And now for today\’s controversial question

What if it isn\’t true that the poor and the not poor are just the same except for the poverty?

No, this isn\’t (quite) Social Darwinism, which tries to go on to say that it is morally righteous that some have more than others as a result of genetic endowment.

But what if there really are deeper differences than simply the possession of wealth or the enjoyment of income?

Shouldn\’t we at least find out?

9 thoughts on “And now for today\’s controversial question”

  1. I’ve always said if you took all the wealth in the country, equalised it across everyone, within a year you would have obvious inequalities. Some would have spent the lot in an orgy of consumption. Others would have bought what the sellers had sold. Over time you would end up back at pretty much the same position you strted at.

    Some people are deferred pleasure people and others live for the moment. The former are the type who will submit to X years at uni and training to become a barrister for example. Or scrimp and save and work all the hours starting a new business. Pain now pleasure later. Others just choose the easiest option at every turn, which usually means spend now, worry about the future later.

    Generally speaking (ignoring the lottery) wealth is created by someone working hard, deferring their consumption now in order to increase it in the future. Not everyone wants to do that, in fact most don’t.

  2. Can it really be true that no economists grew up in circumstances where they knew poor families? Or are economists just rather unobservant people?

  3. In bygone times, people had to keep small livestock and grow vegetables in their yard –only the very poorest(and most disorganised) didn’t.

    So, whilst they often didn’t know how to read, they knew how to keep a chicken alive and laying — if they goofed, their dinner died or withered, or their side income/bartering ability vanished.

    This is a lesson that teaches almost everyone (no matter how low the IQ) something valuable in a very direct way, but because people no longer grow plants and animals as a matter of course, their sense of time passing, their ability to plan and their instinct to service ongoing responsibility has been stunted. Yes, it can be taught in theory, but in practice, reality is the best teacher here.

    A lot IQ is no problem at all, but a missing system that people can work and learn from hands-on style is!

  4. The question is only controversial to someone with no powers of observation whatsoever.

    Evelyn, you make an excellent point, but the whole purpose of socialism is to isolate people from the consequences of their actions and make them dependent on the state.

  5. I suspect it is at least partly a result of nurture on the individual scale, that children are either programmed to become achievers and avoid poverty, or simply not programmed at all, and ultimately revert to poverty and idleness by default.

    There are many children growing up in households where the concept of wanting to achieve, perform, and be good at things, is entirely alien. Such kids don’t want to be anything when they grow up. They just want to have things. When they grow up, they will allow their own children to languish the same way. And all attempts to deflect them from this lifestyle will be trashed and subverted because they are mainly quite content on welfare. That so-called safety net turned into a feather bed many years ago.

  6. We’ve partly run this experiment. We’ve had a century of the welfare state and comprehensive education. What are the results?

    Compare with the relatively short experiment with grammar schools, which propelled bright, working-class kids into decent careers and made their children and grandchildren middle class.

  7. And what of the new experiment where sportmen and popstars get rich often with very limited education.

  8. Philllip – there’s loads more middle-class people now than there were in the 1960s. I hope you aren’t using some relative measure?

  9. Matthew – sorry, I don’t follow. There’s lots more *people* since 1960. What do you mean by ‘relative measure’?

    In any case, I’m not thinking of the 1960s, but the 1920s-30s. A good number of the folk working as academics in my university department, for example, had grandparents or great-grandparents who worked on the rails, down the pits, or in other traditionally working-class jobs. It was the grammar school system which lifted the next generation on out of those working-class jobs and into or towards the middle class.

    In other words, social mobility is an inter-generational phenomenon.

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