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Dave Beans

Being Slightly Poorer Might Actually Enrich Our Lives

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8829120/Being-slightly-poorer-might-actually-enrich-our-lives.html

I was one of the luckier ones. My BlackBerry never actually collapsed in The Great Global Catastrophe last week – it just staggered a bit. But I was, nevertheless, absolutely furious. Not at the service disruption, which was a minor irritation, but because the public relations fiasco might push my favourite electronic device into extinction. And then I would be forced into buying one of those over-hyped, over-priced toys which the newly canonised Saint Steven of Apple had convinced people that they wanted.

The relentless pressure to upgrade, to keep up with the latest state-of-the-art innovations, may be at its most obvious and ruthless in the electronic gadget business. But that competitiveness (and the brilliant manipulation of public perceptions that it involves) is just a function of a wider cultural change: people could not be persuaded or bullied into buying things they did not know they needed if they were not quite so rich. (Or if society didn’t offer them so many simulacrums of personal wealth in the form of easy credit.)

Having lived in Britain since the 1960s, when even many middle-class homes did not have telephones, central heating or fridges, let alone the full panoply of home entertainment equipment that now counts as standard issue, I am astounded by the change in expectations. Am I grateful on behalf of a younger adultgeneration that takes for granted the ownership of a car, a warm house and the labour-saving appliances that make family life so much less exhausting? Of course I am. Do I think that this affluence and everything that it buys are undiluted blessings – that there has been no loss in this gallop into acquisitiveness? No, I do not.

Maybe I will sound too much like an old puritanical Marxist, ranting about the capitalist conspiracy to lure gullible consumers into buying more and more, if I say that the coming reduction of affluence (what economists call a “readjustment” in disposable income) might not necessarily be such a terrible thing. It is worth noting, on the conspiracy front, that the price of home entertainment goodies, which had been falling consistently for many years, has now dramatically leapt: DAB radios are far more expensive than traditional ones, as are “smart” televisions, which incorporate computers.

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe profoundly in the value of mass prosperity and the ability of free markets to deliver it: the personal freedom, self-determination and dignity that come with financial independence are transforming for individuals and for the societies in which they are generally available. And yet, and yet… through this very independence that comes with relative wealth, something has been lost.

When our children were very small, we did not own a car, nor did many of our friends and neighbours – such a state being not uncommon in an inner London district in the 1970s. So the friends who did own cars used to give lifts to the supermarket, or to the doctor, or wherever, to those who did not. And nobody on ordinary middle-class earnings could afford a nanny – they looked then like a nearly extinct species – sowe had au pairs, or used informal childminders (who were usually friends, or friends of friends).

Some people solved their childcare problems by letting rooms in their homes to single mothers in return for childminding. (This was a very common arrangement – we could afford bigger houses in those days when property prices were so much lower.) Because we could not afford to pay for evening baby-sitting, we formed well-organised baby-sitting circles in which tokens were exchanged for hours – and these became life-saving neighbourhood friendship networks. (Were we part of a Big Society without giving it a name?)

In other words, we helped each other. Because we had so little money, we had to improvise mutual support systems. We became a true community precisely because we needed each other’s goodwill and assistance, and could not buy our way out of difficulties or practical problems. I know that parents now share school runs and arrange play dates during the holidays, and I am sure that neighbours are still helpful to one another in emergencies. But is there the same sense of extended family – of real interdependence – that there was when people relied on one another for day-to-day needs?

This is what is known in political circles as “solidarity”, which was once a strong feature of working-class life before (as Noel Gallagher of all people, noted last week ) its traditional values were junked in favour of celebrity culture and materialism. By the 1970s, when Britain’s economy was in a spiral of decline, the middle classes were impoverished, too, and so they discovered their own resources – and the consolations of social connectedness.

But it is not just relations between families that have been disrupted, or attenuated, by prosperity. Much has been written about the mental isolation that is bred in children and adolescents by computer addiction: that quasi-autistic condition that obsessive interaction with a screen seems to inculcate. It may or may not be true that this compulsion can actually have neurological consequences, as Baroness Greenfield, the exdirector of the Royal Institution, has claimed. But what cannot be denied is that a child or an adult who is so preoccupied with relating to an inanimate object is cut off – in a world of his own, as they say. The household affluent enough to provide each member with his own television, computer and smartphone is spared the need for most forms of social contact.

In a quaint historical era that some of us can just recall, families had to negotiate what would be watched on the one and only television in the house. This process was not without friction – particularly between the genders and the generations – but at least you got to know each other’s preferences and predilections, and the arguments in defence of those preferences offered training in social give-and-take. So the individual household, walled up in its suburban palace with every conceivable form of electronic equipment, can be isolated from its community. And the members of that household – staring at their individual screens or texting away on their phones – can lead lives separate from one another.

Is it possible that if people are allowed to adjust to being just a bit poorer – if the heavy hand of regulation on such things as informal childcare, for example, can be removed – that there might be a chance to recover something valuable that has been almost forgotten?

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Useful post. Raising some important issues. Does the lack of social skills bemoaned by so many employers relate to this new isolation-via-electronics?

Edited by juvenal

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_Daley

Janet Daley is known for her commentary in the fields of the media, American politics, social behaviour, welfare, the NHS, education, immigration and the criminal judicial system. Daley is a visiting Professor at Buckingham University and a Research Fellow with the Centre for Policy Studies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centre_for_Policy_Studies

The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) is a British independent policy think tank whose goal is to promote coherent and practical public policy, to roll back the state, reform public services, support communities, and challenge threats to Britain’s independence.[1] Although identified as non-partisan, the Centre has strong historical links to the Conservative Party.

It was founded by Conservatives Sir Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher in 1974 to champion economic liberalism in Britain[1] and has since played a global role in the dissemination of free market economics along monetarist and, what today would be called, neoliberal lines.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/janetdaley/

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Somebody who "endured" the 1970s while living in a large house in a middle class London suburb where people (gasp) couldn't even afford a nanny has no right to lecture anybody on austerity.

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http://en.wikipedia....iki/Janet_Daley

Janet Daley is known for her commentary in the fields of the media, American politics, social behaviour, welfare, the NHS, education, immigration and the criminal judicial system. Daley is a visiting Professor at Buckingham University and a Research Fellow with the Centre for Policy Studies.

http://en.wikipedia...._Policy_Studies

The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) is a British independent policy think tank whose goal is to promote coherent and practical public policy, to roll back the state, reform public services, support communities, and challenge threats to Britain's independence.[1] Although identified as non-partisan, the Centre has strong historical links to the Conservative Party.

It was founded by Conservatives Sir Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher in 1974 to champion economic liberalism in Britain[1] and has since played a global role in the dissemination of free market economics along monetarist and, what today would be called, neoliberal lines.

http://www.telegraph...sts/janetdaley/

So that's the new government propaganda. It's cool to be poorer (which it might as well be).

Thanks for posting.

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http://en.wikipedia....iki/Janet_Daley

Janet Daley is known for her commentary in the fields of the media, American politics, social behaviour, welfare, the NHS, education, immigration and the criminal judicial system. Daley is a visiting Professor at Buckingham University and a Research Fellow with the Centre for Policy Studies.

http://en.wikipedia...._Policy_Studies

The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) is a British independent policy think tank whose goal is to promote coherent and practical public policy, to roll back the state, reform public services, support communities, and challenge threats to Britain's independence.[1] Although identified as non-partisan, the Centre has strong historical links to the Conservative Party.

It was founded by Conservatives Sir Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher in 1974 to champion economic liberalism in Britain[1] and has since played a global role in the dissemination of free market economics along monetarist and, what today would be called, neoliberal lines.

http://www.telegraph...sts/janetdaley/

Good find

I will add to the picture by stating that the computer games released on the market are partly military weaponry training for tomorrows remote pilots, tank commanders and anything else you can think of.

It is a deliberate policy released onto the public by Vi elites in Govts on a Global scale - but most public/parents don't "get it"

Then after decades of Govts breaking up our communities with their policies (and Lord Prescott promoted for destroying 10's of thousands of houses on his "Pathfinder" poor bashing exercises), as usual the public get the blame for govts of the past insisting everyone is connected to the internet with no "social exclusions" hence billions spent on free govt skool laptop handouts- ARF

## Pathfinder was a name for carpet bombing and firestorming German Cities during WW2 - Here during start of WW3 the vain Elite scum practice their vileness on the population without most realising it

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The author and others think a new poverty means a couple years with slightly lower income. But the reality is it could be a 30 years descent into serious poverty for the nation. Like people going hungry and schools/hospitals shutting down for lack of money, and simply not being provided to much of the population.

Then it could be another 30 years of total poverty for the nation, as we re-learn the hard way what is important.

Then after all that, 60 years from now, a new ray of light might shine through as strong, community oriented, wise people go about creating a new society.

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Useful post. Raising some important issues. Does the lack of social skills bemoaned by so many employers relate to this new isolation-via-electronics?

Oh, the irony of this whole thread where most contributors have their post-counts in the thousands !

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So that's the new government propaganda. It's cool to be poorer (which it might as well be).

Thanks for posting.

Yes, and don't eat too much of that nasty expensive meat - it's bad for you!

On the journo front, I think there is a "cool to be frugal" vibe that has been fermenting over the last couple of years. I travel to London (from Scotland) for meetings once every few months and seeing the same eager conspicuous consumers in this occasional fashion, I see trends developing more visibly. On my last visit in August, the same guy who was frothing at the mouth about the iPhone 4 a year ago, was lamenting the waiting list for an allotment...

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So that's the new government propaganda. It's cool to be poorer (which it might as well be).

Thanks for posting.

Poor is the new black ( am I allowed to say that?) :D

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Good find

I will add to the picture by stating that the computer games released on the market are partly military weaponry training for tomorrows remote pilots, tank commanders and anything else you can think of.

Nothing wrong with that. It was fear of the most skilled laser operators in the galaxy that deterred a plot by evil aliens to move parallel to the earth's surface en masse, and then downwards a small notch when they reached the edge until one of them reached the earth's surface and in so doing steal your 10p. No idle threat too, most were suicidal, though seeing all of their friends die usually encouraged the last one to get a shift on.

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Nothing wrong with that. It was fear of the most skilled laser operators in the galaxy that deterred a plot by evil aliens to move parallel to the earth's surface en masse, and then downwards a small notch when they reached the edge until one of them reached the earth's surface and in so doing steal your 10p. No idle threat too, most were suicidal, though seeing all of their friends die usually encouraged the last one to get a shift on.

space-invaders-ds-sc000.jpg

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Somebody who "endured" the 1970s while living in a large house in a middle class London suburb where people (gasp) couldn't even afford a nanny has no right to lecture anybody on austerity.

Somebody who never endured the 1970's has no right to lecture those who did on what life was like then.

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Nothing wrong with that. It was fear of the most skilled laser operators in the galaxy that deterred a plot by evil aliens to move parallel to the earth's surface en masse, and then downwards a small notch when they reached the edge until one of them reached the earth's surface and in so doing steal your 10p. No idle threat too, most were suicidal, though seeing all of their friends die usually encouraged the last one to get a shift on.

On the other hand, the forces of Hell have been taking note and, when they finally do break through to our dimension, the very first thing they will do is pick up all the guns and ammunition lying around and drop them in the nearest lava pit, instead of leaving them handily lying around for Heroic Space Marines to pick up.

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hmmm... In the 1970's wasn't it tradditional in middle-class families for the wife to stay at home and look after the kids instead of working fulltime? Why would you have a nanny?

I was an au pair to a family in London for a while during the early 70's, ok I guess they were 'upper middle class'. Both parents families were from lesser titled aristocracy and the husband was a third son so had to make his own way to some extent. He would probably have been brought up by a nanny in the country pile so I guess it would have been natural for his wife to have had an au pair. They lived in suburbia, I can't actually remember where, but had a very large detached house. Their immediate neighbours were more the ' greater middle class' and also had au pairs (rabid social climbers). It seemed to me the wives were more focused on their husbands and social lives rather than on the children. I have to say though, that the family I was with treated me exceptionally well with a great deal of respect and warmth.

The 'middle class' of today is very different than that of the 70's.

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The middle class have always been disgusting creatures imo, as all they are interested in is looking wealthy. Nothing else matters to these pond life but impressing upon other w4nkers how well they are doing, even though they haven't got a pot to piss in.

Pathetic creatures.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_Daley

Janet Daley is known for her commentary in the fields of the media, American politics, social behaviour, welfare, the NHS, education, immigration and the criminal judicial system. Daley is a visiting Professor at Buckingham University and a Research Fellow with the Centre for Policy Studies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centre_for_Policy_Studies

The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) is a British independent policy think tank whose goal is to promote coherent and practical public policy, to roll back the state, reform public services, support communities, and challenge threats to Britain’s independence.[1] Although identified as non-partisan, the Centre has strong historical links to the Conservative Party.

It was founded by Conservatives Sir Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher in 1974 to champion economic liberalism in Britain[1] and has since played a global role in the dissemination of free market economics along monetarist and, what today would be called, neoliberal lines.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/janetdaley/

Not quite sure what your point is. I don't think Daley has ever tried to hide where her views come from

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  • 284 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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