Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Poverty


Heavy thoughts today.

Labour says the UK is on the brink of becoming a permanently divided society between the haves and the have nots, laying the blame primarily on housing costs and youth unemployment.

What do they mean by permanently divided? 

Surely education, or the lack of it, is the single key to social mobility for those lacking drive and determination? and so long as anyone can get an education then social mobility is alive and well! Get a half decent education and your earning power will increase as the job options open to you multiply; fail to get a good education and the only way is down.

What has grossly failed the education system is the demise of the grammar school, which was open to anyone, regardless of background, and lumped those who wanted to learn together without the disruption of those having no desire to learn. It's a sad fact of life that even the best teachers don't have the ability to educate those lacking motivation, and motivation invariably starts at home.

Giving people money to offset the cost of housing will have only one effect - increasing the price of housing as more people chase the same number of houses. A futile gesture, unless money goes into building council housing to increase the supply, reduce demand and bring down house prices in general as a consequence. Maggie Thatcher selling off council housing was a massive con to buy votes and the consequences are with us to this day.

Youth unemployment - what can be done there except creating non-jobs? Ending unpaid internships just means kids won't even get any experience, albeit unpaid (I don't seem to remember the apprentices of my youth getting much, by the way - I got enough for social spending, with my parents forking out for the basics till I was 20).

So long as poverty is a relative rather than absolute measure (and an arbitrary one at that), poverty is here to stay. There's an interesting interactive graph here that allows you to explore the effect of people's wages on the 60% of median. Spread the 10 salaries evenly and 30% will be in poverty; the only way to take people out of this definition of poverty is to group all the people in a narrow range with few outliers. However, eliminating the outliers is social engineering on an impossibly massive scale.


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