Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Raising Those At The Bottom


There has been a lot of discussion about the 1% of us who are fabulously wealthy. A new OECD report, In It Together: Why Less Inequality Benefits All, suggests that concentration of wealth at the top does not promote economic growth. And taking our cue from recent economic research, our current political discussion is focused on cutting the rich down to size.

But Clive Cook suggests that a careful reading of the report leads to a different conclusion. We need to  focus our efforts on raising the economic prospects of those at the bottom of the income distribution:

How does the growing gap between low incomes and average incomes hold back growth? The study ventures some plausible ideas. This one is top of the list:

A main transmission mechanism between inequality and growth is human-capital investment. While there is always a gap in education outcomes across individuals with different socio-economic backgrounds, the gap widens in high-inequality countries as people in disadvantaged households struggle to access quality education. This implies large amounts of wasted potential and lower social mobility.

That means we should be making major investments in public education at all levels and employment opportunities the improved schools would support:

The policy agenda this seems to recommend would focus on improving the schools that serve low-income families, and on raising the incomes of the households concerned — through lower taxes and higher wage subsidies. The study also backs efforts to get more women into the workforce and to enable people to move from irregular or part-time employment to proper jobs.

Quite simply, the neo-conservative agenda we have been living with for the last forty years has put the cart before the horse. Rather than rewarding the wealthy for creating mythical jobs, we should be helping those at the bottom get the jobs which keep the economy growing.


Mogs Moglio said...

Here is a cute link:


Make what you want of it people but I remember my history class where the Romans said Mars was the god of war.


Owen Gray said...

Forgive me, Mogs, but I don't see the connection between the link and the blogpost.

Mogs Moglio said...

You don't have to be forgiven Owen but you can forgive me. I used to tell my friends in the 1980's that if humanity did not clean up it's act we would soon look like Mars. How does this happen I wonder:


So I found that article that made me shake my head. It is not outside the realm of reality it 'could' be real. Maybe? I can't tell I was not alive then this is now. But I do see forces destroying our home planet Earth.

It is the dumbing down of humanity on a huge scale and I have been following OECD reports for years. I was going to write a book about our current state of affairs. I got so depressed I had over ten thousand pages of research. I got so depressed when I learned NATO was a criminal organization as well as the US Canadian and UK governments.

If you read Ganser's:


And if you are using your full brain power you know this has not stopped the so called Black Bloc is one of their hired trouble makers.


Owen Gray said...

Unquestionably, we live in difficult times, Mogs. But every generation faces its challenges. These are ours.

Toby said...

No doubt education needs improving but money isn't the issue. I started school long before there were unions and there were plenty of dullards with teaching credentials. In all my elementary-high years I had no more than five, if that, dedicated teachers. I didn't find very good teachers until about third year of university and even there I found dullards. Unions didn't improve the educational system, they just introduced belligerence.

I'm not writing this to pick on teachers or because of some grudge. The problem is a social one; we just don't seem to value education for its own sake. There are always societal and political strings attached to public education and the strings interfere with good teaching. If we as a society don't value education for its own sake then we won't get the teachers our grand children deserve.

Maybe it's time we dumped the factory model for schools.

Owen Gray said...

The factory model for schools was introduced to achieve economies of scale, Toby. The fact has always been, though, that good education takes place when you have the primary human resource -- good teachers -- not economies of scale.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

A good education Owen should be a spring board for continued learning throughout a persons life. Most people shut down their minds after high school or after university. The few teachers that inspired me were the ones who encouraged me to think for myself and to trust my ability for learning. But I'm not telling you anything new, your a retired teacher and my guess is a really good one.

Owen Gray said...

I'll have to let my former students speak to that notion, Pam. But you're right. The best teachers are the ones who teach us how to learn -- for a lifetime.

Marie Snyder said...

In Canada, at least there isn't the same struggle for quality education for the poor as there is in the US and other places. The way we fund schools ensures equity across the board - with the exception of First Nation areas, which is a horror show of its own. But free post-secondary schooling would be a start. Robert Reich has an excellent series of anti-trickle-down videos that speak to the need to raise the bottom wages and access to education.

The more I read about Finland's model, the more I agree with Toby here - that the problem with our education system is cultural. We're perpetuating a mindset that focuses on marks in order to jump through the next hoop instead of focusing on actually learning something because learning stuff is amazing!

Owen Gray said...

Reich's insights are superb, Marie. Judging from what I've seen in the film "Inequality for All," I also suspect that he's a terrific teacher. And, like you, I watched as Ontario's education system became fixated on the results of standardized tests -- and missed the boat.