Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Show some backbone! Former top retailer tells British firms to defy militants on work experience scheme
The former boss of Marks & Spencer yesterday told firms to show some ‘backbone’ and stand up to anti-capitalist protests over the Government’s work experience scheme.
Sir Stuart Rose, who started out shelf-stacking and sweeping floors 40 years ago, said it was ‘baffling’ that anyone would complain about unemployed youngsters being given similar opportunities.
He said parents should tell their jobless children to ‘get stuck in’ and snap up any opportunity at a time of high youth unemployment.
Ministers are preparing for talks this week with some of the firms taking part in the scheme, in which youngsters on jobless benefits are invited to volunteer for work experience placements of up to eight weeks.
So far, more than 34,000 under-24s have taken part in the programme and half have come off benefits as a result.
But the scheme has been thrown into turmoil by protests led by a campaign group called Right to Work, which ministers say is nothing more than a front organisation for the hard-Left Socialist Workers Party. The SWP advocates the overthrow of capitalism via a Marxist revolution.
Though only a tiny cabal of extremists appear to be leading the campaign to brand work experience ‘slave labour’, several companies have been sufficiently rattled to announce that they are reviewing their involvement. Employment minister Chris Grayling insists that no firm signed up at national level has withdrawn, although some have done so locally. Tesco, Waterstones, TK Maxx, Poundland, Oxfam and Burger King are among those which have expressed concern.
Sir Stuart, who restored the fortunes of Marks & Spencer, urged firms not to bow to the campaign to ‘sabotage’ the scheme.
‘We’ve got the economy which has been through terrible times, we’ve got a need to get people’s confidence going, get the country back to work. We’re offering young people the opportunity to really understand what the workplace is about and it appears there is some plan to sabotage this, which I think is nonsense,’ he told Sky News’s Murnaghan programme.
‘It’s about getting people into the routine of working, making sure they are up in the morning, making sure they’re presentable, make sure they arrive on time, make sure they know what it’s like to have a properly constructed work programme, and shelf stacking is just a part of it.
‘When I started off in my retail career as a management trainee in Marks & Spencer’s 40 years ago, I was put to shelf stacking and indeed to sweeping out the warehouse for a day.
‘If you are drawing unemployment benefit and you are looking to get into the workplace and somebody says to you, “We’ll give you some experience” and you have got a week apparently to withdraw from it if it doesn’t suit you, why would you not do it? ‘If I was the parent of one of these people I’d say, “Go on to it, lad, get in there, get stuck in”.
‘So I find it quite baffling and I think it’s very, very sad, with I think it’s 20-odd per cent of unemployment around the age of 18, that kids are being led to believe that big business is exploiting them, which is nonsense.’ Sir Stuart said firms were apparently being ‘intimidated’ by the campaign against the scheme, adding: ‘One or two have shown a little less than backbone, if I might say so.
‘I think you have got to stick with it. If there are one or two issues of administration in the process that need sorting out, then let’s sort it out, but it seems to me quite straightforward.
‘You can come in, you can get work experience and if you like it you can stay here and possibly get offered a job; if you don’t like it after the first week you can go away. I don’t get it, what’s the problem?’
Mr Grayling told the Daily Mail he would deliver a similar message to company bosses when he meets them on Wednesday. ‘I hope now that everyone involved in the scheme realises we have been targeted by a small group of extremists who created a noise utterly disproportionate to their number, they agree it would be a disaster for young people if we allowed that campaign to prevail,’ he said.
He is prepared to discuss firms’ concerns about sanctions attached to the scheme which mean that benefits can be withdrawn if youngsters who have not opted to leave a placement after a week fail to turn up without good reason or are rude and unco-operative. But he added: ‘I don’t think any employer wants to be in a position where somebody behaves badly and faces no consequences.’
Tory MP Harriett Baldwin said: ‘I’m disappointed that some leading employers appeared frightened at the first whiff of grapeshot from a bunch of socialist campaigners. I hope they realise what an important role they have to play in giving youngsters a chance.’
Britain's angry generation: Lack of parental discipline is blamed for aggressive and anti-social children
Parents who fail to discipline their offspring properly are creating a generation of angry children who lash out in the classroom, a study has found.
Pupils were twice as likely to be aggressive and disruptive if they had parents who were violent, critical or inconsistent in what they allowed them to get away with at home.
In contrast, children tended to be better behaved if their parents combined warmth with clear and consistent rules and boundaries.
For the study, nearly 300 families with children aged four to seven were assessed for both the children’s behaviour and their parents’ discipline techniques.
The researchers, led by Professor Stephen Scott, director of the National Academy for Parenting Research, said: ‘A negative parenting style, characterised by harsh, inconsistent discipline, was clearly associated with more severe child anti-social behaviour.
‘Parents who used negative discipline had twice the rate of children with severe behaviour problems compared to the other parents.’
The finding follows claims by experts that some middle-class parents lavish material possessions on their children but are distant and barely involved in their upbringing.
Poor supervision of children’s activities and mothers suffering depression were also linked to bad behaviour.
The researchers said they were unable to rule out the argument that ‘irritating’ children were themselves to blame for ‘evoking harsher parenting’.
But they added: ‘A whole range of studies has shown the causal effect is there too, and that harsh parenting trains children to become anti-social.’ These children were at risk of underperforming at school and even turning to crime and drug or alcohol abuse.
The researchers claimed that their study, which was funded by the Government, reinforced the benefits of parenting lessons to teach mothers and fathers across all sections of society how to discipline their children.
Ministers are already preparing a two-year trial of parenting classes in three areas as part of a £5million experiment which will deal with issues such as discipline, communication and managing conflict. From the summer, the lessons will be introduced for about 50,000 families in Middlesbrough, High Peak in Derbyshire, and Camden in North London.
But ministers hope that if the scheme proves successful they will eventually extend it across the country and make the classes available to all parents.
The research team reported that mothers who were less educated and had lower incomes were more likely to resort to negative parenting. However they admitted the link was ‘weak’ and urged against viewing the problem as being confined to these types of families.
The report added: ‘It underlines the fact that there is the opportunity to improve children’s life chances through directly intervening with programmes that are effective in changing parenting styles.’
Child literacy expert Sue Palmer blamed parents relying on ‘electronic babysitters’, and claimed in her book Toxic Childhood that many children starting school had led a ‘very solitary, sedentary, screen-based existence’. She added: ‘Many children now watch bedtime TV rather than sharing a bedtime story, songs and chat with parents. This is a serious erosion of important family time.’
The Left Declares Victory
“The culture wars are over, and the Republicans lost.” So says liberal columnist John Alter.
He’s not the only one declaring victory. Over at the Daily Beast, one columnist judged the Republican Party as “flat-out nuts” for taking on social issues and mocked Rick Santorum as “a refugee from the 16th century.” And Andrew Sullivan takes things a step further, saying that “Republicans are losing the pop culture wars” played out in music, movies, and art. And Salon, the predictable liberal voice, shrills about “the Right’s lost causes” and claims victory.
So what have they “won?”
Let’s look at two examples of the ‘achievements’ wrought by liberalism:
1). Fractured families and a soaring out-of-wedlock birth rate: The liberals’ mantra that ‘there’s nothing inherently better about a married mom and dad raising their own kids’ has produced dismal results. According to new data from Child Trends, and reported in the New York Times, 53% of children born to women under 30 (the age group that is responsible for two-thirds of the birth rate) are now born out of wedlock. And, tragically, the leading cause of poverty in America is single motherhood.
Other predictable results for children born outside the stable structure of marriage? Educational deficits, greater risks of emotional, psychological, and behavioral problems. And the problems are not evenly distributed: minorities and women with only a high-school education reflect startlingly high rates of unmarried births: 73% of African-Americans are born to single mothers and only 43% of women whose highest level of education is high school will give birth within marriage. Those least equipped to overcome the long odds of unmarried parenthood are the most likely to shun marriage. In some schools and neighborhoods, the next generation of children will not only grow up without the stability of marriage, they also will encounter fewexamples of intact, married families. It’s a situation that’s tragic for the children, destabilizes society, and swells the ranks of folks dependent on government handouts for a steady monthly income.
2). Meaningless sex and soaring STD rates: The left’s triumph on the sexual front is empty indeed. Columnist Michael Lind boasts that, “Now practically anything can be viewed on PCs and phones, and most award-winning dramas feature profanity and softcore sex scenes that would have provoked nationwide protests a few decades ago. This is a triumph for libertinism, if not liberalism.”
As a result, children have little protection from adult sexual indulgence. The fruit? Children exposed to sexual content are more likely to have sex earlier, generating a spiral of negative consequences, even apart form pregnancy and abortion. Forty percent of sexually active teenage girls have a sexually transmitted disease. Among minorities, those rates are even higher--and as STD rates skyrocket, cures are becoming less likely. Gonorrhea, for example, is fast becoming resistant to the antibiotics currently used to treat it. The sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV)---which has already been identified as the cause of most cases of cervical cancer, now appears to be causing an increase in oral and throat cancer as well. Add to all this the tragedy of young human hearts who experience sex merely as animalistic gratification; they never learn the tender connection between sex, commitment, and self-giving love.
This is what victory looks like? And I haven’t even mentioned President Obama’s record-breaking 3.8 trillion dollar budget or his disastrous “lead from behind” foreign policy.
Government Anonymous (As in Alcoholics Anonymous)
Mark: "My name is Mark. I'm here at Government Anonymous because I'm addicted...addicted to government aid."
Leader: "Welcome Mark. What made you finally decide to come tonight?"
Mark: "I've always had a job. I've always earned my own way. When I lost my job two years ago, I thought I could get a job right away. I'd always done that. I updated my resume, used all my contacts, took interview after interview. I couldn't get a job."
Leader: "You're not alone. It's been difficult for many in this economy."
Mark: "I applied for unemployment. They suggested that I apply for food stamps. With their help, I was applying for any benefit I could get. Pretty soon I was spending more time applying for and keeping my aid than finding a way off. I was going on the minimal interviews required. I was just going through the motions. Government aid is designed to help, but it became a trap to me, an all-too-comfortable crutch. Even worse, I stopped believing that I could make my own way."
Leader: "Go on."
Mark: "I know that everyone is going to have times that they need help. I just thought it was my turn. After all, I had convinced myself that the money was there. Then when President Obama said that the rich--those top 1% he's always talking about--needed to step up and pay more, I wanted to believe that was fair. I didn't want to give up my benefits, but I didn't realize how much the rich already paid."
Leader: "What do you mean?"
Mark: "When I found out that the top 1% of American income earners already pay 38% of the federal income taxes and nearly 50% of Americans pay no income tax, I couldn't believe it. While I was being encouraged to game the system, I felt like I was justifying stealing from my neighbor. That's far from fair. And it's more than the poor who are getting these benefits. It's out of control."
Leader: "But why are you here tonight?"
Mark: "It's not just wrong to justify taking more from my neighbor; the government is broke. I didn't realize how much until I saw John Stossel explain it in a way I could understand. He didn't talk about trillions in debt. Who can understand how big a trillion dollars really is?. Stossel put the problem in terms of an average American family. If America was a family, its average income would be $24,700--its annual spending $37,900. This year, that family would have added $13,300 in new credit card debt. But that is nothing compared to the existing credit card balance--$153,500. Who could sleep with a debt like that? And who would be paying for this? Our kids will! We are taking now, and they will get the bill later."
Leader: "Is that why you’re here?"
Mark: "I'm tired of being dependent. I'm tired of taking instead of contributing. I'm tired of politicians over promising and not being responsible for my son's future. The president says he's ready to cut spending, but the deficit just keeps growing."
Leader: "I can see why this might impact your vote, but I'm not sure why it would get you here to Government Anonymous tonight?"
Mark: "I'm addicted, and I'm ashamed of being one of the takers. I'm ashamed of being dependent on government when I want to work. I want to be a better influence on my son. I want him to have a dream...the dreams I once had. Dreams I still want to have."
Leader: "Your son?"
Mark: "Yesterday, my son asked me something I didn't want to answer."
Leader: "What did he ask?"
Mark: "He asked me, 'When I grow up, will I have food stamps, too?' I wanted to cry. That's not the dream I want for him. That's not the dream I want. I want off."
Leader: "That's what we were waiting to hear."
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. 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.