Let me update my post from this morning on social mobility, and suggest a number of scenarios. How comfortable are you living in each of these?
1. Each person’s position in society is determined entirely by their parentage. The first child of the monarch is the next monarch (second and third children are princes), the first children of other aristocracy inherit their parent’s title, land, etc. All land is owned by the aristocracy. At the bottom, the child of a soldier is a soldier, the child of a carpenter, etc. No (first child) ends up wealthier or less wealthy than his/her parents were before. No second or child (among the nobility) ends up as wealthy as the first child. Nobody born into the aristocracy fails to obtain a position of privilege relative to the masses, and nobody born among the masses manages to get into a position of privilege similar to that of the aristocracy.
2. The same situation as 1, but 5% of children end up 10% wealthier or less wealthy than their parents. Among the aristocracy, a small number of second and third children end up doing better off than first children.
3. The same situation as 2, but some of the more successful non-aristocrats are able to receive an aristocratic title. Some of the less successful aristocrats (whether by virtue of poor decision making or as a result of being born second or third or fourth children) are kicked out of the aristocracy.
4. The same situation as 3, but with twice as much mobility
5. Complete churning of the aristocracy and hoi polloi – where a person ends up has nothing to do with where they started.
After you determine your comfort level with each of these, two more questions:
A. Which of these scenarios do you feel is the best approximation for the system we observe around us?
B. What would it take to get closer to the system you’d most like to see?