Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Saturday, 15 November 2014

An Alternative Awareness Chart #julienblanc

I do apologise for the 'SmartDraw' background and the fact that it is quite hard to read. 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

'The Great Education Panic'

'The Great Education Panic' is a chapter in a book called 'Broke:How to Survive the Middle-Class Crisis' written by David Boyle.  I bought the book and read it because I was hosting a political evening in my home at which David Boyle was to be the guest speaker. The least I could do, I thought, was to accord some respect by being familiar with his writing. 

The pleasure, as it turned out, was all mine because the book was an eye-opener and a fantastic validator of the panics and worries that I feel and undergo. I am not the only one who worries about surviving the crisis which, in my case, is about a stagnant public sector wage and the education system and a myriad of other things. 

David Boyle talks about how the education system presents itself as giving you a choice of schools to choose from. My 15 year old daughter is doing her GCSE next year and we are in the midst of looking at sixth-form colleges and have discovered that our choices are limited for a number of reasons: Catchment area, selection procedures don't guarantee a place and the range of subjects offered may not be what your child wants to study. 

Choice! David Boyle states this succintly: "The emergence of a "choice" between state schools was bound to bamboozle the middle classes and their carefully calibrated arrangements to finesse the system. First, catchment areas began to disappear. One of the drivers of the great education panic is that parents still believe that schools have meaningful fixed catchment areas, but the reality they discover is that-where they exist at all-many of these tend to breathe in and out according to how many places there are...'

Broke: How to Survive the Middle Class CrisisI want my daughter to do better than me and her future starts now with her GCSEs.  I bought into the middle class dream of thinking that a good education is a great enabler for one's offspring to enter a good university and, eventually, to get a great paying job. Not anymore. Look around you. The majority of job creation is happening in the lower paid sectors such as the care industry and in retail. I know graduates who are working as waitresses. This is backed up by a report written by Oxford University on the decline in professional jobs. 

Midde class professional and managerial jobs are shrinking. Dr John Goldthorpe, a co-author of the study and Oxford sociologist, said: 
“For the first time in a long time, we have got a generation coming through education and into the jobs market whose chances of social advancement are not better than their parents, they are worse.”

If education is a strait jacketed experience and the link between a good education and a good job is broken then where does that leave our children? 

In the chapter titled: "The strange case of the disappearing professionals' David Boyle writes about the days when you 'could go to university and aspire to be ...professionals and be paid enough for a comfortable life and live out your days with status and job satisfaction"  as being bygone days. He is right. 

If this is the future for the middle classes then what about the working classes?  'The Great Education Panic' is growing more panicky, I reckon. 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Russell Brand on 'Is the Government Keeping You Poor?

This has to be my favourite all time interview from the Trews series because it is about how finance is manipulated and the ordinary folk, well, pay the price.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

No Human Rights = Inequality

A glance at Amnesty's webpage is enough evidence in itself  of how people's lives are degraded by a lack of human rights. In the UK we go about our lives with a sufficient level of a feeling of personal security because of laws and norms that give us freedom of speech, movement and sexuality. Gone are the days when being gay meant that The Sun outed you on the front page (if you were reasonably famous) or that you would be sacked from your job.

Amnesty is campaigning actively on anti-gay draconian laws and for freedom of speech in African, among other campaigns. Both could result in spells in jail if a person is found 'guilty'. We take so many things for granted in our Western world and quite often our experiences are divided by a 'them and us' mentality. What happens across the world does not affect us and, therefore, why bother then? We need to bother for the simple reason that what happens across the globe does affect us.

If people in Uganda aren't allowed to speak their mind about wanting free and fair elections then there is a high risk that without transparency the elections may not be carried out according to fair rules. At a human level when people are killed for speaking out, being gay, or female or disabled then it affects the collective pool of rights that we draw our human rights from. A destabilizing effect in one part of the world could have repercussions for others elsewhere.