Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your weekend.

- Will Hutton discusses how the increasing gaps in economic equality are leading to radical differences in opportunity - with the U.S./U.K. push toward private schooling serving as a particular source of exclusion:
(T)he middle class of whatever ethnic background is spending more on what Putnam calls its children's "enrichment activities" so important for psychological wellbeing and character building; in fact they are spending 11 times more than those at the bottom. In 1972, working-class children from the bottom quartile of earners were just as likely to participate in a wide range of sporting and cultural events as children from the top quartile. No more. A chasm has opened, claims Putnam. Whether it is captaining a school sports team, winning an internship or being read to at night the middle-class child's chances are at least two times better.

As a result, the arteries in American society are hardening. Social mobility is in decline, but, worse, the general drop in trust observable in all social classes is most marked among the poorest third of Americans. Nor should it be any surprise that they are "cynical and even paranoid", writes Putnam: it is a rational response to their situation. Every institution that might be expected to alleviate their plight – family, school, voluntary organisations and church – has become dysfunctional.
Private schools are much more important in Britain and America than in Canada and Australia; unsurprisingly it follows, as the Carnegie Corporation/Sutton Trust recent social mobility summit found, that social mobility is much lower in Britain and America. The privately educated, the quintessential expression of enrichment activity, not only dominate the upper echelons of British society, so do their children. Private schools play a pivotal role in repressing mobility; however good state schools become, private schools' well-understood job is to stay a step ahead and deliver economic and social advantage.
 - There's been plenty of talk of how Enbridge's disastrous failure to deal with its failing Michigan pipeline will affect its plans for a Gateway pipeline, with Barbara Yaffe and the Globe and Mail recognizing that the project (at least as it stands) is likely to fail utterly in B.C. while groups in Alberta also call for some serious scrutiny. And Peter O'Neil notes that Enbridge's own complete lack of responsibility only makes it less likely that anybody can take their reassurances seriously.

- But naturally, the Cons are trying to change the subject from real environmental disasters caused by their oil-sector cronies by launching a witch hunt against wind power. And all this as they refuse to even consider the possible environmental damage which might soon be caused by fracking.

- Keith Reynolds documents how the B.C. Libs rewrote their own P3 rules to ensure that development was privatized even when there was no rational basis for pushing in that direction.

- Finally, Tabatha Southey previews some of Jason Kenney's website petitions to come.

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