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‘Parasite’ and South Korea’s Income Gap: Call It Dirt Spoon Cinema - The New York Times
"Bong Joon Ho’s latest film joins a growing list of movies criticizing South Korean inequality — a problem so pervasive it has given birth to its own slang."


"While such inequality afflicts the United States and many other countries, South Korea’s income distribution is remarkably lopsided. In 2015, the top 10 percent of South Koreans held 66 percent of the nation’s wealth, while the poorer half of the population held only 2 percent, according to figures cited by Kyung Hyun Kim, a professor of East Asian studies at the University of California, Irvine, and an author of several books on Korean cinema. In addition, large numbers of South Korea’s elite inherited their wealth.

That inequity, combined with scandals involving corruption among the privileged, have bred so much bitterness and frustration among Koreans that new slang phrases have emerged in recent years, like “gold spoons” and “dirt spoons.”

“People who are born with a gold spoon are the ones who have made it,” the professor said. “The have-nots are dirt spoons. They will always be given a dirt spoon, and it will always be a struggle.”

The lack of social mobility for dirt spoons is at the heart of “Parasite,” directed by Bong Joon Ho. The Kims are each smart and talented in their own ways. Yet they are so poor — they crouch next to a toilet just to steal a neighbor’s Wi-Fi — that there is no clear path for them to succeed.

Though economically disadvantaged Americans face a similar plight, in South Korea, job prospects can be tied to family background, as when employers ask about applicants’ parents, a practice that could favor the privileged, Kim, the professor, said. Furthermore, investigations have uncovered nepotistic practices, like private schools’ preference for installing family members in teaching positions.

So why not fake it till you make it? In “Parasite,” the Kims’ son, Ki-woo, fluent in English, uses a referral from a privileged friend and counterfeit college credentials to trick the Parks into giving him a job as a language tutor for their teenage daughter. Ki-woo’s sister, Ki-jung, pretends to be an art therapist and gets hired to work with the Parks’ disturbed little boy. Dad and Mom soon join the subterfuge by posing as a professional driver and a housemaid for the Parks, who are as gullible as they are neurotic about cleanliness."
bongjoon-ho  parasite  film  inequality  koreas  southkorea  2019  class  nepotism  elitism  capitalism  education  society  socialmobility  precarity 
26 days ago by robertogreco
A belief in meritocracy is not only false: it’s bad for you | Aeon Ideas
Despite the moral assurance and personal flattery that meritocracy offers to the successful, it ought to be abandoned both as a belief about how the world works and as a general social ideal. It’s false, and believing in it encourages selfishness, discrimination and indifference to the plight of the unfortunate.
meritocracy  socialMobility  privilege  inequality  economics  psychology  luck  competition 
7 weeks ago by petej
Meritocracy Harms Everyone - The Atlantic
Meritocracy has created a competition that, even when everyone plays by the rules, only the rich can win.
meritocracy  exclusion  elitism  inequality  socialMobility  competition  wealth  power  privilege  education  childrem  ambition  anxiety  overwork  stress  class  politics 
august 2019 by petej
Verso : The Meaning of Boris Johnson
This leads to the cul-de-sac represented by Boris Johnson. Again, he has his own bombastic style of empty bravado, and plenty of Tories find him a beguiling and charismatic figure, but the core of his programme – the deliverance of Brexit regardless of its consequences – is exactly the same as May's. With the Brexit Party coming first in this year's EU elections, he knows that if the UK does not leave the EU by 31st October, it will be the ruination of his career and the likely death of the Conservative Party. For Johnson, this must be avoided at all costs, because a split right opens the possibility of the 1980s in reverse – a period of Labour hegemony while its parliamentary opposition is divided. The rhetoric may change, but the extreme short-termism is set to continue.

Johnson has become Prime Minister because he is the embodiment of Tory decline. A mouther of empty quips, a chimney of hot air, a man for whom the descriptors limited, lazy, and decadentfit like a tailored suit. He is the chosen man because he is the Conservative Partyin 2019 – the condensation of its frailties and crisis tendencies in a single figure.

If you think David Cameron and Theresa May were terrible Prime Ministers, Boris Johnson is about to educate you.
UK  politics  ToryParty  JohnsonBoris  history  membership  socialMobility  middleClass  ThatcherMargaret  MinersStrike  NewLabour  Blairism  CameronDavid  finance  debt  crisis  austerity  publicServices  MayTheresa 
july 2019 by petej
Is really attainable for all?

Plexal's says "the way we work is ripe for disrupti…
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july 2019 by body-tech23
My sincere thanks to and the amazing team at for a thought-provoking conference…
socialmobility  from twitter_favs
june 2019 by jeremydfranklin
‘Socialism for the rich’: the evils of bad economics | Inequality | The Guardian
Much of the inequality we see today in richer countries is more down to decisions made by governments than to irreversible market forces. These decisions can be changed. However, we have to want to control inequality: we must make inequality reduction a central aim of government policy and wider society. The most entrenched, self-deluding and self-perpetuating justifications for inequality are about morality, not economy. The great economist John Kenneth Galbraith nicely summarised the problem: “One of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy … is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. It is an exercise which always involves a certain number of internal contradictions and even a few absurdities. The conspicuously wealthy turn up urging the character-building value of privation for the poor.”
economics  policy  inequality  Thatcherism  tax  socialMobility  morality 
june 2019 by petej
Opinion | Can Californians Still Find a Path to Mobility at the State’s Universities? - The New York Times
"As a counter to staggering inequality, the system needs to be more open to the people who actually live in the Golden State."

"Joan Didion described her alma mater, the University of California, as “California’s highest, most articulate idea of itself, the most coherent — perhaps the only coherent — expression of the California possibility.”

That ethos has endured. The University of California has prevailed as both symbol and engine of opportunity, true to the spirit of the state’s founding constitution, which endorsed an accessible, independent institution of higher learning. From admitting women in 1870 to establishing the nation’s first multi-campus research university, and from its string of world-changing scientific breakthroughs to its embrace of undocumented immigrants, the University of California has reflected and nurtured the state’s core values.

The university plays a critical role at a time when the top 1 percent in California draw almost a quarter of the total income while six in 10 children are covered by Medi-Cal. But to be most effective as a force to counter the staggering inequality, the university needs to reshape campuses so they not only look more like California but also again offer what Carol T. Christ, the chancellor of Berkeley, calls “equity of experience” — equal access to science and technology majors, research opportunities, campus life and study abroad.

Berkeley is one of the university’s nine undergraduate campuses, the top tier of a remarkable tripartite public system that educates a majority of California students. The undergraduate universities consistently rank as the most effective schools in the country as drivers of upward economic mobility. More than 40 percent of their undergraduates are the first in their families to attend college. More than half come from families with annual incomes of less than $80,000 and pay no tuition. Berkeley, which enrolls a smaller share of lower-income Pell grant recipients than any other campus, still educates the lower-income students at almost twice the rate of Ivy League schools — and Pell grant recipients graduate at roughly the same high rates as their wealthier classmates.

What has fractured since Ms. Didion graduated in 1956 is the cohesive community, the assumption of shared experience that bound so many generations of alumni, particularly at Berkeley, the university’s flagship and still its best-known brand. Today, Berkeley has cleaved into disparate worlds divided by class, race and major. In its stratification and struggles, it mirrors a complex nation-state with deep divisions and extremes.

The symbiotic relationship between school and state means that Ms. Christ and her counterparts grapple with the consequences of some of California’s most intractable conditions: a housing crisis that forces many students to commute for hours because they cannot afford to live anywhere near the Bay Area; a poverty rate that means some students skip meals and others send financial aid money home; a volatile state budget dependent on the superwealthy and prone to boom-and-bust cycles; and decades of underfunded primary and secondary public schools that strain to educate a diverse student body.

Although Latinos are the largest ethnic group in the state and a majority of the school-age children, they remain underrepresented across the university system, most of all at Berkeley. Only 5 percent of the Berkeley faculty members are Latino. Latino student enrollment has increased to about 14 percent, still far short of reflecting California over all.

Berkeley, the original campus (hence its nickname, Cal), was central to the agreement that shaped California’s system of higher education. The 1960 master plan established jurisdictions for the University of California (which retained its exclusive right to offer graduate programs), California State University and the community colleges. The master plan guaranteed admission to the four-year schools for top high school seniors and envisioned community colleges as feeders for other students. An era of expansion ensued to meet record demand as California passed New York to become the most populous state.

Then came more complicated decades: the Free Speech Movement, which helped propel Ronald Reagan to the governorship; Proposition 13, which slashed state revenues; Proposition 209, which banned affirmative action; and multiple recessions. During the worst years of the Great Recession, the University of California lost a third of its state support, and tuition, once free, rose to $12,000 from about $8,000 per year, for the first time surpassing state aid in total revenue.

For first-generation students, financial obstacles are only the start, especially at Berkeley, where faculty members have long valued research above teaching and the school has reveled in its sink-or-swim culture. Alejandra Tapia, who graduated in the class of 2019 with a major in molecular and cell biology, is both a success story and a cautionary tale. Raised by a single mother who worked in the fields, Ms. Tapia decided to become a doctor after her mother suffered a stroke. She attended four high schools, all in farmworker communities.

Through grit and intelligence, she won a full scholarship to Berkeley. Many days, she wondered if she had made the right choice. She had expected the intellectual challenges; she did not expect to navigate alien academic and social worlds with no support. Often the only Latina in her labs, she juggled pre-med classes, 15 hours a week of work and worries about her family. She came close to leaving. “It has made me better and stronger than what I thought I could ever be,” she said, triumphant that she had persevered. Thinking about the hardships, she began to cry.

The culture of intellectual Darwinism undermines the goal of equity in an era when so many students arrive without the cultural or financial resources once taken for granted. What is needed is more than just an update to the master plan, still the governing covenant. California needs a master plan for equity, a goal that would take a combination of vision, political will and acumen.

“The Master Plan was designed to provide a broadly traditional education to a broadly traditional student body,” the chancellors of the university and the community college system wrote last year in an agreement to formalize paths among the systems. “What is missing is a systemic reimagination of the ends of education in light of 21st-century conditions.”

The unbridled optimism and growth of the 1950s and early ’60s had downsides but nurtured a system that grew based on ideas, with confidence that resources would follow. Decisions now are too often made the other way around. Out-of-state students pay three times as much in tuition as residents; since the financial crises, their numbers soared to 18 percent of the enrollment.

There are signs of progress. One of every three new students at Berkeley is a junior transfer from a community college. They are more likely to be Latino, first generation, from lower-income families and more likely to concentrate in humanities because they lack the prerequisites for science and technology majors. Transfer students will be key for Chancellor Christ to fulfill her goal to make Berkeley a “Hispanic-Serving Institution,” a designation already achieved by six of the university campuses, which requires that a quarter of the students be Latino.

“The University and the State of California are inseparable,” Ansel Adams wrote in the late 1960s, after he had photographed every aspect of the university for its centennial celebration. “The challenge to the University of California today is nothing less than to help bring forth the civilization of the future.” Fifty years later, the future looks very different, but the challenge of its mission remains."
miriampawel  2019  universityofcalifornia  california  communitycolleges  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  socialmobility  joandidion  access  inequality  funding  tuition  anseladams  society  masterplan  uc 
june 2019 by robertogreco

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