On this week’s episode we look at whether the kids are alright or if we need to talk about their generation. We also ask whether Philip Hammond’s cautious approach is suited to the present economy, and consider why the best minds of a generation were lost to trash TV.
First, with Scotland outlawing smacking and safe spaces coddling students, it sometimes seems like the sharp edges of childhood have been sanded down. That’s why our children are so unhappy, writes Rod Liddle in the magazine this week. But do kids really need to be exposed to the world? Or are there good reasons why we don’t let 9-year-olds ride alone on the underground? Rod was joined on the podcast by Lenore Skenazy, founder of the Free Range Kids movement, who also writes in this week's magazine. As Rod says:
"We think we are protecting them, but we are stifling them and harming them. We are preventing them from engaging with the world on their own terms. And coincidentally, we are making them fat. That’s something else we’ve given the kids recently — obesity and diabetes. Why would they not be fat when they are not allowed to venture outside by themselves, not allowed to shin up trees or play football in the street from dawn until dusk?"
It’s not just the younger generation who aren’t taking enough risks – Philip Hammond is also guilty of playing it too safe, according to James Forsyth. In his column this week, James looks ahead to next month’s budget, and urges the chancellor to think big. He joins the podcast to discuss this along with Anne McElvoy, head of Economist Radio. As James writes:
"Sometimes in life the biggest risk you can take is to play it safe. This is the predicament of Philip Hammond as he approaches the Budget next month. If he adopts a safety-first approach, it will almost certainly go wrong and he’ll be forced into a credibility-draining U-turn, as he was in March. His best hope is to be bold, and to hope this generates enough momentum to carry him over any bumps in the road."
In the magazine this week, Jonathan Maitland writes about working at the BBC in the 90s, and being stunned by the quality of the minds around him. Why weren’t these people leading the country? Why were they happy producing reality TV and game shows? He joins the podcast to lament these absent Bright Young Things, along with Phil Harding, former editor of the Today programme and a Bright Young Thing lost to the BBC. As Jonathan writes:
"David Frost, in my view, was a Pied Piper who helped to lure a generation of the brightest and best away from meaningful careers and into the often vacuous, inconsequential world of television. He was exciting — that interview confronting the insurance swindler Emil Savundra, for example — glamorous and funny. Thousands of Bright Young Things watched him and thought: ‘Yesss! That’s what I want to do.’ After three decades in TV, I’ve lost count of those who were inspired by visions of Frost."