The Bigger Threat

The headlines have been dominated by a spate of knife crimes and murders in London over the Easter weekend. These deaths of young people have understandably spurred calls to do more to prevent a repeat. While such senseless murders are deplorable – with causes that are deep-rooted and with no simple solutions – you might have missed an equally big story – the tax now being levied in the UK on sugary drinks.

There’s a parallel here. When the ban on smoking in public places was introduced, there were many protests from different quarters. Yet few today still resist such a change in the law. Protests against the sugary drinks tax are likely to ease in a similar fashion over time.

The state certainly has a role in helping us to help ourselves to a better lifestyle. After all, it’s the state that most of us will turn to when a lifestyle of bad habits needs patching up by the NHS. The costs of smoking or being overweight are not just personal; they are costs to our national finances, too.

Social problems have a habit of starting small and growing until they reach the point where they are insupportable…unsustainable. The habit of smoking wherever one liked was not seen as a social threat until very late in the day, and being overweight is only now being recognised as a socially problematic issue, imposing a burden on our publicly funded health service. It was a long hard fight for smoking to be banned from public places and an equally long one to introduce the tax on sugar-enriched drinks.

But for those of us who see human progression only as a glass half empty, such interventions by the state should give heart. If humans are weak and fallible, they need regulation to encourage them to stop wasting their lives and our resources.

Which brings us back to knife crime.

Here too we can all identify the problem. What we may have difficulty with is accepting that it’s a problem for all of society, and goes far deeper than merely providing more money for youth clubs or similar. Which is one reason why the state finds it difficult to solve this problem; it has multifaceted and overlapping causes. What’s needed is a collective determination to address a variety of issues simultaneously, in a localised and partnership fashion. 3SC is the perfect umbrella organisation to link together such groups to deliver these necessary services in partnership as well as have a wider and more effective voice to combat frustration with how society is managed and run in silos.

Our society has been great at holding out the promise of a richer lifestyle, but rather less good at making that promise a reality for many of those at the bottom. Many of our children – not just minorities, but all children today – have been brilliantly educated in frustration. Many graduates with excellent degrees struggle to find a job commensurate with their educational attainments, while at the other end of the spectrum many children leave school with little hope of finding fulfilling employment or indeed any employment.

Jobs cannot be conjured out of thin air, just as giving up fags or sugar without some stimulus is hard. But if government regulation can be put to work on the latter, it must surely be able to try harder on the former?

If people could see a future that was not about frustration but about fulfilment, they might be able to lift their eyes beyond today. 3SC exists to channel together greater efforts to achieve social outcomes that will hopefully in turn bring more fulfilment.