Sunday, June 19, 2005

The divide widens

This item from the BBC website illustrates the widening of the have/ have-not gap which is becoming a very serious concern to me. It highlights the fact that people in key service areas - especially nurses - have been taken for granted for far too long. And although the article is about British nurses, it is the same in NZ, and no doubt in other parts of the world. As the son of a paedeatric nurse, I know this all too well: My mother left the profession when patients started being referred to as 'clients'. She had over ten years of experience.
Nursing is a critical component in society's infrastructure. The health system is falling apart because of excessive and needless administrative burden, lack of sensible government funding (and before I receive any contradiction on this, my father currently is employed as a business analyst in a hospital), and pitiful pay for the people who get their hands dirty. I find it incredible that in 2003, while both nurses and teachers were demanding better rates, the politicians awarded themselves a pay increase of $20,000 a year each. The teachers got better pay. The nurses didn't.
So you know who to look to for answers when you roll into Casualty and are made to wait for hours because there are no staff to spare/ they don't have the equipment they need/ they don't have the experience to treat you effectively.
The frightening corollary to this article is that there are a growing number of decent, hardworking people who cannot afford (or don't know how to) get onto the real estate ladder. They fear the debt they will have to incur, and worry about their ability to pay off a mortgage. I personally dread the day when I will have to start looking for a house.

The other divide is also a concern, but for different reasons. Many people will be disenfranchised in the future because they lack computing skills. But I understand where they're coming from. Heck, I have been using computers for years, even to the point of doing a few computer science papers at Uni, and even I get confused about certain computing issues. The field covering computer knowledge is huge. You could not possibly hope to gain an appreciation for the depth of diversity covered by the term 'computing' without spending a reasonable amount of time studying it. I see this every day at Polytech, at my work, in shops, and at the public library, where people are constantly flustered, frustrated and panicking at terminals: "Where have my files gone?"; "How do I access your network?"; "What does 'Windows has encountered a fatal exception error at memory address 0x00fa98' mean?"; "I don't understand - Why doesn't it do what I want?"
I find myself divided into two factions - the engineering student, who likes technological challenge, and the practical humanist who yearns for simplicity. Why must the two be opposed?
Answer: Profit. If you did not want/ need a particular new device, then corporations cannot make money selling them to you. People are not employed making them. Tax is not collected.
This is the side of becoming an engineer that I'm least looking forward to - foisting products onto people who either don't need them or are happy with what they have now, all in the name of profit.
In other words, once you have stepped onto the bandwagon, it's really difficult to get off.
"Brough to you by New-And-Improved-O-Vision's Product-Service-O-Tron-MkII!"


Blogger dreamer said...

with regards to the former: it's just bloody sad that politicians award themselves payrises at all, let alone the size of them.

For a socialist-leaning left-wing government, you really have to wonder why there isn't more money in education and health.. it's a paradox I can't get my head around. Labour? National? they're the same imo.

with regards to the latter: I've been doing contracting on pcs and macs lately, and I gotta say - even when a mac acts up, it's usually pretty damn nice about it. I'm about to buy an ibook 12" and I'm seeing more and more of my friends, and people on the fringes, buying into apple.

things to remember when buying apple;

don't buy revision 1 of any hardware, or there will be trouble

applecare protection plans are just that - protection money. whether or not you judge them worthwhile is up to you.

osx is based on bsd, so it's all unix-friendly for the engineering types, but it has an exceedingly well thought-out approach to human interaction, in the graphical user interface. That's not to say it's the best gui around, but at least the dialogue boxes make sense - Save and Don't Save, rather than Yes and No, for example.

mac osx will _not_ run well with 256mb of ram. upgrade it.

finally, yes they cost a little more (with the exception of ibooks), but you get what you pay for

9:58 pm  
Blogger Chocolate Monkey said...

I haven’t read many blogs, but reading yours got me thinking about something I need to articulate at some point. So here goes:

People today, particularly my generation onwards (which I think is pretty much the same as yours give or take a hemisphere or two) find it difficult to face up to the problems adult life throws at them. I think part of it my be that we are amongst the first for whom only “happiness” will suffice and anything else is an unfair card that has been dealt to us by some malevolent force.

Of course I can only speak of those in a relatively similar position to myself: literate, capable, and living in relatively liberal societies. Stereotyping can, after all, be a necessary and efficient way to discuss large numbers of people.

Life is a series of ups and downs and that is what makes it worth living. Enjoy the ride and make of it what you will.

However, we are so obsessed with free will, consumer choice and the right to do all manner of things, that we lose sight of the responsibility that follows from every single choice and decision that we make. I don’t particularly want to get into the debate on free will and I don’t think I have to at this point. If given any thought, the unbearable lightness of being is rather more of an unbearable burden of existence.

I don’t doubt that many people have been dealt a tough hand and that there is a lot that we cannot control.

It seems to me that for many, life has been reduced to a series of pop emotions and hollow interactions. Friendships are too shallow to refuse invitations or give honest answers. Relationships aren’t sacred enough to remain faithful. Opinions are taken from the famous and regurgitated as our own. A healthy deference to expertise has been substituted by an inability to think through anything that challenges our attention deficit thought processes. Ok, time to stop- I am not sure what I am on about anymore.

Anyway, just wanted to say, I enjoyed reading your blog.

12:04 pm  
Blogger J.L. said...

Thanks for posting guys!

Certainly, we have become a very shallow people. We may be intelligent, but knowledge does not necessarily confer wisdom. There is a lack of forethought and foresight when making decisions; maybe we are just too easily distracted by our crazy environments and petty wants.

Simplicity is the key.

10:56 am  
Anonymous Luc said...

To quote someone else =)

"Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?" - T.S Eliot

10:52 am  

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