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Finance Friday: Choice and opportunity

I have been thinking about when I was young and the choices and opportunities people had then. There were lots of local jobs and people walked to work or rode a bike. Few people had cars or telephones.

People had choices about where they worked, but it was mostly in industry or the services that supported that industry. People seem to have fewer choices now and often have to commute to work. Employers are less likely to offer training, they want people fully trained and experienced for the job. This has led to experienced and trained people being brought in from overseas and we still have hospitals looking overseas for more nurses rather than expanding local nursing schools to fill the demand. Many specialised nurses now commute to where they can earn the most money, often working through an agency. Hospitals are paying a thousand pounds a day for a nurse to cover just one shift.

Students are graduating university to find that their education doesn’t guarantee a job. Employers want graduates with experience, but how do they gain that experience when only the most successful employers and the government offer intern-ships to help them gain experience. Graduates often end up working for minimum wage as waitresses and even doing voluntary work to gain experience.

Commuting to work can be a problem for people. It’s fine if your health is good, but what if you suffer from ill health? Some people suffer migraines and can’t cope with the rush hour traffic, other people are disabled and can’t easily travel by public transport. Should these people be excluded? Do we want a society that is only for the very fit and healthy?

It seems with plans for high speed trains from the poorer north to the affluent south that politicians of all persuasions seem to think that commuting is the future. The City of London makes money and pays lots of taxes. Do we really see this as wealth creation and do we really want it to expand? Can anyone in the City of London style hair, entertain us with a song, make something useful or cook us a decent meal? The high flyers in the City of London simply move money around; they are parasites, the real work is done in the hair salons and restaurants by people on minimum wage. Is that the real purpose of HS2? So they can have more servants commute in to make their coffee, serve them in the restaurants and cocktail bars?

I remember a few small shops from when I was a child. Some where in the front room of terraced houses. The wife would keep house, run the general store and look after the children. Now the wife has a car, a smart phone and commutes to work; the children are looked after by a worker in the nursery on minimum wage. Are they any better off? They complain they can’t afford child care and need vouchers from the government.  They also need health care, but that is being cut back in favour of more nurseries, more schools and more universities for the growing population.

Is all this going in the right direction as things get centralised in cities and everyone needs a car to commute. Is globalisation really the way forward or do we need better values? Many children have experienced an overseas holiday, but not a day out in the park or the English countryside.

Is it time to think again about globalisation, commuting, travel in general and look at the benefits of localisation and of a stable community where people know their neighbours, use the local parks and take pride in their local identity?

What do you think? Will you be travelling to London on HS2 to make that latte from the finest Arabica beans for some high flyers on million quid bonuses? Or would you prefer a job in the local teashop? Have you say in the comments box. You can also follow me on Twitter.

One Response

  1. Pingback: The Review: getting close to nature | Mike10613's Blog

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