Sunday, 5 December 2010

Poor Adults?

The BBC reported that:
In a major report, Labour MP Frank Field says improving the life chances of under fives is the key to cutting social inequality.

I suspect that he is right, but it is not the whole story. If we genuinely want to tackle social inequality in this country then a broader approach really needs to be taken. Yes children need a good start in life. I wouldn’t want to deny any child that. For me, as a libertarian, liberty is about giving every single child the same life opportunities. You are hardly free if your life is mapped out for you because of the environment that you happen to be born into.

Mr Field said he was urging the government to adopt a new approach in its fight against child poverty, focused on better support for parents of young children to improve their life chances.

I think he might well be making some valid points. I’m not suggesting that everything he appears to say in this report is perfect but parentage must have a very big influence on where people end up in life. Therefore if we are to address inequality then a number of things about the way society is structured need to change, and amongst them we need to address the way some people bring up their children. I can just hear the pseudo-libertarians, Daily Mail readers and other assorted nutters shouting out “nanny state”. But what is so wrong with the state trying to give people a helping hand up the economic ladder? Inequality is a Catch-22 situation. That circle needs to be broken and often it is only government that can do that breaking. The market place won’t do it. Capitalism’s whole raison d’être is to perpetuate inequality.

Mr Field's report concludes that, for many children from disadvantaged backgrounds, by the time they start school "life's race is by then already effectively over".

New thinking on education, childcare and benefits was needed to "prevent poor children from becoming poor adults", Mr Field says.

Education is part of the solution, but as I’ve said before, it is not all. But, and here’s the big but education is not just for kids. Education should be life long, and free at the point of delivery. Unless the basics of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are met any amount of education is unlikely to help.

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