Thursday 16 June 2016

The world is going to the dogs ...

 ... or is it?

When I was a kid, schooling was free, and because I passed 11+ and went to an excellent state grammar school, I got an excellent secondary education up to the age 17.

But now there's no grammar schools, and it's a lot more difficult to get a good secondary education, unless you pay a lot for it.

When I was 17, I went to Cambridge University. Not only was it free - the government paid me £370 per year (which was a lot 50 years ago) for living expenses and books.

But now, you have to pay £9000 per year for tuition, and living expenses and books on top of that, which means many students have to go deeply into debt to fund their education.

We got married in 1973 when I was 25, and ladysolly and I, on our joint income, were able to get a mortgage to buy a house pretty much immediately.

Now it's a lot more difficult to buy your first property.

My health care was free. I have no idea how awful it must be to have to worry about paying for dental care and emergency treatment, but I've spoken to Americans, and it's pretty dire. We have to stay with that, even if parts of the NHS are privatised, the important thing is that health care should be paid for out of taxation. I'm hopeful that this will continue, the NHS is Britain's Sacred Cow.

People blow themselves up to kill others; people massacre others. There's a war going on in the middle east, in Afghanistan, in Africa.

The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise

So things have gotten worse ... BUT!

In 1973, there were no computers, apart from in companies. Now, not only everyone has a computer, everyone carries around with them a computer more powerful than the room-sized collection of cabinets that I used in 1973.

In 1973, there was no internet. Now, if you want to know pretty much anything, you can google it. If you want to talk to anyone anywhere in the world from the middle of a muddy field, you can.

There were televisions in 1973, mostly monochrome, and three or four channels. Now there's a million channels, including channels you can get via satellite (didn't exist in 1973) or the internet (didn't exist in 1973). Most of which is rubbish, of course.

Medical care is *much* better - in 1973 a heart transplant was very unusual and risky. Now, although not routine, it's a lot more common. And there's been other advances in medicine. And in the UK, it's still free (or nearly so, I pay a small residual sum for some things).

Yes, there are wars going on. But I was born three years after WW2, which killed 60 million people, and there hasn't been a war as bad as that since then. No-one has asked me to pick up a rifle and kill-or-be-killed.

People have more spending power. GDP per head in the UK (after allowing for inflation) has trebled.

And the quotation about children? Socrates.

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