Sometimes it is very easy to think that we are the only nation in the world suffering from the various dilemmas now confronting us, in terms of, for example; economic woes, an ageing population, pension and care costs, youth unemployment, obesity, drinking problems and healthy living in general. And this list is by no means exhaustive.
But these issues are global, affecting just about every developed nation and many lesser developed nations as well. And the ways in which other countries are attempting to grapple with the situation are as many and varied as there are nations. We should, therefore, look elsewhere and see whether we like the way things are going and whether they provide a good blueprint for us here.
One particularly pernicious avenue of discussion here, both in the media and amongst politicians (notably of the “two brain” variety), is to set “the young” versus “the old”, as though one camp can only gain if the other camp loses. This is no way to solve such problems, especially if it leads to the actual polarisation of society.
The following extract is taken from a recent report from DutchNews.nl concerning the political situation in Holland:
“Fears that pensioners are being hard hit by the government’s austerity measures continue to boost support for the 50Plus party, according to a new opinion poll.
The TNS-Nipo poll says the fledgling party would win 24 seats in the 150-seat parliament if there were a general election tomorrow. That would make it the second biggest party in parliament, behind the VVD Liberals on 28. The party debuted in parliament at the September general election and has two seats.
The Labour party (PvdA), which currently partners the VVD in the coalition government, would be third with 23. The Labour leader caused a stir earlier this week when he said the over-50s are the richest group in the country.
The TNS-Nipo poll puts the Socialists in fourth place on 19 seats and the anti-immigration PVV fifth with 16.”
Despite an attempt a few years ago to set up an “older persons” party in the UK (which appears to have sunk without trace) we must hope that British democracy is better than this. Just look above at who came fifth in the poll, only a few seats behind!