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Is The Welfare State A "moral Hazard"?

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Instinctively I think of government intervention in the case of Northern Rock as "bad", but intervention to provide health care for people who knowingly endanger their own health as "good". Is this indignation about NR hypocritical?

By guaranteeing to provide expensive medical care to an obese smoker, or offering unemployment pay to someone who loses their job through chronically poor timekeeping, or indeed spending tax payer's money on any of the other civilised and compasionate elements of the welfare state, are we just practising moral hazard on a giant scale?

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Instinctively I think of government intervention in the case of Northern Rock as "bad", but intervention to provide health care for people who knowingly endanger their own health as "good". Is this indignation about NR hypocritical?

By guaranteeing to provide expensive medical care to an obese smoker, or offering unemployment pay to someone who loses their job through chronically poor timekeeping, or indeed spending tax payer's money on any of the other civilised and compasionate elements of the welfare state, are we just practising moral hazard on a giant scale?

they need to tell us what their moral basis is before they start talking about moral hazards

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Correct. By subsidising wages, healthcare etc you allow companies to pay would would otherwise be less than a living wage. i.e. our taxes are being used to boost corporate profits. Additionally collecting taxes and redistributing them is horrifically inefficient. You may as well give the money directly to the individual to spend as they require. I wish l could find the link but basically if the govt abolished themselves and all taxes bar VAT and the ability to collect and distribute it, you would be ably to give every adult a citizens wage of something like 25k/yr with no income taxes for any additional earning. Hey Injin, set that up and you got a country. :P

Initially because there is not a labour shortage many people would literally be living in poverty, but the immense wealth boost for any worker would mean they could support entire families on single wages and the IMF predicted such a move would create growth of something like 10-15% year on year.

I'm game for a go.

As you can see my moral hazard was aimed at company activites no individuals..may not be the relevance you were looking for.

Edited by DabHand

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Instinctively I think of government intervention in the case of Northern Rock as "bad", but intervention to provide health care for people who knowingly endanger their own health as "good". Is this indignation about NR hypocritical?

By guaranteeing to provide expensive medical care to an obese smoker, or offering unemployment pay to someone who loses their job through chronically poor timekeeping, or indeed spending tax payer's money on any of the other civilised and compasionate elements of the welfare state, are we just practising moral hazard on a giant scale?

Coming from an insurance industry perspective, the key criterion for moral hazard is whether provision of that insurance (or intervention) makes someone more likely to undertake risky behaviour as a result, which generally happens when the cost to them of risk taking is rendered inconsequential by the insurance.

Take car insurance, people don't drive stupidly just because they have insurance because a car accident is still pretty unpleasant even if they have insurance. People with life insurance don't take more risks with their life because they still don't want to die.

Similarly with your examples, an obese smoker hasn't become an obese smoker because he reckons it doesn't matter because the NHS is there. With the poor timekeeping example it's less clear cut . . . someone in a low paying mcjob where benefits are roughly equivalent has massive moral hazard, someone in a good job where unemployment is a serious problem even with unemployment pay has far less moral hazard. EDIT - which is why the current benefit system is massively flawed, there should always be a significant financial cost to unemployment even for incredibly low earners.

Northern Rock is slightly different to many types of moral hazard. It's an investment decision so there's no consequences beyond investment loss, and if those consequences are removed that's the perfect situation for moral hazard.

Edited by Benedict

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Instinctively I think of government intervention in the case of Northern Rock as "bad", but intervention to provide health care for people who knowingly endanger their own health as "good". Is this indignation about NR hypocritical?

By guaranteeing to provide expensive medical care to an obese smoker, or offering unemployment pay to someone who loses their job through chronically poor timekeeping, or indeed spending tax payer's money on any of the other civilised and compasionate elements of the welfare state, are we just practising moral hazard on a giant scale?

Same old boring cr@p!

My brother in law is a copper, likes a game of football on a Sunday when duties allow. Twisted his knee in a collision and screwed his cartilage up. He was off work and then got treated after 1 month due to coppers "SuperStatus" on the NHS - others wait YEARS.

He deliberately plays a game where you can get injured.

Should the taxpayer support him for 10 weeks on full whack and give him free hospital treatment for playing a sport?

What about misguided idiots who don't take enough calcium into their bodies and end up with Brittle bone desease or don't feed their kids enough nutrients and vitamins - should they get free treatment through deliberately starving their bodies of the proper nutrients and minerals ending up constantly in surgeries wondering why they get every cold that is circulating?

And it just goes on and on.

Who DO you pick on????

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Coming from an insurance industry perspective, the key criterion for moral hazard is whether provision of that insurance (or intervention) makes someone more likely to undertake risky behaviour as a result, which generally happens when the cost to them of risk taking is rendered inconsequential by the insurance.

Take car insurance, people don't drive stupidly just because they have insurance because a car accident is still pretty unpleasant even if they have insurance. People with life insurance don't take more risks with their life because they still don't want to die.

Similarly with your examples, an obese smoker hasn't become an obese smoker because he reckons it doesn't matter because the NHS is there. With the poor timekeeping example it's less clear cut . . . someone in a low paying mcjob where benefits are roughly equivalent has massive moral hazard, someone in a good job where unemployment is a serious problem even with unemployment pay has far less moral hazard. EDIT - which is why the current benefit system is massively flawed, there should always be a significant financial cost to unemployment even for incredibly low earners.

Northern Rock is slightly different to many types of moral hazard. It's an investment decision so there's no consequences beyond investment loss, and if those consequences are removed that's the perfect situation for moral hazard.

Interesting comments, thanks.

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Same old boring cr@p!

My brother in law is a copper, likes a game of football on a Sunday when duties allow. Twisted his knee in a collision and screwed his cartilage up. He was off work and then got treated after 1 month due to coppers "SuperStatus" on the NHS - others wait YEARS.

He deliberately plays a game where you can get injured.

Should the taxpayer support him for 10 weeks on full whack and give him free hospital treatment for playing a sport?

What about misguided idiots who don't take enough calcium into their bodies and end up with Brittle bone desease or don't feed their kids enough nutrients and vitamins - should they get free treatment through deliberately starving their bodies of the proper nutrients and minerals ending up constantly in surgeries wondering why they get every cold that is circulating?

And it just goes on and on.

Who DO you pick on????

Is it ok if I indulge in a little 'self abuse' or is that moral hazard? Bloody Catholics.

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Coming from an insurance industry perspective, the key criterion for moral hazard is whether provision of that insurance (or intervention) makes someone more likely to undertake risky behaviour as a result, which generally happens when the cost to them of risk taking is rendered inconsequential by the insurance.

Take car insurance, people don't drive stupidly just because they have insurance because a car accident is still pretty unpleasant even if they have insurance. People with life insurance don't take more risks with their life because they still don't want to die.

Similarly with your examples, an obese smoker hasn't become an obese smoker because he reckons it doesn't matter because the NHS is there. With the poor timekeeping example it's less clear cut . . . someone in a low paying mcjob where benefits are roughly equivalent has massive moral hazard, someone in a good job where unemployment is a serious problem even with unemployment pay has far less moral hazard. EDIT - which is why the current benefit system is massively flawed, there should always be a significant financial cost to unemployment even for incredibly low earners.

Northern Rock is slightly different to many types of moral hazard. It's an investment decision so there's no consequences beyond investment loss, and if those consequences are removed that's the perfect situation for moral hazard.

Thing is though, if there is a financial incentive for the insurance companies to stop claims so they can make higher profits, it might be worth their while Mot'ing your car for you, or booking you into a health clinic/providing fire alarms etc. Rather than working against the sonsumer, an insurance company could (theoretically) be working 24/7 to make sure you were healthy, low risk and safe because they could still make a profit after those expenses compared ot the cost of a payout.

Prevention usually costs buttons compared to cure.

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Personally speaking I think the OP is confusing the "game of money" with the more seriouse business of living.

If we were all educated to an appropriate standard with the same chances in life then a moral hazard might exist.

But we are not, some people are born in to difficult circumstances and have few opportunities but in spite of this those with the best chances in life are being bailed out instead (moneylenders)

I believe in a free market where people should take responsibility for themselves but also a society that enables all citizens to have the skills to be able to look after themselves.

How can you subject parts of our society to a moral hazard after years of poor parenting and thirld world education?

For example if we educated people about money debt and economics at school for the last twenty years then we may not be in this mess although how individuals cope with the constant offers of cheap debt is another matter.

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Is it ok if I indulge in a little 'self abuse' or is that moral hazard? Bloody Catholics.

:lol::lol:

Less than 6 months on this board and over 8,000 posts :blink:

R.S.I. must be a hazard too!

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Welfare creates inter generational dependancy, and far from 'saving' people it has the opposite effect; Shutting - off aspiration and positive role modeling. The long term victims are the children of claimants.

I lived on a council estate in my teens and to this day kids I grew up with still languish on benefits despite this being in the prosperous South East and them having just as much opportunity & ability as I. All this nonsense about crack downs on the long term inactive is total dreamland - these people I know always always beat the system. A recent ruse is to pretend they suffer from panic attacks knowing full well thier GP has'nt the time or inclation to di[ute this.

Anyone defending this is completely blind to reality - the type that would fawn over Bono for getting the public to cough up £10m for Africa and not question that Bono could give away 95% of his hoard and still remain rich and do far more with those hundreds of millions.

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The health service saves lives, what good does a bank like NR do - if anything, they're responsible for antisocial lending practices and should have been shut-down by the FSA long ago.

There will always be vulnerable people in any society who rely on other parts of the welfare state more than others. There can't be winners without losers in our lovely capitalist nirvana ;)

Edited by gruffydd

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Welfare creates inter generational dependancy, and far from 'saving' people it has the opposite effect; Shutting - off aspiration and positive role modeling. The long term victims are the children of claimants.

Poor education creates inter generational interdependancy and shuts off aspiration can you blame the individual because the state let them down?

I lived on a council estate in my teens and to this day kids I grew up with still languish on benefits despite this being in the prosperous South East and them having just as much opportunity & ability as I. All this nonsense about crack downs on the long term inactive is total dreamland - these people I know always always beat the system. A recent ruse is to pretend they suffer from panic attacks knowing full well thier GP has'nt the time or inclation to di[ute this.

Opportunity and ability are very subjective you may actually just be brighter and more motivated than them, you may also have had more luck amongst other variables.

Anyone defending this is completely blind to reality - the type that would fawn over Bono for getting the public to cough up £10m for Africa and not question that Bono could give away 95% of his hoard and still remain rich and do far more with those hundreds of millions.

I don't agree with your first two points but I also think Bonon is a w*****r and a hypocrite and I agree that if he put his hand in his pocket he could do a lot more

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Thing is though, if there is a financial incentive for the insurance companies to stop claims so they can make higher profits, it might be worth their while Mot'ing your car for you, or booking you into a health clinic/providing fire alarms etc. Rather than working against the sonsumer, an insurance company could (theoretically) be working 24/7 to make sure you were healthy, low risk and safe because they could still make a profit after those expenses compared ot the cost of a payout.

Prevention usually costs buttons compared to cure.

After cars are a certain age you need a yearly MOT to renew your road tax and the road tax database and car insurer databases talk to each other to make sure that people have both, so the MOT is kind of forced already. Prudential offer health insurance with subsidised gym memberships and reduced rates if you regularly use the gym. Property insurers offer big discounts for properties with proper fire alarms and sprinklers. Motor fleet insurers offer incentives for things like joining those "how's my driving" schemes (which do work apparently).

Good and innovative insurers already work their arses off to provide coverholders with a holistic risk management service rather than simple risk transfer, at least for commercial risks where the cost of doing so is a viable alternative. And even where it isn't they do so indirectly by offering discounts for good risk management.

It does have limits though - there are methods of superior risk management that they can't realistically offer discounts for because they're hard to audit. You can give a discount for a property with sprinklers because if there's a claim it's easy to check that they really did have them. You can't give a discount on health insurance for eating healthily because it's impossible to show that someone was lying about eating healthily.

Trust me, what insurers want most of all is no claims and any method of reducing claims that costs less than the claims would cost they'll go for.

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Interesting questions and interesting answers.

I would say there is no right answer anyway.

It just depends what you consider to be the lesser evil.

There are two truisms that are worth bearing in mind here:

1. All men are not created equal (a potential argument for the welfare state)

2. The poor will always be with us (an acceptance that the welfare state does not solve every problem)

After that, to say there is a model that solves the moral hazard problem is mistaken because moral issues are always hazardous and if a solution solves one problem it will of necessity create another.

It's part of the complexity of humanity that this is so.

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After cars are a certain age you need a yearly MOT to renew your road tax and the road tax database and car insurer databases talk to each other to make sure that people have both, so the MOT is kind of forced already. Prudential offer health insurance with subsidised gym memberships and reduced rates if you regularly use the gym. Property insurers offer big discounts for properties with proper fire alarms and sprinklers. Motor fleet insurers offer incentives for things like joining those "how's my driving" schemes (which do work apparently).

Good and innovative insurers already work their arses off to provide coverholders with a holistic risk management service rather than simple risk transfer, at least for commercial risks where the cost of doing so is a viable alternative. And even where it isn't they do so indirectly by offering discounts for good risk management.

It does have limits though - there are methods of superior risk management that they can't realistically offer discounts for because they're hard to audit. You can give a discount for a property with sprinklers because if there's a claim it's easy to check that they really did have them. You can't give a discount on health insurance for eating healthily because it's impossible to show that someone was lying about eating healthily.

Trust me, what insurers want most of all is no claims and any method of reducing claims that costs less than the claims would cost they'll go for.

Forced isn't paid for.

Because industries such as the insurance firms can lobby government to "force" drivers into certain behaviours, they have no incentive to find ways to entice them personally i.e. paying them or otherwise making it worthwhile.

It's the major problem with our economy, vested interests in each industry can pay the government to force the average person into the behaviours that they find profitable. We are witnessing the problem in the banking sector atm. Without the government to bail them out, NR would have folded, the other banks would have tightened up, no regulation required. A few savers would have lost their cash, the debt would have been written off and some dead wood gone.

Now it's going to be a nightmare as everyone tries to grab the gun in the room.

Why pay for self interest when you can pay a guy with a gun to get it for free?

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After cars are a certain age you need a yearly MOT to renew your road tax and the road tax database and car insurer databases talk to each other to make sure that people have both, so the MOT is kind of forced already. Prudential offer health insurance with subsidised gym memberships and reduced rates if you regularly use the gym. Property insurers offer big discounts for properties with proper fire alarms and sprinklers. Motor fleet insurers offer incentives for things like joining those "how's my driving" schemes (which do work apparently).

Good and innovative insurers already work their arses off to provide coverholders with a holistic risk management service rather than simple risk transfer, at least for commercial risks where the cost of doing so is a viable alternative. And even where it isn't they do so indirectly by offering discounts for good risk management.

It does have limits though - there are methods of superior risk management that they can't realistically offer discounts for because they're hard to audit. You can give a discount for a property with sprinklers because if there's a claim it's easy to check that they really did have them. You can't give a discount on health insurance for eating healthily because it's impossible to show that someone was lying about eating healthily.

Trust me, what insurers want most of all is no claims and any method of reducing claims that costs less than the claims would cost they'll go for.

Ban flu vaccinations for about 5 years. That'll sort out the population problem in an equitable fashion.

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Forced isn't paid for.

Because industries such as the insurance firms can lobby government to "force" drivers into certain behaviours, they have no incentive to find ways to entice them personally i.e. paying them or otherwise making it worthwhile.

It's the major problem with our economy, vested interests in each industry can pay the government to force the average person into the behaviours that they find profitable. We are witnessing the problem in the banking sector atm. Without the government to bail them out, NR would have folded, the other banks would have tightened up, no regulation required. A few savers would have lost their cash, the debt would have been written off and some dead wood gone.

Now it's going to be a nightmare as everyone tries to grab the gun in the room.

Why pay for self interest when you can pay a guy with a gun to get it for free?

WTF?!?! So cars having to have MOTs is a bad thing and it's just the powerful insurance industry VI lobby trying to force it on us to make greater profits? Do you also think that the government taxes smoking to buggery because of lobbying by the life insurance industry?

Every car on the road having a regular MOT is a good thing. Safer roads, less pollution, less accidents, it's all good. It doesn't actually lead to bigger profits for insurers if it's a widespread practice because it just reduces the risk for everybody so the most competitive premiums can be lowered and so the market gets dragged down because otherwise the most competitive premiums steal market share.

And in what freakish world do you think a business would be truly paying for incentives like that? If the convention was for insurance companies to pay your MOT for you then insurance premiums would just be higher by the amount of the MOT. Like all these new build "incentives", they're not making it worthwhile at all, they're just trying to give the illusion of giving something away for nothing, no business ever got successful by giving something away for nothing.

What there is is an incentive for companies to beat the market. If they can find an innovative way to reduce their clients risks relative to market risk they can make more money by charging their customers lower premiums, and in those circumstances there's actually less unpleasant claims so that's one kind of corporate profits you can't (unless you're just bitter and irrationally opposed to all business) say isn't deserved profit. In the long run other companies will catch up and the competitive advantage is gone, but then some bright spark will find another way of reducing claims and risk and the whole thing continues, and in the long run all our risk just decreases.

Please note - one can also innovatively reduce claims costs by clever policy wording that simply stops people claiming rather than actually reducing the true risk, which is something I wouldn't defend. MOTs for all cars isn't the same kind of thing though.

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Ban flu vaccinations for about 5 years. That'll sort out the population problem in an equitable fashion.

Agreed, I reckon pensioners winter fuel credits create dangerous moral hazard too, they should be scrapped and we should go round and smash their windows in for good measure.

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WTF?!?! So cars having to have MOTs is a bad thing and it's just the powerful insurance industry VI lobby trying to force it on us to make greater profits?

No, it's a bad thing because threatening people and using coercion against them is wrong.I am sure you were told this as a child.

Do you also think that the government taxes smoking to buggery because of lobbying by the life insurance industry?

No, I think it's because they are evil opportunistic thieves who know inelastic supply when they see it.

Every car on the road having a regular MOT is a good thing. Safer roads, less pollution, less accidents, it's all good

Then you would happily pay people to get one, wouldn't you?

It doesn't actually lead to bigger profits for insurers if it's a widespread practice because it just reduces the risk for everybody so the most competitive premiums can be lowered and so the market gets dragged down because otherwise the most competitive premiums steal market share.

Yes, it does. It takes the cost of checking vehicles for roadworthiness away from the insurance company and puts it on the tax payer. It also provides a steady stream of income to the government for what are in many cases, needless checks, both through the testing of cars that don't need it and through the confiscation of cars on technical "legal" grounds.

And in what freakish world do you think a business would be truly paying for incentives like that? If the convention was for insurance companies to pay your MOT for you then insurance premiums would just be higher by the amount of the MOT.

An excellent incentive to reduce the number of needless Mot's, reducing the cost and number of them overall. I am glad you can see the wonders of the free market. The number of crashes caused by failures an MOT would pick up divided by the number of MOT's and we would see whether they were worth all the effort. (Using real world data ofc, not government crap). By stopping using force we have made MoT's cheaper, less frequent and therefore wasteful, and we have also made people happier because they are no longer threatened by strangers.

What there is is an incentive for companies to beat the market. If they can find an innovative way to reduce their clients risks relative to market risk they can make more money by charging their customers lower premiums, and in those circumstances there's actually less unpleasant claims so that's one kind of corporate profits you can't (unless you're just bitter and irrationally opposed to all business) say isn't deserved profit.

Such as providing free Mot's (or abandoning the practice as wasteful ofc). Excellent, you'll make a free marketeer yet!

Please note - one can also innovatively reduce claims costs by clever policy wording that simply stops people claiming rather than actually reducing the true risk, which is something I wouldn't defend. MOTs for all cars isn't the same kind of thing though.

Not in a free market you can't. Without the state providing those handy little barriers to entry those who tried this would be outcompeted and bust in no time. Hell, people could even drive with no insurance and asess their risk that way. Gotta love freedom.

;)

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Welfare creates inter generational dependancy, and far from 'saving' people it has the opposite effect; Shutting - off aspiration and positive role modeling. The long term victims are the children of claimants.

I lived on a council estate in my teens and to this day kids I grew up with still languish on benefits despite this being in the prosperous South East and them having just as much opportunity & ability as I. All this nonsense about crack downs on the long term inactive is total dreamland - these people I know always always beat the system. A recent ruse is to pretend they suffer from panic attacks knowing full well thier GP has'nt the time or inclation to di[ute this.

Anyone defending this is completely blind to reality - the type that would fawn over Bono for getting the public to cough up £10m for Africa and not question that Bono could give away 95% of his hoard and still remain rich and do far more with those hundreds of millions.

I don't often agree with you dogbox but you are right.

The more spoonfeeding you give people,the less responsibility they will take themselves.

this is the crux of todays moral decline.

get pregnant at 14 with no free house(and probably criminal conviction).....parents will go mad as they will have to shoulder the burden..and the shame.

...once the parents KNOW they will have to foot the bill,as little shaz has no money from the government,they will soon instill a bit of discipline into the little slapper.

and if she's not that easy,there will be less STD's because BAZ can't get his leg-over,and if he did,would end up in prison if she got up the duff.

Oh and while we're at it,end the abortion on demand,and contraceptives for U16's.

people need to learn a bit of self restraint.It's obvious that easy availability of everything from cocaine to credit is a problem.

..But we don't need a total knee-jerk reaction,just a bit of rational thought.

not rocket science is it?

.....if parents

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Good article by John Bird in the Big Issue a week or two ago on this very issue, which pretty much sums up my view on the welfare state.

He said it was holding people down and keeping them in poverty but he wasn't taking some crude anti-welfare line. he correctly noted that the welfare state started out as a way to propel the working class to better things but, scaled back under Thatcher, became a crutch.

My Mum grew up poor post-war but the welfare state meant she got an exceptional grammar school education, free healthcare, free education after A Level, the NHS helped a mother that would have died in her 30s from chronic illness survive. When my grandad was out of work the dole was enough to tide them over until he quickly found another job. They didn't need council housing but it was there for other family members for a low price. It used to be a badge of pride for the self-made to say, 'I grew up in a council house, me!' to show how they were once authentically poor - nowadays having an affordable rented house is a huge advantage.

In the same situation today, I doubt a poor girl could have done the same thing. The school would likely be a pathetic comp. Huge student debts would loom large. There'd be no council housing for normal people. There would be a choice between somehow making an unlikely mint or giving up and becoming deliberately poor to qualify for the piss-poor remains of the welfare state - feigning a mental illness, joining the single-mum buggy brigade, working while claiming job seekers.

The problem is not whether you have a welfare state or not but whether the welfare state raises the lot of the poor (as it clearly did post-war) or keeps them down (as it clearly does post-Maggie).

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Poor education creates inter generational interdependancy and shuts off aspiration can you blame the individual because the state let them down?

Opportunity and ability are very subjective you may actually just be brighter and more motivated than them, you may also have had more luck amongst other variables.

I don't agree with your first two points but I also think Bono is a w*****r and a hypocrite and I agree that if he put his hand in his pocket he could do a lot more

As Pink Floyd never sang:

"Hey Rockstar, give the kids a loan."

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