Comments for en-gb 30 Fri 11 Jul 2014 16:50:37 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at RussellHolmstoel 32. Red LeninThankfully communism is dead so we need to move on a tad to the 21 CI wouldnt trust the state to walk my dogs without supervision. Blair told us the solution was Education, Education, Education. He even promised Education, Education, Education. He delivered Education, Edukaton, Eduksum.Labours answer has simply been to throw lots of cash at buildings tinker at the edges and create over 45 new learning and training initiatives run by expensive Quangos.A recent blogger pointed out that it costs an average of 6600 to state educate a child and 8000 to go private. I know the sate has problems that the private sector doesn’t have to deal with, but this just smells of massive waste to me. Certainly not value for money.Cut back on the flash buildings, give us slim administration, inspirational teachers, much smaller class sizes and freedom from the dictates of lever pulling big government.But you still have to accept some kids will be brighter thn others. What is wrong is trapping the poor simply for being poor. Sat 28 Jun 2008 11:52:37 GMT+1 Clip (I look at others and see fear in them eyes) As usual this type of debate decends into big long words and a confusement of financial arguments.To be perfectly blunt, the poor will always be here, forever, that will never change. The poorly educated, bad parents, crime, social disorder etc will always be here, forever.The government has to be seen doing at least something to keep the poor people interested in voting for them. I will conceed that there are exceptions to the rule and if they can be weeded out and nutured then brilliant, fine, works for me.You also need to realise that there are an awful lot of people that just do not want to work, do not want an education or do not understand the meaning of life progression. there are those that choose this life. Fri 27 Jun 2008 11:56:12 GMT+1 asitisgirl The Poor serve a purpose to the governments and multi-nationals of this world , and endless supply of cheap labour and millions of under educated workers oblivious to targeted social policy . Instead of paying benefits , tax credits , minimum wage etc , why do they not make the billionare multi - nationals and capaitalists pay their workers a decent wage .Then people who find themselves stuck in the poverty trap would be able to free themselves with a decent days work for a decent days pay.How much profit do they want for our labour , it's about time workers participated in the sharing of that profit , compulsory legislation from the government wouldn't go a miss.Education , How come some children are educated in palatial building and some portacabins . Does that not speak for itself. Fri 27 Jun 2008 11:36:49 GMT+1 antoninius Let me clarify - the nature vs nuture arguments ignore the SCIENCE which informs us that intelligence is determined largely by genetics. Yes, upbringing does have a role to play, but it is minor in comparison with the genes you have. Of course, there is a chance that two low IQ parents will have a high IQ child and vica versa, but it is low in comparison with the fact that two low IQ parents will have a low IQ child, and two high IQ parents will have a high IQ child. Intelligence is of course not the only determinant of success in life (and that itself is not easily defined) - after all, a low IQ soccer player can earn £100,000 a week kicking a white ball around for ten months a year, whilst a high IQ physicist can end up getting £16,000 a year for more 'intellectually' demanding work. Non-scientists like to think that intelligence is mainly nuture rather than nature, but that of course is just plain ignorance. Thu 26 Jun 2008 17:10:21 GMT+1 MysoniscalledHarry Sadly the poor will always be with us for the following reasons.1. We pay people to be poor so you never run out of poor people. 2. We live in a meritocracy - by definition you end up where you are by your own efforts. If you make no effort - don't expect to be rich.3. Political conditioning - why should Labour really help the poor when they know they can count on their vote come what may. This is why Zanu-Labour spends all its time and energy trying to court the swing marginals with government largesse - they don't have to bother with Sunderland East - that constitutency is in the bag ( until now that is why zanu-Labour is so worried about the BNP - they realise there is a strong possibility of Labour losing their heartlands because their core voters have been ignored ).4. You don't value anything if it is just given to you. Free education, medical care, etc etc does not encourage self reliance and self respect.Lastly being poor is the rest state, it is the result of inaction. Inaction at school, work and life. Thu 26 Jun 2008 12:23:00 GMT+1 Tim antoninius - Suppose there is a mix-up at the hospital where Professor A and Professor B go home with offspring Z, and Chav X and Chav Y go home with offspring C.Do you really think that offspring C's prospects are still better than offspring Z's?There is a very complex relationship between nature and nurture, and your argument loses credibility when you totally ignore the latter. Thu 26 Jun 2008 12:11:56 GMT+1 antoninius One of the issues I have with social engineering is the assumption that it will actually work. Since intelligence is largely determined by genetic factors, then it is not surprising that if Professor A meets Professor B at university, it is likely that offspring C will be relatively intelligent and therefore have enhanced prospects in education and in a career. If on the otherhand, Chav X meets Chav Y behind the chip shop, and offspring Z results, it is likely that offspring Z will not have the genes required to produce the proteins required to build the neurone network that offspring C has, with the subsequent limit on educational attainment and career prospects. Middle class children are on average brighter than those of poor children not because of opportunity, but due to the chemistry of their brains. Thu 26 Jun 2008 10:07:29 GMT+1 smilingSueblue If a person smokes, drinks and has sky TV but falls behind with rent, council tax and fuel bills is that person living in poverty or living beyond their means? Not everyone aspires to high flying careers and many would be happy to graft throughout their working lives if only their contribution to the economy was valued and wages were fair. You don't have to be clever or well educated to lift heavy things or clean, but sadly the menial unskilled jobs are the lowest paid.The country would fall to it's knees without the police, rescue and armed services, nurses, shop workers, cleaners, labourers etc. the list goes on. These are the backbone of society, and should be recognised as such. The concept of a fair day's work for a fair day's pay seems to have disappeared. Employers these days want maximum effort from their employees while paying small a wage as they can get away with. Fairness doesn't come into it.When the benefits system pays more than a full time job then of course people would rather not work.The benefit system is a shambles and the D.W.P needs a complete overhaul. It is supposed to help those in genuine need, not fund the activities of the promiscuous and the lazy.From the seventies onwards generations of children have grown up and brought their own children up without the influence of a working father figure. Many unemployed single parent families have no concept of the work ethic and the need to earn a living, genuinely believing they are entitled to benefits as they grew up knowing no different. Poverty doesn't exist in Britain today in comparison to third world countries. Bad money management at all levels is the root of the problem.So instead of having endless committee meetings and drawing graphs why doesn't the government actually DO something about it? Wed 25 Jun 2008 09:39:28 GMT+1 Idle_Bystander I , too, think that this is an interesting series of graphs.It doesn't seem to be adjusted for age, so it includes young people starting in their careers, earning close to the mimimum wage, as well as older people at the peak of their earnings. Not everyone at the lower end of the graph is necessarily poor, they may just be young.It covers the period between '61 and '79 when we had progressive taxation (more than 90% tax rate at the top end) and a big welfare state etc etc. It didn't seem to have solved the problem of poverty, it just capped the maximum that any individual could earn.The introduction of the minimum wage - when was that?- doesn't seem to have made much of a mark on the graph. Tue 24 Jun 2008 21:27:42 GMT+1 typicallistener the poor are a good source of cheap labour. Why would we want to change this? every economy needs a pool of thick people prepared to accept a low wage so they can buy pizzas and dvds. Tue 24 Jun 2008 19:37:16 GMT+1 wiseturtle First, let's remember that in any discussion like this we need to use the language of qualification; we need to remember that much of the time we mean 'some', 'most' 'sometimes' and rarely do we actually mean 'all' 'always'.I have travelled extensively around Europe, Asia and the Far East. What I see in so many people is a thirst for getting on with their lives, a fire in their bellies for a better life, to improve their lot. I see children going to school in rural India who are animated, joyful and eager to learn in a way children in the UK are not. Here we have more resources in our schools than we ever have (many primary schools have a computer suite and classrooms with interactive whiteboards) yet what difference does it make? We keep throwing money at community problems when actually it is not more resources we need but a change of heart and mind. We've got to ask ourselves, if it really is about resources, how come India and China are the fastest developing economies in the world? And before anyone plays the 'look at their human rights' card, let me just say that I really don't think this country's record on 'human rights' would stand close scrutiny!We really have lost our way. When Government talk of paying one section of the community to encourage their children to engage with education, what message does that give those of us who have worked hard, made sacrifices and tried to discharge our responsibilities as parents? I'm reminded of a comment a child made in school once, "If you're naughty you get all the's not fair...if you're good, the teacher leaves you alone". With any behaviour, we have to ask ourselves, "What is the pay-off here?" If you reward a behaviour, you encourage it. Our welfare system has a lot to answer for. Whilst free health care and education (yes I know they are not actually free) are something to be celebrated, the downside is that the welfare system encourages a culture of dependency and (in some) apathy. We have too many people who know what their 'rights' are without wanting to know anything about their 'responsibilities'. It's the "what you gonna do for me" attitude when what we really need are people who ask, "what can I do, how can I contribute?"Ultimately, it is not 'lack of opportunities' or 'lack of money' or 'a poor education' or 'the wrong social class' or such like that hold individuals back; it is the conversation they have with themselves about what they think they can and cannot do. It's the social hypnosis we drift into growing up in a society. There are just too many people who have defied social expectations and predictions for it to be otherwise.Finally, let say that in places like India and China (and I know this is a gross generalisation, but essentially, true) 'If you don't work, you die'. Here, this is not the case. But think about this: people rarely value those things just given to them; but when they have had to strive for something, when they've had to make an effort, they feel a sense of achievement, of accomplishment and they value what they have got. It is the individual having a goal, a vision, having aspiration, striving for that goal or vision that makes the difference. As a society, we have lost our way in growing individuals who have aspiration, a sense of responsibility and, most importantly, a sense of community. Tue 24 Jun 2008 19:23:04 GMT+1 SuperJulianR This will be a hard issue to deal with. Much of the problem is the unintended consequence of measures that were actually meant to help:-1. Abolition of grammar school whilst maintaining a thriving independent sector means that educational opportunities for the less well off have been reduced. However imperfect the 11 plus exam was, there was some element of merit in it. A private education is dependent entirely on willingness and ability to pay.2. Whilst University education is now much more widely offered, the replacement of relatively generous grants and free tuition with a mountain of debt means that those from poorer households are less likely to take that route. In the meantime, the number of graduates from middle class backgrounds has increased to the point where many jobs like nursing are becoming increasingly restricted to graduates only3. The increase in career opportunities for women (itself a good thing) means that now doctors marry doctors and solicitors and accountants marry solicitors and accountants, whilst in the 1960s and 1970s doctors married nurses and midwives and solicitors and accountants married their secretaries.4. Globalisation has reduced opportunities for less well educated paople to climb the career ladder, as the pay gap increases in a way that national governments are powerless to prevent.5. A pecularly British reverse-snobbery that seems to mean that some parents actively discourage their children from becoming too studious or ambitious. I have not observed this in any other country, not in Europe, and certainly not in North America or Asia6. A benefits system that seems to encourage dependency rather than ambition - especially in the field of pensions where the basic state pension is very low so that any effort to save by lower paid workers will simply result in the withdrawl of means-tested benefit thius removing any incentive to save; and in providing homes for feckless young women who become pregnant but offer no help to those trying to work their way out of poverty. Tue 24 Jun 2008 18:56:39 GMT+1 siprice The best way to reduce poverty would be to pay the least capable not to have childen.We currently pay the poorest in society relatively the most to have children they cannot afford. This is a poverty trap without equal. Is this eugenics or is this sensible government? Pay teenagers not to get pregnant rather than vice versa. Well meaning benefits can provide perverse insentives that reverse their original intentions and prolong the injustices they were designed to reduce. Tue 24 Jun 2008 16:29:25 GMT+1 modupeblogger I consider myself an immigrant, even though I was born in this country.I only came back here in my late teens.I am shocked at the "poverty mentality" of most british people. Ambition, drive and purpose is considered "unbritish " and parents do not encourage their children to become better than them. That is the only reason why we will continue to wonder why the poor are getting poor. It is not because the opportunities are not there, but because as a society, we fail to accept and recognise that it is ok to be rich and better yourself.We need to adopt the America's way of life. "good things are available to all that seek them" Tue 24 Jun 2008 15:53:26 GMT+1 Mr Confuzatron I must be thick, because I look at these graphs and see an upward trend on peoples' earning. The same number of people are earning the same amounts at the bottom of the scale, and everyone else has spread out a bit, in a positive direction.Is the problem that people getting richer is bad because some people get even more richerer? I can see why that would be unacceptable to some, but it's a bit strange for a BBC journalist to just assume that everyone would agree with this political stance. By all means, advocate a political position, but it's lazy to write as if your own position is a foregone conclusion. Tue 24 Jun 2008 15:52:56 GMT+1 Tim #39:"Rather they consciously or unconsciously favour those who can prepare for the tests, as well as those who parents can afford to move within the catchment area of the favoured school."I think that catchment areas are the nub of the issue. Where I currently live, there are no selective schools, and there is one outstanding state school: I could not possibly afford to live within its catchment area. If I lived in the town where I grew up, I would not have to be rich to get my children into the best state school in town.You are quite right to dismantle my argument that middle class kids have suffered from dismantling grammar schools: I see now that it's nonsense, as their parents are very well equipped to side-step the effects. Tue 24 Jun 2008 15:21:33 GMT+1 Soddball Badgercourage-"I don't want to drag down the genuinely bright kids from disadvantaged backgrounds any more than you do; I just don't think, based on all the evidence I have read, that grammar schools are part of the solution, rather I think they are part of the problem."As someone who lives in Kent, I can assure you that they are not the problem. Their distribution is the problem.My mother went to a grammar school in East Ham in the 1950s. Her family were miners from Merthyr who moved to London in the late thirties. She was able to access a grammar education and break out from what is now called 'poverty'.Access to this opportunity was stripped from the majority of the country when the last batch of trendy wendies decided it was 'unfair' to take clever children and give them the chance to better themselves. It is no co-incidence that social mobility has declined ever since the grammar school system was terminated.Large numbers of the middle classes have since moved to those areas where the grammars still exist, to ensure that their children get the best opportunity. Claiming that 'only the middle classes access grammar schools' is the tail wagging the dog. If there was a grammar school in every town then this would not be a problem.Were the problems with the education system when the grammar schools were around? Of course. The biggest failing was that too little was spent on the non-grammar sector. The education system suffers from systemic interference at all levels by politicians and educationalists, and this latest wheeze that the government is trumpeting - the crushing of the private and grammar sectors for political ends - is painful to watch. It is not 'fair' or 'social justice' to destroy excellence. Tue 24 Jun 2008 14:40:50 GMT+1 badgercourage # 36I suspected we would probably disagree more about tactics or method than principle...However...I wish "grammar schools provide equality of opportunity. Pass the test and you are in, regardless of background or family wealth" was all there was to it. Then I might be able to agree wholly with you.Rather they consciously or unconsciously favour those who can prepare for the tests, as well as those who parents can afford to move within the catchment area of the favoured school. And the tests themselves are loaded. Some schools have also recently been caught undertaking covert selection by demanding contributions from parents, commitment to supporting the school in other ways, and other admission criteria that favour wealthier parents.Moreover, I can't agree that "...hamstringing the bright and the middle class, which has been the effect of the near-destruction of selective education" is accurate.More and more of our 18 year olds are getting very good grades (leave aside for the moment controveries about whether the exams are getting easier) and going on to university and highly paid jobs in a very successful economy (true despite the Nu-Labour spin on this). Most of these are doing this from comprehensive schools.And the increase in university numbers has been almost entirely from the middle and upper middle classes: the proportion of children from the poorest backgrounds going to University has barely increased in the last 20 years or so. See for some chilling statistics.I don't want to drag down the genuinely bright kids from disadvantaged backgrounds any more than you do; I just don't think, based on all the evidence I have read, that grammar schools are part of the solution, rather I think they are part of the problem. Tue 24 Jun 2008 13:19:08 GMT+1 Tim #36"This exactly what grammar schools do: kick the ladder away from the 80%, and class them as failures at 11. It depends where you are when the ladder goes, I suppose."Assuming this is true, how is kicking the ladder away from 100% of children an improvement on kicking it away from 80%? I firmly believe that overall standards would drop if public and grammar schools became comps. Whom would that benefit?"The issue as I see it boils down to whether as a nation we should try to give everyone as equal a start in life as possible, even if this entails taking away a bit of privilege from a few."What I am saying is that grammar schools provide equality of opportunity. Pass the test and you are in, regardless of background or family wealth. What could be more equal than that? The fact that some, because of the sub-culture they are trapped in, will not even want to avail themselves of this opportunity is not an argument for withdrawing it from those who are not so disadvantaged, nor will that withdrawal provide a shred of help to those whose attainment is thus curtailed.So, I think we agree on principle but not on method. I believe that equality should be sought by helping the underprivileged, not by hamstringing the bright and the middle class, which has been the effect of the near-destruction of selective education. Tue 24 Jun 2008 12:10:21 GMT+1 Hellray "some fascinating graphs (how sad am I?)"Mr Easton, By implying that anyone who is rational or data literate is "sad" you perpetuate a culture of under-achievement.For their own sakes I hope you don't transmit this attitude and culture to your children! Tue 24 Jun 2008 11:42:45 GMT+1 badgercourage #34I feel anything but smug about the situation we are in, and was certainly not "advocating the destruction of the futures of children..."As a grammar school product myself, albeit a very long time ago, I know that for those of us who got in they conferred advantage. My concern is about the 80% who did not, and their modern equivalents."Can you explain to me how kicking away the ladder will improve social mobility?"This exactly what grammar schools do: kick the ladder away from the 80%, and class them as failures at 11. It depends where you are when the ladder goes, I suppose. And I don't suggest we should close the grammar schools, or fee paying ones. All I said was that a government which was serious about social equality and mobility would draw them fully into the state system (they could rebrand them "community schools" to get away from the term "comprehensive" if that helped) and that on balance I supported this, despite the counter-arguments.All Governments engage in "social engineering", whether they call it that or not. The alternative is anarchy. Taxation is a form of social engineering, as is policing and prison. So is increasing the school leaving age, or stopping children working in mines. It depends on where you want to draw the line, I suppose.In an ideal world all schools would be equally good, and every child would receive the individual support they need to achive the best they can. But we don't live in that world, so hard choices are necessary.The issue as I see it boils down to whether as a nation we should try to give everyone as equal a start in life as possible, even if this entails taking away a bit of privilege from a few.if you disagree with that principle, we'll have to just accept that we sincerely see things differently, as is our right. Tue 24 Jun 2008 11:31:01 GMT+1 DafyddApWilliam 32. At 11:20am on 24 Jun 2008, Red Lenin wrote:This has been continually tinkered with through most of the 20th century and to little effect.This can only be achieved by:-a. Ending private/public education. State education for all, decently equipped and decently funded.*No thanks. If I fundamentally disagree with the indoctrination that control-states seek to force upon people, then I have a right to ensure any children of mine are not damaged by this.*I'll educate any children I eventually have in the way that I see fit, not in the fashion that suits your anachronistic delusions. *That will probably involve a (very) large element of non traditional education, because lets face it, that was designed to turn out cannon and factory fodder for the 19th century.*Furthermore, there is always more than one way to achieve an objective. Your concrete thinking on this matter makes it clear that your idea of education is just the sort of doctrine orientated nightmare that I would readily give my life to prevent.*If you think you are going to get any child of mine forcibly sent to a state indoctrination camp - which is in essence what you are proposing - then that will be over my dead body.b. Scrapping catchment areas and making it an allocation lottery. You will go to a school within your authority area and that's it. No more of this gerrymandering over house buying in order to get specific schools.*My kids will go to whichever school I consider to be in their best interests and I will ensure that I do whatever is necessary. If that means that I need to move or even plan where I wish to live far in advance in order to do this, then so be it. c. Banning private tuition. If a child needs it it should be free, compulsory and at after school clubs*Who on earth do you think you are to decide what any particular child needs? Most kids who struggle at something probably need more quality time with their family, not enforced detention becasue they are perhaps less talented in certain respects than some of their peers. How about banning bigotry instead, starting with you. d. Bring back some form of streamed secondary education linked to potential and ability.*Which was undermined and removed in the first instance by the exact same for all mentality that you are espousing here. I know, as I fell victim to it.*Under no circumstances would I tolerate my child's future opportunities being dictated by the sort of unionised cliquey bigots I had to endure whilst at high school. My response to this point would be in the form of two words 4 and 3 letters respectively - three letters in total being the letter 'f'.f. Start using the law to enforce legislation designed to make parents show a modicum of responsibility and interest in a child's behaviour and attendance at school.*If water flows downhill, just because you decide to pass a law mandating it to flow uphill, that doesn't mean it will (or that it can if it really wants to). The belief that you can legislate to make people take responsibility for anything is so far removed from reality that I am actually quite disturbed that in this day and age such a facist mindset still exists at all. No wonder the liberties the British people have enjoyed (and latterly taken too much for granted) are being surrpetitiously taken from use. Legislate as to what questions cannot be asked on a job application form or interview - such as which school did you attend and other questions that could be used to discriminate.*And drive any remaining talent left in the country after your stalinist dictatorship has destroyed freedom of choice overseas on the first piece of flotsam they can cling to.*If the sort of regime you espouse here were to be elected, the economy would implode within 24 hours, so people could forget about escaping on anything resembling modern transport, unless they happened to own something suitable already.*They would have to act quickly, however, because your secret police would already be on their way to 'confiscate' such decadent imperialist luxuries in the name of the 'righteous' state machine.If you're not prepared to do all that, then frankly you are flogging a dead horse.*If you are prepared to do all you say, then you might as well shoot the horse yourself.*Frankly, I refuse to believe that your post is for real. You have to be deliberately trolling, however, for the benefit of those who may not realise this, I thought I'd offer my opinions on the orwellian nightmare you have obviously been fantasising over, whether you truly wish for it or otherwise. *By the way, if such a horrific vision of Britain was ever looking like a possibility in my lifetime, then I along with millions of other sane individuals would do everything within our power to prevent it from actual realisation. When it comes to other people's choices, keep your interfering beak out of it. Tue 24 Jun 2008 10:56:08 GMT+1 Tim When I read badgercourage smugly advocating the closure of grammar schools, my blood begins to boil, as they were the means of my escape from violent council estates.You say that the price of such a policy is that wealthy parents of less able children would cry "foul" - but how about very poor but supportive parents with bright children (like mine, for example)? Their "ticket out" is denied them for the sake of your social engineering project (a vile phrase that betrays its sinister nature).Can you explain to me how kicking away the ladder will improve social mobility?In effect, since you realise that "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink", you appear to have decided that the solution is to poison the well. It is ludicrous to suppose that my mere presence in the classroom could have turned around the aspirations of the other kids on my street. They, on the other hand, could have disrupted my education without a second thought.So think, when you next push these ideas, that you are not just advocating the destruction of the futures of children who, because of their affluent parents, you believe deserve such a fate, but also the destruction of children like I once was, whose nicknames at school included "Council-house kid". Tue 24 Jun 2008 10:36:27 GMT+1 DafyddApWilliam @27Hear hear!!It is encouraging to see an increasing number of people prepared to venture beyond the traditional (overtly false but deliberate) boundaries of left versus right party politics.'The dole' has been directly responsible for the creation of several generations of complete and utter wasters, the likes of which will cost this country a fortune both in financial terms and lost opportunities for several more generations to come, even if action is taken right now to address this total mess we find ourselves in.You say also "Sorry Gordon before you have the right to talk about poverty do not define it by wealth. Talk about poverty of experience,emotion and general well being."I know (very well) people of all social backgrounds. Poverty of experience, emotion and understanding all too often go hand in glove with material wealth, the supposed 'real' measure of the quality of life.That this is the case, in my view has to be entirely the fault of the left for bringing about a culture in which it was and still is acceptable (and officially encouraged) to be envious and resentful of material wealth.Ultimately what you spend your time thinking about is what you focus on. What you focus on becomes what you see. What you see before you dictates what you do and where you go.How ironic that a movement created to alleviate poverty has in fact (when you take non financial poverty into account) done exactly the opposite.Whether this was deliberate or just an unfortunate and unforseen consequence of what (at first) was a genuine attempt to improve the quality of people's lives I cannot say.What is clear though that as time has passed, the Labour Party has become just another bandwagon for cynical and manipulative vested interests. That happened a long time ago, its just that most people didn't notice and some still haven't.I will repeat what I said earlier:All (no exceptions) current parties are utter dross.If we are to remain a first world nation governed by a system of laws (largely) aligned with our cultural morality, instead of the divided first/third world nation under a system of laws aligned increasingly with corporate (and ultimately totalitarian) interests we are rapidly becoming then a drastic change is needed.Responsibility for bringing about that change lies squarely at the feet of the public at large.The incumbent set of talent deficient yes-men/women isn't going to get off the gravy train voluntarily, they'll have to be encouraged.They have long since forgotten that their real purpose is to serve and protect the interests of the ordinary people who elect them to office, rather than their party central office's corporate sponsored policies.Politics needs to change from its present confrontational, selfish and ineffective bickering paradigm to one where finding and implementing real solutions to modern challenges is its true focus.Its time that more people became micro-capitalists (small business owners) and built a real stake in the success of the country as a whole.I just think that the whole concept (and experience) of self employment/business ownership cultivates a more 'grown up' set of characters within a culture than the perpetual infanthood of hourly paid work ever can or ever will; if ever there was a time that more 'grown ups' were needed in Britain then it is right now. Tue 24 Jun 2008 10:25:34 GMT+1 Red Lenin This has been continually tinkered with through most of the 20th century and to little effect.This can only be achieved by:-a. Ending private/public education. State education for all, decently equipped and decently funded.b. Scrapping catchment areas and making it an allocation lottery. You will go to a school within your authority area and that's it. No more of this gerrymandering over house buying in order to get specific schools.c. Banning private tuition. If a child needs it it should be free, compulsory and at after school clubsd. Bring back some form of streamed secondary education linked to potential and ability.f. Start using the law to enforce legislation designed to make parents show a modicum of responsibility and interest in a child's behaviour and attendance at school.e. Legislate as to what questions cannot be asked on a job application form or interview - such as which school did you attend and other questions that could be used to discriminate.If you're not prepared to do all that, then frankly you are flogging a dead horse. Tue 24 Jun 2008 10:20:49 GMT+1 DafyddApWilliam "The reality is that huge swathes of people sit in the underclass, with restricted social mobility, precisely because of the left's agenda: cultural engineering, equality and 'redistribution' - the culture of the welfare state that has so obviously failed to tackle poverty."I couldn't agree more, even if I tried!This kind of sly, self serving and underhand behaviour is an intrinsic part of the character of any champagne socialist; those giants of the labour movement responsible for the tremendous rise in living standards from the early 20th century onwards would (if alive today) be utterly repulsed by the shameless hypocracy that is today's Labour Party.That is not to suggest that the other parties are any better, frankly they're all crap and its high time this country had something completely new.As the epitome of this two faced cynicism, Tony Blair must surely go down in history as our worst prime minister ever (by several orders of magnitude).Margaret Thatcher has been the target of so much hatred that there will always be those who think that she was worse.For those (of whatever age) who have yet to fully mature into adulthood I will spell out why that belief is utterly absurd.When she came to office, the country was run by a complacent and often incompetent bureaucracy (so, what's changed there?) controlled (ostensibly) by politicians directly elected by the public through democratic means.Certain elements of society took it upon themselves to attempt to influence government policy, calling strikes and being a general nuisance.They could not accept the fact that their self interested and damaging attitudes had been rejected at the ballot box, so they picked a fight. With the wrong person.By choosing to be militant and insisting on sticking to their delusions that wealth can be created by simply printing money (apparently productivity was irrelevant), they succeeded only in the rapid destruction of industries that, though in decline as a result of many factors, would have probably faded away quietly whilst new industries sprung up to replace them.In reality, they brought about their own downfall by being selfish and infantile (as usual).The political right in this country is undoubtedly self serving, as it is everywhere else. People delude themselves that the political left is somehow not.Well, it is. Furthermore, it also has the 'distinction' of being riddled with systematic incompetance.There are of course still a (shrinking) number of *real* politicians amongst the present sea of 'not-even-also-rans' but their voice is losing its influence as the sound-bite damaged generation(s) join the electorate in ever increasing numbers. Tue 24 Jun 2008 09:48:52 GMT+1 badgercourage #14"Increasing capital gains and higher rate taxes deters people from setting up business in the UK."* Evidence for that? There was plenty of capital formation in the 1980s under MT when the top rate was 60% (only went down to 40% in 1988). I would suggest that real entrepreneurs are deterred more by political and economic uncertainty than high taxation. Taxing windfall gains as opposed to annual profits seems a sensible policy to me. But I agree with your implication, that the UK is over-reliant on the City."Getting rid of fee paying or grammar schools only deprives those schools of bringing out students with good grades."* Not sure what you're arguing here. In any case, I wasn't suggesting the schools be demolished, only saying that if a government were serious about tackling equality (They're not) that they would consider bringing them into the state system. "Why not focus on the schools performing badly rather than one those doing a good job, too many Labour councils are trying to close down good schools as reported in the wider media to try and force brighter pupils into poor performing schools to make grade improvements look better."* Depends on what you mean by "performing badly". Some schools with very high grades may be performing badly given their intake. Other schools the Government calls "failing" are actually doing very well in terms of the value added, ie the improvement the pupils make while they are at the school. Setting arbitrary targets like 30% A*-C grades at GCSE hinders rather than helps."Focused help needs to be given to those performing the worst at school like extra classes , and even if that were to mean a full package of seeing what goes on at home , it might be invasive but if it turns out the parents need help themselves to help their children perform better at school then its for the greater good.You can fund it by scrapping the pointless ID card scheme and save several billion and not have to raise taxes on anyone."* Amen to that Tue 24 Jun 2008 09:44:49 GMT+1 In Vitrio Once upon a time, gifted working class children had access to special education for their needs. They were able to go to grammar schools and then university. That way the most highly-paid jobs would go to those who had shown academic ability. The Tories even brought in a measure whereby the brightest kids in non-grammar school areas could have the State pay for private education that's otherwise the preserve of the rich.Nowadays, that's impossible. The grammars have been closed down and the privately-educated Mr Balls wants to close down even more. The assisted places scheme was about the first thing that went under Labour. And there are so many universities offering so many courses that employers cannot tell the difference between the good and the bad.The result is that who you know has once more become more important than what you know. The best jobs go to insiders or mates or relatives rather than working class kids who have real abilities. But this is what Labour wants. When everyone is the same no-one is special. Keep a large enough immobile social class from which they can mine their votes. Can't have anyone get on, can we? They might vote for the party of "privilege" or something. Tue 24 Jun 2008 09:33:55 GMT+1 Pot_Kettle Clearly most people do not understand statistics well enough to see that the presented animation clearly shows social mobility upwards.The bell curve that was sharp and concentrated around the bottom has smoothed and moved upwards.This is the best thing that can be acheived, you will NEVER move the whole bell up to the right.Because the distribution is wider more people are better off than they were.Of course this only measures income. If the curve measured Income after TAX we would see that those that moved to the right have moved back to the left through punitive taxes and those on the left would remain where they are on there free handouts. Tue 24 Jun 2008 09:18:41 GMT+1 dradish I have worked in some of the most 'deprived' areas within the UK ,following a personal socialist mantra, for some considerable years. It is only recently that I've come to the conclusion that however well intentioned government initiatives are, many of the recipients display the same behaviour as that seen in many addictions ie unless the personal motivation to change and do better (a perjorative term in itself)then you, or I, will do little to alter a pre-determined life where it is comfortable,known and accepted to be a member of communities where safety is in numbers.Yes ,I know this is an inference towards a ghetto but it is in some ways our more eloquent linguists who provide the barriers via labels 'we' understand without a knowledge of the personal lives,struggles and tragedies of those within them.I find it totally ironic a government that sets its educational stall out via Every Child Matters should have as its final outcome ,'Achieve Economic Wellbeing' as if that is the direct concommitant of 'Be Healthy'.The stress involved in doing that alone goes against the first.I do not ,however, think that the government has got it totally wrong. What is wrong is how the monies put into schools has been used. The recent Excellence in Cities was very well intentioned but its interpretation was left to the discretion of individual heads. Whilst the money remains it can be veered towards the priorities of individuals with little, or no discussion or accountability. I could not see this happening within industry ! Brownian politics display the worst class of working class snobbery--'I can do it so can you' and if you can't we will 'help' you. Sorry Gordon before you have the right to talk about poverty do not define it by wealth. Talk about poverty of experience,emotion and general well being. Stop having a solely outcome driven public service and get people in the know to ask hard questions and look under the surfaces about how the billions have impacted upon indivdual lives. Have they disaggregated responsibilities from the micro to the macro ? What do you really mean by community ? If people choose to stay where they are, understand that this is their choice and there is little we can do to alter that.As to whether we should I am very unsure .As to whether we can I'm pretty certain-----we can't. Tue 24 Jun 2008 08:43:12 GMT+1 jpurle The great wave of social mobility after the war occured because of Butler's 1944 Education Act. This increased access amongst the working classes to, yes, you've guessed it, those despised Grammar Schools.In fact, much of the emergence of the 'lower middle class' in the late Victorian/Edwardian period was down to these educational opportunities - mixed with their work ethic.I mean, compare the experience of someone from an impoversihed background passing his 11-plus in the 1950s with that of a similarly bright kid in a modern day comprehensive. Where were the kids shouting "Boffin" and taking the wet if you even looked like you were there to learn? Where was the negative peer pressure of kids taking drugs, thinking they were hard by carrying knives, or obsessing over the cult of chav-like celebrity? Kids thinking they weren't grown-up unless they'd had sex at 14? Peers who presented as normal a culture of welfare benefits? Teachers who thought there was something wrong with competitive sports? Of course, its not just the schools but the overall culture. The reality is that if you're a reasonably bright kid from an impoverished background these days, the culture is very different from that of the 1950s. Gone is much of the work-ethic, the strictness or even the religious element that the working class had in the 1950s. Even if you had the misfortune of being from a single-parent family in those days, the two-parent family where at least one of them went out to work was presented as the norm. (My great grandad was born to a recently widowed mother in 1874. It must have been a terrible start to life. He went on to become a reasonably senior guy at the Pru, married with children etc. Nobody would have told him that single parenthood and life on benefits was normal.)Many of those who stuck with the traditional working class ethos have done fine. And it is because the Polish working class never lost this that they are able to come here and take advantage of the opportunities and contribute whilst the indigenous underclass languishes in its cycle of depravity. The reality is that huge swathes of people sit in the underclass, with restricted social mobility, precisely because of the left's agenda: cultural engineering, equality and 'redistribution' - the culture of the welfare state that has so obviously failed to tackle poverty. Tue 24 Jun 2008 07:30:38 GMT+1 infinitony I've forgotten what I wanted to say, having to go through this complicated signing on process. You have to sign on, user name/password for everything, the bank or the tent manufacturer. From society's point of view this seems very stupid as obviously the tent manu won't have the same security systems as the bank, but nor can I function with a thousand passwords, just one or two. All I was going to say was - I can't access Powerpoint, can you give us more options, I'd like to see this interesting graph. You (BBC) should provide a way for making such a minimal response. This ultra-security culture is spreading like a cancer and will soon destroy the host. Pleasant dreams. Tue 24 Jun 2008 07:27:30 GMT+1 jimcole How deeply are people cemented in their social class? How long have school children been forced to sing "...the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate...."?Proud the be British? Not in this instant.Jim Cole Tue 24 Jun 2008 06:17:17 GMT+1 Joan Olivares I am poor but I was able to get my daughterthrough Durham and LSE. I think it's wrong that I had to use what little money I had to get a decent education for my daughter. My mother and I are still strapped with some of her student loan debt. Poor people have to make such horrendous sacrifices compared to rich people. Education should be on a sliding scale. If my child is harder working and more intelligent than a rich person's child doesn't she deserve to succeed?Forgive me Mr. Easton but your ideas about poverty are just too simplistic. Tue 24 Jun 2008 05:59:55 GMT+1 DafyddApWilliam On issues such as this there are always a range of opinions which reflect the varying degrees of understanding, motivation, sense of responsibility and overall attitude to life of the poster.In a nutshell, this country has "the worst social mobility of any industrialised nation" for a huge number of reasons. Outlined below are some of them:1. A system of government (both practically and constitutionally) so archaic in this supposed age of reason as to be obscene beyond words.Changing to a secular republic with a written constitution and a supreme court (appropriately scrutinised) would remove this presently impenetrable barrier to social progress overnight.Those "clingons" who under the present system keep their scheming hidden behind traditional privelige would still machinate to protect their vested interests with as much venom as they do today.However, their ability to keep themselves at the top and the more talented amongst us down at heel would come to an end in shorter order were they not able to hide behind the smokescreen of traditional privelige.This point is made in respect of no one group of individuals, but rather against the patchwork of convoluted nonsense that constitutes the entire government as well as a large proportion of the professional establishment of this country.2. The sneering superiority complex of certain elements of the middle class.Interestingly enough, I have found this trait far less prevalent amongst those (whom I have met personally) whose families have enjoyed many generations of achievement as compared to those more recently 'elevated'. Narcissism (and the associated personality disorder) is probably at the root of this, at least in my opinion.Get over yourselves - people who respect the personal sovereignty and worth of others contribute far more real value (in all ways) to a society than any of your self aggrandising, pompous and fallacious belief that wealth is measured only on the balance sheet.The next comment is aimed in particular at the 'gentleman' whom I had the 'pleasure' of encountering on the District Line a year or so ago; a perfect example of the sort of behaviour that engenders the class hatred that so often shames this country.Be advised that if you chose to use your elbows to suggest that I somehow squeeze my 46 inch chest tightly enough for you to play sudoku (on a packed evening rush hour train) ever again, as a matter of principle, I will not bother to ask you what you are trying to communicate.Instead, I will demonstrate to you a more appropriate use for your newspaper, which may well (or perhaps not) be a completely new experience for you. It would be perfect irony if (though admittedly unlikely) on our next encouter you were to have a copy of "The Sun". Despite whatever you may think of yourself, this would be the only occasion when the sun really did shine from the place I would put your reading material.Where I have found this found present in those more established sections of what I term 'Middle England' (and yes, this is a particularly English phenomenon).3. The aforementioned 'inverted snobbery' of elements of the working and (especially) lower classes.You should be aware that the envy that you think you keep well hidden stands out like a beacon to an educated mind; believe me when I tell you that it is probably the most disgusting and ugly personality trait that there is.The back-stabbing, the intimidation of the bright and capable along with the aspersions you cast upon their character and integrity that you justify with the pathetic, self indulgent and almost always incorrect belief that such people are big-headed and/or think they are better than others are the hallmark of a truly damaged and utterly repulsive character.In large part, the reality is that anyone with an appropriate level of ability and professionalism can achieve almost anything imaginable in today's (western) world.Quite literally, the entire social paradigm of the UK has altered beyond all recognition over the last twenty years. Its time you grew up and took responsibilty for yourselves instead of blaming others for keeping you down. They don't have to because you do such a good job of it yourself.Because of the deliberate damage you do to the chances of others of similar background, if there is such a thing as the scum of the earth, then you are it; you thoroughly deserve every second of your miserable existence. Look up the term 'Barrel of Crabs' for the most revealing metaphor for who you are and what you do.Until such a time that the vast majority of adults in this country can accept that they are personally responsible for their own quality of life, then the maladaptive charicatures I lampoon above will always exist and will continue to damage the quality of all our lives. I appreciate (from harsh personal experience) that reaching such a point of maturity is a difficult challenge, but that doesn't mean that anyone has a right to deny that they can make choices if they make the effort. Read up on Victor Frankl and the choices he made.Ultimately, those 'in control' of any society can get away with almost anything because of the wilful ignorance and apathy of those who chose to avoid thinking for themselves.In the face of a more educated public, the narcissists, the charlatans and the dishonest will eventually find it impossible to play the system to stay on top and keep other people down with disinformation and orchestrated intra societal conflict.A person's situation will only ever improve if they make the choice to embark on a journey of self improvement and thus enrich themselves.The first step on such a journey starts with increasing your own understanding and awareness of the ways of the world and is probably best taken en route to a library or bookshop instead of the pub etc.Getting rid of your TV would probably be a wise move at this point in time as its largely detrimental impact on quality of life is now undeniable.If you think that is somehow 'extreme', just ask yourself what is more important to you... Your 'favourite soap opera' or your long term self respect. Turn it off, or better yet, recycle it. Tue 24 Jun 2008 05:59:52 GMT+1 barmecidal That the rich get richer while the poor get relatively poorer is an inevitable feature of capitalism. Capitalism is about competition, and competition demands winners and losers. It's simply one of the rules of the game.It applies equally to individuals, regions and nations, and no amount of tinkering with the playing-field can alter the outcome of the game. To give the perennial losers a better chance of winning, either the rules must be re-written or a different game be chosen.Trouble is, the winners quite like being winners, and who can blame them? They have the power to change the rules or choose a new game... but they don't exactly have much incentive, do they? Tue 24 Jun 2008 05:04:03 GMT+1 DuncaninCT I must be sad also, but I'd be fascinated to see equivalent graphs for the US. I believe that it is somewhat easier for people to 'move up' in the US ('what no class system' - kind of...), but I also hear that the gap between haves and have-nots has widened dramatically in the last few decades. Tue 24 Jun 2008 02:40:16 GMT+1 selma12 I don't think 200 pounds will make a difference! The Government should open a special bank account for poor students that do well. The money on that account could only be used to pay university fees. The best way to go up the ladder is to study! Tue 24 Jun 2008 01:27:48 GMT+1 dennisjunior1 Mark:I hate to write this comments! But the poor will always be around us... Tue 24 Jun 2008 01:09:44 GMT+1 nzkate One key thing nobody seems to have highlighted is the cost of further education. Much of the social mobility in the 20th century was the bright children of working class parents going to university. Many will no longer do so because the cost is prohibitively expensive. Bring back grants, abolish tuition fees and see those bright students soar again.There does also need to be recognition however, that not all children, rich, poor or otherwise, are bright. Some are either not tempermentally suited to further education or simply do not have the brain power. We should not force these people into further education. The challenge is to find niches for everyone in today's society where they can feel and be useful and valued. We must stop looking down on the menial workers and paying them so little. We must also be prepared to buy less stuff and pay more for it so that we can have a manufacturing industry in our country and jobs for everyone. Tue 24 Jun 2008 00:04:13 GMT+1 sageofabbottst Not only will the poor be with us but their proportion of the population is likely to increase. Passive welfare policies encourage those without skills or ambition to breed and at a faster rate than otherwise. Figures here quoted suggest such progeny are also more likely to acquire neither ambition nor skills. Put briefly, "progressive" governments encourage the expansion of the underclass.If however we were to afford less stress on human rights and more emphasis on civic responsibility: e.g. - having only as many children as one can afford to support, teaching respect for people and property, reinforcing the value of education, etc., we just might halt the cycle of hopelessness.I and many of my age cohort enjoyed social mobility courtesy of the good citizens of Kent who paid for my excellent grammar school and university education. I knew of noone who could benefit from a university education denied one. Sadly, 1960s education academics and bureaucrats saw that as elitist and started to destroy standards with comprehensive schools and tech colleges dressed as universities.I have to admit that while my generation enjoyed the option of social mobility, it also effectively pulled up the ladder to deny it to our successors. Mon 23 Jun 2008 23:59:42 GMT+1 badgercourage #12"badgercourage, you advocate "abolish grammar schools, and then move to nationalisation of fee paying schools."Can you detail? I don't understand how removing the schools that achieve the most will increase the overall standard."Response:If you read my post I wasn't advocating the abolition of these schools per se, just saying that it would be a logical albeit more radical approach to the issue, *IF* you accept the premise that unpopular measures will be needed to achieved the stated policy aim of reducing inequality / improving mobility.Anyway, it's a myth that these favoured schools "achieve the most". They have the most privileged intake and therefore get the best "crude" exam results but they don't always have the best value added scores, ie improvement between when the pupil enters the school and when they leave.Some of the most so-called "failing" schools actually do more for their intake than some so-called "successful" schools, which may not actually be stretching and getting the best out of their pupils.Grammar schools in particular cream off the pupils most likely to succeed in terms of crude exam passes and leave behind the less supported and more challenging (but not necessarily less able). Now you push the point I think I WOULD advocate their abolition, in the few places that retain them.Fee paying schools are a less clear-cut case as we do live in a market economy and many of them do take a more mixed intake - although some seem to weed out those less likely to achieve high results, as GCSE and A levels approach.The answer if you want more mobility and fairness is surely is to make sure all schools are well run, have a good environment (including sensible rules and discipline), are well funded and have a balanced intake. Not rocket science, surely?If that takes some social engineering and causes some relatively wealthy parents of less able children to scream "foul" as their ability to buy privilege or play the system is taken away, so be it.PSI recall reading a while ago some evidence that really able pupils are likely to do well in any school that recognises their individual needs, motivates them and supports them. If that is the case, it supports the argument that you don't need to cream off the most successful pupils into some schools and effectively tell the rest that they are less important. Mon 23 Jun 2008 23:52:40 GMT+1 Keep F1 on the BBC Post number one sums up with what is wrong with left wing thinking for poverty.Increasing capital gains and higher rate taxes deters people from setting up business in the UK. Higher rate tax payers like your banking investors and large companies are mobile and can move around the world to get the best rate of tax. Geneva could easily become the next London or New York could regain its crown if taxes shoot up and make London look unattractive to the business world.The government is already facing serious borrowing issues, it won't rise taxes any further on business because it could lose UK Plc countless billions in future tax revenues and if London lost its financial city status it would have large problems for the wider economy that has come to rely on the city of London.Getting rid of fee paying or grammar schools only deprives those schools of bringing out students with good grades.Why not focus on the schools performing badly rather than one those doing a good job, too many Labour councils are trying to close down good schools as reported in the wider media to try and force brighter pupils into poor performing schools to make grade improvements look better.Focused help needs to be given to those performing the worst at school like extra classes , and even if that were to mean a full package of seeing what goes on at home , it might be invasive but if it turns out the parents need help themselves to help their children perform better at school then its for the greater good.You can fund it by scrapping the pointless ID card scheme and save several billion and not have to raise taxes on anyone. Mon 23 Jun 2008 23:14:32 GMT+1 greattidings The timing is crass. We need mobility first - social mobility is a fine principle, but to promote it when transport costs are rising at the rate they are, simply reinforces the impression that Brown is not in touch.As for social mobility, it must come from education. Simple as that. If the child is not inspired to improve themselves, then no amount of money paid to their parents will incentivise them. Classic nanny state tactics.Grammar schools helped mobility in the 50's and 60's as they still do in some counties. The reason was that they encouraged excellence. We now have a system that breeds mediocrity - the most extreme example I have seen was at a pre-reception school sports day, when the parents and other children could only clap once the last child finished their race. The bright ones were the ones who decided to slow down because they were applauded.Without a symbol of success or opportunities to excel in a local community, social mobility is nothing more than a politicians dream paid for by our money. Mon 23 Jun 2008 22:56:11 GMT+1 Lascaille badgercourage, you advocate "abolish grammar schools, and then move to nationalisation of fee paying schools."Can you detail? I don't understand how removing the schools that achieve the most will increase the overall standard.That's a bit like a company enacting a policy of firing the best workers to achieve success, isn't it? Mon 23 Jun 2008 22:53:17 GMT+1 Anne Sullivan Wealth distribution is only part of the issue here. A bigger issue for Labour to get past is the dichotomy between the party's natural disposition to elevate the common worker and the idea that it is desirable to change classes.If you promote the idea that those that work for a daily wage are somehow morally superior to those that have educations and have risen to a salaried position -- as the Labour party has done over the years -- how do you then turn around and tell your supporters and their children that improving your economic position (through education) is not somehow morally corrupting?In this way, the Labour party has somewhat sown the seeds of its own difficulty. The first thing needed is an attitude change.... Mon 23 Jun 2008 22:48:58 GMT+1 Brianonthecam If anyone can find a period in history where there was no rich/poor gap, then I'd like to know it. It could be said that, without the rich there would be no poor and vice versa. Even the communist ideal, in trying to establish an all equal society, the outcome provided a huge pool of exceedingly poor, with a minority of very privileged in control. This was so during the days of the British Empire. The two systems were no different in that it was the worst time for the British underclass even in the UK. The poor remain so, largely through generational tradition - bad habits are passed on over decades. Where the welfare state provides a level of existence, this will become the target of those who opt for that level, often subsidised by the proceeds of crime. This in turn dictates the contributions made by government via those who provide the wealth. When these levels of tax rise unacceptably, other means are sought to preserve capital. And so the chase goes on. Mon 23 Jun 2008 22:40:53 GMT+1 leprechaun1976 The statistics may well show that the biggest factor determining educational success (grades) is parent income. But it doesn't follow that the solution is to give more money to the poor. I suggest that it is hard work and ambition that leads to meaningful education and therefore wealth, and not free money that leads to better grades.The 'better off' are richer because they worked hard to get good grades (training etc) and subsequently earned more. They did not get better grades because they were richer. This whole mentality is then perpetuated to children and 'well off' families stay well of because they work hard.If people want to better their situation they need to adopt hard work and ambition as the only solution. Giving people money won't increase their ambition or hard work. Why would it? They are being given money without having to work hard for it and for having no ambition. No. Any proposed solution that works on the basis that money started the reaction is fundamentally flawed - clearly work comes first. What we need to do is teach people to have ambition, and to work hard for what they want. Robbing those who worked hard to better themselves to give un-earned rewards to others will not work. The old saying "You can take the person out of the slums, but you can't take the slums out of the person" is very apt for this discussion. They must "take the slums" (metaphorically speaking) out of themselves, through work.Work will lead to wealth, because it will first lead to grades. Teach people to work. Mon 23 Jun 2008 22:32:02 GMT+1 jovialPhilip Is Mr Brown suggesting that we should all want to become middle class? Heaven forefend!What do I associate with the term 'middle class'? Let me supply a few adjectives:-vain, self-obsessed, self-satisfied, pre-occupied with money and status, small-minded, narrowly educated, practically useless, neurotic, emotionally stunted, mean, merciless, greedy, jealous, competitive, overly self-important, self-deluded, greedy, unnatural, lacking blood-warmth, unfeeling, un-Lawrentian.Why would 'poor' parents want their children to do 'better' than themselves? So that they can buy or push drugs? So that they can earn as much money as Cherie Blair and still be desperately miserable? Do me a favour!And besides, if we were all socially mobile, who would be left to do the really useful jobs in society? Who would want to make the bread, drive the delivery lorries, construct the buildings, repair the engines, clean out the sewers, carry out the heart transplant operations, print or deliver the tabloid newspapers?Publish if you dare! Mon 23 Jun 2008 22:06:14 GMT+1 Rachel Blackburn If you give food to a village with 50 starving children then the following year you will have a village with 100 starving children(which is, of course, why aid agencies do more than just give out food).Similarly, if like Gordon Brown you hand out pots of money to feckless parents (or parent) for having kids and simultaneously hit them with huge marginal rates of effective taxation if they ever start earning then - surprise surprise - they stay on benefits and end up having lots more kids who themselves have no motivation to better themselves because they can see it just doesn't pay. And so inequality gets worse and worse because he's creating more poor than he's rescuing.Gordon Brown is a man trying to fill a hole in an ice bucket by pouring in boiling water. And lo, the more he pours, the worse it gets. Just a shame it's our money he's pouring and our country he's ruining. Mon 23 Jun 2008 22:05:46 GMT+1 metalbucket If a country was a perfect meritocracy, everyone would assume their level of worth and stay there. Given that they would be more likely to meet future spouses around work or where they live, they would probably be of similar social standing too. As a consequence of this, their children, being genetically similar, would perform similarly in their lives. Social mobility is driven by people not being where they should be. Once they get there, social mobility will surely dwindle. Maybe our lack of social mobility is a cause for celebration. We have arrived! There are no social imbalances to correct. Everyone has got what they deserve!(I suspect not). Mon 23 Jun 2008 21:20:49 GMT+1 DanielEW Perhaps you (Mr Easton, that is) should read something on the causes of global poverty before you ask such stupid questions.I would recommend the following: is a correlate to extreme affluence, and it is concentrated out of sight in the underdeveloped world (for now, at least). Mon 23 Jun 2008 21:15:21 GMT+1 shelterofstone The question should be why Gordon Brown imagines this gesture will achieve anything? What will £200 do in modern Britain?The poor will always be there, as will the rich. However, while the rich need to poor to exist, the poor do not need the rich.Poverty should be measured by the opportunities life has for the rich. That would indicate that actually, most of us are poor.On a personal note, my parents came from working class backgrounds and worked hard all their lives. They became middle class, wealthy by any reasonable standard and bought into Brownian view of ambition and moving up the social ladder. They were never around, stressed and constantly tired. Now they are retired, they have a decent standard of living in terms of money, but their poor health, in my view directly attributable to their careers, means they cannot enjoy it.I was well educated, went to university and according to the Brownian model should now be aggressively pursuing a similar lifestyle. Actually I chose a different path and consciously chose to move down the social ladder. I am in social housing and have a job that pays less than the average London wage. But I believe I am a better person and parent for not wasting my time fulfilling Brown's vision.I have little time for politicians who make noises about policy while completely missing the important things. The less politicians meddle the better. They rarely improve things and often make things worse. Mon 23 Jun 2008 20:52:08 GMT+1 GrahamB I wonder if there is some hidden movement within an overall picture of immobility?My parents were born very poor but my siblings and I are substantially better off by any scheme of measurement. I know plenty of others for whom that is true. This implies that there must be people who are relatively worse off than their parents' generation. The difficulty with the punitive tax rates some people call for is, of course, that high earners can escape them by moving abroad. This drives me to conclude that our best bet is a high basic rate of tax, with large allowances to keep the poorer-paid out of tax. Mon 23 Jun 2008 20:35:27 GMT+1 Wasson Having downloaded the income distribution graphs and studied them I come to a different conclusion to that proposed in the article and widely quoted in headlines. The received wisdom is that there is a widening gap betwen rich and poor. What the graphs seem to show is that in the 1960s and up to the mid 70s income was normally distributed (the 'bell curve') around the median income with few richer people and insignificant numbers of megarich people. Since the beginning of the 80s there has been a steady skewing of the curve towards middle and upper income, whilst an increasing but now significant number are lumped together as earning over £1100 per week. This seems to me to be partly a statistical artifact since there is a lower bound (no income) and no upper bound. Also the apparent separation is exaggerated by the lumping together of the highest earners. If the whole distribution was graphed out would there not just be a steady but tapering down upper tail with Bill Gates in the far distance as a lonely trillionaire? The poor are always with us, as a certain prophet once predicted. However an increasing number of us have considerably larger incomes than were widely earnable 20 years ago and a very few lucky ones command wealth beyond the dreams of Cresus. So apart from the increased wealth of the upper middle classes there does not seem to me to be much change in the overall picture. Mon 23 Jun 2008 20:34:08 GMT+1 badgercourage Mark,I have no expectation that this will change.To be brutal, the only way the inequality gap can be narrowed is by top-end taxation and by legislative interference in the education system.Research shows that the most significant variable in determining educational attainment (exam passes) and thereafter success in higher education, career and earning power is the wealth of your parents.As a proposition in logic, therefore, any government serious about narrowing inequality would reintroduce a progressive wealth tax, especially higher CGT, and a top tax rate of (say) 50% on incomes over (say) 100 K, They would then hypothecate the money for education in inverse proportion to the social mix of the schools (ie the more deprived the greater the capitation per child.)An even more radical step would be to abolish grammar schools, and then move to nationalisation of fee paying schools.However the chance of any foreseeable government doing anything so radical (in the old sense of the term) is close to zero as the electoral calculus is unfavourable. The only aim of government nowadays seems to be to secure and maintain office, so they would be highly unlikely to do anything so suicial. In fact recently governments have done the reverse.To sum up, there are no votes in tackling inequality. It's that stark. Mon 23 Jun 2008 20:18:07 GMT+1