A Level Politics

Improving your grade

Does inequality matter?

Posted by Matt Walker on February 1, 2010

parenting or wealth Whether inequality matters or not is a big question and one that is central to modern politics. At AS level, students need to grasp the differences between Labour and Tory ideas, and this question is arguably central. At A2, the issue of equality features right across the study of ideology.

Last week, a government commissioned report stated that the rich-poor divide is wider than it was 40 years ago. The top 10% of the population have assets worth £853,000, whilst half the population earn less that £20,000 a year. The report also found that men on average earn more than women, Bangladeshi and Pakistani five year olds are developmentally  four months behind their white counterparts, whilst the bottom 1 per cent of the population are on average nearly £4,000 in debt.  The report stated that more needed to be done to achieve a level playing field or an equal starting point in life for everyone.

The report did state that all parties were agreed on this, but that is not entirely true. Various Labour ministers recently have pointed out that differences in wealth between families means that many children are automatically disadvantaged. A few weeks ago, however, David Cameron whilst acknowledging poverty as a factor, stated that it was  "not the wealth of their upbringing but the warmth of their parenting"  that mattered most.

As we would expect, the Labour Party emphasise class and inequalities in wealth as a barrier to equality, whilst the Conservatives stress the importance of the nuclear family.

Poverty or up-bringing? What do you think?

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8 Responses to “Does inequality matter?”

  1. adyhorne said

    I believe that the class distance must exist, as long as nobody is in poverty. Through the class gap, people have dreams, and things to aspire to, which they will work hard for. I think the class gap is a very good thing, as long as the bottom class have the means to stay out of poverty. Everybody needs someone to look up to.

  2. Will Hazell said

    Something to aim for is one thing, the obscene wealth some people wallow in is another.

  3. Sam Dalton said

    There will always be a class gap I think, at least for many years to come, and the government can only do its upmost to ensure the gap doesn’t grow too big and that families are living in dire poverty, with deep social and economic problems. While Labour righfully see this as the main cause of crime, the Tories are too obsessed with their nucleur family.

  4. Sam Dalton said

    *arn’t living in dire poverty, with deep social and economic problems

  5. Becky Guest said

    Clearly coming from a lower income family does mean that some find it harder to achieve and are affected more by this than others but with the amount of welfare benefits for those in and out of education, money isn’t exactly the only thing that holds anyone back today. But surely a nuclear family, or possibly just a healthy family life, can affect a person’s ability to achieve to the same degree income can as well?

  6. Rob said

    That’s right it is 2010 so why are so many of you going back to the 1930’s. Socialism, dictatorships are
    as old as the mountains. Its nothing new. Its old. All the people in congress are still living in the
    1930’s. They are trying to carry out Franklin D Roosevelt’s vision. They are even following his four year delay
    like they did in the 1930’s with Social Security. This isn’t clear headed thinking for the 21st century. Franklin
    D Roosevelt was a rich man who around at the age of 35 got polio. Because of that he realized that not everyones
    life is as easy as his was. So he decided through Social Security to try to give everyone the wealth that he
    had. Noble thought. The only problem is their is only so much wealth. Everyone can’t be equal. Everything is
    not free. Life is not fair. Everyone knows that. Just look at haiti. You may want to make africa America but
    it will take hundreds of years to make some situations better and even then Men will not be of equal wealth. Rather, because this is the 21st century we ought to behaving like we are in the 21st Century. This means
    greater liberty, greater independence less dependence on Government etc. We have the technology so why
    are politicans trying to tie everything into a ball of knots all over again. You say come on. Remember the
    movie star trek. They went forward through innovation. Medicine got better. Pills could do wonderful things.
    Do we need all this government. NO. The good news is that one day just as Columbus discovered America
    we one day make space our home as well and true independence for the human race will come. No longer
    will politicans and bureacrats be able to tell us what to do because the possibities of space are limitless.
    A new columbus day is coming…………………….

  7. Thank you for leaving a comment on this blog, Rob. Your perspective is very interesting, and fits perfectly into the debate I am trying to have with my students about the role of the state. Your view is probably at odds with mainstream thinking in Europe, even amongst parties of the right. What is interesting though, is your reference to Star Trek. Great show! This got me thinking about the space race and how wonderful it was that America put man on the moon in 1969. What a great feat for mankind.

    But how did this innovation occur? Was it the free market that made it happen, or was it the US government? Columbus did of course get on a boat and discovered what later became known as America. But a boat doesn’t cost all that much and an individual can take the risk of sailing the Atlantic. But the space race costs so much more, and requires a collective effort that only the state can provide. Private investors would be reluctant to finance the space race because the benefits won’t always be in terms of return on investment – the gains will be scientific, cultural, historical, and macro-economic.

    The question is, what does a society need and whether this can be achieved by individualism or collectivism, or a balance between the two. Why for example, is it deemed perfectly okay for the US state to spend so much on nuclear weapons or a war in Iraq, but if it decides to provide healthcare for its citizens this is deemed by Republicans to be a threat to ‘rugged individualism’ and generates hyperbole about communism?

    Within this context, do you think that the free market can always provide what mankind needs?

  8. Ady said

    Yes. Greed is good!

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