Crule Britannia!

Yesterday's UNICEF report makes a "comprehensive assessment of the lives and well-being of children and adolescents in the economically advanced nations". It makes interesting reading. Unless you happen to live in the UK, in which case you'd shrivel up into a tiny ball of embarrassment and reel in jaw-dropping incredulity.

The report attempts to quantify "well-being" into six categories. Out of 21 countries studied, here's how us plucky Brits faired:

materialism: 18th
family and peer relationships: last
health and safety: 12th
education: 17th
behaviour and risks: last
subjective well-being: last

Overall we came, unsurprisingly, last, just below USA. Hardly a glowing endorsement of capitalism. If there was a league for capitalism, we'd both be at the top.

We've become a nation of "haves" and "have lots", which appears to have taught kids that success can be measured by the quantity of 'stuff' one can amass in a lifetime. It starts with a pair of trainers, then to mobile phones, iPods, holidays, cars and eventually houses (London in particular where it's not so much live-to-work but live-to-pay-the-bloody-mortgage). Capital subjugation that's hard to escape when your environment blasts you from every angle to expose your material inadequacies. The consequence infects family structure, culls aspirations and blunts social mobility.

From a kid's perspective, it's all quite clear: issues of morality can be replaced with concern of individual wealth. So for some green-eyed kid with phone envy, theft is, on balance, justified. The more wealth to taunt your peers, the higher your standing. I doubt this will have been missed by the Marxists.

And I wonder how much well-beingness will be apparent as consumerist kids grow into capitalist adults. What was started by Thatcher has been perfected by Blair, and between them they have made this country a pretty sorry place in which to live.

2 Responses to “Crule Britannia!”

  1. alison Says:

    The obvious solution to this is, of course, to move somewhere else (like, say, Canada). But since we club baby seals, you might not want to.

  2. Will Says:

    Not a bad idea. Would I like Canada?