There is a narrative that generational warfare is increasingly common in our divided world: the Brexit schism of older leavers and young remainers; the middle-aged property investors whose mortgages are paid by generation rent. Then there’s the explosion of tech and shifting cultural values that lead to head-scratching and eye-rolling; each generation bitches about the one below it, we’re told, treating the one above with an unfair disdain. But this is not something I recognise in my own life. I have some brilliant friends, and I count myself especially fortunate that they are from all generations. I had my 30th birthday in August, which I freaked out about in a way I did not expect; but it was glorious to see so many pals together in one place. I can’t remember any other recent setting where people with decades between them were introducing themselves, chatting and drinking: 60-year-old mates asking a mid-20s couple who they vote for; two football fans, one born the … [Read more...] about From the silent generation to ‘snowflakes’: why you need friends of all ages
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In 2010, the small community of specialists who pay attention to US road safety statistics picked up the first signs of a troubling trend: more and more pedestrians were being killed on American roads. That year, 4,302 American pedestrians died, an increase of almost 5% from 2009. The tally has increased almost every year since, with particularly sharp spikes in 2015 and 2016. Last year, 41% more US pedestrians were killed than in 2008. During this same period, overall non-pedestrian road fatalities moved in the opposite direction, decreasing by more than 7%. For drivers, roads are as safe as they have ever been; for people on foot, roads keep getting deadlier. Through the 90s and 00s, the pedestrian death count had declined almost every year. No one would have confused the US for a walkers’ paradise – at least part of the reason fewer pedestrians died in this period was that people were driving more and walking less, which meant that there were fewer opportunities to be … [Read more...] about Collision course: why are cars killing more and more pedestrians?
With a general election looming, Boris Johnson has sanctioned a multibillion-pound spending programme announced at the Conservative party conference. Ministers have promised investment in the transport system, NHS and digital infrastructure in an attempt to stimulate economic growth and win back erstwhile Tory voters. But there are concerns the party has jettisoned its reputation for fiscal rectitude. In March, the then chancellor, Philip Hammond, said it was necessary to hold back fiscal reserves to cope with a no-deal Brexit. He could have spent £26.6bn over the life of the parliament without breaching a self-imposed rule to limit the annual spending deficit to 2% of GDP, but instead chose to keep the funds in reserve. Hammond’s successor, Sajid Javid, pledged last month to increase public spending by £13.8bn as part of a one-year spending review. Police, hospitals and local government were all big winners as Javid claimed the government had turned the page on 10 … [Read more...] about Tory spending plans: Sajid Javid’s key pledges
Why does it matter what medicines cost? If you are lucky enough to live in a country with comprehensive state-funded healthcare, such as the UK, you probably have no idea how much medicines really cost. But it can be a lot. Some drugs that have been around for ages are very cheap – aspirin, for instance, costs pence. It’s been out of patent and made by numerous companies competing to undercut each other’s price for decades. But new medicines, protected by 20-year patents, can cost hundreds of pounds a packet and sometimes thousands. The new breast cancer drug Kadcyla weighed in at a starting price of £90,000 per patient per year in the UK in 2015, though the manufacturer has now agreed a hefty discount for the NHS. It is an increasing pressure on all health systems around the world. In 2017, NHS England put its annual drugs bill at £16bn, £9bn of which is GPs prescribing, and said it was rising at 7% a year – faster than the overall NHS budget. … [Read more...] about Why do new medicines cost so much, and what can we do about it?