Equal Opportunities over Consolidating Privilege
Things go well for people because of
- privilege (e.g. a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group)
- random good fortune (e.g. lottery of birth, right place at right time, with minimal own efforts)
- and/or that they worked to make something happen (e.g. had opportunities and also necessary skills, time & capability to take advantage of these opportunities)
“The rich underestimate the importance of luck in their success, why that hurts everyone, and what we can do about it. How important is luck in economic success? People who amass great fortunes are almost always talented and hardworking. But countless others have those same qualities yet never earn much. Chance plays a much larger role in important life outcomes than most people imagine. In a world increasingly dominated by winner-take-all markets, chance opportunities and trivial initial advantages often translate into much larger ones–and enormous income differences–over time; how false beliefs about luck persist, despite compelling evidence against them; and how myths about personal success and luck shape individual and political choices in harmful ways. We could decrease the inequality driven by sheer luck by adopting simple, unintrusive policies that would free up billions of pounds each year–more than enough to fix our crumbling infrastructure, expand healthcare coverage, fight global warming, and reduce poverty, all without requiring painful sacrifices from anyone.” – Success and Luck (by Robert Frank):
The Conservatives argue that “you pay the poor less and they work harder but pay the rich more and they work harder”. This is meaningless.
People are happy to work and are motivated by meaningful work. People are happier with well-paid work but clearly not satisfied when constrained by inadequate work hours, or with temporary jobs. It is the young and the less well-off who mainly have to deal with the lack of equal opportunities today.
Labour with a more accurate understanding of the role of chance in life could lead to better, richer, and fairer economies and societies, would develop economic policies with social wellbeing and sustainability at the heart of it.