Thursday, 31 December 2009

Opportunity, Opportunity, Opportunity

Standard of living, inequality,  levels of unemployment, educational achievement, access to credit, all these impact on independent establishment in adult life.  On this last day of the decade a sorry sight greets us. 

United Kingdom standards of living are lower than those of European countries comparable in size of population and of economy.  Unemployment is higher and, if economic inactivity in working-age groups is calculated as part of unemployment, is the highest in Europe. Educational achievement is marred by 40% of students transferring into secondary education with deficient skills in literacy and numeracy and with the poorest already withdrawing from full time education.  Access to credit is unprecedentedly difficult. 

Against all cultural trends since industrialisation and urbanisation,  households of parents and children are being forcibly reconstituted by the return of the young and even the young middle-aged unable to establish or maintain their independent households.

Setting out in life is always going to be tempered by the gifts with which we are born, the family into which we are born,  and then the  circumstances  of sociocultural stability and the wider economy with which our own world, and our country, is interacting.  The more choices we have the better we tend to do.  Only the low living standards and dull homogeneity  that embodied the lack of opportunity in the realised socialist states is worse than what is on offer, indeed required consumption for the many, now.  And at least under realised socialism you learned enough to master a skill.

So for the next decade how about new towns, modern rail and bus services, small schools, local hospital and nursing centres, the re-mutualisation of  local credit provision, lower taxes, and locally answerable policing.  And release the economy from the grasp of an over-weening state interference, planning, and regulation. 

Pie in the sky?  No, it is the one nation Conservativism, pragmatic, non-ideological, socially well-disposed but with high regard for individual privacy, in which so many of us grew and thrived.


Polaris said...

Happy New Year HG - here's to a better one, and thank you for your musings over the last 12 months - invaluable...

Clara x

Scrobs... said...

I've always been a fan of the US idea - undoubtedly used elsewhere, with all three or four generations in local accessible developments, each tailored to means and requirements.

They used to be called villages in the UK, until politicians started to interfere.

Happy New Year to you Hats; you're required reading when sanity is needed!

hatfield girl said...

Happy New Year P. Thank you for joining in.

hatfield girl said...

Happy New Year, Scobs, I was up til 3am playing Housey housey with a remarkably involved and committed mob who put down remarkably high stakes.
I didn't stand a chance. And I'd had to battle with a lobster at dinner. A very quiet day on leek and potato soup and a new thriller calls after a walk before it gets dark again.

hatfield girl said...

Sorry, S, My fingers are so weak I missed the 'r'.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"release the economy from the grasp of an over-weening state interference, planning, and regulation. "

That by itself would probably do the trick. You can debate which label you apply to the process (whether one-nation Toryism or anything else), but we absolutely must "roll back the state" before we can achieve anything.

The stultifying dead hand of the bureaucracy, driven by credentialism and class warfare, and leading to frustration, dependency, and abdication of responsibility amongst all but the most determined, is what's doing the damage.