Privilege: other people’s eyes

In the space between finishing university and starting my first proper job I had a minor revelation. With my bank account running low and a few weeks before my first pay cheque would arrive I walked into Marks and Spencer* and experienced – I think for the first time in my life – the feeling of not being able to…

Thucydides on the prosperity that comes with peace

This is Thucydides writing in 432 BC. Apart from the general description of how stability affects the accumulation of wealth he also gives what is probably the earliest description of the resource curse. … it is evident that the country now called Hellas had in ancient times no settled population; on the contrary, migrations were of frequent occurrence, the several…

Time and money

I’ve been spending quite a few of my mornings running through the centre of Cambridge. A lot of it is beautiful – especially the colleges. And they’re very wealthy: the total endowment of Cambridge’s 31 colleges works out at a little over £4 billion, and their net assets run closer to £7.5 billion. There are many stories to tell about…

UK income inequality by ethnicity: data from the ONS

This article in the Guardian summarises a new set of data from the Office of National Statistics. Here’s the key table on income inequality (based on median hourly income). Main takeaways: Workers of White Irish, Chinese and Indian ethnicity on average earn significantly more than White British. (This gap gets bigger for under 30s – see below). Workers of Pakistani…

Victor Hugo: two faces of political violence

They wanted an end to oppression, an end to tyranny, an end to strife, work for men, education for children, social goodwill towards women, liberty, equality, fraternity, bread for all, an idea for all, a paradise made of this world, progress. And that good, sweet blessed thing, progress, they demanded fearsomely, driven to extremity, to utter distraction, half-naked, with bludgeon…

Privilege(s)

Youth Age and experience Health Strength Energy Being loved Wit Family Beauty Opportunity Education Being born a socially advantaged gender Being born to socially advantaged ethnic group Being born to the ‘right’ parents within your group Not somehow ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time Friendship An enthusiastic disposition To have struggled and overcome The right chance…

What’s reading worth? OECD data on the economic returns to literacy

This OECD data records an average 7.5% increase in a person’s wages (8.8% for non-native speakers) for every one standard deviation increase in literacy proficiency, averaged across 24 OECD countries. That’s equivalent to slightly more than two-and-a-half years’ additional salary over a 35 year working life.* According to this data the UK’s return to a one standard deviation in literacy…

Educated (7): you, life and other people

If you can raise your children to like and believe in themselves, and to be interested in life and other people, the rest is detail. Cousin-in-law Most of the important bits of “educated” are absorbed rather than taught. Schooling and opportunities help, but the slow drip of love and respect from people you love and respect is indispensable. Which leads…

Not long ago, or Little by little (4): Dolly Parton on the scar on her toes

[For those who came in late… Start with Not long ago, or Little by little (1)] Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening… Somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains c1950… Jad Abumrad: She told me one story about how one day, when she was about seven or eight, she…

Not long ago, or Little by little (3): scarcity and subsistence in rural Suffolk

[For those who came in late… Start with Not long ago, or Little by little (1)] Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening… A village in Suffolk [in the east of England], circa 1900: There were seven children at home and father’s wages had been reduced to 10…