300% since 1980 bringing it to an average of £25,000 while executive pay has soared to over 4,000%. The chief executive of Barclays Bank earned £4,365,636 just last year. We heard that some veterans of the WRVS quit in disgust when they learned that their boss’s salary was in the range of £150,000 and they were being asked to cut costs when the majority worked as volunteers.
Many of the front benches in our government are purported to be millionaires. How can they be on a par with us the public? How can they possibly know what it is like to be looking into a bleak future? When their food and energy bills rise will they even notice? Our Prime Minister’s patronising attempts to boost spirits by telling us we are all in it together makes me howl and this from someone who advised parents to take their children to work on the day of the strike. Police, doctors, bus drivers, supermarket staff, office workers all taking their children to work, I don’t think so. Out of touch or what?
Why is it that the cuts affect the poor rather than the rich? Capitalism seems to be making the rich richer and the poor poorer, not good in this modern age? When will the public turn? Are we moving backwards to where pre and post war children were truly in poverty?  When I talk of my childhood in the forties, some would have called us ‘rag arsed’ because of the patches and darning of our clothes, second hand or ‘hand-me-downs’ was the norm. Our parents were adept at spinning out what bit they had, making a meal from a small amount, looking for cheap cuts of meat and cooking warm filling meals which were high in carbohydrates. Of course during the days of rationing many of us kids did go hungry but poverty is relative to the time. Today in many homes young families buy more ready meals which seem far more expensive, pandering to advertising and the pressure of the vast array of choice in the supermarkets. Again, this is relative to the times, would our parents have done the same if all of it was available?
All of this does not detract from the ever widening gap between the average salaries and the higher paid. We have watched “Children in Need” raising money by the efforts of so many people, celebrities and the ordinary Joe in the street. It is admirable, however there is also something obscene about someone paying £35,000 to spend a couple of days with Gok Wan and his crew, and then £15,000 to travel on the Orient Express with Michael Palin, much as I love him. We heard Terry Wogan pushing more and more for money for lunch with him and three glamorous TV presenters in order to give to the young and needy in our society. Why should some aspects of our society have to beg for handouts from those who are rich?  A huge amount of money was raised by Wogan and his crew that weekend on the radio for some prize or other, why did these listeners not just give without this obscene process of bartering and bidding? I personally found it appalling. On the previous day I had watched a process of ‘my wad is bigger than yours’ with well-heeled people in an antiques program where the charming expert auctioned objects off for charity. His audience comprised of the rich and richer. It was a demonstration of the condescending affluent giving to the poor, having their ego’s massaged openly. That seems wrong. ‘Children in Need’ is a wonderful program and millions raised goes to the British poor, much of it made by heart wrenching trials like the ‘One Show’s’ Mat Baker who made a horrendous journey on a rickshaw raising over a million pounds for children.
Should we have to raise money in this country for charities? Why aren’t we as a nation looking after our own? Why in the twenty-first century are there still children in need, children on the edge of poverty? Shouldn’t hospices be looked after by the tax payers? They should not be reliant upon the rich who give in a gregarious fashion, wanting to be seen to be doing their bit; halo’s gleaming and polished with the feel good factor for this year. By all means give to charity but not in order to inflate ones ego publicly.

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