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Young, Gifted and on the dole

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  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Well if you track the gini coefficient from about 1800 it was steadily rising up until the 1970s, since which it has been declining. This indicates that we are going backwards now towards a greater separation between rich and poor.

    Also the UK I believe is one of the top (if not the top out of economically developed countries) for least occupationally mobile. If you are born rich you are likely to stay rich, and vice versa.

    I don't know why more people aren't angry about those two facts.

    I would say the problem is not the system as such. The system that works best really is free market capital with government intervention to correct market failures and to account for externalities, and also to plan strategically in a way that the free market cannot (e.g., not to have 5 years of very very high unemployment and then 5 years of very low unemployment, instead to tax in the high employment eras and spend in the low employment eras to preserve people's skills and allowing the economy to continue to tick along).

    The problem is the government's management of the system. There are so many easy wins but the government is not interested because it does not promote their political objectives. A dictatorship with me at the helm wouldn't have that problem at least, and some kind revolutionary could chop my head off in 5 years and we'd all be better off for it.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    ShyBoy wrote: »
    Well if you track the gini coefficient from about 1800 it was steadily rising up until the 1970s, since which it has been declining. This indicates that we are going backwards now towards a greater separation between rich and poor.

    Also the UK I believe is one of the top (if not the top out of economically developed countries) for least occupationally mobile. If you are born rich you are likely to stay rich, and vice versa.

    I don't know why more people aren't angry about those two facts.

    I would say the problem is not the system as such. The system that works best really is free market capital with government intervention to correct market failures and to account for externalities, and also to plan strategically in a way that the free market cannot (e.g., not to have 5 years of very very high unemployment and then 5 years of very low unemployment, instead to tax in the high employment eras and spend in the low employment eras to preserve people's skills and allowing the economy to continue to tick along).

    The problem is the government's management of the system. There are so many easy wins but the government is not interested because it does not promote their political objectives. A dictatorship with me at the helm wouldn't have that problem at least, and some kind revolutionary could chop my head off in 5 years and we'd all be better off for it.

    Though over the last year the Gini co-efficient reversed from 0.36 to 0.34 over the last year. However, this is largely the result of globalisation - the real top earners are earning and competing in a global market. The 1960's equivalent of Bill Gates would have been runing a compay with sales in the US, Western Europe, Australisia and Japan. By the 1980s and 90s this is expanding to include Eastern Europe, China, India, South America. Personally I think a globalised international market is a good thing for the West and a good thing for people in China and India et al, the fact that it doesn't share the cake equally is less important to me than the fact our individual pieces are getting bigger. And the UK has been very successful at attracting a number of foreign multi-billionaires (providing employment and tax take) as well as headquarters of global companies, which distort the Gini (ie we wouldn't become richer if these people all left, but the Gini would fall)

    I've also went to a talk recently on social mobility where a Oxford Prof argued that our social mobility position is more complex than commonly supposed. We have poor recent Father to son mobility (which is how social mobility is commonly measured), but one of the best Mother to Daughter mobility rates (ie lots of women who job was being a secretary or having a parttime shop job and being a mother have daughters who want to be lawyers and retail managers). He also argued that one of the reasons for UK social mobility in comparison to others, is that a number of them have been playing catch up and the UK always had a lot more social mobility than is commonly supposed (as far back as WW1 the head of the British Army was the son of a tailor, who's first job was as a footman in a country house)

    I also think you're being unfair to Government (and I speak as a small state liberal*). At a very simple level the Govt is trying to keep interest rates down, (imagine interest rates what they were like at 90s, with companies unable to service their debts and people unable to pay their mortgages), but this is in effect accepting short-term unpopularity for a long term good. They could borrow like crazy and throw lots of money into the economy, which as your chart showed, would create multipliers and increased employment - unfortunately they don't generate enough tax income to pay for themselves, so in a few years we'd be in the same position we're in now (except, if its not a contradiction, worse with higher debts and paying more interest on them)

    I'm very cynical about the benevolent dicatator idea - even if power doesn't corrupt, you are assuming that your ideas are the right ones and without any democratic accountability or need to explain/challenge/argue your case the flaws aren't pointed out and you walk head first into disasters**

    * though on the other hand I also speak as a career civil servant

    ** which interestingly is one of the reasons for the RBS disaster, Fred Goodwin was such a strong and dictatorial character, that he pushed his ideas and views through with limited opposition and no-one was able to stand up and say 'hang on, boss, this makes no sense at all, ABN Amro is a basket case and we're paying too much'
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    On social mobility this isn';t the chap who's lecture I attended (who's name embarrasingly, I've forgotten), but he makes similar arguments

    http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/socialmobilitydelusions2012.pdf
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'm not sure what figures are like for university admissions over the past say 40 years or so. However in my opinion it seems that in recent years it seems to have become the "in thing" to push young people towards university.

    I recognise that in the past access for those from less well off backgrounds was quite restrictive. Yet I feel that although we as a nation were/are right in making sure everyone has the same chance or opportunity to go to university, it is entirely different to what I perceive to be trying to persuade everyone to go.

    I think we owe everyone the same opportunities in life, but whether making them all make the same choices leads to a couple of things. Firstly pushing people into things they may not actually want to do, but its what's expected by society (in a manner). Secondly if everyone went to university then surely it loses at least some of the sheen of "higher education", yes whoever studies it might be better educated, but if everyone walks out with a certificate saying 1st/2nd etc, what value is a common piece of paper.

    Although my vision of an ideal world kind of expects things to be a lot better than they are right now in terms of economics and social betterness (for want of a better word), I often have thoughts about things mentioned in this thread and what we would/should do next. Judging by the number of people coming out of university and not being able to walk into flash high paying jobs. The jobs (theoretically) that they end up going for, lead them to end up competing against those who didn't go to uni at 18 and have something the university students do not, namely experience.

    You might wonder why I'm talking about stuff like that, I'm just wondering that even when the situation improves, it is going to be a very long time before we see improvements because intermittent issues between now and a recovered economy will skew things a little bit.

    Maybe I've just taken a long winded way to suggest that we do need to get people to strive and perform at their best, but not everyone will be best suited to the same things. As said above, I'm all for making sure everyone has the same opportunities, but that shouldn't by default mean that everyone should or want to have to do the same things in life.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Whilst I do have a lo of sympathy for the above, the old world where there were lots of manual jobs and a small number of thinking ones has gone and for better or worse (mainly better in my view) won't be coming back. Which isn't to say university works for everyone or there won;t be good jobs for those without a degree, but the idea of an intellectual elite of 10% going to University and the rest doing little or no education beyond 18 is past.

    That said I'm (not) surprised no-one has mentioned one of the real declines in employment for young (mainly) men coming out of school with few qualifications and that's the Army. When I first joined the University Officer Training Corp the armed services had over 300,000 servicemen (and from memory 55 Inf battalions and 18 Arm Regiments), that had fallen to 225,000 by the time I left Sandhurst and its now about 175,000 (and due to fall further). It used to be a great route for a young bloke who'd not done great at school to get some training and qualifications which would help him get a job in the outside world (everything from Bus Drivers to Chefs, Brickies to PC repair man) and I'm sure it still does, but to a lot fewer people.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Although a lot of people will wonder why the armed forces still recruit whilst under going massive redundancy issues. I'm mentioning this now because its a massive bug bear of mine when people don't get it. The armed forces unlike large private companies only recruit from the bottom, the management within has come from all the way at the bottom. If they didn't feed new recruits into the bottom, then eventually the whole organisation would fall apart.

    Keenly aware that the poster above me will understand what I'm saying, just wanted to point out for others to see, that I agree with him. There are a lot of people I've seen who joined up as almost complete tear-aways, who have performed excellently whilst serving their country. Including two brothers I know who escaped getting involved in gang culture in an urban environment.

    I'm not sure what the figures are for those who express interest in joining the armed services, but I do know that a while back it became increasingly difficult to get in. Not impossible, but just harder due to lower intake numbers. People were not leaving the army as often as they were, slowing down the required numbers needed to be put in at the bottom. Primarily because as the economy nose dived, people in the services realised it was better to stay in that get out into civilian life. I know that recruiting offices in my neck of the woods, are absolutely chocca!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    That said I'm (not) surprised no-one has mentioned one of the real declines in employment for young (mainly) men coming out of school with few qualifications and that's the Army. When I first joined the University Officer Training Corp the armed services had over 300,000 servicemen (and from memory 55 Inf battalions and 18 Arm Regiments), that had fallen to 225,000 by the time I left Sandhurst and its now about 175,000 (and due to fall further). It used to be a great route for a young bloke who'd not done great at school to get some training and qualifications which would help him get a job in the outside world (everything from Bus Drivers to Chefs, Brickies to PC repair man) and I'm sure it still does, but to a lot fewer people.

    Wouldn't the armed forces be a rather expensive method of training bus drivers though?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Well no, because if we have a requirement for a set number of persons in the armed forces, they will be spending that money anyway, same as the required training courses for such people.

    Coming out with HGV licences or whatever you need for a bus. Or so my flawed logic randomly spews out.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    G-Raffe wrote: »
    Well no, because if we have a requirement for a set number of persons in the armed forces, they will be spending that money anyway, same as the required training courses for such people.

    Coming out with HGV licences or whatever you need for a bus. Or so my flawed logic randomly spews out.

    :yes:

    The army isn't training bus drivers - it's training soldiers to drive its trucks (or cook for hundreds on a set budget, or repair hi-tech comms gear). It's just that these are useful skills for when people leave

    Nor is my argument we bring back conscription or anything like that, but it is a reality that one major route for youth employment is much smaller than it was even twenty years ago (never mind forty)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    G-Raffe wrote: »

    Keenly aware that the poster above me will understand what I'm saying, just wanted to point out for others to see, that I agree with him. There are a lot of people I've seen who joined up as almost complete tear-aways, who have performed excellently whilst serving their country. Including two brothers I know who escaped getting involved in gang culture in an urban environment.

    Absolutely, I don't think soldiers are 'plaster saints' (and I wouldn't want them to be), but some of the blokes who were recruited were kicked out of school at sixteen with no qualifications and destined for the scrapheap but had the nous to join the army.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Nor is my argument we bring back conscription or anything like that, but it is a reality that one major route for youth employment is much smaller than it was even twenty years ago (never mind forty)

    But presumably the government has saved money by reducing the armed forces? That's money which could be used to subsidise training for young people on a far greater scale than the army could achieve. Whether it is used that way is another question entirely. Do you know whether this reduction in the armed forces has been matched with an increase in the education and training budget? My impression was that it was increased under Labour, although I'm not sure how much of that was going into the sort of training that will attract people who didn't get good enough grades to do A-levels.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    But presumably the government has saved money by reducing the armed forces? That's money which could be used to subsidise training for young people on a far greater scale than the army could achieve. Whether it is used that way is another question entirely. Do you know whether this reduction in the armed forces has been matched with an increase in the education and training budget? My impression was that it was increased under Labour, although I'm not sure how much of that was going into the sort of training that will attract people who didn't get good enough grades to do A-levels.

    I think the defence budget is too small, we're underinsuring and we're relying on the US to pick up the slack so we should be spending more, though that's just a side issue..

    The problem with making the army smaller is not that funding was directed elsehere, but that the army has always been good at taking young lads the education system has written off and giving them a purpose - just spraying money at training them without the rest that goes with it may be just a waste of time and money.

    Also how much of that increase went into productive education? Paying teachers more doesn't neccessarily mean better education (though using that money to bring in teaching assistants might*). Nor does building an expensive new school when the old one only needed a new roof and some window frames. What is happening is often the problem with state spending generally, sure some of its very productive and well spent, a lot of its not and as, unlike a company, the state can't go bust and can always get new money it has less of an incentive to look elsewhere

    * as would Sure Start where I've changed my mind and now think that the idea was sound, even if the implementation was a cheap playscheme for the middle class.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think the defence budget is too small, we're underinsuring and we're relying on the US to pick up the slack so we should be spending more, though that's just a side issue..

    The problem with making the army smaller is not that funding was directed elsehere, but that the army has always been good at taking young lads the education system has written off and giving them a purpose - just spraying money at training them without the rest that goes with it may be just a waste of time and money.
    Maybe, or perhaps they'll do it more effectively. We have the highest level of military spending in Western Europe at 2.6% of GDP, and I'd be interested to know whether you think we deal more effectively with giving young men a purpose than, for example, Canada (1.5%), the Netherlands (1.4%), Germany (1.4%), Denmark (1.4%), Belgium (1.2%), Sweden (1.2%), Japan (1.0%) or Ireland (0.6%). Last I read, the mental health and levels of alcohol abuse amongst forces and ex-forces employees was significantly greater than the general population. It's pretty well recognised nowadays how important it is to give members of the armed forces additional support merely to adjust to society after the army. All of this is extra cost. Whether or not the military budget should be increased should be based on military need, and ability to pay, but to increase the budget because it gives certain young men a sense of purpose would be foolish, imo (or to even factor that in the decision), because I think there are far more cost-effective ways of achieving that.
    Also how much of that increase went into productive education? Paying teachers more doesn't neccessarily mean better education (though using that money to bring in teaching assistants might*). Nor does building an expensive new school when the old one only needed a new roof and some window frames. What is happening is often the problem with state spending generally, sure some of its very productive and well spent, a lot of its not and as, unlike a company, the state can't go bust and can always get new money it has less of an incentive to look elsewhere
    No idea how much of it was productive. Now you're right that more pay for teachers doesn't automatically mean better teaching, although in the long term it does, as it allows the job to attract the most talented graduates. But it's actually giving teachers freedom that is proven to work (Finnish teachers get paid less than UK teachers, yet have far better results). Having said that, considering the fact that after 5 years of training, a teacher gets paid a starting salary of less than a trainee police officer, I'd be surprised if a lot of that extra funding was put into teacher's salaries. But increasing budgets does allow you to cut class sizes, which does improve education standards. Strangely in the UK, they've failed to do that though, so God knows where this extra money is going.

    But I find it strange that you're criticising state-run sectors as wasteful in defence of the most state-run of sectors. After all, at least the education and health sectors have private competitors (and even competition within the state sector now). Military is a complete monopoly and certainly not beyond poor spending as Bird and Fortune so aptly demonstrate.

    I, on the other hand, am in favour of government subsidizing apprenticeships and training for industry to achieve the same goals. So it seems that I'm the one actually arguing in favour of the private sector, while you're putting your faith in a state institution.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think one of the things I find most odd when people talk about defence budgets and military spending, is when the references are made to cost cost cost. I do understand the emergency services in the UK have and do suffer losses, yet I don't hesitate to say that the Armed Forces have suffered a lot more. I'm not saying that as part of a look how dangerous our job is compared to other peoples, just that in recent years the Armed Forces have had a bit of a bad time of it. Unfortunately as with talk about benefits claimants, hospital patients etc, members of the armed forces (as with emergency services) are still people and not just numbers [as much as they try to tell us otherwise].
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Lots of interesting points. One thing about the defence budget - we are a permanent member on the UN security council as well as a founder member of NATO and as such need to maintain an international capability not just for self defence but as a key player in global politics and security e.g. the intervention in Libya last year.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    G-Raffe wrote: »
    Although my vision of an ideal world kind of expects things to be a lot better than they are right now in terms of economics and social betterness (for want of a better word), I often have thoughts about things mentioned in this thread and what we would/should do next. Judging by the number of people coming out of university and not being able to walk into flash high paying jobs. The jobs (theoretically) that they end up going for, lead them to end up competing against those who didn't go to uni at 18 and have something the university students do not, namely experience.

    You might wonder why I'm talking about stuff like that, I'm just wondering that even when the situation improves, it is going to be a very long time before we see improvements because intermittent issues between now and a recovered economy will skew things a little bit.

    I do agree that people shouldn't be pushed into University, but I don't think an increase in the supply of graduates is necessarily a detriment. There are several direct plusses to more graduates: i) increased ability to supply technical / research / high tech industries with labour, creating growth ii) increased ability to generate new ideas and innovate, creating growth.

    Also indirect gains: i) graduates have a more fulfilling life ii) graduates can share their new knowledge and understanding with friends and family (e.g. same reason why children of academics always do better in school!), 'trickle down' effect of increased education if you will iii) on a macro scale causes progression in society towards greater enlightenment.

    Also consider that graduates pay for their education with graduate tax / student loans, so they are bearing a lot of the cost despite the fact that everyone benefits from more people being educated.

    Having said this, I think what would be good for the government to do, is start thinking about matching graduate jobs to graduate vacancies. Certainly not 1:1, but if in 5 years they know there will be demand for 5x more STEM graduates than History graduates, then work with Universities to ensure the courses available reflect that. As it is, even in engineering, some types of engineers are massively in demand and can earn six figures not long out of universities, whereas some are struggling to even get work experience.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Except its becoming more expensive or so they say, well I dont think it is, just more of the cost is been burdened on the service user (student).
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