At the moment, I am reading probably the most depressing book I have ever read in my life. It’s called Jilted Generation: How Britain has bankrupted its youth and it is making me want to crawl into a hole with a 6 pack of Special Brew to cry until everything is back to rainbows and sunshine, just like it was before the recession hit. Except that looking back on it, things were pretty bad for people my age before we’d even heard of the recession.
When the recession kicked off, I was one of the few people in my age group to be in a full time job, only have debts of around £20,000 after one year of university a few years ago (when top up fees were first introduced) – this is mostly due to the interest being significantly higher than the amount being taken out of my account. Yes, that’s right, the money that gets taken out of my account was significantly less per month than the amount of interest added onto the debt in the first place. The cost of renting alone took up more than half of my income before bills for a, frankly, shitty single bedroom with a double bed squeezed into it, the landlady of which then proceeded to screw me over on the deposit (I’m still in the process of going through the small claims court). Since then, I have moved back home, am back to temping, and can actually afford to save money without needing to worry about the interest on my student loan (because I’m finally earning enough that my contributions clear the interest and a few quid off the actual debt).
As far as I have experienced, there is and always has been complete insecurity in almost every aspect of my life. Temping and office work is insecure – I have to take bank holidays off as annual leave; the legislation in place for private renting is clumsy and extremely difficult to enforce – I’ve had boyfriends last longer than private renting contracts; and assurances that education would help me get a decent job later in life were either a gross error of judgment or a bold faced lie. Either way, I was explicitly told by an employment agent a few weeks ago that employers much prefer those with experience over those with a degree for the simple reason that any idiot can pass a degree if they don’t think too hard about it. Harsh words, but if feedback from recent graduate friends is anything to go by, perhaps there’s some truth in it.
Anyways, as I’m reading this book, I can’t help but think “What would I do if I was King For A Day?” – I say King, because the only type of queen I’d be would be a raging queen, and because the chances of electing a second generation immigrant tattooed leftie glamourpuss like me are slim enough to shop in Topshop. So here are ten things I’d do if I was King For A Day:
- Put Simon Cowell against a wall and shoot him with several paintball guns for a healthy dose of some decent reality TV. The potential for a spin off series, perhaps featuring Louis Walsh, Cheryl Cole, and Gillian McKeith would be a possibility if the show was a success.
- Set up mandatory Rent Officers to regularly inspect all private and social landlords.
- Build a fuckload more affordable AFFORDABLE affordable homes, strictly reserved for first time buyers. A house should be a home first, a cash cow second. My loyal subjects need affordable homes that stick to the Parker Morris Standards.
- Decriminalise all drugs in favour of licensed regulation of supply and use, high taxation, and free and unstigmatised medical treatment for those with abuse related problems. I don’t know how we’d unstigmatise it. Nice people take drugs too.
- Set the minimum wage to £7.00 per hour or £14,000 per year and repay back all the money paid into the Student Loans company, including the interest.
- Decrease the pay gap by taxing the extremely wealthy (I haven’t thought this one through yet. What’s extreme wealth, anything above £40k?) and those corporations that keep dodging tax. If you don’t want to pay tax in the UK, don’t earn money here.
- Create an “actual war” on the motorist, by setting up decent cycle paths and promoting the living daylights out of cycling everywhere in the UK. The fear of being attacked by a car driver or knocked down by a car driver or sexually assaulted by a car driver is currently the only thing preventing me from buying a bicycle.
- Make all education free. Fee paying schools promote social immobility.
- Ban jeggings with elasticated waistbands. They’re just hideous.
- Free and good wifi for all my loyal subjects!