Monday, October 21, 2013

Have 1 in 3 over-50s REALLY suffered age discrimination in their everyday life? Claims older people receive worse service in shops and are patronised

At age 70, I am well over 50 but I can't remember ever being discriminated against because of my age.  To the contrary, I find my fellow Australians to be most kind.  When I am out in public and drop coins, there is always someone nearby who swoops to pick them up for me.  And when I am struggling to open some packaging, people quite often grab it off me and open it for me.  I can't imagine better behaviour. 

But Australians generally ARE very nice people.  We can afford to be.  Life in subtropical Brisbane (for instance) is easy and our largest minority is Chinese  -- who are very civilized people.  One can only pity the frazzled inhabitants of London or NYC  -- JR

One in three over-50s say they have been discriminated against because of their age.

They claim they receive worse service in shops and hospitals, and are treated discourteously, patronised and even harassed simply for being older.

The figure for the over-65s is even higher, at 37 per cent.
One in three over 50s say they receive worse services in shops and hospitals because of their age

One in three over 50s say they receive worse services in shops and hospitals because of their age

The study, by University College London, found that well-qualified, retired men in their seventies were most likely to feel victimised.

Researchers pooled data on 7,800 men and women aged 52 and above from across the country and in different walks of life.

They were asked whether they had to put up with one or more of five types of age discrimination in their daily lives, including harassment, being talked down to, being disrespected, discrimination in medical services and discrimination in restaurants and shops.

A little over 2,600 – a third – said they had encountered prejudice  of some sort, with the proportion rising to 37 per cent among over-65s. For those still working, the figure was 28 per cent.

A lack of respect or courtesy was experienced by 18 per cent, while 11 per cent said they felt talked down to because people assumed they were not clever.

Around one in ten believed they receive worse treatment in doctors’ surgeries, hospitals, restaurants and shops, and 5 per cent think they suffer harassment purely because of their age.

The report – published in the journal Age And Ageing – states: ‘These findings highlight the scale of the challenge of age discrimination for older adults. The population continues to age due to a decrease in fertility coupled with an increased life expectancy. With people living longer, age discrimination is likely to gain greater prominence.

‘A key aspect that separates age discrimination from other forms of unfair treatment is that everyone is potentially at risk of experiencing it at some point in their lives.’

Paul Green, of the Saga lifestyle group for the over-50s, said: ‘Discrimination is a nasty trait – but against older people it is also pretty self-defeating. Older people have 80 per cent of the nation’s wealth, they are savvy consumers who know how they should be treated and their life experience makes them wise and good company. 

‘Some in the private and public sector need to lift their game when dealing with an ageing society.’

Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, said: ‘Sadly, age discrimination is all too prevalent today. Whilst there is legislation making it illegal, this needs to be accompanied by a seismic shift in societal attitudes towards older people and ageing.’


I am 50-plus and often treated like an idiot - but does that really mean I'm a member of an oppressed minority?

By Tom Utley

White, male, middle-class, Christian, able-bodied, heterosexual... Will no one spare a thought for poor wretches like me who can make no plausible claim to membership of an oppressed minority?

At a push, I could just about argue that I suffered religious discrimination in my childhood, when I was one of only three or four Roman Catholics in a predominantly Protestant boarding school of 100 boys.

When I annoyed my schoolfellows, they would sometimes chant ‘Arsee, Arsee’ (R.C.) at me, and accuse me of supporting the Gunpowder Plot or paying the Pope for indulgences.

But I can’t honestly say that this troubled me much. Indeed, I found my tormentors’ taunts could be answered quite adequately with a wittily-phrased ‘fatso’, if they happened to be overweight, or perhaps ‘four-eyes’ if they wore glasses.

It’s true that I still get the occasional letter from a religious maniac, ranting against the Church into which I was baptised. But I can’t pretend that my Catholicism has ever caused me a moment’s setback in life.

With only slightly more justification, I could perhaps make a case for belonging to a persecuted minority in my capacity as a smoker. After all, I became addicted to the filthy weed when it was perfectly legal to light up in shops, restaurants, offices, buses and trains.

Yet these days, my fellow addicts and I are turfed out on the street in all weathers to indulge our habit, while otherwise civilised people feel entitled to be abominably rude to us at parties.

Certainly, this treatment gives us something to grumble about — which is always nice. So, too, is the frisson of fellow-feeling we get from the knowledge that most of the world is against us.

But as a gold-star grievance, entitling us to full victimhood status, I’m afraid it doesn’t cut the mustard. I can’t see Jenni Murray inviting us on to Woman’s Hour, clucking at us and tutting over society’s discrimination against smokers.

Nor can I see the BBC sending dear old Stephen Fry round the world, at licence-fee payers’ expense, to harangue smokophobic African health ministers or shed manly tears over the plight of persecuted Marlboro Red addicts.

No. For a grievance to be properly worth having in 2013, we must be able to claim that people are being beastly to us because of something that in no way, shape or form can be said to be our own fault. Which means smoking’s out.

So what’s left for a bloke like me, cursed with a blessed life, who would dearly love a respectable excuse for a good moan?

This week, researchers from University College London gave me the answer I’ve been looking for.

After interviewing 7,800 people aged 52 and above, they found that as many as one in three claimed to have suffered some form of discrimination because of their age, with the proportion rising to 37 per cent among the over-65s.

Offered five examples of prejudice to choose from, 18 per cent complained of a lack of respect or courtesy, while 11 per cent said they had felt talked down to because people assumed they were not clever.

Another tenth believed they suffered discrimination in medical services, with a similar number complaining of poor service in restaurants or shops. Finally, 5  per cent said they had suffered ‘harassment’ purely because of their age.

Clearly, I’ve been missing a trick here. With my hand on my heart, I can say that I’ve suffered every single one of those five forms of ill-treatment.

People have often been disrespectful to me: other motorists and my own sons spring to mind. I’ve often been treated like an idiot (again, my young are among the worst offenders). I’ve been kept waiting until lunchtime for 9am hospital appointments, and I’ve endured rotten service in shops and restaurants.

Meanwhile, I’ve felt harassed almost every day of my life — not least by cold-callers, door-to-door duster salesmen and the people behind me in the queue when I’m trying to work those infernal computerised ticket machines at the station.

But the big question is: which of us hasn’t suffered every one of these annoyances, whether we’re 18 or 80?

Indeed, it had never occurred to me, until I read this study, that everyone might have been treating me so badly for no better reason than that I’m staring down the barrel of my 60th birthday next month.

I hate to spoil a good grievance, but how can the moaning not-so-very-oldies be sure they’re being picked on simply because of their age?

Couldn’t the explanation be that manners in general are in decline, and that the young are less courteous to everyone — each other included — than we were in the days of our own youth?

Could it even be (dare I say it?) that of the 11 per cent who say people talk down to them because they assume they’re not clever, at least one or two may not be very clever?

Certainly, I’m a great deal more stupid than the young when it comes to working computers or self-service checkouts at the supermarket. So I feel I can’t fairly blame them when they treat me like the technological baby that I am.

Mind you, I’m not saying for one moment that age discrimination isn’t a serious problem in Britain today. But I do find it very hard to believe that it starts working against us while we’re still in our 50s.

And I wonder if people of every age might not be just a little too quick to spot prejudice where it doesn’t really exist.

Women, I grant you, are a separate case from men — and they surely have stronger reasons for feeling aggrieved. Indeed, so shallow are members of my sex that most of us would rather have the TV weather forecast read to us by a dolly-bird airhead than by a venerable middle-aged blue-stocking with degrees in meteorology coming out of her ears.

So I have a great deal of sympathy with fifty-something women presenters who complain they’ve been shunted out of their jobs because of their age.

Much more sympathy, anyway, than I have with the likes of John McCririck, the 73-year-old tic-tac man of racing who claims he was dumped because he’s old — when it’s clear to most of us that it was simply because he’s ghastly.

But then, perhaps, the most interesting finding of the UCL study is that well-qualified, retired men in their 70s are the most likely to feel victimised. Well, I’ll just have to wait and see.

But can any seventy-something, of either sex, honestly claim to suffer worse discrimination than those in their 80s and 90s — the ‘forgotten million’ elderly people, to be cited by Jeremy Hunt today, who are left chronically lonely in their own homes because relations never visit them?

Indeed, the Health Secretary hits the nail on the head when he says that the way Britons treat their grandparents is a ‘national disgrace’.

But will mere exhortation from a politician bring about the ‘seismic shift in attitudes towards older people’ that Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, says is necessary to end the suffering endured by the abandoned elderly?  I wouldn’t count on it.

Strictly between you and me, I may not be all that sorry if my diet of Marlboro Reds means I won’t be around to find out.


That's how to catch a burglar! Judge's praise for builder who took just 3 hours to find thief... only to face arrest himself for 'ruining' police investigation

When builder Joseph Ingham received a call from his distraught wife to say £3,000 of gadgets and family heirlooms had been stolen from their home, he was initially furious.

Then he decided to get even – by tracking down the culprit and forcing him to hand back his possessions.

Three hours later, the father of two had returned home with most of the stolen goods – even before the police had finished taking down a statement from his wife.

But to Mr Ingham’s dismay, the officers accused him of ruining their own investigation and threatened him with arrest.

Now Mr Ingham, 32, has been vindicated after a judge praised him for ‘showing other people how to investigate a case’, and helping to convict serial burglar Dean Harris.

Mr Ingham launched his own investigation straight after wife Rachel, 33, called him with the news their home near Bridlington, East Yorkshire, had been burgled.

An iPod and two tablet computers belonging to daughters Jodie, 15, and Ayesha, 12, had been stolen along with a laptop, camera, jewellery, a watch and heirlooms.

Mr Ingham said: ‘I did what anyone should have done. I was so angry that my house had been burgled and I was not insured.

‘I knew I would never hear the last of it from my girls, and my wife was so upset.  ‘Bridlington is not that big a place. People know each other in this town.’

Hull Crown Court heard Mr Ingham visited a bail hostel for criminals and promised £20 to a resident for information.  The man revealed Harris’s name and the estate where he lived.

Mr Ingham quickly discovered that he knew Harris’s girlfriend, Emma Miles, from his school days.  Luckily she was in when he called at their home. Mr Ingham said: ‘I told her to get her boyfriend on the telephone. I was 90 per cent certain he had robbed my house.’

When Harris denied all knowledge, Mr Ingham threatened to ‘ransack’ his house and look for the stolen goods himself.

Harris told Mr Ingham his possessions were ‘under the bed in his daughter’s room’.

Miss Miles found a rucksack containing the valuables and handed them over.  Around £600 of items – mainly jewellery – were missing.

But on returning home triumphant, Mr Ingham said he was ‘treated like a criminal’ by police.  They criticised him for threatening a witness and offering a reward. ‘They were threatening to arrest me. They were saying I had ruined the investigation,’ he added. 

However, at Harris’s trial last week, Judge Michael Mettyear was more forgiving.  ‘I am sorry to say Mr Ingham has shown other people how to investigate a case,’ he told the court.

‘I may not approve of all his behaviour. The police are not able to use his methods but at least he gave it a go and made all the inquiries.  'He brought to justice a persistent long-term burglar.’

Harris, 43, was found guilty of committing two burglaries and was jailed for three-and-a-half years.


Names can hurt you

By Rick Manning

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me

This familiar chant from little kids in response to being verbally abused or mischaracterized is typically taught by parents hoping to encourage children to ignore the hurtful taunts of others.  But in the adult world, the adage is proven to be false time and again.

This past week White House Adviser Dan Pfeiffer compared Tea Party Republicans to, “people with a bomb strapped to their chest.”

“It is not a negotiation if I show up at your house and say, ‘Give me everything inside, or I’m going to burn it down.’”

The White House never denounced the remarks, and in fact sought instead to disassociate tactics they have used in the past during various fiscal cliff “crises” from those currently being employed by their political opponents.

Why does this matter?

Why should America be concerned by this harsh increase in rhetoric and the Obama Administration’s use of legally actionable words by a staffer sent out to defend their position to the media?

It matters because this Administration has the power to enforce law enforcement action against those they deem to be terrorists, and by characterizing their political opponents in this manner it is no longer just words, it is a not so veiled threat.

Fox News reported on Columbus Day that soldiers were told at an official U.S. Army briefing that a well-respected Christian ministry group is the equivalent to domestic hate group with the Ku Klux Klan among others.

Several dozen U.S. Army active duty and reserve troops were told last week that the American Family Association, a well-respected Christian ministry, should be classified as a domestic hate group because the group advocates for traditional family values.

This follows an article co-written by a former Army Colonel who teaches at Fort Leavenworth (not the prison, but the Army base) that hypothesizes a scenario where “tea party” groups in Darlington County, South Carolina embrace the Declaration of Independence and disband the local government.  To quote the article, “While mainstream politicians and citizens react with alarm, the “tea party” insurrectionists in South Carolina enjoy a groundswell of support from other tea party groups, militias, racist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, anti-immigrant associations such as the Minutemen, and other right-wing groups.”

The article then outlines how the military could be deployed to put down the tea partiers.

When a White House official throws around the words “terrorists” in conjunction with the opposition political party engaged in a legitimate legislative battle on Capitol Hill, it triggers bureaucratic responses.

When the same Administration is already embroiled in a scandal involving the IRS and other federal government agency’s using intimidation tactics to silence tea party oriented groups, one would think that Team Obama would be particularly sensitive in using incendiary language that could elicit unacceptable bureaucratic actions.

And one would expect that the media would universally condemn and demand a retraction of language that has real implications to the future of American political dissent.

Yet, with the Obama Administration’s defense of Pfeiffer, the defining of an Administration’s political opponents as “terrorists” is now acceptable.

In this instance, sticks and stones may break one’s bones, but names can get you arrested.  It is past time for President Obama to disavow Pfeiffer’s remarks and fire him from his Administration.  No other reaction should be acceptable to anyone who values the inherently American right to political dissent.



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 POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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