onsdag 14 januari 2009

Promoting social mobility - more hot air

So the government is trying to promote social mobility again. Never mind that the number of unemployed graduates is at record levels. Just a few observations

Many of the seafront cleaners in Brighton are highly qualified graduates. They do the job out of preference, rather than sit in a office doing some well paid though pointless and ultimately unproductive job with someone breathing down their neck. What is this telling us?

Many working class children do not want to work at school. Those that do are marginalised by their peers. The way to be admired is to muck about in class. I have seen this as a pupil, as a teacher and with colleagues who had wasted their educational opportunities, such as they were. It is a long tradition. At one time, classes were streamed so that children who do not want to waste their time in class could be put together and they would learn. Now we have mixed-ability classes, everyone's opportunities are lost. Which has widened the social divide as one can not get a good education unless one pays for it, either by moving into an area with a middle class catchment or going private.

The underlying cause of social division is land ownership. There are those who do and those who do not. The latter must work for wages and pay rent to the former. Long term it is soluble, through the collection of the rental value of land, in replacement of other punitive taxes. Only then will there be genuine equality of opportunity. Otherwise future generations will be condemned to the same wage slavery as has been most people's lot since the beginning of the industrial revolution. But once this reform has been implemented, the hopelessness of most people's situation will be a thing of the past and everyone will be in a position to do the best for their children, without recourse to what the state grudgingly, expensively and incompetently provides.

Scandinavia is sometimes mentioned as an exemplar. I wish people would not do that. It is another planet. But long ago, in Sweden at least, the king took back the nobility's land and just left them with their titles.

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