I stumbled across this article, and it seems relevant considering Donald Trump has gone on record as saying: “My legacy has its roots in my father’s legacy”. The piece tells the story of how Woody Guthrie, a personal hero of mine, was raging against the Trump Empire way back when. Well worth a read!
There is a vast gap in the UK when it comes to health, as a recent study by National Statistics highlights. Unsurprisingly, affluent locations in the south of England are much better off than areas in the north, such as Manchester, Blackpool, Bradford, Birmingham, the North East & Lincolnshire etc.
Men in Kensington & Chelsea can expect 80.2 years of good health in their lifetime, while men in Salford can expect 46.3 years of good health (and, in reality, wouldn’t expect to live 80.2 years in total). Women in Westminster can expect 78.3 years of good health, while women in Birmingham can expect a paltry 46.1.
The reasons given in the article for this ‘sickness divide’ by Dr Ann Marie Connolly are ‘smoking’ and ‘lack of activity’. But this only scratches the surface. It is lifestyle as a whole that contributes to this sort of vast gap in health.
- Pollution (poor people can only afford to live downwind of industrial areas, and so have to breathe in crappy air on a daily basis. Not an ideal environment for exercising).
- Diet (the minimum wage cannot sustain a balanced, healthy diet)
- Working environment (breaking your back every day is bound to cause health issues. Also, when you get home after a horrible day at work, how likely are you to want to exercise or take time to cook a balanced meal?)
- Cigarettes, alcohol, drugs (the poor in society want escapism, and therefore turn to substances that can aid that).
- Stress (when you’re constantly worrying about feeding and housing your family you are going to experience mental/physical health issues).
- Education (in poor areas the schools aren’t as good, causing an endless cycle)
- Environment (it is fact that just being able to see a nice, green setting improves physical as well as mental health)
- The list could keep going on…
If the government was serious about investing in the North, and creating their ‘Northern Powerhouse’, these are basic discrepancies that they should be focussing on correcting instead of tokenistic HS2 railway plans that or neither here nor there.
On the Daily Mirror website, there is a section HERE where you can type in your postcode to find out how many years of good health you can expect. I can expect to live 77.3 years (62.4 of that being good health) … but I live on a bus route, so that’s assuming my road safety is up to scratch. Give it a go yourself!
Welcome to a day in the life BBC Television on Sunday the 26th July 2015 (tomorrow’s schedule).
We will start the day off with BBC Breakfast from 6am in the morning. The most senior presenter of this show is Bill Turnbull, educated at Eton College. Following this show, we have more current affairs from the Andrew Marr Show, hosted by Andrew Marr (educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge), who will be discussing the latest policies from our government, which is run by David Cameron (Brasenose College, Oxford) and George Osborne (Magdalen College, Oxford). At 10am we have more political discussion on Sunday Morning Live, compered by Sian Williams (Oxford Brooks University).
After this we have some light entertainment in the form of Bargain Hunt, where antiques experts such as Kate Bliss (Brasenose College, Oxford), look for antiques at jumble sales.
12:15 – Formula 1 racing. We get to watch the current champion Lewis Hamilton (graduate of Cambridge Arts and Sciences) drive around in a shiny car. He is currently strong favourite to retain his title. But if you’re not a sports fan, you can watch Chefs on Trial instead, hosted by Alex Polizzi (St Catherine’s College, Oxford). Following the F1 we have a sports-based gameshow ‘A Question of Sport’ with rugby star Matt Dawson (Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe)
At 15:45 we have property show, Escape to the Country, with Alistair Appleton (Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge), followed by the Two Tribes gameshow hosted by Richard Osman (Trinity College, Cambridge).
We can then chillax and sing along to Songs of Praise, hosted by the likes of Bill Turnbull (Eton College), and Sally Magnusson (University of Edinburgh). At 17:45 Richard Osman (Trinity College, Cambridge) returns for Pointless, a gameshow which he hosts with Alexander Armstrong (also of Trinity College, Cambridge). Then it’s a news update from Reeta Chakrabarti (Exeter College, Oxford).
At 19:00 it’s time for one of the BBC’s flagship shows, Countryfile, with Ellie Harrison (King’s College, London), and Joe Crowley (Magdalene College, Cambridge). If you’re not into this you can watch Locomation: Dan Snow’s History of Railways instead (Dan Snow is a graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, if you were wondering). At 20:00 we have Fake or Fortune? with Fiona Bruce (Hertford College, Oxford) and Bendor Grosvenor (Harrow School, Pembroke College, Cambridge). Alternatively you can watch Dragon’s Den, where the entrepreneurs are joined by new girl Sarah Willingham (Cranfield University, Oxford).
We end the day at 21:00 with crime mystery entertainment, Partners in Crime, starring David Walliams (Collingwood Boys’ School in Wallington, and the independent Reeigate Grammar School).
This day of entertainment will be brought to you by Director of BBC Television, Danny Cohen (Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford), Director of News & Current Affairs, James Harding (Trinity College, Cambridge), and Director of Strategy & Digital, James Purnell (Balliol College, Oxford).
BBC Mission & Values (link to quotes below)
- We respect each other and celebrate our diversity so that everyone can give their best
- Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest
- Audiences are at the heart of everything we do.
Judging by the disproportionate number of people from privileged backgrounds on the BBC, I don’t feel that socio-economic diversity is being sufficiently celebrated. I also don’t think the BBC’s employment track record is very “impartial”. And if audiences are at the heart of everything the BBC do, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have a proportional representation of the average UK citizen on our screens instead of people who won the postcode lottery?
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the weekly charts. Boy, have we got a show for you today! You’ve heard the rest, now hear the best. This is your top 10 countdown of how the poor stay poor, and how the rich get richer. Mind the gap, folks, or you’ll fall right through!
- Privileged in high-power positions
Yes, this one is an oldie but a goldie. Virtually all of society’s most sought after positions are occupied by people born into wealth and privilege. Politicians, masters of industry, actors, singers, bankers – you name it, the privileged have a monopoly on it!
War. Huh! What is it good for? Making lots of money! (Iraq). But then there’s total war, too, such as World War 2 when the common folk had to go into battle while the privileged gave them orders. But it was all to protect our way of life! Well, the privileged were doing well before the war, and the poor had it bad, and that’s how it has been afterwards and ever since. So that’s the way of life all the common folk were asked to protect. Sometimes I think it might be time to give those commoners a break….NAH.
- Cut Vital Public Services
Nee-naw nee-naw nee-naw. That’s the sound of an ambulance arriving 3-hours too late. The rich can pay for private healthcare, but the poor tend to rely on the NHS. But we can’t make this service too efficient because if the poor aren’t worrying about their health, then they may be trying to steal a slice of dosh from the rich.
Bankers (rhymes with wankers) storms in at #7. They take risks and the masses pay the price. The bank charges you a fee if your account balance drops below a certain level (yeah, cos that’s going to help my low bank balance), and they make you pay higher interest rates on loans because you haven’t got a summer house to put up as collateral. Expect this one to rocket up the charts in the coming weeks.
- Demonising the Welfare State
This is a zinger. Demonising the Welfare State (B-Side: Fuck Communism) is a new one, and expect it to linger in the charts for at least another 5 years. If the most vulnerable members of society are having a hard time, get everyone to turn against them. This distracts from the bankers (rhymes with wankers) and other Chosen Ones who are slowly killing the working class. That’s right-wing morality for ya!
- Withdraw Power
The poor cannot be allowed any sort of power. It is a threat to the rich, and their hedonistic way of life. The number one target? Unions. We can’t have the scum protesting and causing a disturbance because they feel they should be paid a fair wage.
- Expensive/Inaccessible High Education
Call us old fashioned, but us English believe that knowledge is only for the richest in society. Otherwise, how would they stay rich? We like the poor to be uneducated so they continue to make bad decisions. Besides, who’s going to clean all those mansions? (no mansion taxes to worry about now, chums).
Boo! Yes, this is David Cameron’s favourite tool. He wants to scare you into blaming others (immigrants, people on benefits), he wants to scare you about the economy (it’s fragile, but the Tories can fix it; we just need to destroy your lives in the process!), and he wants to make you believe that any positive change would end up destroying the world in the long run.
- Don’t tax the rich!!!!!!!!
For God’s sake, don’t tax the rich! They need as much money as possible so they can provide the scum with low-paid, exploitative jobs…so we can tax said scum. The perfect system for keeping the rich rich and the poor poor.
AND COMING IN AT NUMBER 1……SCRAPPING THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
May God have mercy on us all.
The current systems in place within our society do not work. They breed inequality, undermine democracy, and completely ignore important topics, such as the many environmental issues we face. We need change in a big way, but there are many obstacles in the way.
The main obstacle is ourselves. People are naturally resistant to change (ask anyone who works in HR). This probably stems back to instincts instilled in us when the world was a much more threatening place. Biologically, there is virtually no difference between us and cavemen. Born in the same environmental conditions, you and a caveman would be equals (the caveman would be a little bit hairier, granted). Cavemen had to live in a very specific way to survive in their world. Changes in their lifestyle could be fatal. Today, we still have that instinct that tells us, “if you are alive, you’re doing something right, so don’t change anything!”.
Just in case anyone’s reading this thinking “I’m using a computer – I’m way more advanced than a caveman!” – that’s due to accumulation of knowledge i.e. the people before us figuring things out and writing things down (which started with cavemen drawing on the cave walls). All I’m saying is, if you were dropped naked onto a desert island, how long would it take you to send an e-mail?
So, we are very cautious about disrupting the status quo, even if we can see, rationally, that we are being cheated. We feel secure when things stay the same.
There is also a well-established pecking order in our society, which provides another obstacle to reform. The powerful people at the top of the pecking order are constantly telling us that things are okay the way they are, and to change anything would be a big risk. But, of course, they would say that, wouldn’t they, because they’re benefiting from the systems in place.
The people at the top of the pecking order are the mass communicators too, so their voice is the loudest, and it resonates in our ears constantly. They tell us that the people who want reform are crazy, idealists, and troublemakers. The people benefiting from the systems in place are the minority, so they have to turn us against each other to maintain their position. They also have to make us believe that social reform is out of reach, an impossibility. But maybe it’s closer than we think.
The philosophy we live by doesn’t make sense. One person starves to death while another is born the Queen (two people who are both shaved cavemen). Since the philosophy doesn’t make sense, the supporters of the philosophy lose touch with reality or use their influence to suppress real-world issues. All we get are minor changes designed to appease the masses – we are seeing plenty of them in the run-up to the general election!
As it stands, we are not in control of our own lives; we are used by the ruling class. We need to pry our lives from the desperate grasp of the powerful in order to live in a fairer society.
Important decisions are made by the ruling class. Those decisions tend to affect under-class individuals the most. It’s obvious to see that this is a recipe for injustice and inequality. In order for policy and legislation to be fair for all people, there needs to be a fairer representation of different social classes in positions of power. That’s the only way we can bridge the socio-economic divide in the UK.
Are you comfortable with white male, Oxford educated, born-wealthy careerists making all your decisions for you? Because that’s what’s happening right now. Most people in positions of power fit the description above, yet they make up only a tiny cross-section of the society we live in. Even if they mean well, they haven’t got the same perspective as us, and therefore lack empathy with the problems we face. It’s like an accountant performing surgery on you. They’re great with numbers, but if you’re having a triple bypass you’d much prefer a trained surgeon with the scalpel.
In order to change things, we need the people who are most affected by social/economic issues to be heard. This is easier said than done. There are many barriers preventing these people from occupying positions of power, including:
- Money issues: people are too busy trying to feed and house themselves to get into positions of power
- Education: a person may know what they’re talking about, but if they don’t have the right piece of paper saying they know what they’re talking about, their voice can go unheard
- Current Holders of Power: our current “leaders” have a death grip on their positions of power, and will try to keep everyone else down in order to keep the power for themselves
- Culture: it is commonly believed that a select group of people are entitled to power and we are not (based what we see day in and day out from birth).
- Personality Type: people hear the person who speaks the loudest. Good ideas won’t be listened to if they’re not put across in a certain way. Unfortunately, loudness and having good ideas are traits that seem to be mutually exclusive.
…And there are many more obstacles. But that doesn’t make it impossible for lower class people to gain positions of power, it just means we’ve got to work that much harder for it.
For working class people to make changes, we first need to change our own mind-sets and tell ourselves that A) we do know best and B) we are able to make changes if we put our minds to it. I’m not saying everyone should become a politician (although fairer representation in this area is DESPERATELY needed), but there are certainly actions that can be taken at grassroots level that can make real change in local communities, as well as lobbying and pressurising existing councils to make changes.
One advantage we have is strength in numbers. However, that doesn’t mean much if we let the ruling class turn us against each other (which they try to do constantly with regards to religion, race, gender, economic status). They tell us immigrants, or people on the dole are the enemy. That’s BS. The ruling class is the enemy.
With determination and unity we can all become leaders and make a difference.
Today Ed Milliband promised that he would cut university tuition fees by a third if elected and, crucially (as we learnt from Mr Clegg last time), this would be non-negotiable in any post-election coalition deals. There has already been a lot of cynicism in the media about this, and I am preparing myself for more of the same, but I think this cut in tuition fees would be a great thing.
A lot of the naysayers are saying that the promise is tokenistic, and that it wouldn’t make much of a difference to students. If a student takes a 4-year university course today, it will cost them £36,000. If they take the same course after the tuition cut it will cost them £24,000. They would save £12,000 (this isn’t taking into account other expenses such as accommodation). That’s simple mathematics. £12,000 is a lot of money. If a person doesn’t think £12,000 is a lot of money then they’re out of touch with the real world.
The universities are also saying that this is a bad idea (surprise, surprise). They seem to be concerned that they might not be able to function properly if the tuition fees are capped at £6000 a year instead of £9000. This is all talk. A few short years ago (as recent as 2010) fees were capped at £3000 a year, and they were coping just fine. Now, suddenly they’re horrified at the prospect of having to cope with 6k.
Lowering tuition fees is good for the country but, personally, I think the cap should be even lower. Ideally, I believe higher education should be free.
Up until the late 90s it was, essentially, free to go to uni. But for much of this time university was something that was only accessible to the more privileged, and it wasn’t generally considered an option for the working class. During this time it was acceptable for the taxpayer to foot the bill for higher education. When university became an option for most young people, even the working class, that’s about the time they decided that people should have to pay for university. If you see something wrong with that, then you and I are on the same page.
Why should the wealthy have more of a right to a good education than the poor?
The Nordic philosophy to higher education is what we should aspire to. They have always been strongly opposed to tuition fees. The same goes for Scotland. The difference with Scotland is that they are actually a part of the UK. I also live in the UK, but I wouldn’t get free tuition fees because I happen not to have been born in the right part of the UK. If Scotland gets free higher education I think we should all get the same privilege.
I feel privileged to have been able to go to university. I’m the first person in my family to have done so (in fact, when I got my first GCSE I became the most qualified member of my family, which comprises of coal miners and steel-workers). University is a great opportunity to develop, meet people, and broaden your horizons while in the pursuit of knowledge. I believe it has made me a better person, and I believe our country would benefit from it greatly…IF people didn’t come out of the other side of it with crippling debt.
Cuts to tuition fees would be a big step in the right direction.