Sunday, October 28, 2012

The problems experienced by young Brits - the real and imagined reasons

It is Saturday so I am allowed one little moan and rant.

The FT is up to its old tricks of deciding the answer it wants then looking around for a few facts it can present to justify its conclusions. Today's subject is one it keeps on bashing away at - intergenerational unfairness. The headline of the article is: "Jinxed generation’s plight worsening."

The last time it talked about this subject followed the newpaper publishing a planted article on the Saturday before the last budget when the Chanellor had a swipe at the tax allowance of older people.

If you have been following The Thick of It (for US readers this is a TV satire that gives an insight into the murky working of the media and government) you will know the technique - get article printed that the politicans can then refer to when questioned.

I am the first, second and third person to lament the hard time that young people have in today's economy. Most of my friends have sons and daughters, grandchildren and godchildren who are have a dreadful time getting a well paid job. There is a horrible problem in the UK with youth unemployement.

What really gets me is the way that the FT tries to paint the picture in 'zero sum gain' terms. Their proposition being that because, in their view,  a group of people are doing OK (oldies) it means that another group is doing badly (young people).

It just happens that last evening I had a splendid dinner with a group of hoteliers. These people employ a lot of people. We were in the middle of Oxford and the hotel seemed to be run and staffed by  young energetic people from various parts of Europe. The hoteliers all agree that this is what it was like in most of their hotels. There was a ready supply of highly educated, high work ethic, young people who were aching to get-on - young Poles, Czechs...... 

Now I am not giving any opinion if their employment decisions are good or bad but the fact is that young people in the UK have a level of competition for jobs that was unimaginable a decade ago. Did the FT mention this factor - what do you think? No.

You cannot start addressing a problem, be it business or government policy, until you come clean with the facts, not the facts that you would like them to be or a subset that confirms your prejudices. 

Publications like FT keep going down this road of trying blame older people for the problems experience by their children is not going to get us any further forward. All I can conclude is that these articles are not written to inform but mislead. Dick Stroud

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