Dave's Progress. Chapter 108: Why Don't You Use Me?

Most people don't like being used. There's something about the very phrase that implies exploitation. I, on the other hand, would love to be "used". I would love for someone to come along and say, "David, we could use you", in this or that capacity. "Yes, we could certainly use you, David", in fact, would be music to my ears.
After a life-time of education, and moreover, thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands being spent on me by the state, I simply wonder, is this the best that can be made of my talents, whatever they may be? And, I think, there must be a lot of people asking the same question.
So, after watching a programme on BBC 2 the other night, entitled "Who Gets The Best Jobs?", one possible answer became apparent.
According to the programme, the gap between rich and poor in this country is growing ever wider. The "social mobility" of which I spoke in a previous chapter, also, seems to be becoming a thing of the past. Whereas in the era of the post-war "baby-boomer" generation one could expect, even coming from a lowly working-class background, to at least earn a living, the mechanisms which provided such security are now becoming ever more rare. Even those who did not get to university once had a ladder up in the form of local industry, but that, the programme stated, is now in remission. For those who do get to go to college, there is now the matter of exactly which college you have been to. No longer is it good enough to just have a degree, it must be from the right place if one wants to get on in "the professions". More and more, the super-rich seem to be engaging in nepotism, only finding places within certain professions for those who have the right connections and background. To get on otherwise, it appeared that often one would have to work voluntarily for some time. But, as only the rich can afford to do this, windows of opportunity are becoming even narrower.
A number of statistics were given to back up this argument. I can not, at present, recall all of them, but needless to say they reflected a society in which opportunity is only available to a select few. Indeed, one only has to look at the front bench of parliament to understand where privilege can get you, made up, as it is, mostly of ex-pupils of Eton and graduates of Oxford or Cambridge. Now with tuition fees at universities on the increase, this situation seems only to be getting worse.
There are, of course, those who disagree with such arguments, claiming that if you are bright, talented and strong-willed enough, you will get on in life. One academic even argued that people from the middle-classes and up are just innately more talented and bright, and that is why they seem to be getting all the top jobs in society. The journalist who made the programme rightly pointed out that this would be an offensive argument to many, with its suggestion that those from the more privileged classes are somehow genetically more capable. To my mind, it seemed to prove the thesis that to be really stupid takes a life-time of education.
What can not be argued with, though, is the statistical data, and indeed, there was no argument from this academic contradicting the fact that the middle and upper classes are getting all the best and most powerful positions, often leaving those from the lower echelons in an economically fragile position.
Thatcher's promise, then, of a "classless" society with opportunity open to all seems a distant dream. The gap is getting wider, not slimmer, and that, as the journalist pointed out, is bad for everybody. The countries which are most economically productive are those which use all of their human resources, and, unfortunately, it seems we, in Britain, have yet to learn this lesson.
So the answer to my question, "why don't you use me?", may have nothing at all to do with my intelligence, talent, or drive, but everything to do with where I am from, which school I went to and which university. I always thought that my mental ill health is what has held me back, and of course, I don't think you can underestimate the role that has played in my lack of economic progress. However, add to that these other factors, and the picture which is painted is a depressing one. It sort of begs the question, is it really any longer possible in this country to achieve great things by skill and talent alone, or is it that you have to know the right people, do the right degree at the right college and have enough money to move in such high circles?
One person who did achieve greatness through sheer talent, Paul Weller, perhaps got it right when he wrote, "the world is your oyster, but your future's a clam. It's got you in its grip before you're born." So, farewell equality of opportunity, farewell fairness, farewell social justice. This is not the classless, but the class-ridden society, where money does indeed talk.


bazza said…
Also David, sad to say, there are other division with which our society is riven.
These include gender (there is still a 'glass ceiling' for many female careers), colour, religion and percieved mental health to name a few.
I am sure that you are correct but both class and wealth can be two seperate social and career barriers.
dcrelief said…
Dear David,
Man does not know the way to peace.
Look at this planet and the continuing destruction.
People are full of self-love, but not toward others.
Governments are eating their own citizens.
Sorry, Dave, the best I can offer is this:
(God grant me the…)
Serenity to accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can (and the…)
Wisdom to know the difference.

Thank you for telling it like it is. I think history repeats itself so things will turn over and over. Is that hopeful? I don’t know. (Sorry about this long post.)
Peace, Dixie
dcrelief said…
Hi David.
I'm passing on the 'Life is Good' blog award to you. Congratulations!
I always enjoy visiting here.
In peace, Dixie
David said…
Dear bazza,
I understand that class and wealth could be viewed as two seperate barriers, and of course I am aware of other divisions.
I would just say that, living in such an impoverished area, one perhaps becomes more acutely aware of the now growing gap between rich and poor, and of the unfairness of it all.
Anyway, I hope to return to less controversial ground next time, as this blog seems to rapidly be becoming something of a "class war" invocation. And we wouldn't want that, now, would we?
Thanks bazza and all the best,
David said…
Dear Dixie,
Thanks for your peaceful remarks. I've suddenly come over all calm and pacified!
Still, it is nice to have the occasional rant, isn't it?
Thanks also for bestowing upon me, your ever humble blogging companion, the "Life is Good" award. Many thanks, and I would just say, that life IS good, especially with you as a blogging pal.
Yours with Warmest Regards,
dcrelief said…
Dear David,
I didn't miss the topic. I chose to stay impersonal, but maybe it's more important than I originally thought.
To the world I'm a nasty-greedy American. To my government I'm someone receiving money as long as they approve of my health. To my brothers who attended great universities, have status and wealth, I'm invisible. Wealth and class, whether separated or combined, have always held me at arm's length. Yet none of this truly 'defines' me or tells them who I am.
I empathise with your question.
Okay! Now I'm feeling calm and pacified too. (LOL)

Wishing a good life to you,
David said…
Dear Dixie,
I think you are very right to say that although wealth and class may be barriers to opportunity, they do not necessarily define who we are.
Indeed, I would like to believe that, despite such barriers we can all get on. It shouldn't really matter which class you are from, so long as you are a decent person.
However, in reality, it seems that the rich are ever-increasingly portioning themselves off from the rest of society, only allowing those with the right background and contacts into their priveleged circle. Maybe it's always been that way. Maybe it got better around the time of the '60s when social mobility did indeed seem possible, but it seems that things have now swung back the other way.
Anyway, I'm glad you're feeling calm and pacified now!
Yours with Very Best Wishes,
The Manic Chef said…
Dave this was a very thought provoking entry. I first read it a couple of days ago, but had to mull over my response. Here I go, first there has always been a class distinction throughout the ages. Therefore history reveals man/woman have this character flaw dwelling within them, but each individual that has ever existed handled this flaw according to their life experience and desires. Secondly, I feel that most who reside, work, govern in this 'upper echelon' have compromised their integrity in order to be in this 'so-called' position of power, stature, or wealth, in order to be the ones who want to be in control over others instead of being controlled. The forces that be will only get worse. I think that it's up to the individual to 'carve' out their own piece of existing, that will contribute to their own lives, and the lives of others. Let's face it no matter what level of 'class' people find themselves, some get out and others stay where they are. And to me, that just seems to be the way it has always been. Thanks for causing me to think, I found it very stimulating, after struggling with such dark times as of late! Keep on keeping on.....later..
klahanie said…
Hi David,
Yes, I have arrived. I think all the others have pretty well touched the bases on this one.
Obviously, a controversial and emotive topic. So this time, I'm going to leave you with this one statement. With the impending increase in tuition fees, there will be many a bright yet poor student who will be on the outside looking in.
Sadly, money talks and those talented poor will lose a great educational opportunity. This is a tragedy for a generation of lost youth.
Best wishes, Gary.
David said…
Dear Manic Chef,
Thank you for your comments and I'm glad I made you think.
I suppose you are right when you say that there has been a class structure for a very long time. I was just pointing out that things seem to be getting worse, not better, for those who find themselves from the "wrong" background.
Thanks again for your thoughts, they are much appreciated here. Also, I'm glad that those dark times of which you speak have abated.
With Very Best Wishes,
David said…
Dear Gary,
I wholeheartedly agree.
I know you have your own expereinces with your family to bring you to such a conclusion. I think, at the moment, the way we treat our young people in this country, and the lack of opportunities for some of them, is appalling. A "lost generation" may not be an over exaggerated term if this government continues on the way it is going.
See you soon, and a copy of the "Communist Manifesto", your way,

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