Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Lot on my mind 2

It seems that my post on Knife Crime the other day touched a bit of a raw nerve with some people. It comes down to the way we in Britain, and I suspect in other 'civilised' countries too, feel that we've lost control of our society. That the people who are running our country are more afraid of upsetting the minorities than listening to the majorities. And it happens in pretty much every sector of our lives.

Take fuel duty - today the government have announced they are going to suspend the 2p per litre rise in duty that was due to come into effect in October. Not Scrap it, you understand - which is what the majority want. Just postpone it. That means that, at some point next year, they'll bring the rise in anyway. And why? Cause they are listening to the environmentalists who say we should use cars less to 'save the planet' (tm). I won't get started on this issue too much - my feelings are well known by those who know me, but for those who don't, I'll just repeat the jist of it. I'm not a 'climate change denier." I fully accept that the climate of our planet is changing - it's been changing constantly for millions of years. What I don't accept is that we as a spices can control it. The climate is changing, it will continue to change - let's stop wasting time trying to stop it, and work out how to deal with it now and in the future. Okay, rant over.

But it's everywhere else too. Back when I was a teacher, I had a parent write to me to ask that her daughter be let off the detention I'd given her that lunchtime for being late to my lessons every day the previous week - because it was inconvenient. Not because she had something else she desperately had to do - but because she's be too hungry to wait 15 minutes into lunchtime before eating while I 'punished' her. BUT THAT WAS THE WHOLE DAMN POINT! I wanted to inconvenience her - it's called punishment. I was doing it in the hope that in future she might actually turn up to lessons on time to avoid being inconvenienced again. But it seems it was okay for her to inconvenience me with the disruption the my lesson caused by her arriving late, but not okay for me to inconvenience her in return.

And so it goes on. One thing after another. In one news article you read about how people are scared of this, that or the other, and in the next people are complaining that their right to do the very same things are being impaired. When I was growing up I was taught that for every right you are granted, you are changed with a responsibility. For example, I have the right to a free education (or I did - I'll get to this) and I have the responsibility to make the most of it. I have the right to drive on the public highways, and I have the responsibility to do so in a safe manner and be courteous to other road users.

But it seems we've forgotten this. We want the rights but not the responsibilities. John Major (former PM) called it "Back to Basics" and was pilloried for it. But he was right, wasn't he? If we take society back to this fundamental ideal, we'd all be so much better off.

Speaking of John Major - I saw an interview with him on Sunday. The man is so articulate and his attitude towards society and government so sensible. I think it's a shame he was Prime Minister when he was - just after Thatcher (a hard act to follow) and when his party was being torn apart by divisions over Europe. I think, had he been in charge at the right point in history, he could have been the greatest leader this country ever had, and we could be a better people because of it. Sadly, it was not to be.

I mentioned free education. I saw on the news on Monday that most students now expect to leave university with debts of over £25000 ($50000). That's appalling. I though my ten grand debt was bad enough when I left ten years ago - but it's more than doubled since then.

It's this government that has done this by the introduction of fees. People now have to pay to go to university. Education is no longer free. It's ironic really that the people that brought in these laws are the very people how benefited not only from free tuition, but also from maintenance grants - thereby leaving university with no debts at all.

And yet the same people that are now charging students for what is (according to those who advocate human rights) a basic human right, still insist that health care should be free at the point of use to everyone, regardless of who they are, what they do or how much they earn.

It is just me, or is it at least as important (if not more so) that education remain free to those who use it. Yes, even university education. Sure, graduates will earn more over their lifetimes than non-graduates, but they will also contribute more to the economy. University education helps us all - even if we don't go.

I guess I'm just annoyed by the state of my country. To be honest, it's been in this state for a while, but it's only now that the economy is starting to fail that most people are waking up to it. I believe that the only way to change the mood in the country is for there to be an election. Even if it fundamentally changes nothing, a change in government will make people feel as if something has changes and that things will get better.

So come on, Brown - Show some balls. Get it over with. Call the election.

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