The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

Thatcher’s legacy of unhappy children

Thatcher was an enthusiastic early adopter of free-market economic rationalism and arguably remade Britain in its image to an extent not seen in any other industrial society. A new UNICEF report accuses the UK of failing its children, as it comes bottom of a league table for child well-being across 21 industrialised countries.

From the BBC:

Unicef – the United Nations children’s organisation – says the report, titled Child Poverty in Perspective: An Overview of Child Well-being in Rich Countries, is the first study of childhood across the world’s industrialised nations.

Unicef UK executive director David Bull said all the countries had weaknesses that needed to be addressed.

“By comparing the performance of countries we see what is possible with a commitment to supporting every child to fulfil his or her full potential,” he said.

Most of the figures in the report come from 2000-2003, which the authors say was the most up to date information available.

‘Dog eat dog society’

Professor Jonathan Bradshaw from York University, one of the report’s authors, put the UK’s poor ratings down to long term underinvestment.

“It’s very difficult to answer the why question. But if you’re asking what is the main driver of these results, it’s the fact that for a long time children in Britain have been under-invested in; not enough has been spent on them.”

He said child poverty was twice as high as in 1979, while the government was “only just beginning” to put money into health and education.

The Unicef study found Britain had the lowest proportion of children who found their friends kind and helpful – 40%, compared to 80% in Switzerland, he went on.

Professor Bradshaw said that this was an indication of a “dog eat dog society”.

He added: “In a society which is very unequal, with high levels of poverty, it leads on to what children think about themselves and their lives. That’s really what’s at the heart of this.”

You don’t think there might be some kind of cause and effect here do ya? A generation of free-market economically rational education and childhood health policies (among many others) appears to have produced the most unhappy children. That augers well for the future. And we seem to be heading down the same path. But, the critics will say, at least they’re financially better off than they were a generation ago. I guess you can’t have everything.

Filed under: Big Picture, Economics, Education, Politics

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