Thursday, December 30, 2010
Jamie is right, today's spoilt children need to learn money needs to be EARNED
Yet again Jamie Oliver opens his big mockney mouth to talk about what’s good for children — only this time it’s not turkey twizzlers in his sights. He has announced plans for his own four children, saying that as soon as each reaches the age of ten, Papa will put them to work in the family business. Not in half measures, either.
‘I’m going to get them working three hours on a Saturday and a Sunday,’ he says sternly — yes, that’s three hours, each day — ‘to get them realising that you have to put in a few hours of sweat to get a couple of quid.’
Say what you will about Jamie Oliver — and there has never been a shortage of people with strong views about him — on this matter he is absolutely right. Moreover, if other parents were to follow suit, we would all be better off.
Children and young adults today are arguably less clued-up about money than any generation before them. ‘Cost’ and ‘value’ are meaningless to the average teenager, in £80 trainers that are as ugly as they’re obscenely priced, and paid for, of course, by Mum and Dad.
But there’s no point in blaming the teenager — not even for his nagging about ‘needing’ the damn shoes — when the fault clearly lies elsewhere. We are in the grip of a trend which has parents vying with each other to protect their offspring from financial realities. They’ll hock their souls, if need be, to ensure that darling kiddo never goes without.
The middle classes consider it a matter of pride that they ensure their children are recession-proof. Their homes aren’t, of course; nor are their jobs, their bills, their health and certainly not their own dreams of small luxuries. Heaven forbid, however, that the bubble-wrap should crack open long enough for the children to glimpse the truth of this — and heaven forgive the lengths to which some parents will go to make sure that it does not.
This week, more than any other in the year, millions will be calculating the cost of their deception. A family with two children, living on one average salary, will have spent a whole week’s net pay on those children’s Christmas presents.
Some 40 per cent of them will have thrown credit cards at the problem, which in real numbers translates as four million people getting into debt just to pay for Christmas. What’s more — and this is stomach-churning — we can expect three million still to be repaying the bill for this Christmas when the next one comes along.
But never mind. Even if one in five families will have trouble meeting this month’s rent or mortgage as a result, at least Jonny got his new bike. That’s what matters.
If it were only a seasonal madness, it would be bad enough. But with belts tightening everywhere else, the competitive display of indulgence to children is escalating. People on moderate incomes will have their children’s parties privately catered, the entertainment hired and the going-home bags stuffed with expensive goodies.
End-of-term gifts for favoured teachers — theoretically ‘from’ a schoolchild, but naturally paid for by the Bank of Mum and Dad — now include jewellery, cashmere and days in spas.
Holidays, toys and technology are a source of infinite parental pride — ‘only the best for my girl!’ — and it doesn’t even stop when the growing does; I recently heard a man boast about his 19-year-old son’s ‘gap year’. Not a gap year as you or I might know it, mind. He had paid for his little prince to flit from country to country, flying first class on planes and sleeping in five-star hotels, on the proud basis that ‘no son of mine’ would sleep in a hostel. He honestly believed that this proved him to be a better parent than his son’s friends’.
But what was even worse than spoiling the brat senseless was his reaction to my remark that his son would be better off working the trip; a spot of bar-tending here, putting up a few deckchairs there. He simply wouldn’t hear of it. Nothing to do with his son’s dignity, either; the message was clear — menial work done by his children would demean him, their father.
And that, I think, doubles the problem. While parents continue to dip their hands into empty pockets so as not to deprive their children, they actually deprive them of learning the one thing they need to know about money: where it comes from.
You don’t know what money is until you’ve earned some; until you have, as Jamie Oliver bluntly puts it, ‘put in a few hours of sweat’. This is the first generation of parents which seems not to understand that. My grandmother slaved away, my mother earned all she spent, I had pocket money — but if I wanted more, I worked Saturdays, just as my daughter did, in an especially squalid supermarket.
Nobody quibbled about doing it; nor did it signify rich or poor. I have a friend made rich as Croesus by life as a rock star, but whose son was still made to earn his allowance, usually by offering to clean the family cars. (Though, I grant you, that ‘cars’ plural did make it very lucrative.)
It was a rite of passage worth more than just its pay packet. Young people who swap time and energy for hard cash learn the difference between flush and skint which, in turn, means their parents can stop the pretence at home. My own daughter knew the score exactly: I threw every last penny at her school fees, which meant that when much of her class spent Easter at the Pyramids, and she wanted to join them, a simple ‘no’ was understood and accepted.
Her partner, schooled in the Eighties, had the same kind of upbringing. His school’s skiing trip was so evidently unaffordable, he says, that he didn’t bother to ask: ‘In fact, I didn’t even take the letter home.’
A 14-year-old who has schlepped on a paper-round knows precisely what it takes to put a tenner in your pocket ... and, by extension, how many tenners must come out of that pocket for an iPhone.
And yet modern parents, far from encouraging their children to discover these real values for themselves — as Jamie Oliver plans to do — seem actively to strive against such enterprise.
You hear them making up excuses on their children’s behalf. Paper-round? Too dangerous. (It’s not.) Shop work? There isn’t any. (There is.) Sweeping up at the hair salon? Pays peanuts. (So?) Besides, Saturday is when they go to the football, shop for clothes or go clubbing....
And behind it all, that same, smug message: look at me, the perfect parent, paying for all their extra-curricular fun as well! My children, they want for nothing, I see to that.
Except, of course, they do. They want for learning, by example, that which will stand them in financial stead when their concerns are rather graver than a designer label in their kiddie Christmas stocking.
Jamie Oliver, as we know, could afford to buy his children all the labels under the sun. But by introducing them to the world of hard graft, he’s giving them a gift more valuable still. He’s making sure that they’ll be able to buy their own.
£3,000: the annual bill working Britons pay for Britain's lavish benefits system
Up by $200 under the Labour party governmernt
Labour's lavish benefits system has burdened working families with an average bill of £3,000 a year, figures revealed yesterday. Tory analysis of official statistics revealed that the average working family contributes an extra £200 a year towards the welfare system in real terms following changes made by Labour.
The Tories last night said the figures underlined the need to reform Britain’s bloated benefits system to reduce the pressure on taxpayers who have to fund it.
Conservative MP Gavin Barwell said: ‘The benefits bill rocketed under Labour. That’s why we will cut the ballooning welfare budget and make work pay through a radical new Universal Credit. ‘Ed Miliband and Labour’s opposition to our reforms, which will make work pay, show he is not on the side of fairness or hard-working families.’
Figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions show that the real terms cost of working age benefits, such as Incapacity Benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance, rose by £3.2billion under Labour, hitting £48.2billion last year.
The increase left the 16.5million working households paying almost £200 a year extra to support those on benefits. The total cost of working age benefits is equivalent to £2,920 a year for every working household. The figures also reveal that the number of workless households increased under Labour from 3.7million to 3.9million.
Ministers are planning a range of new measures to help people on benefits to get back into work. They are also planning a £25,000 annual cap on the amount of benefits an individual household can receive. The figures do not include the cost of pensions or locally administered benefits such as housing benefit.
New German airports chief calls for passenger 'profiling'
The incoming president of the German Airports Association called in an interview Tuesday for Israeli-style profiling of passengers to expedite security lines and improve safety.
Christoph Blume, who is also the head of Germany's third busiest airport in Duesseldorf, told the daily Rheinische Post that frequent travellers with a long and clean track record could get express treatment at security checks.
"Israel for example uses a risk-based approach," said Blume, who will become president of the ADV airports association in January.
"Passengers are put into various risk groups. Safe customers on whom there is sufficient data and who regularly fly the same route are not checked as much as passengers on whom there is no or little data. "Germany should consider Israeli 'profiling'."
Israel's strict airport screening, applied for decades at the country's Ben Gurion international airport and by Israeli airlines abroad, is based in part on the ethnicity of passengers. It entails assessing the risk posed by a passenger according to his nationality, background and behaviour. Israeli security agents consider Arab or Muslim travellers as potentially high threats.
Blume, who did not speak of profiling based on factors such as race or religion, said targeted checks would be in the interest of all travellers.
But German police union GdP said such measures opened the door to discrimination without necessarily being more effective. "To assume that potential attackers only come from certain countries and have certain features could prove to be a risky mistake when someone who does not fit the profile launches an attack," union president Bernhard Witthaut said in a statement.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently proposed a similar strategy under which passengers would be screened to a degree linked to the amount known about them. The idea is to be debated among IATA members next year.
In November, British Home Secretary Theresa May announced plans to introduce tougher vetting for passengers booking from potentially hostile countries or who pay for their tickets in cash.
Los Angeles City Council condemns "Islamophobia," ignores hate crimes against groups victimized far more often
MPAC has skillfully played the victim card against the Los Angeles City Council, despite the fact that statistics show that hate crimes against Muslims are rare -- much rarer than the incidence of such crimes against other groups. "Hyperbole rules in Muslim debate," from the Los Angeles Daily News, December 26 (thanks to Pamela Geller):
WITHOUT serious debate or examination, the Los Angeles City Council recently passed a resolution that opposes "Islamophobia" and "repudiates" random acts of violence against Muslims.
This admittedly ceremonial resolution apparently accepts the premise that residents of the city commit acts of hate against Muslims so often that it warrants an official resolution from city leaders condemning and repudiating these acts. Is this really the case?
According to the latest hate crime report from the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, 88 percent of all religiously based hate crimes in 2009 were against Jews. Hate crimes that targeted Muslims (3 percent) ranked slightly above those directed at Scientologists (1 percent). In fact, the commission found that attacks against Christians (8 percent) outnumbered attacks against Muslims.
In any case, the actual number of reported hate crimes based on religion is quite small. In a county that has more than 10 million highly diverse residents, only a total of 131 crimes based on religion took place in all of 2009. Of course, this in no way takes away from the emotional or physical harm that each and every one of these attacks causes.
Since only 3 percent of 131 hate crimes during 2009 was directed against Muslims, it's difficult to understand why city leaders would pass a resolution that zeroes in on the category that has the next-to-lowest numbers recorded by the County's Human Relations Commission.
It appears that the City Council simply took information provided by an advocacy group, one that's hardly unbiased, and uncritically spat out a resolution opposing "Islamophobia" and "random acts of violence against Muslim-Americans."
This begs the question: Except for some Islam-hating cretins with sub-zero levels of intelligence, exactly who is in favor of random acts of violence against Muslims?
The term "Islamophobia" has crept into popular use, drummed into our consciousness by a sensationalized Time magazine cover story, and activists who exaggerate anti-Islamic bias for the causes they espouse. The term dominated the often angry debates that swirled around the plan to build a mosque 600 feet from Ground Zero in New York. While there are extremists at both the left and right ends of the political spectrum, the issues surrounding this controversial building project are far more complex than anti-Islamic bigotry.
Factually, there is no alarming number of attacks against Muslim-Americans. According to the FBI, the largest number of recorded hate crimes against Muslim-Americans took place in 2001. That year the number dramatically escalated from only 28 in 2000 to 481 in 2001 - the year that young Muslim men drove planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field outside of Shanksville, Pa., murdering 3,000 innocent Americans in the name of Islam.
Prior to the City Council resolution, the Muslim Public Affairs Council released a statement expressing skepticism about tactics used by law enforcement among Muslim-Americans. The statement referenced the recent and troubling incident where the FBI says a young Somali man in Portland, Ore., plotted to blow up a public Christmas tree lighting ceremony. The MPAC statement also mentioned a similar case in Baltimore, where the FBI says a Muslim convert planned to bomb a military recruitment center in that city.
This statement from MPAC is in effect a thinly veiled claim that government agents entrapped these wannabe-terrorists. But as we have discovered, this young man's dilemma in Portland was hardly entrapment - in fact, as we know, his father called the FBI to let them know about his son's growing jihadist views. Nonetheless, the claims from MPAC and other Islamic activists groups were taken seriously enough to cause a response from the nation's attorney general. Eric Holder gave a 20-minute speech in San Francisco at the annual dinner event of Muslim Advocates, an Islamic civil rights group....
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.