Born poor? Bad luck, you have won last prize in the lottery of life - Will Hutton via The Observer
- 20 July, 2012
- 9 notes
- bad capitalisminequityinopportunitypost-normal humanismwill huttoneconomics
The result of growing income inequity is opportunity inequity, or as I call it, inopportunity:
Will Hutton via The Observer
Robert Putnam, the pioneering social scientist whose book Bowling Alone set out an electrifying account of a new American loneliness, has been revealing the results of another round of social research. Class is becoming ever more important as a determinant of outcomes in American life; it now trumps race, he argues, and the differences can be observed very early on in the children of different classes. In particular the middle class of whatever ethnic background is spending more on what Putnam calls its children’s “enrichment activities” so important for psychological well being and character building; in fact they are spending 11 times more than those at the bottom. In 1972, working-class children from the bottom quartile of earners were just as likely to participate in a wide range of sporting and cultural events as children from the top quartile. No more. A chasm has opened, claims Putnam. Whether it is captaining a school sports team, winning an internship or being read to at night the middle-class child’s chances are at least two times better.
We need a new economic system that rejects and dismantles the power structures responsible for the precariousness of our age. We need a post-normal humanism, and soon.
Most of Hutton’s analysis is directed at the societal polarization of the elite in private schools as an obvious outcome of ‘bad capitalism’, but his prognosis is more general than his prescription:
Anthony Seldon, the master of Wellington College, charged by the prime minister with trying to persuade private schools to sponsor academies, acknowledged in these pages that most governing bodies did not want to bond with state schools. Parents would object. He found it demoralising and frustrating – worrying proof that independent schools had begun to lose their sense of moral vision.
The moral decline of private schools that Mr Seldon describes is the mirror image of the moral decline of much of our business and financial elite with similar origins: that the pursuit of individual advantage trumps obligations to others and the upholding of what society holds in common. Taxes are what little people pay. State schools are for hoi poloi, not us. Companies are only legal constructs to be bought and sold as casino chips — not social institutions that co-create wealth in a complex, iterative relationship with the society around them. Banks can lend indiscriminately, secure that losses will be socialised and gains privatised. Trade unions only inhibit the autonomy of management and qualify shareholder rights.
The core problem is the moral sclerosis of post-modern capitalism, the beggar-thy-neighbor, everyman-for-himself, exclusionary and avaricious capitalism of the globalist megacorporations, unrepentent Wall Street scam artists, and the profits-at-all-costs energy cartel.
If we have any hope to turn the corner, and avert what is looking more like a certain cliff for our world society, we need to quickly construct a post-normal economic regime, one that breaks with Hutton’s bad capitalism. We need an economic system that rejects and dismantles the power structures responsible for the precariousness of our age. We need a post-normal humanism, and soon. And one of its cornerstones must be the eradication of inopportunity.
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