Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Change - Have We Got What We Asked For?

I was watching a television programme the other evening dedicated to the coronation of the Queen and what the country was like back then.
    There have been many changes to our lives in the last sixty years. We like to think they have been good. We like to think we have progressed, and personally I think we have. But has that progress meant the sacrifice of other things? Are today's problems of debt, high prices and unemployment rooted in some of these changes?
    The first major change has been the role of women in the family. Now I'm not against the idea of women having the opportunity to pursue a career, I definitely think they have the right to have their own bank account and take out their own loans if they can afford to do so. I'm not so sure every woman should be forced to work if she doesn't want to. Maybe that is because I come from the dying breed of women who have been supported by a partner and given the choice to work or not as I feel fit. I have worked, enough to get my pension in a few months time, but we have never depended on my income to pay the essential bills.
    Back in the 1950s married women worked until they had children and then they stopped, at least until the children were old enough to look after themselves. How terrible I hear some people cry. But this actually meant job opportunities for young people coming into the job market. These days instead of twelve or more years being home with the kids, many mothers return within a year which leaves no vacancy for new staff. Just a thought, but maybe unemployment would fall if women were still in a position to stop working for a few years.
    There is currently an outcry over the demise of High Streets around the country. This is not new, it has been happening for a long time because life-styles have changed. Back in the 1950s those mothers who stayed at home with their children went shopping every day because there was no way of keeping food fresh for long periods AND not so much to tempt you into buying more than you need. A shop bought cake was a luxury only for special occasions. I'm hazarding a guess here, but I bet in areas where it is still culturally expected for women to stay home the High Streets are still thriving.
    So are we better off now? Yes, many people have bigger houses, more cars, foreign holidays, houses full of the latest gadgets. But they also have huge debts. We have only ever had a mortgage based on one salary. Once banks started taking two salaries into the equation it tied both partners to a lifelong job. All this has done is put the price of a house up, along with everything else, so no one is really any better off.
    Most of us can live more comfortably than 'in the old days'. We are fitter, living longer, expecting more. But we can't have it both ways. We can't do our shopping in the 'buy it all' supermarkets AND expect the High Streets and village shops to continue to be there for when we feel inclined to pay a visit. Personally I prefer the supermarket where I only have to queue once rather than at half a dozen different shops. And to be totally honest, I prefer to look for things on line instead of searching for something in the High Street.