Planning For The Future
Last week's General Strike in Spain drew headlines around the world. It came after a series of protests about cutbacks in Europe as governments start to rein in their spending.
Many are arguing that the changes needed are emergency ones, due to the present economic crisis, but in some places, such as the UK, there are fears that the changes implemented now will fundamentally alter existing social structures. But are such changes needed?
I'm looking at high schools at the moment and thinking about the future and all I can see is that this generation coming up are going to have a terrible time, whatever they do. First, they'll never leave home because they won't be able to afford a house. Second, they'll spend their lives in debt or paying off debt. Many of today's children will die early due to diabetes caused by eating too much junk food. If they don't die early, they will be in a dire pension situation. And then, of course, there's the risk of climate catastrophe.
What a great future to look forward to. We have been too focused on the short term for too long and now it seems we are just beginning to wake up and see the wider picture. The problem is that the very nature of democratic government is to think short-term to the next election. Long-term changes which might not be popular in the short term are hard to sell to the electorate.
But someone has to look at the big picture and get the implications over to the public because our demographics dictate that we will have to pay for a growing elderly population with fewer and fewer people paying the tax needed to fund it.
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We as societies need to have a grown-up discussion about what we do about all the social changes coming up rather than implement change rapidly without thinking it through. We have clung onto the idea that history is progressive and that our world gets better as the centuries pass. But what if it doesn't?