Its my Friday lay day blog. So a rather short blog but with a research trail that can occupy the reader for hours if they pursue all the links. It seems that the mainstream American is rather progressive. Who would have thought given that public opinion is being continually drowned out by the deafening shrieking from the conservative think tanks and their media bully boys. In March 2013, a research paper from Northwestern and Princeton academics – Democracy and the Policy Preferences of Wealthy Americans – demonstrated the vastly different policy preferences held by high income Americans (in this case the top 1 per cent of the income distribution) relative to the general public. The research was motivated by the observation that the “wealthy exert more political influence than the less affluent do” and so if their preferences were not representative of American society in general then that would be “troubling for democratic policy making”. The authors find that the high income earners in the US are not only very active politically but hold ultra conservative views “concerning taxation, economic regulation, and especially social welfare programs” that are not remotely shared by the general public. The results might surprise people.
In June 2014, the unlikely sounding – Campaign for America’s Future – which is, in its own words, “the strategy center for the progressive movement”, collated the academic results and compared them to previous opinion polls in a Memo – The American Majority Is A Populist Majority.
Their opening statement was:
Of all the myths that circulate in Washington, perhaps none is more prevalent or intractable than the one that says that the United States is a center-right nation – and that majority public opinion lies somewhere between the views of conservative Democrats and those of less extreme Republicans.
However, they conclude that “Poll after poll shows that a majority of Americans hold populist opinions on a broad range of economic and political issues—opinions that are often far removed from positions held by elites”, although the mainstream media really only pumps out the elite view.
The organisation Vox Media recently (June 16, 2015) brought together this research in one of their ‘Explainers’ – Rich people are jerks, explained. The graphic they produced by way of summary (reproduced below) is worth considering.
While many people vilify the idea of a Job Guarantee the majority of Americans (in the 99 per cent of the income distribution) believe that:
1. The government out to see to it that everyone who wants to work can find a job (68 per cent).
But, even more specifically:
2. The government should provide jobs for everyone who cannot find a job in private employment (53 per cent).
The weight of opposition (given the skewed access to the political process) to those propositions clearly comes from the elites in the US.
Proposition 1 means the majority of the US citizens believe in true full employment (government should ensure that everyone who wants to work can find a job) and Proposition 2 places the responsibility for the provision of those jobs firmly in the Government’s court.
These propositions are at the heart of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). They ensure that the population always has income security, which is essential for economic stability and provides mechanisms for achieving full employment and price stability.
So next time you read that the Job Guarantee is some wacky left-wing dream time concept think about these results.
The only issue is that while the vast majority of Americans appear to hold relatively progressive views about equity and participation, the economics that are required to achieve these outcomes are implicitly flawed.
Note the questions about tax funding of spending etc.
The majority is also rather xenophobic.
Interesting study on the absence of social mobility in the UK
On June 14, 2015, the British Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission released a major research report – Non-educational barriers to the elite professions evaluation – which examined the “barriers to entry for people from less privileged backgrounds to elite law and accountancy firms in London and financial firms in Scotland”. The findings have relevance for most nations were entrenched privilege
The study found that:
1. “working-class applicants struggle to get access to top jobs in the UK”.
2. “elite firms are systematically excluding bright working-class applicants from their workforce”.
3. “70% of job offers in 2014 were to graduates who had been educated at a selective state or fee-paying school, compared to 4% and 7% of the population as a whole”.
The Chair of the Commission summarised the results in this way (Source):
This research shows that young people with working-class backgrounds are being systematically locked out of top jobs. Elite firms seem to require applicants to pass a ‘poshness test’ to gain entry. Inevitably that ends up excluding youngsters who have the right sort of grades and abilities but whose parents do not have the right sort of bank balances.
So the way people speak (accents), where they went to school, their presentation etc are being used as screening devices instead of talent and aptitude.
The Report quotes one of the one elite recruiters who was “describing applicants from working class backgrounds” who had gone to non-preferred universities:
We do see the problem and for us it boils down almost to a budgetary one, being frank about it … is there a diamond in the rough out there at the University of XXXX? Is there a diamond out there? … statistically it’s highly probable but the question is … how much mud do I have to sift through in that population to find that diamond? A reasonable amount … we’ve got a finite resource in terms of people hours and finite budget in terms of cost to target there
The Report describes the way that these firms filter out applications that they deem not to be ‘posh’ enough. They talk of people lacking “polish”
The import of the results is clear. Any notion that British society promotes social mobility is rejected. Which means that Britain is not using its valuable human resources to their potential.
These employers prefer to discriminate against talent in favour of their social networks and will thus be drawing on a pool on increasingly decreasing talent and aptitudes.
The employers are thus likely imposing costs on their own operations merely to indulge in class discrimination.
The Report suggests that the social networks persist because the firms operate in a protected way. Their business comes from networks which just reinforces the situation.
Some of the recruiters tried to argue that “And, I’m sorry, but it is absolutely true that homogeneity breeds a huge amount of efficiency in organisations” such that “I can sort of write, you know, an obscure comment in the margin and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. You get my jokes. There’s not a risk that I’m going to offend you by saying something, because we get each other and that’s hugely efficient.”
So I guess they all sit around writing “golly gosh, old bean (or old fruit), isn’t that new girl in the typing pool just frightfully jolly hockey sticks”, “By Jove, your right old fellow, an absolutely spiffing assessment, old chap”. “Yes, it is a jolly good show that they hired her.” “Good grief, a jolly good show”.
And the rest of the nonsense.
It brings the role of education in a capitalist economy clearly. Education is not about skill enhanced necessarily but a vehicle for class division.
Please read my blogs – I feel good knowing there are libraries full of books and Education – a vehicle for class division – for more discussion on this point.
Ernest Ranglin: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
I love the NPR Music Tiny Desk Concerts – stripped back musicians on the tiniest of stages with their skills to the fore. Perfect.
Here is one of my favourite guitar players – the 82 year old Jamaican jazz-reggae player Ernest Ranglin playing with his band Avila. He plays in such a lyrical way with a unique mix of percussive, muted notes, melody and stripped down chords and octaves.
More information is – HERE.
The Saturday Quiz will be back again tomorrow. It will be of an appropriate order of difficulty (-:
That is enough for today!
(c) Copyright 2015 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.