Monday, April 22, 2013

Muller Capitalism (3)

Jerry Z Miller explains that unequal abilities become more significant as barriers to opportunity are removed.

If capitalism has opened up ever more opportunities for the development of human potential, however, not everyone has been able to take full advantage of those opportunities or progress far once they have done so. Form or informal barriers to equality of opportunity, for example, have historically blocked various sectors of the population―such as women, minorities and the poor—from benefitting fully from all capitalism offers. But over time, in the advanced capitalist world, those barriers have gradually been lowered or removed, so that now opportunity is more equally available than ever before.

The inequality that exists today, therefore, derives less from the unequal availability of opportunity than it does from the unequal ability to exploit opportunity. And that unequal ability, in turn stems from difference in the inherent human potential that individuals begin with and in the ways that families and communities enable and encourage that human potential to flourish.

The role of the family is shaping individuals ability and inclination to make use of the means of cultivation that capitalism offers is hard to overstate. The household is not only a site of consumption and of biological reproduction. It is also the main setting in which children are socialised, civilised and educated, in which habits are developed that influence their subsequent fates as people and as market actors. To use the language of contemporary economics, the family is the workshop in which human capital is produced.

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