Level the playing field ?

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  • #1
Oltz
"level the playing field"?

Will somebody please give a detailed answer of what you want when you ask for this ?
 

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  • #2
Dembadon
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I want you to think that I'm somehow in an unfair position, usually politically. I also realize that this statement is ambiguous, and that is precisely the reason I use it. Sorry, but a detailed explanation of what I want when I use this phrase would require me to list every instance in which I believe my opponent has an unfair advantage. That would take much too long, and I don't think it would help you.
 
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  • #3
Ryan_m_b
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It usually means that one group has an unfair advantage over others that needs to be addressed, for example; richer students being accepted at prominent universities over poorer students even though the former have worse grades than the latter.
 
  • #4
AlephZero
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Usually, it means the people who are asking want to change the "rules" so they are unfair to everybody else except them.
 
  • #5
Evo
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It usually means that one group has an unfair advantage over others that needs to be addressed, for example; richer students being accepted at prominent universities over poorer students even though the former have worse grades than the latter.
The prominent Universities are mostly private (here in the US). There are very good public colleges that people can try for.
 
  • #6
Evo
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Usually, it means the people who are asking want to change the "rules" so they are unfair to everybody else except them.
:biggrin:
 
  • #7
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I usually ask it during the fifth inning by which time I've had a few beers.
 
  • #8
lisab
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I usually ask it during the fifth inning by which time I've had a few beers.

By the seventh inning stretch I ask for it to stop spinning.
 
  • #9
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Usually, it means the people who are asking want to change the "rules" so they are unfair to everybody else except them.

Ah. :tongue: so they want to move the goal posts too in the playing field.
 
  • #10
Ryan_m_b
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The prominent Universities are mostly private (here in the US). There are very good public colleges that people can try for.
It is still a problem here in the UK, places like Oxford and Cambridge will still be over represented by those of an upper class background. Another example is that earlier on in the year the government tried to bring in a money making scheme by changing the rules so that universities were allowed to let rich students buy a space on a course once all of the spaces were filled up*. It's much better than it used to be though when universities were purely the domain of the upper class and no one else, no matter how intelligent or capable you were, would be allowed.

*Essentially this would mean that if a university offered 20 places it would fill those in normally and then afterwards offer X more places to those who could afford it. Understandably the public outcry of this was enormous and the proposal was scrapped.
 
  • #11
Pengwuino
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When the deviation from a euclidean flat space is minimal.
 
  • #12
apeiron
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I think there are three key things to say:

1) The playing field was in fact radically levelled post-WW11 in Western nations as the result of civil rights movements and serious social change. Women and minorities saw a real and lasting opening up of opportunity.

2) Since then, some new inequalities of opportunity have been locked in with the emergence of an underclass (multigenerational welfare coupled to breakdown of community in neoliberal consumer economic model). And also the development of an elite or "overclass".

Social mobility stats in US, UK, etc support that there is less movement. One of the things people can buy is a more certain future for their kids. There are network effects that limit opportunities for "outsiders".

But is this a big or small problem as yet? Arguably, the social change to level the playing field still far outstrips the unlevelling due to the institutionalisation of both fecklessness and privilege. :smile: And certainly, there is a freer flow of the technocrat class internationally. Less migration internally is compensated for by a lowering of barriers to actual outsiders. So the actual problem comes back to what to do with the underclass - given the extent that it is seen as a drag on national performance.

3) Then the bigger question. If the playing field is relatively level, do we still want to play the same game? If it was levelled to create equal access of opportunity for "wealth and consumption", then that is one choice. But societies can make other choices.

Bhutan, for example, is framing its national goal in terms of a "gross national happiness" index.

So "level playing fields" has a double implication I believe. It says everyone should be actively in the game (playing a part to the best of their energies and capabilities). But also that everyone should be playing the same game (as the game determines the nature of the playing field to be levelled).

You can appreciate this fact from the recent history of neoliberal consumerism - riding the curve of fossil fuel burning and natural resource consumption. If that is the chosen game, then the "levelling" process quite naturally includes stripping away every kind of structural impediment to the free playing of that game.
 
  • #13
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It's about not letting people to
- cheat or bribe
- gain positions based on their ethnicity or gender

but I certainly don't think it's about
- making positions exclusive to minority/aboriginals
- giving out scholarships to minority/aboriginals/women

IMO.


Sometimes some positions are offered only to certain group of people and I think debunking or favoring these actions need some legitimate research (1) not personal opinions.

(1) e.g. on how giving a job to a poor will lead to a catalyst effect resulting in changes to the lives of far more people than giving a job to a rich person.
 
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  • #14
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I want you to think that I'm somehow in an unfair position, usually politically. I also realize that this statement is ambiguous, and that is precisely the reason I use it. Sorry, but a detailed explanation of what I want when I use this phrase would require me to list every instance in which I believe my opponent has an unfair advantage. That would take much too long, and I don't think it would help you.

If I had an opponent with a list of unfair advantages so long they couldn't be listed - I might find another event in which to compete.
 
  • #15
DoggerDan


I think there are three key things to say:

1) The playing field was in fact radically levelled post-WW11 in Western nations as the result of civil rights movements and serious social change. Women and minorities saw a real and lasting opening up of opportunity.

Check.

[qupte]2) Since then, some new inequalities of opportunity have been locked in with the emergence of an underclass (multigenerational welfare coupled to breakdown of community in neoliberal consumer economic model). And also the development of an elite or "overclass". [/quote]

I find these assertions somewhat ridiculous, as a third of the folks in my masters classes have been from such "multigenerational welfare" groups. They're among the better students, too, as they know what it took for them to get there.

Is it more difficult? Yep. Is it impossible? Nope.

I'm one of those who made it. I also saw a lot of folks from high school whom I left in my wake who're among those most vociferous about "leveling the playing field." Whenever I run into them, I don't tell them what I did or whether I'm retired, for fear of them putting me in their "1% bad-hats" bucket, even though I'm nowhere near the top 10% category, wealth-wise.

Social mobility stats in US, UK, etc support that there is less movement. One of the things people can buy is a more certain future for their kids. There are network effects that limit opportunities for "outsiders".

I think network effects make things more difficult. They do not block movement, and like all hurdles, they become the scapegoats to the real problem of entitlement mentality where people are more willing to work towards entitlements (OWS) than they are willing to work for pay. No job is beneath one's dignity when it means putting food on the table.

But is this a big or small problem as yet?

I think you've mis-ID'd the problem.

3) Then the bigger question. If the playing field is relatively level, do we still want to play the same game?

I don't. Didn't want to play that game when I first heard of it back in the 60s. Certainly don't want to play it now.

If it was levelled...

It is level, opportunity-wise. What will never be level is the fact that just as some folks are smarter than others, and so find most things easier (making grades), other folks have the benefit of parents who earn more, so than can more easily afford school. Again, I had neither of these advantages. Just a guy who was sick and tired of working landscaping, mowing lawns, and painting houses.
 
  • #16
Dembadon
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If I had an opponent with a list of unfair advantages so long they couldn't be listed - I might find another event in which to compete.

Indeed. The definition is actually quite simple, as others have succinctly demonstrated, but I had fun trying to avoid answering the question directly. :devil:
 
  • #17
apeiron
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I find these assertions somewhat ridiculous, as a third of the folks in my masters classes have been from such "multigenerational welfare" groups.

That is great news then and shows welfare support must work! :smile:

On the other hand, there is plenty of research on the issue of the underclass that may trump your annecdotal claims here.

Yes, escaping poverty/disadvantage can be a strong spur in life. Just as being born to privilege can be demotivating too.

But peer-reviewed research rather than annecdote may be necessary to tell us which is actually the exception, and which the rule.

It is level, opportunity-wise. What will never be level is the fact that just as some folks are smarter than others, and so find most things easier (making grades), other folks have the benefit of parents who earn more, so than can more easily afford school. Again, I had neither of these advantages. Just a guy who was sick and tired of working landscaping, mowing lawns, and painting houses.

Again, I agree that the opportunities are remarkably level in broad historic terms. But what I think OWS represents is people daring to question whether we are all playing the right game.

"Work hard, get rewarded" may be the just the mantra of a particular society at a particular moment in history. The future mantra might be work smart, or work co-operatively. The rewards might be having a sustainable future rather than an uncertain one, living in society less divided into winners and losers, etc.
 
  • #18
ginru


Again, I agree that the opportunities are remarkably level in broad historic terms. But what I think OWS represents is people daring to question whether we are all playing the right game.

"Work hard, get rewarded" may be the just the mantra of a particular society at a particular moment in history. The future mantra might be work smart, or work co-operatively. The rewards might be having a sustainable future rather than an uncertain one, living in society less divided into winners and losers, etc.
Ah, I was itching to say this but I knew I'd just launch into another rambling, incoherent rant so thank you for expressing it so concisely.
 
  • #21
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I wasn't really impressed how he seem to misuse the Solow growth curve concept[http://www.lhendricks.org/econ420/growth/Solow_SL.pdf" [Broken]] and provided conclusion of being grateful to corporations. It's the first time ever I heard that I should be thankful to people who sell me things I need.

I noticed in my HS there was lots of rewards for just making efforts (as he said in the video) but this didn't turn out to be true in University.

I didn't really pay much attention to wall street people so can't really tell if they need to be sent to woods.
 
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  • #22
Evo
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I wasn't really impressed how he seem to misuse the Solow growth curve concept[http://www.lhendricks.org/econ420/growth/Solow_SL.pdf" [Broken]] and provided conclusion of being grateful to corporations. It's the first time ever I heard that I should be thankful to people who sell me things I need.
That's a poke at the complaint that corporations are bad.

The whole thing is tongue in cheek, while at the same time pointing out the unreal feelings of entitlement that seems to be so pervasive among those that are unhappy. :biggrin:
 
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  • #23
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That's a poke at the complaint that corporations are bad.

My sister emailed me this picture a while ago
http://images.sodahead.com/profiles/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/2/Occupy-Wall-Street-Evil-Corporations-58225120265.jpeg [Broken]
:rofl:
 
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  • #24
Evo
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My sister emailed me this picture a while ago
http://images.sodahead.com/profiles/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/2/Occupy-Wall-Street-Evil-Corporations-58225120265.jpeg [Broken]
:rofl:
Ahahaha!!!! That's a good one!!
 
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  • #25
apeiron
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The whole thing is tongue in cheek, while at the same time pointing out the unreal feelings of entitlement that seems to be so pervasive among those that are unhappy. :biggrin:

OWS is just one face of things. And indeed, you could level at them the same charge of self-indulgent brats that was levelled at, oh say, their baby boomer hippy or Gen X punk parents.

IMO, an unreal sense of entitlement has been around a good 50 years now. Boomers in particular seem wedded to the belief that they are entitled to ever increasing personal freedom coupled to an ever rising material consumption.

But if you dig into the future of political thought, the Gen Y response to life is much more interesting than this kind of cheap shot bunch of kiddy whiners "analysis" might suggest.

For example, there are many who believe they can reform the world via social entrepreneurship. So that is about attaching a new set of values to free market principles. It is a well-articulated response (though still debatable how well it will work in practice).

See for example, http://tedxyse.org/

Then there are the more traditional greenie and sustainability responses going on. Like for example, http://www.transitionnetwork.org/

A lot of people judge political change in terms of what they know from the past. Communism, facism, neoliberalism, other historical experiments which seemed right for the time. It is then not easy to recognise the changes that are ushering in the future.

So yes, Gen Y does feel entitled. But while we are making the sweeping generalisations, we should also say empowered, upbeat, concerned by issues such as social equality.

Here is a little summary of the generational differences. And the world shaped to the tastes of baby boomers can't last forever.

Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964)
Defined by civil rights, Vietnam War, sexual revolution.
Grew up with stay-at-home moms, narrow gender roles, stable families.
Personality style is narcissistic, judgmental, intellectually questioning.

Generation X (1965 to 1979)
Defined by AIDS, recession, Cold War, soaring divorce rates
Grew up with divorce, latchkey kids, loose adult supervision.
Personality style is sceptical, searching, confrontational, individualistic,

Generation Y (1980 to 1994)
Defined by digital age, terrorism, globalisation.
Grew up with involved parents, cultural freedom but physical restrictions.
Personality style is disciplined, educated, competitive, upbeat, entitled.

Source: 2006 Cone Millennial Cause Study
 
  • #26
Evo
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A lot of posters I see are calling for socialism. I don't think these kids have any clue what that means. I Believe that they truly think the answer is to take everything way from the rich and divide it amongst themselves and then all will be a "level playing field". :rolleyes:
 

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  • #28
Oltz


Ok so Part 2

How do we achieve this leveling you all want?

How level do you want it ? Should the government raise eevry child and support them the same and feed them the same and force them to only learn the same things until age 25? so its fair adn they all have the same qaulifications?

Do we agree that everyone is equal under the law and at birth?

Do we agree that a majority will take advantage of a minority given the chance?

Do you think maybe the "rich" would not use their money to control poitics if they were not afraid the masses would simply take what they have worked for if they did not?
 
  • #29
Ryan_m_b
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Ok so Part 2

How do we achieve this leveling you all want?
This utterly depends on the situation one is talking about. If the issue is the one I highlighted earlier (a disproportionate number of people from a certain background being accepted to certain schools) you could introduce tougher rules on how decisions are made. If the situation is that people of different sexual orientations are finding themselves discriminated when applying to certain jobs you could remove the legislation blocking them.

For many problems though the change required is going to be cultural rather than legal. It's pretty hard to influence that.
How level do you want it ? Should the government raise eevry child and support them the same and feed them the same and force them to only learn the same things until age 25? so its fair adn they all have the same qaulifications?
I don't think anyone would argue that. What most people want (and certainly what I want) would be to live in a society where anyone regardless of wealth, sex, ethnicity, class, background etc had the same opportunities as everyone else. That doesn't mean that if you have two people applying for a job they should be treated as equals, it means that they should be treated on their capabilities alone. Something that would aid this scenario is removing the obstacles that are in place for some groups in areas like getting an education.

I'm not saying that everyone should automatically get everything given to them on a platter not that people shouldn't work hard or anything like that. What I'm saying is that there are no barriers in the way of people doing things like getting an education or getting a job except capability.
Do we agree that everyone is equal under the law and at birth?
What do you mean by "equal"? We all deserve equal rights and treatment under the law yes. I don't know how much further that statement can go currently.
Do we agree that a majority will take advantage of a minority given the chance?
No.
Do you think maybe the "rich" would not use their money to control poitics if they were not afraid the masses would simply take what they have worked for if they did not?
There are more groups in the world than rich and poor. Elitism comes in many forms and wealth is just one of them. I think it is naive to simply say that "the masses" are champing at the bit to steal from the rich and that the rich spend a lot of what they have protecting themselves from everyone else.

I'm not sure what you are trying to say but I think you are suggesting that wealthy people influence politics as a means of protecting themselves from everyone else stealing their wealth? No I don't think that is the case, I think the majority of people the majority of the time would like to have political influence in their favour and some people are capable of exercising this.
 
  • #30
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I don't think anyone would argue that. What most people want (and certainly what I want) would be to live in a society where anyone regardless of wealth, sex, ethnicity, class, background etc had the same opportunities as everyone else. That doesn't mean that if you have two people applying for a job they should be treated as equals, it means that they should be treated on their capabilities alone. Something that would aid this scenario is removing the obstacles that are in place for some groups in areas like getting an education.

my bold

Currently, tax policy favors companies that hire minorities, veterans, felons, welfare recipients, and women (basically everyone except white males that haven't served time in prison or the military) - how would you restructure these initiatives?
 

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