Friday, October 15, 2010

In a supposed advanced society, why do we have poverty?

Clegg to unveil fund to help educate poor

In a supposed advanced society, why do we have poverty? Let me make a forecast. Whilst the objective is noble and the theory is fine, this will be a waste of money due to poor management and supervision. Additionally, could it be the education system that needs root and branch overhaul rather than just throwing money at the problem? Relationship with HPC? Part of the government spending review. Going forward, the market’s reaction to said reduction, impact on IR’s and the economy and therefore the amount of money people have to spend and ultimately the housing market. QED Discuss

Posted by mr g @ 11:21 AM (3585 views)
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25 thoughts on “In a supposed advanced society, why do we have poverty?

  • Why do we have poverty?

    A question for Gordon Brown and New Labour after 13 years of their bullship telling us how they were tackling poverty, they didn’t admit that in fact by tackling it they meant increasing it.

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  • The problems with our education system are largely down to society breakdown. Causes?

    • Single parent families
    • Families where both parents are working
    • Television (not the content, but the time spent watching)
    • Benefits culture
    • Steady erosion of the work ethic
    • Lack of discipline, both at school and in the home
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  • Poverty is a relative measure – the bottom 10% of the income distribution. That’s why we still have it.

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  • sibley's b'stard child says:

    While I agree that it is a noble aim; I reckon it will achieve the sum total of feck all. This is simply fire-fighting at best and cynical pacification at worst (I mean, 7 billion over 4 years?). If you want to address inequality you have to sort the whole system out, not just educational inequality which is but symptomatic. Much maligned on the forum but Yasamin Alibhai-Brown suggests in her book ‘Who Do We Think We Are?’ that part of the problem with underachievement of the poorest can be explained by a rooted mistrust of the elite and ‘it’s not for the likes of us’.

    Whether this holds water – I don’t know – but arguably, you can throw as much public money at worthy causes as this but if the intended recipients don’t reciprocate; what then?

    Anyway, who else will flip our burgers?

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  • sibley's b'stard child says:

    Further to the above; take Labour’s Sure Start Centres; arguably one of the only worthy legacies of their woeful administration. The centres were supposed to help eradicate educational inequality at an early age ostensibly for the poorest in society.

    What happened? The intended beneficiaries ignored these (admittedly great) facilities on their doorsteps and instead became ubiquituous with the middle classes instead. Oh, the irony.

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  • bring back the cane at schools

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  • The above is a list of symptoms not the cause. Consider the distribution of wealth since Norman times. Throughout most of history wealth has lain in the hands of a few, highly concentrated up to the industrial revolution. The Wars began to change this because they helped break the existing economic and social structures that maintained the unequal distribution of wealth.

    Unfortunately new structures (or old ones renewed) have reversed this process worldwide. The beneficiaries of this really have one aim in life – to preserve their advantage. This is played out in politics, arguments about tax, facile assertions about entrepreneurship and the like. The debate on university fees is a good example. Instead of reasoning that an educated populace is of general benefit, economic as well as cultural, and that all should contribute according to means – progressive taxation – we get graduate taxes or long student loans on higher fees.

    By and large, the rich want to hang on to everything they’ve got. Nothing will change until the fundamental problem is addressed, but this is unlikely to happen since the wealthy are too powerful. In the meantime we will have to listen to dimwitted arguments about right and left wings, and punishing the poor for their fecklessness, rather like the contents of many posts here.

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  • sibley's b'stard child says:

    Reasonable post LTF although to whom was the final barbed comment aimed at?

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  • sibley
    Take your pick – usually they come out with something that reads like a tabloid op ed or headline.

    Incidentally, I see you were making similar points to me. The one along the lines of leading a horse to water expresses the scale of the problem. The roots go deep and I doubt that a policy here and there will ever get down to them. In 1997 I was hopeful. Now I’m deeply pessimistic.

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  • @LTF Well duh. Of course everything is a symptom rather than a cause. You have to go back as far as the big bang if you want an original cause, and some would debate that as well.

    What is the fundamental problem you are talking about? That people want to hold on to their hard earned money? Go live in a communist country if that’s what you want and stop spouting socialist drivel here.

    OTOH, I’ve got no problem with extremely high inheritance taxes. I have only a few doubts about high taxes for people’s unearned money.

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  • @LTF “an educated populace is of general benefit, economic as well as cultural”

    Agreed, 100%. However, I put it to you that the education system has now let down 2 generations and pre university education needs to be improved quickly.

    I personally believe that the pre comprehensive system was a means of social mobility. Whether you went to a grammar or a secondary modern school, you received a good sound education and had the knowledge to progress in life. That isn’t support for the 11 plus selective system by the way, just a statement of fact.

    Obviously we can’t put the clock back so we have to live with the comprehensive system, hence my question, “could it be the education system that needs root and branch overhaul rather than just throwing money at the problem?”

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  • “Go live in a communist country if that’s what you want and stop spouting socialist drivel here.”

    Apposite interjection orcus, and nice headline. More where that came from?

    mr g
    I don’t think the present school system is all that great, although of course if you can afford private education you can buy something pretty decent if you choose carefully. Or if you live in a wealthy area, state schools can be pretty good too, though lack the facilities of private schools.

    The 11-plus system was good for those who made it to grammar, but terrible for those who didn’t: and all based on the false premise that this exam was able to measure “intelligence”. But assuming the school system does need extensive overhaul, wouldn’t that cost a lot of money?

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  • @LTF “The 11-plus system was good for those who made it to grammar, but terrible for those who didn’t: and all based on the false premise that this exam was able to measure “intelligence”.

    Rubbish. The failing of the tripartite system was down to the lack of funding for secondary-modern schools. The 11-plus exam might not be an ideal way to test “intelligence”, but it is an excellent way to test your academic ability, which is just what it’s for. Stream academic kids in academic schools, and the rest into practical schools.

    A recent TV documentary took a bunch of failing kids out of a comprehensive, gave them a secondary modern curriculum (& teaching methods), and the results were near miraculous.

    Dropping the tripartite system which gave poor kids a chance to get into a good school, in favour of the current system whereby all state schools are brought down to the same level so that only the rich kids get a good education has been a tragedy.

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  • @LTF ” But assuming the school system does need extensive overhaul, wouldn’t that cost a lot of money?”

    No doubt it would but if it succeeded in raising standards across the board I would consider it money well spent.

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    What letthemfall says. I don’t see what’s wrong with tuition fees though, university education is not a universal benefit, unlike say schooling up to age 16 or 18.

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  • orcus
    The 11-plus is derived from the IQ test, the purpose of which was to identify children with what we call learning difficulties these days (cognitive impairment). It was never meant as a test of academic ability and is incapable of such a thing. Instead it was hijacked and abused with much false argument centred on statistics and reification. There is plenty of literature about this if you care to look it up.

    Your view is not uncommon but it is extremely ill-informed. The real tragedy in education was all the kids who were dumped in the secondary modern system as academic failures. Another is the rest of their lives amongst the underclass.

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  • @LTF

    My ‘ill-informed’ view suggests that learning difficulties are strongly related to academic abilities. Happy to read studies to the contrary if you would care to point me in the right direction.

    Meanwhile, to suggest that all children have identical learning styles and should all be shoe horned into the same schools is self evidently wrong.

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  • orcus
    Learning style is not related to ability. “Learning difficulties” is something of a euphemism: it does not mean difficulty with learning but cognitive impairment – what used to called educationally subnormal.

    If you are interested in the history of IQ and its shocking abuses, I can recommend Stephen Jay Gould’s book The Mismeasure of Man. Very accessible and immensely enlightening.

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  • @LTF. Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve reserved a copy at my library.

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  • @LTF “all the kids who were dumped in the secondary modern system as academic failures. Another is the rest of their lives amongst the underclass.”

    I beg to differ on that one. Several of my contemporaries went to secondary modern as did my wife and they have had extremely successful careers.

    As for the underclass, that largely disappeared after WW2 only to reappear in the 1990’s, I know some will say that is a product of Thatcherism when in fact it has been created by the generosity of the welfare state.

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  • Another reason for today’s underclass is the outrageous state of an education system that has children leaving primary school unable to read or write properly and sends young people out into the workplace that are unemployable due to a lack of education.

    In other words this discussion is back where we started, education needs a root and branch overhaul.

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  • Grumpy @ 11 said..’I personally believe that the pre comprehensive system was a means of social mobility. Whether you went to a grammar or a secondary modern school, you received a good sound education and had the knowledge to progress in life. That isn’t support for the 11 plus selective system by the way, just a statement of fact.’

    In your day, the advantages of University Education were much greater than today, and not only free but grant aided. – But this advantage was shielded from the eyes of the poor by the very people charged with ‘educating’ our youth ( and there was no excuse…they were UniEd themselves, an KNEW it to be true.)

    Later as the advantages leeched out into the poorer people’s consciousness….the well was drunk dry and contacts and class reasserted their pre-eminence.

    How easy must it be to educate your children where mum and dad are both exhausted after a days work, old fashioned sentiment I know (and I wouldn’t state it as a fact….it’s just an opinion, Grumps) – social mobility has been halted and is now firmly in reverse……lots of nice middle class families will start to be sucked down the wage slave vortex, methinks.

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  • “What is the fundamental problem you are talking about? ” “That people want to hold on to their hard earned money? Go live in a communist country if that’s what you want and stop spouting socialist drivel here.”

    Only a fool believes those with the money and power in this country earned it.

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  • mr g
    Well, as I said, failing the 11-plus was never an indicator of low ability, so it is not surprising that some did well, but it was not a good start in life and no doubt many foundered. I’m generalising of course, but privilege in education whatever its origin is not a good thing.

    I doubt the welfare state has much to do with an underclass. Before the Wars the underclass lived in the gutter; at least the ragamuffins of the 30s don’t exist anymore (actually maybe there are a few around again). The change began with Thatcher and was given a huge boost by globalisation. It feels like a political juggernaut now. No political party seems likely to stop it.

    Enough of this computer chat for now. It’s all whistling in the wind.

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