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To think that despite the economy, 'we've never had it better', broadly speaking?

(53 Posts)
ShellyBoobs Sat 18-Jun-11 00:54:51

I know things are grim at the moment for a lot of people in certain aspects of life but in the western world, on average, as a people, we spend less of our income on food and fuel than we did 20 years ago. We live longer than anyone could have imagined just a couple of generations ago and we have opportunities that were unimagineable half a century earlier.

It's not that bad, is it?

Birdsgottafly Sat 18-Jun-11 01:03:01

We may spend less on food but we have to spend more on housing and essentials such as electricity. Not everyone has equal opportunities and it is going to get worse for many as this government does not believe in creating equality. There's good and bad points about living in different time periods. I think that the damage done by living in 'relative poverty' is underestimated by many on here.

ShellyBoobs Sat 18-Jun-11 01:05:51

"I think that the damage done by living in 'relative poverty' is underestimated by many on here."

I agree with that actually. It's wealth (material and otherwise) relative to others that causes a problem, rather than an actual lack of said wealth that's the issue.

Triphop Sat 18-Jun-11 01:07:27

My parents spent a tiny fraction of their income on high-quality housing. I spend a far greater percentage on much less size & space. They could send their children to university, debt-free. I now cannot. I am economically less well-off than my parents, but as I escaped starting out my adult life with university debt (despite having an MA), my children will be worse off than I am. They will also bear the brunt of rising food and fuel costs. My parents have a rock-solid pension they're living off. I am buggered on that one.

It's not all bad, of course not. But economically, my middle class parents lived in an enchanted age. It's over.

ShellyBoobs Sat 18-Jun-11 01:17:43

The only way we can really measure our relative wealth compared to previous generations is by time, though.

Look at how long a person on today's average salary has to work to buy a gallon of petrol, compared to 20 years ago, and it's not much different is it?

I think we're all feeling worse off because of the recent (last 8 years or so) boom, which artificially increased incomes relative to their objective value.

Birdsgottafly Sat 18-Jun-11 01:19:23

I think also life is becoming more expensive. The thread on driving is one example, it wouldn't have made a difference to your employment prospects if you drove or not at one time, but now it does. I couldn't go into work in any of my jobs with a 'scrubbed' face like my mother did, as a woman you are expected to have your hair done etc. I feel sorry for young people who havn't got family that can help them out in any way because it is expensive starting off in life, now. People are judged on what they own and how they dress, i cannot honestly remember it being like that.

I don't think that when i was growing up (now in my fourties) there was the difference in the working classes standard of living, everyone was on a similar level, all skint. Schools wasn't asking for money every week, no school uniform or PE kit etc. You wouldn't have seen WC people in designer clothes, the change in our lifestyles can make us more at risk of being miserable.

However, we do need to teach our children to apprieciate the positives.

Birdsgottafly Sat 18-Jun-11 01:26:25

You are focusing on petrol but that is strickly speaking not 'essential'. We have to work longer hours to afford the basics such as housing, CT and standing charges including water. Many previously wouldn't need to afford petrol. Also people didn't need the level of insurance that they need now. The quality of meat and veg has dropped, fruit is more expensive. I could as easily pick cigarettes, they have gone up a ridiculous amount.

madhattershouse Sat 18-Jun-11 01:27:00

You are correct about relarive poverty..the problem here really is that we all expect to have our prospects move fowards. The recent events and those yet to come mean that for many living conditions are regressing, and for the poorest that is dire! Even for those deemed above the poverty line the cost of living ( utilities and food) is starting to outstrip wages, leaving people worse off. We are bringing up a generation of children who (in current climate) will be fortunate to ever own their own home or even pay off the debt they incurr through education. We may not be 3rd world but the prospect is not great!!!!

Birdsgottafly Sat 18-Jun-11 01:29:03

There is a big feeling of hopelessness that there wasn't previously. If you were willing to work, there was work for you, but many cannot see the way out of their situation.

madhattershouse Sat 18-Jun-11 01:33:51

My partner is looking for work...the job centre want refusale as proof he's bugger even bothers to write back! The last time it was as bad as this was under Thatcher...I know I joined a very long queue then, you get treated like dirt even though they even admit there are no jobs!!

Birdsgottafly Sat 18-Jun-11 01:38:41

IN my voluntary job we get 70% of JSA santions overturned, the stress that it is bringing should be being challenged.

Triphop Sat 18-Jun-11 01:40:40

I disagree, OP. I don't feel worse off, I am. My housing is of a lower standard, I work longer to pay my utilities, my pension prospects are dire. The prospects for my children are worse, given rising housing costs, fuel costs and education costs.

That doesn't mean they'll be struggling to feed themselves. It means they won't be as well off as I am, and much less than their grandparents.

ShellyBoobs Sat 18-Jun-11 01:40:50

I'm just trying to understand how wealthy (time, money, longevity) we are now compared to how it used to be.

Really, I suppose I'm just trying to be positive in light of all the negativity and worry people are experiencing just now.

If you go back 50 or so years, the average working man was told by Harold Macmillan that he'd 'never had it so good', but he was earning less, in real terms (what he could buy) than the poorest, supported by the state, could afford today.

ShellyBoobs Sat 18-Jun-11 01:46:27

"That doesn't mean they'll be struggling to feed themselves. It means they won't be as well off as I am, and much less than their grandparents."

But that's the thing, it's all relative, isn't it?

I remember being about 4-5 years old (I'm 40 now) and us not owning a fridge, although my parents wouldn't have thought of themselves as poor. To be fair, we'd just moved house and there were lots of things to buy (as my mum explained years later) but not having a fridge for a few months and no carpets other than one in the living room, wasn't a sign of being poor as it might be now.

Omigawd Sat 18-Jun-11 01:46:32

Relative incomes for all except the wealthiest 5% in the UK have been falling for 20 years.

madhattershouse Sat 18-Jun-11 01:47:04

The policies that are coming out now are regresssive! The poor will be poorer and the divide between rich and poor is widening by the day! Unless something happens soon the poor will be back in the workhouses and the old will be on the streets!

ShellyBoobs Sat 18-Jun-11 01:47:53

Omigawd, relative to what?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 18-Jun-11 01:47:54

YANBU... it isn't that bad. Every time surveys come out asking people when the halcyon days were, the answer is always 'about 25 years ago'. Doesn't matter if that question is asked in 1961, 1981 or 2001, it's the same reply.

I grew up in the 80's environment of mass redundancies and public spending cuts and people hankered after the sixties when you could 'just walk out of one job into another'. In the 90's everyone was moaning about negative equity for the first time, interest rates sky-rocketed, jobs were being slashed again and we were reminiscing about how great it was in the 70's when there was rampant inflation bumping up house prices. Now we seem to be looking back at the 80's and 90's, trying to claim that the baby boomers had it far too cushy and have blown all our cash. Conveniently forgetting the advances in technology, medicine and all kinds of other things we take for granted.

ShellyBoobs Sat 18-Jun-11 01:50:20

CogitoErgoSometimes, you've got my point exactly.

Birdsgottafly Sat 18-Jun-11 01:52:06

In all fairness HM was probably right, the Working class were still dying as a result of malnourishment and poor living conditions. The infant and maternal death rates were higher. It doesn't really matter (i don't think) the question that you are asking. The point is some of the policies being bought in are wrong and should not be happening. If you study social policy the Thatcher years didn't actually save the country any money it just plunged the lowest into poverty and made alot of rich people even richer. I see on average 35 people a day in my voluntary job who are suffering under the new system so i don't really care if petrol is cheaper tbh.

Birdsgottafly Sat 18-Jun-11 01:55:08

No ones looking back to the 80's though Harold Macmillan was PM in the 50's. The eighties were shit but there was room for growth which globalisation has taken away somewhat.

Omigawd Sat 18-Jun-11 01:55:30

@Shelley relative to what you could buy 20 years ago.

The measues you need to use are income to buy the expensive necessity goods, eg shelter, heating, education, healthcare, insurance of all types. These have all rocketed.

There is no way your kids can afford the sort of house on an average starter wage that you could have when you left school. Looking at fridges and petrol prices is deckchair spotting on the Titanic I'm afraid.

ShellyBoobs Sat 18-Jun-11 01:56:51

I wouldn't argue, Birds, that there are questionable policies being brought in which definitely will affect some unfairly.

I'm just looking more broadly at the average person when I question whether things are really so bad as they seem.

Birdsgottafly Sat 18-Jun-11 02:00:52

If you didn't own a fridge now and had children SS would be at the door so you cannot judge on material possessions. Life has moved on. People are struggling to live, the policies being brought in are making it harder. If the government get their way life for certain groups are going to become impossible and all they can look forward to is a life of poverty and stress.

Birdsgottafly Sat 18-Jun-11 02:01:46

OP who is the 'averidge person' then?

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