Thursday, March 28, 2013


Life is harder today than 40 years ago … and it’s not just the twenty-somethings saying that, their parents agree

The are too many knees under government desks now -- instead of being out doing something productive and useful

Raised on rationing and under the spectre of a nuclear war, older generations have loved to grumble about the easy ride enjoyed by youngsters today at one point or another.

But it would seem that despite the improved working conditions, freedom and vast array of ways to splash the cash, life for young people has never been tougher.

A surprising study of 4,000 people across two generations found that not only does the current younger generation think their parents had it easy, the over-50's agree.

The study, which was commissioned by health retailer Holland & Barrett, also revealed 68 per cent of those questioned believe today’s generation are forced to endure more hardship than young people 40 years ago.

Despite the consumer revolution in personal technology, comparatively bigger salaries and better working conditions, those in their twenties say they face a more significant range of threats to happiness and contentment.

Better job security, comfortable pensions and a clockon, clock off approach to the world of work made life easier 40 years ago, as did a better housing market and the absence of high interest loans and credit cards.

'The results are surprising, and reveal that young men and women in their twenties are planning for the future, investing time and effort in maintaining health and fitness, and fretting over their finances – rather than hedonists living for the day,' said the LSE sociologist, Dr Catherine Hakim.

'Perhaps this is a response to the current tough economic climate.'

Stress is a huge problem for today's twenty-somethings, with 41 per cent saying they experience regular or constant stress. Just 15 per cent said the same 40 years ago, with half saying they never got stressed at all.

Money worries, being overworked and concerns about their body image were the most prevalent concerns for those in their twenties, but didn't chime with older respondents, who, in general, were far more content with their body shape and image in their youth.

As a result, the average twenty-something is also twice as likely to want to 'make a lot of money quickly' than the older generation did when they were that age.

Hakim added: 'Young men and women are also vastly more materialistic than were their parents’ generation.

'Having money has become a life goal in itself, as a high standard of living becomes taken for granted.'

'Overall, it’s clear the route to happiness and contentment has changed over a generation to become more aspirational and more individualistic.'

There were some similarities between those in their twenties and those in their fifties however. Both generations aspired to finding a partner and having a long term relationship in their twenties.

Paired off or not, having children has been pushed back by those in their twenties, with most agreeing that the ideal time to have a baby is at 29, compared with 27 in 1970.

Marriage too has declined with less than half of today’s youth considering it important compared to the 54 per cent of over 50’s who placed faith in it when in their twenties.

People had better relationships with the neighbours also in years gone by – one in four over fifties as fond memories of visiting a neighbour’s home and being on very good terms with the people next door while just 7 per cent of today's twenty-somethings can claim the same thing.

Surprisingly, alcohol consumption remains fairly similar but naturally people were far heavier smokers in the older generation – just a fifth of the modern generation smoked compared to over half of people forty years ago. The average smoker back then smoked 15 a day, while those today get through nine.

'We commissioned the Good Life Report to better understand what the challenges and pressures really are for today’s younger generation,' said Lysa Hardy, Chief Marketing Officer for Holland and Barrett.

'In a world where we’re constantly rushing around and connected 24/4, we found people now have to make more of a concerted effort to keep fit and healthy, often fitting it around their busy lifestyle at the expense of having fun and seeing friends and family.

'The idea of what makes up a good life has also changed over a generation, and we’ve noticed a trend for many younger people to take an interest in health and looking after themselves.

'The common view is young people live for today – yet the report shows quite the opposite.

'Today’s younger generation are looking ahead, investing in their health, saving, and making smart choices about healthy eating and exercise.'


New penalties to punish British press are illegal, says peer: Lord Black warns 'exemplary damages' plan will fail

Plans to push newspapers into joining a new press regulator under threat of punitive damages are ‘almost certainly illegal’ and will ultimately collapse, a Tory peer warned last night.

Lord Black of Brentwood, a senior executive with Telegraph Media Group, delivered an outspoken attack on the proposals thrashed out by the three political parties last week.

He described them as a menace to free speech that will have ‘a chilling effect on investigative journalism’.

He spoke out as peers discussed legislation drawn up to implement the recommendations of the inquiry into press standards by Lord Justice Leveson. Under the plans, media organisations that refuse to join an approved regulator could be hit with ‘exemplary’ damages if they lose court cases for libel or invasion of privacy.

But Lord Black denounced that as ‘alien to English law’, where exemplary damages are only used in extreme circumstances.

He said the plans are ‘wrong in principle and fundamentally flawed’.

‘I’m sure they are almost certainly contrary to European law and so will collapse or be struck down,’ he added. ‘I think they are a constitutional nightmare.’

Lord Black quoted from a legal opinion drawn up by Lord Pannick, Desmond Brown QC and Anthony White QC, which warned that the proposals will fall foul of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The legal experts said that punishing newspapers is ‘particularly objectionable’ under European law.

‘To punish the Press for what others may do without punishment is inconsistent with the importance that both domestic and Strasbourg jurisprudence attaches to the freedom of the press.’

Criticising the way the reforms have been rammed through ‘at breakneck speed’, Lord Black said it was ‘very dangerous’ that fundamental issues of freedom of speech were pushed through the Commons after just two hours of debate and intense lobbying from the Hacked Off pressure group.

Lord Black pointed out that the Government’s legislation seeks to use exemplary damages as a stick to encourage newspapers to sign up to the new body.

But loopholes mean that publishers could be hit with exemplary damages in ‘strikingly wide circumstances’ even if they do sign up.

The Government last night tabled an amendment which would prevent those who publish a ‘small scale blog’ from being among those who could be fined.

It was nodded through by peers without a vote. Lord Black’s intervention is significant since he has been a  leading player in the industry in drawing up plans for a new regulator.


The culture war is all Obama has left

When former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean began campaigning for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, he would regularly say in his stump speech, "I am tired of fighting elections on guns, God and gays. We're going to fight this election on our turf, which is going to be jobs, education and health care."

Fast-forward 10 years to the third month of President Obama's second term. Suddenly, the Democrats' turf doesn't look so friendly anymore. It's not hard to see why they're changing gears to fight a culture war of their own choosing.

The U.S. economy is still suffering through the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression. Unemployment is stubbornly high, especially for Americans age 25 to 54, who make up the core of the nation's workforce. And the American public does not approve of Obama's bumbling and ineffectual attempts to handle the economy.

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Meanwhile, Obama's failure to reach a grand bargain on deficit reduction has completely killed any hopes for new jobs or education programs. Instead of pushing for new stimulus spending or $10 billion a year for his proposed early education program, Obama is just trying to survive this year's $85 billion in sequester spending cuts.

Obama's signature domestic accomplishment, Obamacare, remains highly unpopular. Health care premiums are rising, as its opponents predicted, and numerous newspaper stories are now highlighting how the law is either discouraging new hiring altogether or forcing more Americans into part-time work involuntarily. The key component of the law, the state-based insurance exchanges, are supposed to be up and running in just over seven months, and no one believes they will be functioning properly. The federal bureaucrat in charge of implementing the exchanges recently told industry officials that he is no longer trying to make these exchanges provide a "world-class experience," but instead merely hoping they won't provide "a Third World experience."

Suddenly, guns, God and gays don't look so bad as key issues for the Democratic Party.

On Saturday, Obama devoted his weekly radio address to proposed new gun control laws, including background checks (which would not have prevented the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.) and the restoration of a demonstrably ineffective assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 after failing to prevent several of America's saddest and most memorable mass shootings. Given that nearly all gun violence is perpetrated with handguns -- not long guns and not so-called "assault weapons" -- it seems Obama's new focus on guns is designed not so much to prevent gun deaths as to energize Democratic voters who look down their noses at gun enthusiasts in flyover country.

And over the past week the most dangerous place to be in Washington was between a microphone and every Democratic politician looking to announce their newfound support for same-sex marriage. Democrats, detecting a sudden shift in public opinion on the issue, are just now starting to lead from behind.

Unless the economy markedly improves in the near future, or Obamacare is miraculously implemented without a hitch, expect Obama and the White House to turn the 2014 election into an all-out culture war centered around gun control and gay marriage. This is the only turf that appears remotely friendly to them these days.


Pope Francis is third of three consecutive  champions of freedom

Karol Wojtyla lived under both the Nazis and the communists, and helped bring about the shattering of the communist empire.

Joseph Ratzinger grew up under the Nazis as well, and spent most of his life locked with his friend John Paul II in the worldwide battle with the Soviets and their branch operations in various intellectual garbs around the globe.

Now comes Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who has also spent much of his life in the double conflict with fascists and communists. Christopher Hitchens told me in the last interview I did with him that the Argentine dictator Gen. Jorge Videla was the most evil of the many evil people the writer had met. The new pope has thus struggled against the worst of the worst, just like his immediate predecessors.

The battles of the 20th century have thrown up one last experienced leader for the opening chapters of the new century. Francis comes to lead a church that is more than a little exhausted and wounded from those epic battles, and from those wounds have come even more poisons. A weakened body is susceptible to such things. As any American who can read knows, the Roman Catholic Church in America and elsewhere around the world was invaded by very great evils which are still being expelled and expiated by new leaders like Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishops Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Jose Gomez of Los Angeles.

Since J.R.R. Tolkien was a Catholic, let me borrow a reference or two from "The Lord of the Rings" to illustrate the challenges facing Francis.

Evil never sleeps. As soon as it was thrown down in the fantasy epic it began to search for a new home, and came to occupy Mordor. I wouldn't presume to play Tolkien Jeopardy with modern media's Tom Bombadil, Stephen Colbert, but the arc of the Englishman's epic is always in front of us.

Good battles evil, and even when good wins -- as in 1945 and 1989 -- evil calls for reinforcements and opens a new front on which to renew the battle.

Lots and lots of people are blessedly living in their various Shires, tilting at global warming and various other pretend monsters, but the real horrors are out there, and the Roman Catholic Church has, for the third time in a row, called forth a leader who knows exactly the depths of human evil.

I spent most of last week interviewing leading intellectuals from the American branch of the Roman Catholic Church: George Weigel, and priests such as Robert Barron, Joseph Fessio, C. John McCloskey, and Robert Sirico. Each of them was surprised but also thrilled by the choice of Francis, confident of his internal compass. (Transcripts of all the interviews are available at the "Transcripts" page of

My last interview of the week was with Archbishop Chaput, who said of the new pope that Francis was "an extraordinary man" and an "extraordinary choice," and that no one should fear that liberation theology has entered St. Peter's from South America.

"[L]eft-wing liberation theologians from Argentina didn't like him as the bishop, and actually tried to stop him from being promoted to be the archbishop of Buenos Aires," Chaput told me. "So they must be especially nervous today."

But not defenders of religious freedom. As with John Paul II and Benedict XVI, they have in Francis a reliable, tough, experienced and courageous leader.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING 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


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