Can You Afford to be Alive?

Over the years, we have seen a huge rise in the prices of even the smallest things. Let’s take the ‘Freddo’ chocolate bar for instance; I am sure these delightful bars of chocolatey goodness used to cost just 5 pence, whereas now they are rarely found in shops for less than 22 pence. If inflation has done this to chocolate, then you can imagine just how much the prices of larger items have been affected.
Our economy has inflated. I’m not going to bang on about how unfair this is, as inflation seems to be an unfortunate fact of life. However, I am going to point out how I find it interesting that pretty much everything has increased in price massively, with the exception of wages. The prices of houses and cars have more than doubled, yet the standard minimum wage has increased by mere pence. This means that everyone, particularly if they are on a low wage, has to work a lot more hours and endure a lot more stress simply to be able to afford to be alive. If that is not bad enough, a chunk of that hard earned money then gets deducted from peoples’ wages in tax.
This results in people spending their time through the week doing nothing but working. These people only have the weekend, assuming they don’t work these days, to actually enjoy their lives. If someone whose working week comprises of 50 hours Monday – Friday lives to be 80 years old then that means that almost 21,000 days out of the 29,200 they are alive will be spent at work. Although, some of these people do love their jobs and are happy to pour all their waking hours into it, these people are a minority. Unfortunately, the majority of people working these hours do so out of necessity and don’t actually like their jobs, meaning that they spend 21,000 days of their lives doing something that they don’t particularly enjoy. To me, that seems a massive shame.
I appreciate that money is a necessity of life and that earning more money must always be a priority, however, I think it is ridiculous that in a bid to earn money most people have to essentially sacrifice their lives. They simply look forward to weekends and annual leave as they exist within an office, they do not live.


Term Time Crime

It recently hit headlines that a woman named Jackie Turner has been summoned to court for taking her nine year old daughter on a three week backpacking trip during school term time. This story seems to have become central to the debate on whether taking a child out of school for a holiday is acceptable and whether authorities are too severe on parents who choose to do so.
The newspapers have printed that, if convicted, Jackie will be forced to pay up to £2,500 in fines and, controversially, will spend a possible three months in jail. I’m a firm believer that education is important and can appreciate that three weeks is a long time to be away from school, however, even I think that Jackie’s punishment is excessive. The fact that you can be fined for taking your child out of school during term time seems to be general knowledge now so I can only assume that Jackie knew being fined was a possibility but decided to take the risk regardless. If this is the case then I can completely understand why she was fined and, despite it being a large sum of money that she will have to pay, I struggle to sympathise with her. However, the part of Jackie’s possible sentence that I just cannot get my head around is the jail time she may face.
Jackie is essentially being punished for taking her daughter out of school because the government believe this will be detrimental to her daughter and her daughter’s education. Jackie is being punished for doing something that the government would argue goes against her child’s best interests. So, in order to punish Jackie and prevent any further damage being done to her daughter, they send Jackie to prison for three months. I need someone to explain to me the logic behind this because, quite frankly, I don’t get it. Surely, for a child, having to spend three months away from your mother because she has been imprisoned is much more damaging than spending three weeks away from school? It seems that the government has become so preoccupied with making an example out of Jackie Turner that they have forgotten what their priority needs to be. They seem to be more concerned about severely punishing Jackie in order to deter others from behaving in the same way than for her child’s welfare. This seems both illogical and hypocritical.
The possible consequences of Jackie’s actions have left hundreds of people, particularly those with children of their own, absolutely outraged and quite rightly so. However, the public’s ensuing anger seems to be misdirected towards schools. Many people seem to be blaming not just the teaching staff at the school Jackie’s daughter attends but schools all over the country. I have written this to try and make one thing clear. The school that Jackie’s daughter attends is not responsible for the sentence that Jackie is facing. The teachers who work there have simply done their job and enforced rules which were created by the government. The term ‘don’t shoot the messenger’ springs to mind right now. The school does not create the rules regarding children’s education, the government do. The school does not dish out the punishments to parents who break said rules, the government do. The school did not sentence Jackie, the government did. The school will not receive the fine that Jackie will be ordered to pay. I’ll give you one guess as to who will.