Thursday, August 30, 2007

Inequality

A century ago, the rich owned carriages and the poor didn't. They wore completely different clothes, spoke almost a different language, had entirely different educational opportunities; in short, they lived in different, but adjoining, worlds.

Today, the rich own cars and the poor own cars. They wear jeans, watch football on television, drink the same things, study for the same exams (on the whole) and, while manners of speech are still varied, all different kinds can be found at almost all wealth levels. The "on the whole" is more meaningful now than it was three decades ago when they absolutely did study for exactly the same exams. Egalitarianism has devalued the currency of British exams so much that some of the expensive private schools now offer the International Baccalaureat or iGCSEs. But that's the fault of egalitarians, not the schools.

Sure, rich and poor own different types of cars and wear different brands of jeans, but the differences, not of wealth distribution, but rather the differences that wealth makes have been eroded to an extraordinary degree. The effect of inequality of wealth has been diminished significantly.

Fabian Tassano recently dissected an absurd screed from The Guardian. A sample:

... when being poor is defined as having less than 60% of average income, it will robustly survive any amount of wealth-creation.
Tautology masquerading as social commentary. Fabian pointed out the absurdities of this argument with restraint.

There is absolutely no evidence put forward in Guardian pieces like this in support of the pursuit of an even more egalitarian society, no examination of the actual consequences of wealth disparities and no recognition that social breakdown, as perceived by the writer, has developed in a period of increasing egalitarianism. Instead, there's just wittering like this:
... no one ever feels quite rich enough. This feeds a "need" for yet more economic expansion. But this is the very mechanism that leaves millions of people stranded on the desolate margins.
Dependency culture, generations within certain families who have never even contemplated trying to get a job, is what leaves people on the margins - and this is a culture that has been legislated into existence by egalitarians. What is depicted as endless dissatisfaction with one's lot is in reality a society composed of people who are trying to build better lives for their families but who go home in the evening and watch TV. Innovation and imagination is mutated into "a need for yet more economic expansion". It's dishonest, blind, drivel.

When, after half a century of egalitarian policies, an egalitarian commentator blames social changes on a lack of egalitarianism, there is a temptation to mock - to ridicule them for calling for a bigger, better dead horse to flog - a whole team of dead horses.

But actually, what is happening here isn't at all amusing. These people are willing to step over the bodies of any number of dead children in dogmatic pursuit of the very policies which, if they haven't actually done the killing, have certainly accompanied to a striking degree the social breakdown in which it is taking place.

1 comment:

dearieme said...

We moved our daughter to a private school so that she could get a schooling as good as we had both had free. So did friends along the road - and he was a policy adviser to the Labour Party.