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Fred Argy, inequality, social intervention « Previous | |Next »
May 24, 2006

A quote from Fred Argy's article in New Matilda entitled Equality of Opportunity: levelling the playing field.The article is based on a paper over at the Australia Insitute (Discussion paper no. 85, April 2006). Argy says:

Australia’s social policy environment is changing in very fundamental ways. Increasingly, we are embracing American social norms---and the American experience suggests that these norms lead to less, not more, social mobility. Already, the interaction of market forces and policy developments in Australia is creating a two-tier society in employment, health, education, housing and public transport, as well as wide regional disparities in opportunities and growing poverty traps. And the outlook is more of the same. For people with individual market power, the recent spate of workplace and welfare reforms will offer wider choice and greater scope for income and occupational mobility. But for the more disadvantaged in our community, the new policy environment will mean less choice and less scope for upward income mobility. Without countervailing social initiatives, this might lead to profound community disillusionment with the realities of equal opportunity.

This is about right isn't it. That places the emphasis on countervailing social initiatives. Those that make the observed market inequality fairer, more economically rational, more politically legitimate and more socially acceptable. What these initiatives look like?

Argy says:

Governments can, as they have done in the past, use social security transfers to temper the harsh effects of rising market inequalities. Such passive redistribution would ease the pain for some but do little to alleviate the underlying structural barriers to mobility. If we want both economic prosperity and substantive equality of opportunity, we need more ‘active’ forms of social intervention – the kind which develops human capabilities and mobility at the low end of the income spectrum while at the same time putting obligations on benefit recipients to change their behaviour.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:00 PM | | Comments (3)


Gary,Fred Argy's article is fairly well spot on,except "we are embracing American social norms" Should that read, we are brain washed dare I say it.

I mean for the best part of forty years we have been bombarded with American culture via Paramount, Desilu studios etc etc etc.Remember my three sons? You just knew in your heart of hearts these three boys didn't fart in the bath,and heaven forbid masterbate yikes!.Didja notice no females in this show?no incest in this house.And the Brady bunch my God, the perfect nuclear family,a nd their own cook to boot. No crime here folks all goodness and the American way. A bit like our own John Howard. (I wonder if John does it with the lights on).The best part is all those factory workers who own apartments big enough to park a fully loaded semi trailer in,and taking their holidays in Athens, Rome, Rio,and other exotic places. The mind boggles. Well mine does anyway.

For mine it's all those workers out there who now think they are little capitalists (Howard's battlers) cause they now charge the customer direct to clean out his rubbish bin. Instead of through a collective business, where the super was paid and holidays were accumulated sick leave, workers compensation etc. I'm now a business man. This was and still is just a way to save the big end of town money. If you look at all of this logically can we all work for ourselves?. I'd love to be an overseas pilot I just cant afford the initial purchase of a 747. A sea captain, how much is an oil tanker. I should try saving harder. Shit with the tax cuts and If I live to be 500 who knows.

Hey Fred where have you been?The widening gap between the rich and poor started under Bob Hawke, there is no middle class anymore we are either rich or poor. Cynical bastard aint I

Should mention that it's not so much brainwashing alone, as that the US sees its media as a straight up export industry, and fights very, very hard to make sure that anyone who wants to sell anything to the US buys media content from it in return.

War Department,oh so true.A bit off topic I spose but I believe the Americanization of Australias culture ref industrial relations,health service,policing,even our own media print/electronic has been an on going transformation for some time.I hate to keep using it "But it's nothing new" Where/why this direction is coming from I will leave for far brighter minds than mine.My own thoughts tell me,Americans in the main seem to accept that being screwed over by the establishment,for want of a better word, is o/k especially if you are rampant anti communist or suspicious of anything that smacks of socialism.Unfortunately this way of thinking is starting to infect Australians..The huge company's and media barons that really control political discourse in any country,see it as manipulation that works well on the masses.

For mine I am glad that time is running out for the main stream bullshit artists,and the penny I pray is finally dropping.You know at times I imagine two concrete finishers meeting at the North Pole,and after the planet is incased in concrete.One says to the other"Hey Fred our work is done"