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Archive for May, 2012

Doctors shouldn’t have to worry about being derogatory, they should tell people the truth

Doctors have been told that telling obese patients they are fat could be derogatory

Doctors have been told that telling obese patients they are fat could be construed as derogatory

 

In Britain we have a long accepted tendency to beat-about-the-bush. It maybe why people from other countries can sometimes seem abrupt and forthright in their manner of talking, accustomed as we are to people not saying exactly what they mean.

Now it has been suggested by Nice (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) that to tell patients that they are clinically obese could be considered derogatory. Hmmm…

Admittedly, to say to someone “You’re to fat, fatty-fatty fatso” is very derogatory. But to tell a patient, “You’re obese, meaning you’re so fat you’re putting your health at risk,” is not. It is medical advice.

A derogatory statement is one that belittles or disparages the subject. But doctors and medical professionals are not telling fat people they are obese because they want to be derisive. They are also not telling thin people they are fat, so it isn’t like they are trying to be hurtful. They are literally telling obese people they are obese.

The manner in which a statement becomes derogatory is reliant on the manner in which it is said. If I tell my parents they are “old biddies” for instance it is not derisive, it is playful. If I tell a lady-friend who asks that her ass looks huge in those jeans, it isn’t derisive, it’s an opinion. On the other hand, if I went up to a stranger and said they looked fat, it is derisive, because I don’t know them and it was said in a manner that could cause offence.

If doctors went about telling patients with lung cancer that they “might want to stop smoking because of the health risks involved,” it doesn’t provide much help the patient. Instead of telling patients they are morbidly obese, and telling them they should think about eating less because being heavy is bad for their health, doctors would not be informing them that they have a serious health problem.

Do we want to live in a world where doctors don’t tell us we’re ill, but suggest lifestyle choices we might want to make?

As a smoker, if a doctor told me I had lung cancer I would know it was at partially my fault. Ok doc, point taken, I will stop smoking and make some changes to my lifestyle.

If we muddy the waters over these issues, no one will solve their problems, because most problems can only be solved by taking responsibility for their causes. A fat person told they should eat better is less likely to change their habits than one who is told that they are so fat they will die if they don’t change their habits. A similar story could be said with smokers.

It is only the urgency and immediacy of the problem that will get many people to change long-ingrained habits. You don’t get lung cancer from one cigarette, and likewise you don’t get fat from a Big Mac. It is generally overindulgence of both these habits that leads to illness, and if doctors don’t highlight to overindulgers that they aren’t just making bad lifestyle choices ,but are in fact seriously ill, then they will have no impetus to change their ways.

I’m am not saying, and let me be clear about this, that we should go around telling fat people they’re fat, and smokers they’re unhealthy. Deep down inside they probably know this. But in the fields of medicine, psychology, dentistry, etc. professionals should have the freedom to tell their patients the unvarnished truth.

In fact, I would go so far as to say it is their duty to tell people the truth under these conditions.

 

 

 

 

The lost generation: why Britain’s young people have no hope of a bright future

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It is a frustrating time to be a young Brit today. But the mounting frustration I feel, being lucky enough to have a job and working towards a career, must be exponentially worse for those without work, without money and losing hope.

It wasn’t always like this, or so I’m told. But the halcyon days of old are no longer. The youth of today are screwed.

The first problem is education. Degrees have become a penny a dozen, not in financial terms, but in aspirational terms. If every job needs a degree then the majority of young people have to go into debt simply to have any hope of getting a job.

A huge number of young people now have degrees, but if everyone has a degree then it isn’t an advantage, it is simply a debt. If no one had a degree then the job market would be exactly the same. We have massively devalued our education system. This is because of market forces in the education system.

The next problem is the housing market. My mum bought her first house for £15,000 back in the 80s. She tells me that although her salary has trebled, her flat is now worth almost £300,000.

How on earth are young people meant to get a mortgage? When my mum was earning 10k a year her mortgage was a year-and-halfs wages. If you wanted a mortgage on her house while earning £20,000 it would pan out at 20 years wages. Young people are being denied mortgages, their right to property trodden on by market forces.

The people being given mortgages are the property owners. This means that as they expend their property empires, they force myriad young people into permanently renting, costing them hundreds of thousands of pounds, yet leaving them nothing to show for it.

Another problem employment. Where are the jobs that school children were so earnestly promised by schoolteachers when they graduated? Neither here nor there. This is of course, due to market forces.

There are now over a million young people unemployed, with no hope of owning property because they can’t get a career in order to get the money to invest in a house.

The economic situation has instilled such fears in employers that even if there was a 99% chance that taking on more staff would be profitable, they won’t. The big business owners have gone for damage limitation, which in real English, means reducing their costs to keep their profits.

But, young people of Britain, don’t dispair, because it is not your fault. In fact it isn’t your government’s fault, nor your parent’s fault. It’s the economy stupid.

It is in fact the wool being pulled over our eyes. Austerity has failed this country, it has put us into another recession, left millions unemployed, ruined the moral of millions more, destroyed the hopes and aspirations of the next generation of this country.

We are told that market forces i.e. the recession, is responsible for this. But the market was created by us, and why would the chancellor pronounce an annual budget if we couldn’t have effect it?

We do have an impact on it, but that is directed away from the young people, the needy and the disabled.

Yet we do nothing. We barely even vote anymore. This has led to some of the disparity that exists in our country because politics is all about voters. The majority of home owners vote, whereas a majority of renters don’t. Work it out, political parties hoping to be in government preach to the home owners and the business owners, the people who vote. It may have started as a trickle, but as politicians started to care less about young people, they stopped voting, so the government cared less, and fewer young people voted. And on it went ad infinitum until we get what we have today, a government that protects the vested interests of the rich because the young poor don’t vote.

It is not just the economy, it is our fault too. Pensioners still receive their free bus passes and tv licences because they are the highest voting demographic. Big businesses receive better deals and billionaire CEOs get lower tax rates, because they not only vote, but fund political campaigns.

Our politicians see young people as hoodies, rioters and lazy. Until now we have been too scared to be or do anything different. If we have jobs we want to keep them, and if we don’t we still have this hope, drilled into us at a young age, that our lives will be like our parent’s.

This is a myth. We won’t have state pensions, many of us won’t have jobs. As pensionable ages get higher this will stop new, younger workers entering the system and it will get worse and worse. There is no growth strategy (except if you count helping businesses and millionaires grow their own profits), no safety net and as I see it the only hope is to make our voices heard.

We have been institutionalised to believe that the system will look after us. It worked for our parents, our parent’s parents and their parents before them. It won’t work for us. If we go on hoping that getting our grades will get us a job which will get us a mortgage we are letting ourselves be cheated by a system representing the few.

I am not saying that young are the only demographic to suffer, god knows what’s being inflicted on the old, disabled and public sector is inhumane to say the least. But it is the young people who have to stand up for themselves, ourselves, if anything is going to change.

We must make our jobs, we must make our money and we must make our hope.