« Diversity trumps ability | Main | Facts, & the Establishment »

October 20, 2014



" It is, ahem, ironic that politicians should fret so much about the loss of social cohesion due to immigration and yet want more social mobility even though this too would reduce that cohesion. "

It's long been a core contradiction in Tory thinking.

1. Get on your bike for work to the extent of relocating away from your community.

2. Look after your own. (Elderly relatives, offspring who can't leave the next until well into their 20s, disabled relatives).

The opportunities granted by relocating must be balanced by an apparatus (in my preference a State apparatus rather than private providers) to care for the infirm. As much as I may want to care for my elderly parents I don't have much time after a full day at work to make the 500-mile round trip to do that.

The recent hammer on the young (<21) is that they may well have gotten on their bike and relocated to another part of the country, but should they fall on hard times, made redundant etc, there will be no assistance for them. Maybe not every risk should pay off, but surely not every risk needs such a heavy price as being forced back to where there are fewer prospects.

(All of that may have been a bit incoherent, I understand).

Thanks for your blog by the way, I enjoy it, it's one of the highlights of my day.

Dave Timoney

It was obvious that the Milburn Commission would produce little more than hand-wringing when the government spokesbots took to referring to him as their "social mobility Tsar" without the faintest trace of irony.


This article lacks reason in it's base terms. If one has mobility then by definition the majority are going from one class to another based on achievements. So why then talk about only shifts in who occupies the top 1%?

The UK doesn't have much mobility and it's getting far worse thanks to land prices detaching from wages. That's the core of the problem.

Chris Purnell

It takes an odd reading of Piketty to describe it as *dystopian*. His principal idea building on the world as it is now is that taxation could be used more imaginatively.

An Alien Visitor

I remember a study which showed that Britain and the US came bottom of the social mobility league whereas the more Social democratic nations came out on top (such as Sweden, Denmark, Finland).

So I think it is a relevant measure when comparing nations.

Kevin Carson

The whole concept of "social mobility" assumes social stratification as a given. In a society of relatively equal property distribution, and decentralized horizontal decision-making with relatively little hierarchy, it's meaningless because there's nowhere to climb to in the first place, and "merit" consists in fitting yourself to the self-determined world you've already chosen for yourself.


Does the phrase "social mobility" include downward mobility?

I sense that the era has ended when you could have large amounts of upward mobility and only small doses of downward mobility. Which makes social mobility problematic as a political goal.

Icarus Green

@Ben I think he was pointing out the fact that some societies are more like Ancient Eygpt than 1960s America where there is only 2 classes worth demarcating - the aristocracy and the rest. Though I think you indirectly raise a good point about whether we should focus on getting poor/working class people into the middle, or giving them a chance to make it to the top.

dilbert dogbert

Re: Education as a way to increase social mobility.
Maybe education could include classes in sociopathic behavior? I think a lot of those who graduate to the 1% exhibit this behavior. Would The Prince be one of the textbooks?

Deviation From The Mean

"In a society of relatively equal property distribution, and decentralized horizontal decision-making with relatively little hierarchy, it's meaningless because there's nowhere to climb to in the first place,"

Well fair enough but Alien is correct, the more equal modern societies, such as Sweden, tend to have better social mobility then the more unequal modern societies such as the USA.



"The conservatives are fools: They whine about the decay of traditional values, yet they enthusiastically support technological progress and economic growth. Apparently it never occurs to them that you can’t make rapid, drastic changes in the technology and the economy of a society without causing rapid changes in all other aspects of the society as well, and that such rapid changes inevitably break down traditional values."

This is a fragment of Ted Kaczynski's (Unabomber's) manifesto published by the Washington Post. There's a lot of senseless blabbering there, but this point is a valid one.


The Milburn Commission seems to only address the supply side, providing middle class like workers, but not the demand side, creating middle class jobs. As noted in this post, not everyone seems to realize that tap water doesn't originate within one's walls.

The comments to this entry are closed.

blogs I like

Blog powered by Typepad