Tag Archives: Inequality

Global inequalities and social exclusion

I just read in the week that 40% of 8-15 year olds in the UK have never been on a plane. Now this might be due to parental choice, but I imagine it also has something to do with parents not being able to afford it. Think about it – surely 40% of families don’t choose to avoid a fly-to destination for 8-15 years? The poverty hypothesis also seems sensible given that 12.5 million people in the UK live below the government’s poverty line.  

While the measure lacks validity on its own, in combination with other evidence, I take this as another indicator of the extent of inequality in the United Kingdom. It is also a useful demonstration of how few people are able to afford even a sniff of luxury.

Obscene - The world's most expensive house
Obscene - The world's most expensive house

Meanwhile, also in the week, two examples of people having too much money – firstly, Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, has built the world’s most expensive house , overlooking the slums of Mumbai – no doubt increasing the sense of social exlusion that the slum dwellers already experience there.

Different pieces of evidence demonstrating that the degree  of inequality in this world has just gone way too far.

The continued relevance of Marxist Theory part 3

Marxist Theory is still relevant because…. There is some evidence that those with economic power still have disproportionate influence over the superstructure.

I should just point out that the point of this post is to provide soundbites that you can use in an exam (or an arguement with a Tory supporter of the neo-liberal state apparatus) rather than a comprehensive or balanced account of evidence for or against (the variety of) Marxist theory.

Evidence of Elite control over the government

By far the best example of state putting the interests of Capital before the interests of the majority of people is how the government has responded to the present ‘economic crisis’. 

Simply put, the state is making the poor pay for the economic problems caused by the Transnational Capitalist Class. The average guy on the street is getting poorer while the rich are still getting richer! Consider also the recent case of Ireland, where the minimum wage is being cut by one euro, VAT is being increase, and public sector jobs axed, while Corporation Tax remains at an incredibly low 12.5%  

Getting back to the cuts in Britain, this is no surprise if you actually look at the characteristics of those who make up the cabinet and the wider Tory Party; you actually find that many of them are themselves extremely wealthy. The prime minister, deputy prime minister and Chancellor are all millionaires – They are the Transnational Capitalist Class – and they are hardly likely to hurt themselves.

Evidence of Elite control over the Criminal Justice System

Another example of the elite class having control over the superstructure lies in the differential treatment of white collar crime and street crime. Even though White Collar Crime costs more to the economy than street crime, White Collar Criminals are still less likely to get punished. According to Tombs and Whyte, this is partly because the government invests fewer resources into investigating fraud and health and safety crimes (the types of crime Corporations are most likely to be guilty of) than it does into working class street crime.

Evidence of Elite Control over the mainstream Media

Greg Philo argues that it is simply crazy it is that the agenda in the media is about ‘what services should the government cut’ rather than ’should we tax the wealthy or make cuts.[1] Philo points[2] out that there are other solutions to the current economic crisis – there is enough property wealth in the country – we could just take it off them, but the government is making the average man on the street pay instead. In his film, 

Evidence of Elite Control of the Education system

Evidence for elite control of the education system lies in the fact that if you are wealthy, you can buy your children a private education, which gives them a much greater chance of getting into a top university and high getting a highly paid, prestigious job.  The statistics make for extremely uncomfortable reading… Intelligent children from the 20% of richest homes in England are seven times more likely to attend a high-ranking university than intelligent children from the poorest 40%’.Looked at another way, of 80,000 15-year-olds who’d been on free school meals in 2002, only 45 had made it to Oxbridge- compared to the high-end private Westminster school which averages 82 successful applicants every year.[3]

People from upper middle class, public school backgrounds dominate every economic sector except those – such as sport and hard science – in which only raw ability counts. Through networking, confidence, unpaid internships, most importantly through our attendance at the top universities, we run the media, politics, the civil service, the arts, the City, law, medicine, big business, the armed forces, even, in many cases, the protest movements challenging these powers. The Milburn report, published last year, shows that 45% of top civil servants, 53% of top journalists, 32% of MPs, 70% of finance directors and 75% of judges come from the 7% of the population who went to private schools.’[4]

 


[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11315051

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11311430

[3] http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2010/sep/18/oxford-cambridge-university-free-meals

[4]  http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2010/05/24/universal-cure/; http://realsociology.edublogs.org/2010/07/30/education-still-riddled-with-class-inequalities/