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it doesn't matter where you come from?

Oh yes it does...oh no it doesn't? Moving away swiftly from pantomine mode, there's a debate going on here about how much background matters to living a good life. There's even a whispered hint of the re-emergence of a discussion about class.

So background has got a lot to do with what assets your family have - the money to give you the private education to get into Oxbridge, the old boys club to get you into the City - the money to get you a financial adviser who gets you off paying any tax and so on...

But not coming from a privileged background shouldn't make you unhappy, as adwilliams134' dad shows so well.

"Life is bloody marvellous. It's not for working yourself to death over or acquiring the petty trappings of wealth. It's for having a good time, a beer and a fag, and a laugh with your mates. Take what you need, spend the rest and don't worry about leaving any to the kids. If they're of any use they'll get there on their own."

Society convinces us that what we consume defines how successful we are, how independent we are, how worthy we are of attention? Because it's what we respond to best. Because deep down, we prefer the conformism of running the rat race like a hamster on a spinning wheel and the standardised consumption of “keeping up with the Jones”. We prefer the quick fixes of consuming, because we fear the freedom to do things for the pleasure of doing them without calculating how we appear to others.

But then again, if we don't have money we have to depend on others, which opens us up to the threat of being dominated or even exploited by those that do. And if that sense of feeling exploited is passed on from generation to generation, people feel a sense of inevitability about their powerless to “get ahead”. Their eyes are wide open to their background and subconsciously so are most of us – programmes like Little Britain or Shameless expresses the dirty little secret that we still see society through the lens of class.

If having a privileged family background gives a lift up, would providing people with greater assets (like the Child Trust Fund), help give less privileged people a lift up too?

Thanks to sleepydisco for the photo provided under the Creative Commons license and to Tom for the link to Richard Murphy's great post.


  1. noel said...

    Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said: “In a recession, there’s no space for freeloaders. We need a more muscular approach to ways the state intervenes into deliberately-unemployed people’s lives. Young people are often capable of much more than signing on the dole like their parents.” Would she do the same to deliberate tax evaders?

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