Friday, December 07, 2018

Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Anna Bawden reports on new research from the Health Foundation showing the multiple ways in which young people face the burden of growing economic inequality. And Owen Jones points out that working-class children have borne the brunt of the UK's financial crisis and subsequent austerity:
(R)eal per-pupil spending in English schools has fallen by 8% since 2010. One all too little discussed scandal has been a reduction in funding for sixth formers of more than a fifth.

This is vandalism. It inflicts damage not just on the young people directly affected but on the nation’s future. Think of the unnecessary poverty created later in life by the failure to offer support to struggling pupils. It’s a false economy, too: the state will have to spend more, later, to support those let down at school. But it is more profound than that: think of the lost talents that would otherwise have enriched our society and culture.

The children of the most privileged will be fine, of course, not least the top 7% sent to private schools. Those in comfortable, rather than overcrowded houses; who have good diets; who don’t suffer the stress of poverty when young; who have the “cultural capital” of university-educated parents – they will generally continue to realise their potential. So the bankers who threw Britain into crisis, and then kept their shiny limousines, multiple homes and luxury holidays, will have forced other people’s children to pay for what they did, not their own.
Consider the full gamut of this government’s impact on young people. The scrapping of the educational maintenance allowance, a small amount of money to support aspirational young working-class people, and the trebling of university fees. The decimation of youth services: in London alone, 81 youth clubs and council youth projects have been cut since 2011, and a real-terms cut on children and youth services of nearly a billion pounds in just six years. A generation driven into an unregulated, rip-off private rental sector, lacking basic security, dependent on their landlords’ whims. The explosion of insecure jobs, at a time when living standards for young people have fallen most steeply. It is a list as incriminating as it is long.

It has become almost a cliche that Brexit sucks the oxygen out of the political conversation, depriving growing social crises of the attention they need. The irony is that many of the injustices that helped fuel the Brexit vote in the first place have been even more ignored since, despite the pathetically empty promise by Theresa May at the start of her term in office to cure the “burning injustices” in modern society.
- Similarly, Brad Hershbein writes that the 2008 economic meltdown presented a double whammy for much of the U.S.' middle class, including both initial losses and a lack of much recovery compared to other groups of workers.

- David MacDonald and Toby Sanger examine the savings to be achieved through a universal pharmacare program. And the Wall Street Journal reports on the predictable failure of the Trump tax giveaway (among other corporate giveaways) to do anything to make drugs more affordable in the U.S.

- Guy Verhofstadt argues that after far too many broken promises that corporate choices will protect consumer privacy, it's time for stronger public regulation of social media platforms.

- Finally, Hassan Yussuff discusses the importance of paid employment leave to enable people to break cycles of domestic violence.

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