Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Baby boomers warm to casual sex after ‘following the social norm’

Interesting that Australia is by far the most accepting country when it comes to casual sex. I am actually (just) a PRE-baby boomer but I have had sex with many women over the years. I stopped counting when I got to 50. So I guess I am simply a good Australian. But I DID come of age in the free-wheeling '60s

A one-night stand, fling, tryst or even a dalliance – whatever the name – casual sex is often seen as the preserve of the young.

Yet nearly a third of baby boomers now approve of no-strings-attached sex, according to a new academic study.

Data from The Policy Institute at King’s College London show that UK attitudes on casual sex has changed not just over time but also between the generations, with researchers concluding that, when it comes to casual intimacy, “the social norm has changed and the boomers have just followed that.”

The researchers collated data from an international survey conducted across the past four decades and found that in 2009, just eight per cent of baby boomers (who are born between 1946 and 1964) found casual sex was “justifiable”. But by 2022, this had jumped to 30 per cent.

However, younger cohorts such as Gen Z, which captures anyone born between 1997 and 2012, and millennials, who are born between 1981 and 1996, are still far more likely to hold this view at 67 per cent and 55 per cent respectively.

The researchers also found that in 1999, overall, one in 10 Britons thought having casual sex was justifiable.

However, more than four times as many (42 per cent) held this view in 2022, with a considerable rise from as recently as 2018 (27 per cent).

This shift means the UK is now the fourth most accepting country when it comes to casual sex, ahead of France (26 per cent) and Norway (33 per cent) – and not far off Australia (48 per cent), which tops the list.

‘Moral concerns’ now ‘simple facts’

Professor Bobby Duffy, director of The Policy Institute, said: “It’s easy to lose sight of just how much more liberal the UK has become over a relatively short period of time, and how liberal we are relative to many other nations.

“What were once pressing moral concerns – things like homosexuality, divorce and casual sex – have become simple facts of life for much of the public, and we now rank as one of the most accepting countries internationally.

“This mostly isn’t just driven by younger generations replacing older generations. All generations have changed their views significantly, although the oldest pre-war cohort now often stand out as quite different, and on some issues, like casual sex, there is a clear generational hierarchy, with the youngest much more accepting.”

The researchers also surveyed attitudes around other subjects and found that increased support for euthanasia and divorce marks the UK as one of the most socially liberal countries overall.

Attitudes towards assisted dying in Britain have changed gradually since data was first collected in 1981, but there was a clear acceleration in acceptance between 2009 and 2022, when the proportion of the British public who found it justifiable rose by around 20 per cent.

This attitude shift comes alongside a rise in the number of British members of Dignitas. The assisted dying association reported that there had been an 80 per cent rise in British members in the past decade, from 821 in 2012, to 1,528 by the end of 2022.

The UK had the second highest proportion of people who believed euthanasia was justifiable, just below France, at 19 per cent. Other European countries ranked much lower on this issue, with Italy at nine per cent, and Greece at two per cent.

The UK also ranked highly for acceptance towards divorce, as 68 per cent of Britons said it is “justifiable”.

However, Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said while it is “encouraging to see the British public becoming more libertarian over time among all age groups … I suspect that if it was extended to ask about free speech and lifestyle issues such as smoking and obesity we would find that tolerance is on the wane.”


The Australian education system is woefully outdated

Achievement within it is a poor reflection of abiity

The education system in Australia is slow to adapt to the changing needs of society. The Department of Education claims that the opportunities their system provides is central to what students achieve and yet it has failed to provide what I believe is true equal opportunity through the outdated nature of the system.

Naturally, the grades of a student in Australia at all ages are crucial to their opportunity to progress further in the education system. The lowest-performing students in high schools don’t have access to ATAR studies which even then only the highest-scoring ATAR students have access to a university education studying the course that they would like. To study a postgraduate education at university you need to be achieving higher scores than many of your fellow students.

A university degree has become a common requirement for many jobs and positions in society, with year 12 grades an absolute minimum. The further a student is able to travel along the education system, the greater access to and chance of getting better jobs. The education system claims to put the smartest and therefore most appropriate people into the most skilled jobs, jobs which in turn earn the most occupational reward as a reflection of their higher level of intelligence and education. This is shown by the fact that to achieve the most skilled and highest-paying jobs, you need to progress further than many other people along the education system.

However, it does not appear that, in practice, the education system worldwide is putting the most skilled and appropriate people in the most lucrative occupational positions in society. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple (a company whose success is incontestable), claimed in 2019 that over half of his workforce did not have a college degree.

You are also able to read many stories of college dropouts going on to become huge successes. Many companies will hire dropouts from some of the most prestigious universities in the world because the value is in the acceptance letter and not the actual degree. Universities such as Harvard and Yale only accept the brightest students in the world. Employers know they are getting the smartest young minds and, as Tim Cook says, the years spent at university could be spent shaping these obviously capable students into top employees instead of learning a lot of information at university which he claims is by a large part irrelevant to the actual roles of the job.

We can claim that the education system is not putting the most skilled and most appropriate people into the best jobs in society because it is a fact that your intelligence does not equal your occupational reward. If you were to take 100 people of 100 IQ, they would all be earning different occupational rewards. The system cannot claim that the most intelligent students are the ones able to progress further and therefore achieve the incentive of the better-paid jobs because the grading systems of modern education simply do not rely on intelligence.

The façade of the education system is present in the league table system used to rank schools on their performance. The position of a school on the table is determined by the grades of its pupils with the ‘better’ performing schools at the top of table. The league tables are not a true reflection of the performance of a school. For example, the table could compare school Y and school Z, with school Y producing mostly grade A students and boasting a lucrative position at the top of the table, and school Z sitting in a modest position on the table as this school on average produces grade C students. The league table would suggest that school Y far outperforms school Z based on their student’s grades. However, the tables fail to mention any context. If we were to say that school Y only accepts students who are already at a grade A level and school Z accepts students of a grade E or grade D level, we could argue that in reality school Z is a better-performing school as it shows the greater actual improvement amongst performance of students.

The same logic can be applied to all areas of Australian schooling. University students are denied postgraduate study if their grades aren’t high enough in a condition the universities impose to make sure only the most intelligent students can progress the furthest.

However, your grade point average and unit scores which determine your ability to progress further are not an accurate representation of your ability or your intelligence. The Australian education system needs to move on from its heavily quantifiable way of ranking students. A non-working student living with their parents scoring an average of 75 per cent will be considered more favourably for opportunity than a student living alone working full-time hours to survive who is scoring 72 per cent. This is a backwards way of thinking as modern living has changed many factors such as an increased number of international students as well as driven up costs of living. Many students do not have the ability to perform their studies as well as other students so why are we offering opportunity on the sole basis of a student’s ability to perform their studies?

Obviously, we do not want people in university who won’t put in the effort and low scores can be reflective of this, but it is not always the case. The pandemic moved most study online and some students wouldn’t have had consistent access to computer facilities to make the most out of their studies, through no fault of their own. We need an education system that takes more into account of the situation of the individual student as opposed to just seeing them as a number and denying opportunity on the very basis of that number. It seems ironic that the opportunities that the education system aim to provide at ‘the very centre of what they do’ are restricted by the very same workings of that system.

Across all ages students are instinctively judged on their grades. We are judging people on their ability to perform as opposed to their intelligence which is what the education system claims. The capability to progress further in based solely on these test scores and numbers. We need more modern thinking and consideration to the individual situation of students as opposed to a system that is simply rewarded students who are in the most privileged positions of access to study.


The ‘anti-discrimination’ bandwagon – coming to a school near you

You have to hand it to the ‘anti-discrimination’ warriors – they are effective. Watch them go from city to city preaching ‘tolerance’ and ‘diversity’, the only catch being you must submit totally to their worldview.

This cottage industry has seen great success in Western Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory: jurisdictions that have all sought to curtail religious freedoms. Since taking the reins of power in Canberra, the Albanese government has similarly been only too happy to oblige – accepting calls for a review on religious exemptions for schools in federal law.

But the feel-good, anti-discrimination messaging of the review’s supporters disguises a radical agenda, one which strips schools of protections that allow them to operate according to a self-determined set of values.

The new provisions, released by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC), fly in the face of religious freedom and parental rights. As it stands, political parties would be allowed to hire staff who share their ethos, while schools would not.

Most fair-minded individuals would be appalled by such blatant double standards.

The Institute of Public Affairs’ submission to the Commission’s inquiry found the proposed reforms would; curtail the right of parents to give their children an education consistent with their values; facilitate sectarianism by pushing religious disagreements into the courts; and give government bodies, such as the Australian Human Rights Commission, the power to control what faith-based schools can do, say, and teach.

The ALRC wants government agencies to enforce compliance with new restrictive standards. And yes, you read that right, the ALRC essentially wants to take parents out of the equation and disregard the values and beliefs they want instilled in their children.

It is something straight out of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, except it’s likely to become reality in Australia.

Make no mistake, religious freedom is under direct attack in Australia, and the first formal steps towards new religious discrimination laws have been taken by the Albanese government.

Out with the old and in with the new. Freedom, choice, and Judaeo-Christian values are to be replaced with a rigid creed, which entrench radical ideologies on gender and sexuality.

Worse still, the ALRC wants its reforms extended to all religious bodies in due course, which is perhaps the most concerning part of the whole Consultation Paper. If the narrative that religious protections are harmful to certain marginalised groups takes hold, then the cottage industry of activists has won.

Left-wing activists have been working hard for years to normalise this very idea with little courage shown by religious groups, who have typically been desperate to accommodate the howls of activists at every turn.

The bottom line is that when harm is equated with hurt feelings and is used to put a stop to the dissemination of genuinely held beliefs, religious freedom is dead. The proposed changes will foster greater intolerance and, as such, impacts all people of faith: Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians alike.

By pushing for legislative change, the ‘anti-discrimination’ warriors have ensured their cottage industry will continue to thrive long after this debate fades from public discussion.

Advocates have praised the reforms as progressive, but ultimately the recommendations are in direct conflict with Australia’s long-standing tradition that upholds religious toleration and pluralism.

In the name of progress, ‘anti-discrimination’ warriors are determined to throw out the Western intellectual tradition and replace it with identity politics and Critical Race Theory. Here, the subjective feelings of the individual are elevated above basic freedoms of religion, association, and expression.

Fortunately, there has been some pushback from the Christian community on this issue. Two major Christian schooling associations that represent 150,000 students across the country, have pulled out of the consultation process with the ALRC. The groups claim to have ‘lost faith’ in the inquiry remaining ‘balanced’ in addressing the issue.

As one Catholic Bishop warned late last year, preventing religious schools from requiring staff to teach in line with the school’s faith would strip these schools of their religious essence, while ushering in a Woke quota system for hiring, rather than a system based on shared worldview.

The provisions, if enacted, will also do parents a disservice by taking away their choice to send their child to a school with a genuine religious ethos.

This move against religious freedom also highlights a deeper and more troubling phenomenon occurring across Australia, the detachment of the political class and inner-city elites from mainstream Australians who want their freedoms preserved and to get on with their life.

As you go about your busy day, you may ask yourself, why all the fuss? As former High Court Chief Justices Mason and Brennan once wrote in a joint judgment, freedom of religion is the ‘paradigm freedom of conscience’ and ‘the essence of a free society’.

Ultimately the proposed changes will foster greater intolerance and impact all people of faith – Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians alike. This is not only a serious problem for religious freedom, but also seriously problematic for free speech.

Never forget, many had to fight for the freedoms we enjoy today, we must ensure they are not surrendered in silence. ?


'Living nightmare': Airline customers call for independent ombudsman

If our bulging mailbag of replies is anything to judge by, January’s column about the airline consumer advocate struck a nerve with readers.

One of them, Claire, has had a torrid time since she and her sick partner tried to check in for their flight home from London in September, only to discover her partner’s Doha-Perth leg hadn’t actually been ticketed.

The flight was operated by Qatar, but booked through Qantas. Qatar said it had informed Qantas of the issue two months previously, in July, but the couple was never told. (Qantas later apologised “for the oversight”.) The airline couldn’t offer them another flight before October and said her partner couldn’t fly home solo using her valid ticket. So, at great expense, they bought seats on Singapore Airlines. A call-centre operator assured them Qantas would refund their fares.

They made formal complaints to the airline after getting home, had no joy (it refused to reimburse them), and went to the airline customer advocate in October. At the time of writing, they’d had no reply. Now they’re waiting on a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal date to hear their case. They’ve been told that could be six months away.

“I am appalled at the lack of airline regulation in Australia,” Claire wrote. “The blatant disregard for consumers… needs to be addressed by independent regulation.”

That was a common sentiment among our correspondents. “The airline customer advocate is useless,” wrote another aggrieved passenger, Peter Weyling. “Never did I feel confident that the ACA was right on top of my complaint… they did not keep me informed.

“ACA is merely a post office. How can it hold airlines to account if those very same airlines pay for its existence?”

Gleness Stiles wrote about the “living nightmare” she’s been through trying to get reimbursed $10,500 for two business-class flights to South America. The flights were cancelled by Qantas and, she says, the airline agreed she was eligible for a refund way back in April last year. It never came.

In July she forwarded her dispute to the ACA, which replied in August that it couldn’t help because she still had an open complaint with an airline. She’s had repeated assurances over several months from Qantas personnel that they’ve refunded her fares. But she still hasn’t received any money. Gleness and Claire’s ordeals sound like exactly the sorts of cases an independent ombudsman would resolve. If only we had one.

There were many more tales of woe. Jacob L flew to Hawaii with his partner last June where they had to holiday without their luggage – for eight days. The airline took three months to respond to their appeals, after which he lodged a request with the advocate’s office. He finally heard from Catherine Addison-Walsh (the advocate) at the end of January that she’s requested an update from the airline. Eight months have passed since the incident and he’s still waiting for a resolution.

Cathryn Stavert runs a “Jetstar Support Group” on Facebook that was formed in the Covid chaos of 2020. “People were just screaming out for help. Where do we go?” she says.

She’s had plenty of experience since then helping peeved passengers with complaints to the ACA. Many of those who contact her think the advocate is an impartial referee. She has to explain repeatedly that it’s not, that it’s funded by the country’s four main airlines.

There is one happy ending to this story. Phillip Carruthers used to work at the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman so knows his way around complaint-handling schemes. He had never heard of the advocate until a recent dispute with Virgin over a $3000 discrepancy.

“I contacted the advocate about a month after my travel. I (knew) there must be some kind of complaints body, but it wasn’t easy to find!” he wrote.

Barely a month later he received an email from the advocate confirming Virgin would pay him the outstanding $3000. A few weeks later the money was in his account.

“In summary, I was happy with the service but, really, I did all the work, using the right terms from my consumer protection background. All the advocate really had to do was send it on to an appropriate person.”

Stavert dismisses the advocate as “a complete waste of time”. “Why isn’t there an ombudsman for airlines, and the travel industry?” she asks, quite reasonably.

After the travel turmoil of recent years, now would seem a good time for the federal government to look at establishing just such an agency. A properly independent one.




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