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Is The Uk A Meritocracy?

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1. Is a person's standard of living (especially housing) in the UK determined by talent, formal education, and competence? Or do existing differences such as social class, inherited wealth, ethnicity or perhaps pure luck play a greater role?

2. If not now, then at what time in its history would you say that the UK was at its most meritocratic?

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1. Is a person's standard of living (especially housing) in the UK determined by talent, formal education, and competence? Or do existing differences such as social class, inherited wealth, ethnicity or perhaps pure luck play a greater role?

2. If not now, then at what time in its history would you say that the UK was at its most meritocratic?

1. No. Jade Goody has made a million, Posh Spice is one of the richest women...enough said really. It is still very much easier to make money in the UK through prior ownership of assets than through talent or hard work.

2. 1939-1945 maybe?

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Absolutely not. Some skills are rewarded by society more than others. An example is football vs maths. Professional footballers get paid millions whereas nobody can make money from maths. A kid at school who is ace at football gets lots of respect whereas a kid that is a maths genius get called a geek and a nerd.

I don't think the traditional class system is in force as much as it used to be, but a new "vertical" class system exists in that what matters most is not what you know but who you know. Access to educational resources is probably the best ever in history.

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Absolutely not. Some skills are rewarded by society more than others. An example is football vs maths. Professional footballers get paid millions whereas nobody can make money from maths. A kid at school who is ace at football gets lots of respect whereas a kid that is a maths genius get called a geek and a nerd.

I don't think the traditional class system is in force as much as it used to be, but a new "vertical" class system exists in that what matters most is not what you know but who you know. Access to educational resources is probably the best ever in history.

I think you can make money from maths. I think it's the job to do in the city when you don't have connections. There's a lot of well paid quant bank jobs out there.

But I agree that the perception of what is worthwhile is completely skewed in this country. It seems like the media encourages boys to try to be David Beckams and teenage girls to be Chantelles off Big Brother. I think there needs to be more focus and info for young people on education and real jobs. Whenever there is a science related show, they try to flood it with celebrities.

The schooling situation in London seems scary. Lucky I haven't got kids that have to go through it.

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Blair never really understood what a 'meritocracy' really means and it's often confused as being a good thing or a take on Major and his 'classless society', it's deeply insidious that people don't appreciate the difference.

When Michael Young pubished his book 'The Rise of the Meritocracy' it was actually a harsh critique of the concept, he foresaw a society of entitlement based a misguided sense of narcissism, e.g. "I have made £x in property because I am uniquely clever and talented".

He doubted is would be any better than patrician figures advocating post-war paternalism, or feeling at least a bit guilty given their status is just an accident of birth or the fact somebody who won a lot of money may have just considered themselves "very lucky".

A true meritocracy would in reality be no different to a rigid caste system, money would determine that your children went to a good school and become successful, and poor children, no matter how talented, would be allowed to fail lest they be 'selected'. A true meritocracy would perversely keep people down, the market would react against itself, a form of 'social protectionism' if you will. Hrm, damn.

Edited by BuyingBear

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The standard of living in the UK is no longer determined by what you earn but by how much debt you are prepared to take on.

Meritocrary doesn't come into it any more...it is all about financial risk.

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Blair never really understood what a 'meritocracy' really means and it's often confused as being a good thing or a take on Major and his 'classless society', it's deeply insidious that people don't appreciate the difference.

When Michael Young pubished his book 'The Rise of the Meritocracy' it was actually a harsh critique of the concept, he foresaw a society of entitlement based a misguided sense of narcissism, e.g. "I have made £x in property because I am uniquely clever and talented".

He doubted is would be any better than patrician figures advocating post-war paternalism, or feeling at least a bit guilty given their status is just an accident of birth or the fact somebody who won a lot of money may have just considered themselves "very lucky".

A true meritocracy would in reality be no different to a rigid caste system, money would determine that your children went to a good school and become successful, and poor children, no matter how talented, would be allowed to fail lest they be 'selected'. A true meritocracy would perversely keep people down, the market would react against itself, a form of 'social protectionism' if you will. Hrm, damn.

Err. No. A true meritocracy would be one where people would be given the jobs they were best suited to regardless of how much money they or their parents had.

That's the whole point of a meritocracy - taking money and class and luck and who your family are etc. out of the equation.

Whether or not this would work in reality - probably not because like most philosophical ideals they require human beings to stop acting like human beings and be nice to each other.

I always thought Peter the Great was a great example of someone struggling to introduce a meritocracy.

It always fails in the end because who wants to know that the job they or their children are best suited to in life is, well, anything at the bottom of the power and influence scale.

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The standard of living in the UK is no longer determined by what you earn but by how much debt you are prepared to take on.

Meritocrary doesn't come into it any more...it is all about financial risk.

Their purchasing power and ultimately their sense of self worth is all determined by the ever inflating capital in what is essentially a pile of bricks and twigs. This is the ultimate 'hallucination' of valuing something many times greater than it's intrinsic worth, we believe a worthless piece of cotton and paper has the value of £50, a 20p house brick sitting on the ground five years ago is still only worth 20p. Put them all together and wait and the end result is thousands of times greater than the sum of its parts.

At the base of it it's all to do with land and the illusion of scarcity, and that's all it is, an illusion.

Edited by BuyingBear

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At the base of it it's all to do with land and the illusion of scarcity, and that's all it is, an illusion.

That's true theres fecking loads an loads of land, it's bloody everywhere. You don't have to walk very far before you can spot some land.

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Err. No. A true meritocracy would be one where people would be given the jobs they were best suited to regardless of how much money they or their parents had.

Read Young's book, not speeches based on Blair's misconceptions. It's like somebody picking up 1984 and thinking "hrm, that's a cracking idea!" (we have that too).

I would like to think that a really clever kid from a dirt poor family would succeed beyond an average dolt that was sent to private school, one in a thousand clever poor kids may actually make it but that doesn't prove the rule.

You totally forget what gives people the 'merit' to begin with, it has a lot more than simply being born with a talent.

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If you're good at football you'll have made a lot of money by the time you reach 30.

If you're good at maths you'll still have most of it by the time you reach 40.

Edited by Bingley Bloke

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That's true theres fecking loads an loads of land, it's bloody everywhere. You don't have to walk very far before you can spot some land.

It's amazing, it's right under everyones' bloody nose yet everyone thinks there a shortage, they sit on the motorway for two hours passing nothing but empty green fields then arrive in some town and look at the estate agents window and say "of course the properties are very expensive, there's not enough properties or land you know because there's more people, more cats & dogs, more plants, more immigrants".

Another problem is that travelling 1 mile through a city at 12mph makes it appear endless, travelling past 70 miles of countryside at 90mph makes it appear compressed and small.

Edited by BuyingBear

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Might just be me, but it sometimes appears that the amount of money you can "earn" is inversely proportional to your usefulness to society:

Footballers .v. Nurses

Politicians .v. Teachers

etc... :ph34r:

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Merit points can be translated into pounds sterling. The more pounds sterling you have, the more merit you have. Simple. It has nothing to do with education or class, is has everything to do with what you do, or your family did, to get your money.

Therefore Money Making Action = Merits & Success in society.

The problem then becomes weeding out those who have real money & those who are on a spending spree from borrowed money. Obviously we all love a good riches to rags story as someone high up in society is found to be lacking in merit points despite what we all thought.

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Merit points can be translated into pounds sterling. The more pounds sterling you have, the more merit you have. Simple. It has nothing to do with education or class, is has everything to do with what you do, or your family did, to get your money.

This is exactly what happens or what would become the sole mechanism of progress, intelligence would have nothing to do with it, money would give you merit... merit without the money to attend a good school would leave you with the equivalent of having no merit at all. Merit without mobility leaves you no where.

Even a crafty old convict from the new world given enough leverage could succeed flawlessly, for a while at least, intelligence would have nothing to do with it, especially if they believed they were infallible and didn't get out in time. :lol:

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I would like to think that a really clever kid from a dirt poor family would succeed beyond an average dolt that was sent to private school, one in a thousand clever poor kids may actually make it but that doesn't prove the rule.

You totally forget what gives people the 'merit' to begin with, it has a lot more than simply being born with a talent.

You have just proved that the UK does not have a meritocracy - "one in a thousand clever poor kids may actually make it but that doesn't prove the rule"

In a meritocracy all of those kids would make it.

I think you are making the mistake that if Tony Blair says the UK is a meritocracy then we should change the meaning of the word meritocracy to fit what life is actually like in the UK. Rather than just saying Tony Blair is talking rubbish and doesn't know either what real life in this country is like or doesn't know what the word meritocracy means.

I agree with your last point though, a meritocracy is kind of based on the idea that people are either born with talent or they are not. This as you quite rightly point out totally ignores the role of nurture (your formative experiences and education) in creating the person and all that they have to give. I suppose it went against the old idea that the aristocracy were the best placed to govern because they had recieved the best education - the best nurture if you like.

I gave the example of Peter the Great who changed the law which had previously meant that aristocrats were automatically given officer positions in the Russian army regardless of whether they had the capability to be officers. Peter demanded that from now on everyone would start from the bottom and work their way up regardless of background and that only those who merited promotion by being the most capable would be promoted. He even made himself work his way up through the ranks as far as he was able to do so.

In order to have a true meritocracy all children would have to start life on a level playing field and that is just the start of the problems with this idea. Nobody wants a level playing field if they feel the possibility exists that they could be the ones with the advantage.

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You have just proved that the UK does not have a meritocracy - "one in a thousand clever poor kids may actually make it but that doesn't prove the rule"

In a meritocracy all of those kids would make it.

Your meritocracy is a sheer utopia of course, Young saw this and wasn't so easily seduced, he saw that the level playing field could never be a reality or could never be maintained. Ladder kicking is far too tempting, we've seen it ourselves, the irony being that the patricians could never bring themselves to do it, Mrs T didn't kick the ladder, Blair and his possy did. If you were raised by a system that rewards the good you would become insecure and mindful of those who might be potentially much brighter than you, it's easier to break the mechanism than take the risk. I'm sure Dawkins would have a lot to say about this, where does selfishness end and the collective good begin?

If you could make communism work I'd believe in that too. :)

Edited by BuyingBear

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Have you lot got nothing better to do than nit pick about this kind of philosophical cobblers !

Talk about wasting time !

Go get a proper job and buy a house for Gods sake.

:lol:

Thinkers and doers each have their place.

Some can be both.

We would not have what is around us without the thinkers.

Many have provided the building blocks for the doers.

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Absolutely not. Some skills are rewarded by society more than others. An example is football vs maths. Professional footballers get paid millions whereas nobody can make money from maths.

That isn't really the question. A meritocracy can still reward some skills more then others. The point about a meritocracy is that it rewards you based on your utility as a worker. A non-meritocracy would reward one maths person more than another based on some non-utility related criterion.

BTW a few people make huge money from football but a lot of people make a lot of money from maths. Open any copy of the FT jobs section and look at the salaries for "quantitative analyst". I've found I can make a high salary based mostly on my research background, which is very mathsy. Admittedly I do live in the supposedly meritocratic US, but I did earn a lot back in the UK too.

A kid at school who is ace at football gets lots of respect whereas a kid that is a maths genius get called a geek and a nerd.

I think geek and nerd are americanisms. The correct british term is perhaps "spod".

I don't think the traditional class system is in force as much as it used to be, but a new "vertical" class system exists in that what matters most is not what you know but who you know.

"It's who you know" is hardly new is it? It has been keeping the upper orders together for centuries. There's a useless upper class tw@t who became CEO of the company I worked for. I just found out recently that his daddy was best mates with one of the company's private investors. So, no surprises there.

frugalista

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We hear talk of Clever poor kids making it against the odds. We get 'rich' thick kids being handed the keys to a new beemer and a trendy 2 bed executive luxuary apartment at 21. It's the poor thick kids like me that really had it tough! Six of us living in a one bed flat, left school (1976 really shi$$ economy) unable to write. I'd of signed on the dole if I could have done and you tell the kids today and the don't beleive you!

Pablo Sliver or Lead?

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1. Is a person's standard of living (especially housing) in the UK determined by talent, formal education, and competence? Or do existing differences such as social class, inherited wealth, ethnicity or perhaps pure luck play a greater role?

2. If not now, then at what time in its history would you say that the UK was at its most meritocratic?

I think post-war there was something of a 'meritocracy', and I'll define that is vague terms as 'hard work, achievement, talent leading to tangible social mobility'. The middle class grew rapidly, helped by the education system, and large manufacturers provided real training turning many millions into workers with a genuine body of knowledge and skill and good pay. I guess I'm only 'middle class' now because of the opportunities available to my parents' generation.

Now it's all McJobs, downsizing, offshoring, rising living costs.

Nowadays standard of living is hardly based on working hard, talent or achievements. When we were looking at hugely out-of-reach properties a few years back we would be often met by poor, uneducated people who just happend to be a few years older than us and therefore bought the place before prices doubled and tripled.

Unless living costs tumble there hardly seems any point a hypothetical kid from a poor family working his guts out to do well at school, get an education, work through some promotions and end up aged 32 on 30k in some stressy job. They'd only have quality of life of a shop worker pre-boom.

Edited by CrashedOutAndBurned

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      • down 5% +
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