Some good quotes today – and, I would argue, patterns that weave a little worryingly.
This first one came via Tom on Facebook, from a nice overview of New Labour times in Left Foot Forward:
And yet the New Labour preference for equality of opportunity over equality of outcome failed to recognise that it isn’t only wealth that concentrates; opportunity does too. [...]
The paragraph goes on to say, quite accurately but sadly to my mind (the bold is mine):
The more unequal a society is the less mobile it will become, thereby undermining the meritocratic principle. Or to quote the American author Christopher Hayes, whose book Twilight of the Elites touches in more detail on this theme, ‘The Iron Law of Meritocracy states that eventually the inequality produced by a meritocratic system will grow large enough to subvert the mechanisms of mobility’.
Meanwhile, Chris suggests that:
Then, we get Paul saying this of a proposal I am unfamiliar with:
This is the early 21st century spirit of managerialism, par excellence. The Chief Social Worker* is effectively saying that she recognises that in some/many circumstances the organisation of the whole child protection and family support system militates against effective social work, but that she just doesn’t care; social workers are just going to have to get on with, seeking to do the impossible, sinking or swimming.
Little wonder, when managers abrogate responsibility for the ‘organisational context’ in which workers work in favour of a vague aspiration that somehow, magically, superworkers will allow them to meet their supertargets, that the workers either vote with their feet (as in the 43% social worker vacancy rate in Rotherham), or stick to ticking the boxes. [...]
Finally, a mobile upload from Steve, also via Facebook, of worldviews from what he terms market forces (I presume, currently, English/UK government too) versus those held by professionals (in this case, professional educators). His contextualisation goes thus:
How believers in market forces see education and how teachers see education. We have to change this mindset that leaves exhausted demoralised teachers teaching your children.
And his photo runs as follows:
Isn’t it curious to see how the patterns repeat? In the first instance, a probably fair attempt by New Labour to resolve inequality in very challenging circumstances led to the very reassertion they were looking to avoid of inefficient concentrations of what we could simply term “wealth” – but what we might better choose to describe as “access to and leverage of wealth”.
In the second case, we get this florid creature, crony capitalism, rearing its similarly wasteful presence – a capitalism which, like every dependent offspring born, aims to succour itself to health via the support of a dedicated body: in this instance, the bodies politic and socioeconomic which the rest of us belong to.
In the third case, we perceive the mechanism and tool for implementing the above two processes, whereby these concentrations of this “wealth” I am inexactly describing take place. This managerialism many of us have described has only served to give the burdened manager-classes a utility beyond their natural one: like a piece of word-processing software that long ago reached maturity – but nevertheless hangs on in there despite its collapsing ability to add further value, as it continues to sell licence after licence through bright, breezy and effortlessly useless GUI updates of all kinds – our clearly downtrodden managers have replaced truly added value with number-crunching KPIs and procedures various. What used to be the paper-shifting bureaucracies of yore have become the button-pressing target-definers of a latterday now.
But it’s Steve’s upload to Facebook which, for me, best summarises the whole situation. If we believe in what we surely prefer to describe and understand as a realistically free market – a market not only of opportunity grasped healthily but also of outcomes continually renewed and innovated – which of the two lists best mimics its necessary preconditions?
The one on the left or the one on the right? The tools of that florid capitalism we are currently suffering from or the elements of possible progress which a tentatively defined “free market socialism” might lead us to take on board?
I’m no longer too much of an idealist. My life has lately, to a degree, taken me away from such sincerity. The things I have seen – the things I have seen others do, both to me and to beloved family – make me less of a dyed-in-the-wool lover of men and women of good deeds than you might think (perhaps to my disgrace, too …). I am, as a result, less likely to believe or trust anyone.
Yet even though I no longer see things in the black and white, red and blue, or green and yellow of political armbanding, I can still believe that out of a corrupted system such as the dominant form of capitalism currently is, something else far more beautiful can be fashioned by those who still have time.
Time and, maybe, energy.
What do you think?
Aren’t these the real reasons why we must deal with inequality? Not out of love or affection or otherworldly instincts. No. Simply because any other way is – rankly, quite frankly – an appalling waste of money.