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Are we better off than our parents’ generation?

Each week we ask two writers with contrasting opinions, to answer the question

NO!
EVA BAKER

IT’S LOGICAL to assume that today’s generation would be growing up into a better world than their parents. As economies develop, flourish and trade, as astounding technological and medical advances are made, we would presume that the more time rolls by, the more we all soak up the benefits of living in a more secure and prosperous environment.

 In fact, the opposite is happening in the UK. In 2011, the gap between rich and poor is far greater than it was when records began in the 1960s, despite the exponential growth of economic wealth. It’s estimated that four million children in the UK, or one in four, live in poverty – one of the highest rates in the so-called ‘developed’ world. The fact that poorer families are being hit hardest by David Cameron’s cuts is no secret, and it makes the future of those four million less fortunate children look pretty bleak.

But what are prospects like for young adults today compared to what they were 40 years ago? Well, it’s more difficult to get a job for starters. Currently, one in five young people in Britain are unemployed, with many choosing to start costly university courses only to be spit out of the education system and head straight for the dole office.

Sure, more of us go to university now than when our parents did, but the quality of those universities has decreased, and they’ve begun to act more like corporations than centres for the development of the mind.

Now that the fees to study have trembled to a whopping £9,000 a year, academic horizons are beginning to shrink for the financially unprivileged. The fact that the politicians who pushed for fee increases are the very same that received a free education themselves back in the day rubs salt into the wound.

The principles of social equality and free education should be central in a nation having the status of being called ‘developed’. In a society that considers itself to be amongst the most influential in the world, a good standard of living, the encouragement of academic advancement, and a stable and varied job market for young people to enter into should be the norm, not just the privilege of a fortunate few.

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YES!
KRYSTINA MEENS

HUMAN RIGHTS have taken leaps forward in the past generation. Gay people are just one group who have benefited from changing attitudes and laws.

We celebrate multiculturalism more than ever, black music tops the charts, and the MOBOs acknowledge its contribution on an annual basis. We mark Black History Month and hold a variety of festivals for different ethnic minorities. Pizza, chow mein and tikka masala are the nation’s favourite dishes, proving our hunger for ethnic contributions.

Additionally, the disadvantaged in society are less marginalised. Underprivileged people can live in the knowledge their families can receive support from the state, and people with disabilities have a better quality of life.

 Environmental matters have also transformed over the past 20 years. From being something discussed by fringe pressure groups (a ‘hippy’ concern not a mainstream issue) to topping the agenda of every first world country.

We no longer shy away from the very real threat of global warming, and commitment to the environment is enforced through laws, securing the future for our children and grandchildren.

 Ours is the Internet generation. Technologies have opened up our world and broadened our horizons. We have grown up with the largest information database accessible at our very fingertips; it has seen some make millions and many more make friends. Social networking, in particular, has been linked to improved social behaviour and better self-esteem.

Women are in a much better position than 20 years ago. We can get divorces without judgement. Girls are no longer sent away in shame if they have a baby out of wedlock; instead they can get financial support and educational training from the Government. In vitro fertilization (IVF) has delivered miracles to thousands of infertile couples craving the patter of tiny feet. We also have the option of choosing to abort safely.

 In the workplace, sexual discrimination is now treated seriously and women are slowly closing the pay gap on our male peers. I stopped ‘playing house’ aged eight, and am not obliged to resume this role in the future.
I’ll fight any man to the top of the career ladder, and while doing so my washing machine will be working on both silks and cottons - even providing me with a non-iron setting. Thank you, 2011.

THE ‘HEAD TO HEAD’ COLUMN IS BY THE LONDON 360 REPORTERS
To find out more about what our reporters are up to go to communitychannel.org/london360…
WE ARE LONDON!

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