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November 06, 2012

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Anonymous

I am in total agreement.

As a former educator I can confirm that class (which by definition is associated with deprivation) is the biggest single determinant of educational success. Making teachers teach better is unlikely to improve educational outcomes for deprived kids.

Did not John Rawls argue for redistribution on these same grounds?

Mil

"For me, this is one argument for strongly redistributive policies. They help to compensate people for misfortunes beyond their control - such as a disadvantageous upbringing - which blight them in later life."

Yes. And I think a lot of what New Labour did in wanting to identify children in need early on was on those terms. I'm not sure, however, that defining how we identify such children without trampling on human rights as we do it is as easy in practice as it is in proposing it. The remnants of my libertarian instincts from a while ago begin to stir here, and registering via schools all kinds of personal information about minors is not the kind of (probably) police state we should be looking to create at all.

But you're right. Equal opportunity generally means giving someone less-advantaged an impression they can buck a trend when, in reality, they can't. There must be other ways compatible with rights to privacy and parental responsibility.

Tim Newman

"For me, this is one argument for strongly redistributive policies. They help to compensate people for misfortunes beyond their control - such as a disadvantageous upbringing - which blight them in later life."

Your faith in the power of money is quite staggering. Isn't it the right who are supposed to be obssessed with the stuff?

Tim Newman

"As a former educator I can confirm that class (which by definition is associated with deprivation) is the biggest single determinant of educational success."

Only class is not defined by deprivation. One of the central themes of Kate Fox's "Watching the English" is that wealth and class are entirely separate things.

Luis Enrique

I think you can call somebody "self-made" if they have made themselves into something, despite their circumstance not because of them, largely through their own hard work. That doesn't mean denying the role of luck, or of other forms of assistance, it just means acknowledging that some people become things, by dint of effort, that they were not born into. That is quite consistent with the idea that our life chances are shaped by circumstances, in fact it rather assumes it - the self-made ones are those who defied the odds.

Anonymous

@Tim Newman

When I use the word deprivation I am not referring solely to material deprivation although I believe sociologists have established very high correlation between material and other forms of deprivation.

Deprivation may refer to a linguistic deficit, to emotional deprivation, to cultural poverty, to family breakdown. These features are typically associated with material deprivation. It is these alleged personal failings that have enabled right wing policy makers to blame individuals for their material poverty, rather than on extrinsic factors.

I suspect that Kate Fox (who is she anyway?) is a right-wing commentator who is trying to deflect attention away from the injustice of income and wealth inequality by claiming these are due to personal shortcomings, and nothing to do with the circumstances of birth.

Am I right?

Tim Newman

"Am I right?"

No.

Anonymous

@Tim Newman

I don't suppose you will elucidate in words of more than one syllable, will you?

Steven Clarke

@Anonymous

I'm reading Kate Fox's 'Watching the English' right now. She is a self confessed Guardian-reading lefty-liberal. I don't think she is trying to make any political point - she is merely trying to observe with an anthropologists' eye how class differences display themselves in different aspects of our culture. It's a very enjoyable book and I recommend it.

@chris

I find myself agreeing with nearly everything you say. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous

@Steven Clarke

Thanks Steven, am grateful for your information. I stand corrected on her political credentials.

Given that, is she really really asserting that class and wealth are separate? It seems most unlikely she is.

Churm Rincewind

@Anonymous - Surely there can be no doubt that class and wealth are only weakly correlated in England? This was one of the first and most striking lessons I had to learn when I first moved to England. That, and the English sentimentality towards animals, were initially astounding to me.

Bialik

I knew that... except for one thing. Why do we suffer more when unemployed? We're actually pretty good at keeping ourselves busy without relying on other people to find us stuff to do, because we've learnt not to rely on other people. If trust is a necessary ingredient in capitalism, a lack of trust expressed as an unwillingness to take chances, is impoverishing in our post-whatever economy.

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