The cost of inequality

“Poverty wastes people’s potential, depriving our society of the skills and talents of those who have valuable contributions to make. This drags down the productivity of our economy, hinders economic growth, and reduces tax revenue.” The Joseph Rowntree Foundation sets out an economic case for increasing income equality (BBC)…
 
Meanwhile, many of those at the top are only interested in increasing their own wealth… “This year, a succession of chief executives have taken home eye-watering pay packets worth many millions despite the companies they head performing poorly” (Daily Telegraph)
 
“The simple truth is that a country as unequal as ours is not just imperfect, it is practically ungovernable. How do you develop coherent policies for people so separated by their economic circumstances that they may as well be living on different planets? Extreme inequality is not the basis for a cohesive, happy, healthy society, and it is why politicians from all sides are rightly acknowledging it as a problem in dire need of solutions.” (The Equality Trust)
 
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Did someone say solutions?
 
Despite warnings to the contrary, “employers have responded to the new National Living Wage (NLW) by raising prices or reducing profits rather than cutting jobs, according to a survey from the Resolution Foundation.” (BBC)
 
“Increasing wealth requires that a large (and growing) part of the world’s population is indebted. When one population reaches debt saturation point – they cannot or will not take on any more – those who want to create financial wealth move on to another, less indebted population. Rising debt for many, rising wealth for a few … If we are to create a more equal world, and reduce the risk of financial meltdown, we need to cure ourselves not only of our love of debt, but of our love of wealth.” (Open Democracy)
 
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Forthcoming
 
Equality in the Pub!
Wednesday 3rd August, from 7pm, The Rutland Arms, 86 Brown St, Sheffield, S1 2BS
We have our regular summer meet-up in the pub. We’re at the Rutland Arms again for some beer, chat about making the world a better place, and (possibly) a bit of playing of the best equality game this side of the IMF. All welcome.
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Generations past and present

Each generation will reap what the former generation has sown
Chinese Proverb
 
“A new McKinsey Global Institute report, Poorer than their parents? Flat or falling incomes in advanced economies, finds that between 2005 and 2014, real incomes in those same advanced economies were flat or fell for 65 to 70 percent of households, or more than 540 million people (exhibit). And while government transfers and lower tax rates mitigated some of the impact, up to a quarter of all households still saw disposable income stall or fall in that decade.” – McKinsey assess the impact of income inequality
 
“She visibly squirmed when he asked her to ‘stop flirting with him’, but she felt powerless. The overweight, balding 40-year-old was her temporary manager; if she started filing complaints, she was unlikely to be given a valuable 12-hour shift again. We agency staff were continually reminded how lucky we were to be working there.” – how precarious employment leaves a generation powerless (The Guardian)
 
“states and societies are underpinned by a social contract between the generations – collectively supporting each of us through the stages of our lives, and crucially doing so fairly. But this contract looks at risk of fraying … Young people have experienced the biggest pay squeeze in the aftermath of the financial crisis, seen their dreams of home ownership drift out of sight and witnessed a welfare state in retreat.” – The Resolution Foundation on intergenerational fairness
 
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Forthcoming
 
Equality in the Pub!
Wednesday 3rd August, The Rutland Arms, 86 Brown St, Sheffield, S1 2BS
We have our regular summer meet-up in the pub. We’re at the Rutland Arms again for some beer, chat about making the world a better place, and a bit of playing of the best equality game this side of the IMF. All welcome.
 
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Write About Time: A cross-generational creative workshop with Helen Mort
Sunday 31st July 2016, 11am – 5pm Theatre Delicatessen, 17 The Moor
We have a limited number of places left on a free one day intergenerational writing workshop, which will bring Sheffielders of all ages together to explore the themes of time and sustainability through new creative writing. With Sheffield poet Helen Mort. Part of the Sheffield intersection project (www.sheffield.ac.uk/intersection). Advance booking is essential. Please contact Kristina Diprose by email k.diprose@sheffield.ac.uk or telephone 07736 480924 to book a place.
 
A New Politics for Health – Moving Forward from the Ottawa Charter
Friday September 2nd, 9.00 for 9.30 -12.30pm Pemberton Room, Regent Court Sheffield, S1 4DA
 
Thirty years ago, the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion generated worldwide interest in a new public health movement. This was based on the promotion of healthy public policies, healthy environments, inclusive public services, community action and individual skills. Thirty years later we better understand how politics and public policy affect health but we’re still battling for health equity.
 
We’re inviting people working in Sheffield and the wider region to share their ideas at an event about good practice and innovative ideas in our region. Book your place for the free Sheffield event here. Travel subsidies are available for people who are unwaged – please contact k.powell@sheffield.ac.uk
 
This event will contribute to the development of the Birmingham Health Charter
 
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Stories from the margins

“He was working nights, all hours. But they stopped his housing benefit,” Hughes says. “He’s lost his home. We gave him a coat in the end. I’ve never seen a man more broken.”
 
I speak to Angela again over a week after she’s started work and she’s noticeably worried. Within days of taking the job, she tells me her carer’s allowance and income support were stopped. At the same time, the family’s housing benefit and council tax support have been suspended (now she’s working, the council need to re-assess their income).
 
“Society doesn’t make it easy,” he says. “They’re stopping this; they’re stopping that. It’s hard for people now.” The food bank, he tells me, is a symbol: “I can survive.”
 
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A Nation Divided
 
“On Tuesday I was in Northampton’s market square, and finding leave voters was a cinch. One or two, just to make this clear, were plain racist, but the majority were not: they talked about immigration, but in the context of jobs, housing and all the rest. An hour later I was on a London tube train sprinkled with successful-looking professionals, a few of whom had ‘Stronger in’ stickers on their Herschel rucksacks and laptop bags.” – Jonathon Harris writes in the Guardian on the social divide between leavers and remainers http://bit.ly/28XcDsT
 
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Income inequality, health, and voices from the margins
Wednesday 6th July, 7pm-9pm, Quaker Meeting House, St. James’ Street, S1 2EW.
 
Politics is in turmoil and everyday life has been affected for many. That a majority voted leave partly reflects the inequalities in wealth, housing and opportunity that causes pain and resentment in many communities. The current turmoil makes clear the need to have a wider discussion about what we value in our society.
 
We’ll inevitably cover the EU referendum at our next meeting (7 to 9pm, Wednesday 6th July, Quaker Meeting House), but our work to raise the issue of income inequality continues. We’ll be talking around increasing the focus on the health impacts of income inequality, with potential events later in the year. We’ll also be discussing ideas around raising the voices of those most impacted and most in need of support – some of their stories are below. If you’re interested, you are most welcome to come along.
 
Discussing the impact of income inequality with regard to health, and ways to raise the voices of those most affected by income inequality. Some discussion on the EU referendum inevitable! Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group, all welcome. Free, donations for tea and biscuits.
 
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Loads of festivals…
…see details for those and more at the excellent Alt Sheff
 
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Intersection
 
INTERSECTION is a research project about intergenerational justice, consumption and sustainability. We are interested in people’s opinions on the things you buy and use, your views on the environment and on fairness between generations. If you are interested in finding out more and are 16 years or over, please visit the site: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/intersection/takepart
 

Giving makes the world go round

Everyone feels like they are worth at least what they earn, and “workers with more academic qualifications and more experience – both likely to correlate with higher pay – are less likely to be satisfied with any bonus they receive” (BBC)…
 
Perhaps the problem is that once you’ve covered your basic needs, spending money doesn’t make you happy, though giving it away does… (The Guardian)
 
So if you, or a friend, has more money than happiness – why not encourage them to engage in a bit of “pro-social spending” (that’s economics speak for giving to good causes)… for example, you can help out the S2 Foodbank
 
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Forthcoming
 
Sheffield Equality Group meeting
Wednesday 1st June, 7pm-9pm, Quaker Meeting House, St. James’ Street, S1 2EW.
Discussing the impact of income inequality, and talking about a potential new initiative for tackling inequality within Sheffield. But this month mainly playing (and developing) games! Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group, all welcome. Free, donations for tea and biscuits.
 
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Sheffield Doc/Fest
Friday 10th to Wednesday 15th June – Cinemas across Sheffield and outdoor screens on Howard Street and Tudor Square
The annual festival of the art and business of documentary making. Workshops, screenings, pitching opportunities, discussion panels and more. This year it features 160 films on themes including Instigators & Agitators, Women in Docs, Queer Screen, and Behind the Beats.
 
End Hunger UK
Thursday, 30 June 2016 from 1:30pm to 4pm, Sheffield Jesus Centre – 93 Broomspring Lane, Broomhall, S10 2FB
Do you share a vision of a Britain in which everyone has access to good food and no one need go to bed hungry? Following on from the previous ‘Right to Good Food’ event in November, come to find out more about plans for a major national ‘End Hunger UK’ campaign, being jointly planned by an emerging alliance of national organisations including Church Action on Poverty, Trussell Trust, Oxfam, and the Child Poverty Acton Group.
http://bit.ly/1Z9Twf3 (EventBrite booking)
 
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I, Daniel Blake

“The present system is one of conscious cruelty. It bears down on those least able to bear it. The bureaucratic inefficiency is vindictive and hunger is being used as a weapon. People are being forced to look for work that doesn’t exist.” – Ken Loach has won the Palm Dor at Canne for his film on the UK benefit system, “I, Daniel Blake”.
 
 
…but then the system is really, really, stupid
 
…you can find out more and join the UNITE community campaign
 
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Forthcoming
 
Sheffield Equality Group meeting
Wednesday 1st June, 7pm-9pm, Quaker Meeting House, St. James’ Street, S1 2EW.
Discussing the impact of income inequality, and talking about a potential new initiative for tackling inequality within Sheffield. But mainly playing (and developing) games! Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group, all welcome. Free, donations for tea and biscuits.
 
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Picket of M&S on Fargate in support of the Pennine Foods strike
Wednesday 25th May, 5pm-6pm, Marks and Spencer, Sheffield Fargate
Workers at one of M&S’s major suppliers Pennine Food are getting a raw deal. Billionaire Ranjit Singh is taking thousands of pounds off the workers at Pennine Food, Some workers are set to loose up to £6000 a year. Please join this picket of M&S to protest at the policy of their supplier.
 
Peace in the Park
Saturday 11th June, 12 midday to 8pm, Ponderosa Park, Sheffield
Peace in the Park intends to make a stand for peace in 2016, to encourage a better, more equal world and to demonstrate the power of communities.
 
 equalityBoard
Would you like to play a game? Wednesday 1st June at the Quaker Meeting House
 
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CATS!
 
Citizens Advertising Takeover Service

Wouldn’t it be great not to worry about the holiday we can’t afford, the car we don’t need, or the body we don’t have? Imagine a world where public spaces made you feel pawsitive. A kickstarter campaign has gained funding to fill a tube-station with, erm, pictures of cats.
 

Picking sides in a classless society

“Eventually I learned that most people do have to pick a side, even if they do it unconsciously. I didn’t decide pragmatically to become middle-class in order to access social esteem and higher wages. It happened that way because I happened to stay on at school. There is a sense in which you buy, or are sold, a one-way ticket. You can go back, but never again on the same terms.” – Lynsey Hanley on her experience of social mobility http://bit.ly/1QftBMe (The Guardian).
 
Her excellent book, Respectable, was also book of the week on Radio 4 (iPlayer)
 
“Now ‘I have made it’, I am not supposed to react angrily to it, I am supposed to know my place, and be grateful for getting out. However, I am angry and so are other working-class people when we have to deal with and hear these simplistic and stigmatising views of our lives. I have written about how working class life is misunderstood, and reduced to simplistic one-dimensional narratives from both the prurient poverty porn, but also the middle class do-gooders. We are not expected to attempt to defend our choices, become angry, or resist.” – Lisa McKensie on the need to ‘make it’ (The Guardian)
 
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Forthcoming
 
Wednesday 18th May, 7pm-9pm, Quaker Meeting House, St. James’ Street, S1 2EW.
Discussing the impact of income inequality and the campaigns trying to tackle it. This event will explore how income inequality impacts upon society and human relationships to create the issues covered in the The Divide Documentary, and the featured campaigns to tackle income inequality. Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group, all welcome. Free, donations for tea and biscuits.
 
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Tuesday 17th May, 6.30–9.00pm Quaker Meeting House, St. James’ Street, S1 2EW.
How do we make the leap? Come and hear from a panel of insightful and provocative speakers about the connections between equity, economy and climate change – and join our debate. Speakers include Shahida Siddique (CEO of Faithstar), Sarah-Jayne Clifton (Jubilee Debt Campaign), and Philip Pearson (a trade unionist campaigning for Just Transition). Hosted by Sheffield Climate Alliance.
 
What is wrong with money, and how can we fix it?
Monday 23 May, 7.30pm, Quaker Meeting House, St. James St. S1 2EW
This public talk brings together speakers from three different Sheffield groups, all campaigning in different ways for economic justice. Peter Verity (Sheffield Positive Money group), Louis Read of the “Sheffield Pound”, and Rob Shearing (Sheffield Money) will explain their ideas and actions around monetary reform, local currency, and financial inclusion. Hosted by Sheffield Positive Money. Free entry, but donations requested (suggested £3) to cover costs.
 
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Are we the fairest city of them all?
 
“Led by the city council, several large employers have introduced a higher living wage based on calculations by the Living Wage Foundation, and the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce has also encouraged small and medium-sized organisations to do so. Another recommendation, on fair access to credit, resulted in the creation of Sheffield Money, to compete with the unscrupulous and usurious payday lenders. More recently, a fair employer charter was introduced, designed to ensure fair conditions of work as well as pay.” – the impact of the Sheffield Fairness Commission and the Our Fair City campaign covered by The Conversation.

A sanction for those in need…

so she said “I’m going to initial it this time, but next time, put a bit more information in,” and then she just went “is this about this teaching from home thing,” and I had flu last Wednesday and I just did not have the energy to say, “Well, I’m waiting for this poxy boiler to be done and the place has to be sorted out and decorated and it’s all being replaced,” and I just didn’t have the energy to say….
Well, they’re sending off the hardship loan now. I’ve got to go back Thursday to get some food vouchers. I’m going to the hospital and they are all going to hear about this.
 
– Kate Belgrave records experiences of benefit sanctions
 
Paul was sanctioned in the first instance after his job centre advisor felt he had not completed his log book correctly.His second sanction was handed out to him as a result of being 10 minutes late to a meeting at the job centre, something he said was the result of a bus delay.
 
The third and final sanction, that resulted in the three-year cap on his benefits, came about after Paul was made to wait for an hour in the job centre to meet an advisor.
 
He complained about this delay, which staff at the centre felt was aggressive, and his unemployment benefits were capped until 2018.
 
– The Dundee Courier reports on a three year sanction forcing Paul to destitution
 
1,252,000 people, including 312,000 children, were destitute at some point in 2015
 
People who had experienced destitution said that they felt ‘demeaned, ‘degraded’ and ‘humiliated’ by having to get family, friends or charities to provide basics like food and toiletries. Destitute parents often went without things themselves so that they could provide more for their children. Many felt that destitution had a negative impact on their relationships with their children and with other family and friends, leading to social isolation. Destitution took a toll on many people’s mental health, and some reported physical health problems.
 
In 2015, destitute people reported problems with getting behind on bills (57%), serious debt (33%), benefit delays (40%) or sanctions (30%)
 
 

…to sanction those in greed

 
The story of BHS’s bankruptcy is one of theft and asset-stripping on a massive scale. Green took £580m+ out then sold the company for £1. The next owner, twice bankrupt Dominic Chappell, has taken millions more. Green underfunded the pension scheme – while paying his wife £400 million in BHS dividends, all channeled through a tax haven. Now the ship is sinking, while Green takes delivery of his new £100 million superyacht. Please sign the petition on 38 Degrees
 
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Forthcoming
Wednesday 18th May 7pm-9pm, Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Discussing the impact of income inequality and the campaigns trying to tackle it. Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group, all welcome.
 
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Why We Need Economic Justice for Climate Justice…
How do we make the leap? Come and hear from provocative speakers, including Sarah-Jayne Clifton from Jubilee Debt Campaign, about the connections between equity, economy and climate change – and join our debate about making the big changes needed. In association with Sheffield Climate Alliance.
 
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The Peckham Experiment

Between 1926 and 1950 the Peckham Experiment was a pioneering medical initiative that stimulated a revolution in the ideas of community health. A community health centre was opened where residents could organise sporting, social and cultural activities. It had the aim of promoting the health of individuals, families, and the community together.
 
On Wednesday 6th April, 7pm-9pm at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House, there will be a talk by former GP Jack Czauderna – member of the Pioneer Health Foundation – on the Peckham Experiment, followed by discussion. Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group. All welcome.
 
For more information on the Peckham Experiment, see The Pioneer Health Foundation – “A recent meeting of those whose lives have been influenced by Peckham showed that its legacy is alive and that the belief in human potential, humane systems and human scale development has a powerful resonance today.”
 peckham2
 
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Home from Home
“The number of people sleeping rough in England on any one night has doubled since 2010 and increased by 30% in the last year, with an estimated 3,569 people now sleeping on the streets across England, according to new government figures.” – Guardian report on rise in homelessness
 
“In the bins you can hide so nobody can see you. It’s kind of warm, nobody knows you are there,” George explains on the streets of Bristol. He has been homeless since he lost his engineering job before Christmas, leaving him unable to pay the rent. (BBC)
 
In this special edition of Exploitation, Exploitation, Exploitation, presenters Christie and Will get their hands dirty as they take would-be tenants Gilly and Steve on a search for their dream home – or at least, an apartment where they don’t suspect a murder has taken place (Guardian)

Disabling Austerity

People who are disabled were already coping with large losses of support under austerity before the latest cuts to support. People with the severest disabilities (2% of the population) were already bearing around 15% of cuts
(Centre for Welfare Reform). Austerity is disabling us.
 
“The phantom benefit cheat is the perfect patsy for austerity. If there are hordes of disabled, mentally ill, or unemployed people who are draining the public purse, there is justification for sweeping cuts to social security. It doesn’t actually matter if this horde is lying to claim benefits or not” – Frances Ryan on how the shrinking of the welfare state is being spun (Guardian)
 
Swiftly passing the threshold for debate by parliament, a petition asking Government to reverse the cuts to disability support
 
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Forthcoming
 
The Peckham Experiment
Wednesday 6th April, 7pm-9pm at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
 
Between 1926 and 1950 the Peckham Experiment was a pioneering medical initiative that stimulated a revolution in the ideas of community health. A community health centre was opened where residentscould organise sporting, social and cultural activities. It had the aim of promoting the health of individuals, families, and the community together. Talk by former GP Jack Czauderna, followed by discussion. Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group.
 
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The Divide Documentary
Wednesday 4th May 7pm-9pm, Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Documentary inspired by the critically-acclaimed, bestselling book “The Spirit Level” by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. https://www.facebook.com/events/588046788021095/
 
What happens when the rich get richer?
Wednesday 18th May 7pm-9pm, Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Discussing the impact of income inequality and the campaigns trying to tackle it. Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group, all welcome. https://www.facebook.com/events/544693055703055/
 
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Banking on Land Vs. Prosperity
 
Monday 21st March, 7:30-9pm, Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Exploring a remedy to systemic prosperity problems through film animations and a new game, this workshop will give you a helpful grounding in all things Land Value Tax and explore its helpful banking system with positive prosperity cycles.
 
Part of the Festival of Debate http://www.festivalofdebate.com/
 
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“Principle 5” general meeting
Tuesday 22nd March, 7pm, The Harlequin, 108 Nursery St. S3 8GG
The general meeting of “Principle 5” the Yorkshire Co-operative Resource Centre which provides study sessions, education and training on the development of co-operatives. Newcomers and volunteers most welcome.
 
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Achieving Our Potential
 
We’re all in this together – aren’t we? Excellent film from DPAC on the loss of the Independent Living Fund.

It’s a plot!

council-deprivation
 
If you work how much Councils have had their budgets cut by, and plot that against how much deprivation they are in, you find a strong link. The more deprived the area, the more the Council has its budget cut. It’s not a surprise – many extra grants to help those most in need have been cut – but it’s a signal of how the burden of austerity hits the worse off most.
 
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Forthcoming
Sheffield Equality Group monthly meeting
Wednesday 2nd March, 7pm-9pm at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
This month we’ve got more practicing of our equality games – prompting discussion and reflection on inequality. Also this month – what is a job worth? All welcome. Free, donations for tea and biscuits.
 
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The Peckham Experiment
Wednesday 6th April, 7pm-9pm at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Between 1926 and 1950 the Peckham Experiment was a pioneering medical initiative that stimulated a revolution in the ideas of community health. A community health centre was opened where residents could organise sporting, social and cultural activities. It had the aim of promoting the health of individuals, families, and the community together. Talk by former GP Jack Czauderna, followed by discussion. Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group.
 
 peckham2
 
For more on the Peckham Experiment see http://thephf.org/
 
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Banking on Land Vs. Prosperity
Monday 21st March, 7:30-9pm, Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Exploring a remedy to systemic prosperity problems through film animations and a new game, this workshop will give you a helpful grounding in all things Land Value Tax and explore its helpful banking system with positive prosperity cycles.
 
Part of the Festival of Debate
 
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Aspiration
 
“We can’t keep pretending that our taxes and benefits system is fair when the rich are given all the ladders and the poor all the snakes.  The system doesn’t help the ‘aspirational’ hard-working families we often hear politicians talk about. If anything it’s an Aspiration Tax.” – http://bit.ly/1RqaQcC (Equality Trust)
 
“Who doesn’t want to believe they have risen to success because of their own innate ability, talent or drive? To believe there are potentially more talented journalists, politicians, actors and judges from Manchester’s terrace houses and Glasgow’s housing schemes: well, it’s a recipe for insecurity. Better to comfort yourself with the belief that inequality is really just deserts.” – Owen Jones sets out how inequality selects whose aspirations become reality (The Guardian)
 
“The boys were attracted to a middling position – neither failing or succeeding – and being thought of as ‘ordinary’ by their peers. Yet their schools often promoted an idea of aspiration that was competitive and self-serving.” – the egalitarian aspiration of working class white schoolboys (Garth Stahl, The Guardian)
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