AMONG many favourite sayings about governments, and always in my top 10 is ‘the government’s like a mule, it’s slow and it’s sure; it’s slow to turn, and it’s sure to turn the way you don’t want it.’
It would be higher, but while I’ve little experience of mules apart from a scary incident when one frightened my horse near a cliff in Cyprus, I’d still argue with writer Ellen Glasgow that they’re swift little hybrids (there is in fact An American Mule Racing Association).
However her observation on the ponderous speed of the government machine is spot on; illustrated this week with the release of the 2021 census information, a year and three months after the first report was released in November 22.
But never mind – I did ask and was told reassuringly that the information had been used for practical purposes even if the public and press were denied a final comprehensive report for so long.
The particulars themselves prove interesting as always and with International Women’s Day fast approaching, it was reassuring to see the gender pay gap beginning to reduce, although it sadly still exists. I recall a conversation I had once with an individual who informed me there was only a pay gap because women “chose” jobs that were “less well paid.”
When I tried to explain to him that jobs that were traditionally undertaken by women were less well paid because ‘women’s’ work is undervalued – notably in the caring professions – all I received back was a blank look. (Amusingly I’ve since learned American youngsters refer to this look from the older generation as the ‘lead paint stare’* although less amusingly I think I’ve now just about perfected it myself.)
A statistic we hadn’t seen before was the question on life satisfaction. The score of 8 is just above that of the UK which is around 7.45. The census also shows that men are marginally less happy than women and that they drink more than women. Before anyone thinks I’m ganging up on the boys by the way – in fact this kind of information is invaluable to our community mental health services and can inform their strategies – so it was heartening to read the detail – even if exceedingly late in the day.
*young people claim the reason older people so often adopt a blank stare is because they were poisoned from everything being painted with lead paint when they were young.