When I grow up I want to be a pensioner

Indeed...

Indeed…

The Institute for Fiscal Studies reported today that over 60s are the only age group to be better off now than they were before the financial crisis struck in 2007/8, while adults in their 20s saw the biggest fall in income — about 12 per cent. They called it “a triumph of social policy.”

What?!

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GCSE reforms: shrewd move or bad joke?

No government can feel satisfied with itself until it has “overhauled” the education system. This one is no different, but is it going in the right direction?

The education secretary, Michael Gove, has a plan for GCSEs meant to make Britain more competitive in the world and tackle ‘grade inflation’. The concern is that Britain’s education system is falling behind – the Chinese work harder, the Americans are more innovative, the Germans more logical and the Scandianvians are just better. And there have been more passes and higher grades every year that GCSEs have been taken since their invention in 1988.

So what’s going to change?

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The NSA surveillance scandal explained

For those who have heard some of what’s been going on but got a bit lost in the storm of media coverage, I thought I’d do a nice quick(ish) summary.

What happened?

The Guardian and Washington Post broke a story last week about the extent to which the US National Security Agency spies on people. This is the US equivalent of GCHQ – a spy agency specialising in digital communication. The reports basically said that the NSA had been saving huge quantities of data in partnership with companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Skype (not Twitter, oddly enough). They have also been recording phone call information from the large US carrier Verizon.

The targets of such digital surveillance have been mostly foreign to the US, although the system they use only has a 51 per cent confidence measure, which means that pretty much anyone could be on the list. Other governments have also been implicated, including the UK.

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From one warzone to another – soldiers to be fast-tracked to become teachers

It’s probably a bit un-PC to compare school kids to the Taliban, but I have no doubt that when ex-soldiers make it through a two-year fast track programme to become teachers that they’ll notice the similarities. Teenagers and terrorists: liable to explode any minute.

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Do employers hire the pretty ones?

Which one would you hire? (it's the same woman by the  way)

Which one would you hire? (it’s the same woman by the way)

 

Unfortunately, yes. It’s not just women – the dreaded “halo effect” gets us all. Turning heads is a great way to get a job, and when they do get employed, attractive people are likely to earn 3-4 per cent more than a person with below-average looks. But that’s not the whole story.

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Are young people really a menace on the roads?

I hate being pegged. In my early twenties I used to drive past a primary school on my way to work and every morning would coincide with the lollipop lady and a troupe of five-year-olds. I could feel the accusative stares directed at me when the parents reigned back their kids as I bore down on their zebra crossing in my VW Polo. At 12 miles an hour.

Then there’s the look of surprise, followed swiftly by the ushering on of Johnny and Claire, with the odd furtive glance in my direction to see if the road rage had overcome me. Then, just cos I like to prove that I’m not one of those hooligans my mum always used to tell me about, I’d thank them for getting in my way.

So no, we’re not always a menace. But I am also guilty of once trying to find out how fast my car went (not very with a 1.4 litre engine).

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What do young people in Britain actually believe?

Here’s a list of interesting points about the beliefs of young Britons today, put together by the Economist in a recent leader.

Most young people believe…

1) Sexual preference and homosexuality are just non-issues. Young people in Britain really don’t care what others get up to at home – or even in public – and the government shouldn’t either. Gay marriage? Meh.

2) Mass immigration is something we should worry about. Facing appalling job prospects, young people are concerned that immigration is becoming a problem. All the same, they wish politicians wouldn’t keep banging on about it.

3) Less than 30 per cent of those under 35 think that welfare is one of Britain’s proudest achievements (compared to 61 per cent of post-WW2 baby boomers). They think Britain actually spends too much on welfare and support cutting down on the amount of government funding it gets.

4) Global warming is a biggie.

5) Tesco can rule the world if it wants, just so long as it still sells cheap food.

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