So said my aunt yesterday while we were discussing the various events currently going on in my life. I’m not too keen with being an under-30 in the UK either. It’s not exactly a pleasant experience, and sure there are worse ways to be, lived by millions the world over, but what does it mean when a country that has the means to cut the crap, doesn’t cut the crap?
Last week, I read about how by something like 2025, over a third of the country will never be able to own their own home. I read how the private rental market is slowly becoming a new form of serfdom for tenants in one of the most unregulated rental markets in Europe.
As someone who’s looking to enter the private rental market as a tenant, the above doesn’t really feel me with joy.
Then, yesterday morning, on the BBC’s Sunday Morning Live, there was a debate about whether rich people are being demonised in the media at the moment. The debate was ridiculous. Briefly touching on the fact that the disabled, unemployed and benefits recipients were far more demonised than the rich in today’s media – there was one thing they didn’t touch on at all:
The rich are only rich mainly because of the hard work of others.
So we have legions of young people being forced into retail jobs that are only there to make rich people richer. Retail hasn’t been a decent career option for years. It’s okay as a stop gap for cash needs, but there are no real long term prospects.
And that’s the problem – there’s no real long term prospects in the UK for people who aren’t already from a wealthy background or got a first and the experience needed to go into the sciences or banking.
But perhaps the one thing that really peeved me off about the situation of “young people” in the UK in the past week, was the fallout from the experiences of some on the Work Programme and apprentices who were made stewards as part of the Jubilee celebrations. Some of the worst sentiments were expressed by radio show host Jeremy Vine on Wednesday last week as the debacle was debated.
Apart from Vine, and a lot of other people, seemingly incapable of understanding that the Work Programme doesn’t tend to pay out at minimum wage levels when you do work while on it; that apprenticeship rates don’t allow for participants to really earn a living wage while learning – there was one other thing they ignored. What did they decide to ignore? How about the existence of workers’ rights. Things like rights to decency and access to toilets.
Rights that the Work Programme participants had ignored by their supervisors. I couldn’t believe the audacity of people saying that these young people needed to learn what to expect in a work environment. For f**k’s sake, in a work environment you expect access to toilet facilities. If I was treated the way these people were, I’d be having second thoughts about being in that job.
Perhaps the stupidest and most willfully ignorant comment to come out of Vine’s “debate” was when it was said that soldiers in World War Two wouldn’t have complained about being two hours early. Something Vine repeated throughout the show.
Err, excuse me, but if I had been a soldier in WW2, hitting up a DZ two hours before we were meant to be be there, due to some kind of oversight, I’d have been sh***ing my pants while waiting and hoping to be not be killed by the enemy that we probably no longer had the drop on. Or I would have been rather dead, because turning up two hours early in a war zone can be a great way to get yourself killed.