Do you have a university degree? Did your parents?

Did you know? Children in lower income families (22.6%) are less likely to obtain a university degree than those in higher income families (59.3%). By responsibly using new data sources, we provide Canadians with greater insights.


Statistics Canada puts out a report every day called The Daily. Lately, it’s added a new feature to The Daily called Did you know? I quite like this new feature.

The observation about the relationship between education and family income comes to you courtesy of The Daily. It’s a simple statement of fact based on the masses of information on us that Stats Can collects. Of course the devil is in the details as they say. I’d need to dig a bit deeper into the Stats Can website to determine what ‘lower income’ means and also what ‘family’ means. It’s not as simple as it seems because Stats Can has different ways of determining family.

But let’s just leave it at the basic level it’s presented to us by Stats Can and think about why children in lower income families are less likely to obtain a university degree than children from higher income families. Let’s see how this basic fact can be explained by various political groups or parties for their own ends and what ‘greater insights’ Canadians might get from contemplating this fact.

If I subscribe to a Social Darwinian ethic with roots going back to Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, I might just argue that the greater numbers of upper income progeny going to university and getting degrees is the natural order of things. They are ”successful” because they are superior to the lower class rabble. They have the personal traits that make them successful, traits that the poorer schmucks down the road lack. Personal initiative is everything. Poor people just don’t have any of it. They are lazy and must be prodded to get them to work or to study.

If I count myself among the ranks of ‘progressives’, I may very well argue that the reason that poor people don’t go to university is that the social odds are stacked against them. They lack the financial resources to attend university. They don’t have the advantage of having attended superior elementary and secondary schools. They don’t have a home life conducive to reading or intellectual work, and their parents are probably people who don’t value a higher education.

Others along the ‘progressive’ spectrum put more emphasis on structural factors that impede access to higher education for low income people. For them, the class system steers individuals along certain pathways. It divides us and ensures we remain divided by selectively supporting certain social programs and not others. Social inequality from this perspective is not about individual differences. It’s about class and other group characteristics.

So, Stats Can can produce numbers like this but the insight it generates is not objective. The insight is filtered through a number of screens depending on the ideological framework deployed to make sense of it. There is virtually no gain to be had in trying to convince a dyed-in-the-wool Social Darwinist that Marx was correct in his analysis of class, and vice versa, of course.

[BTW, putting together another post about the meaning of things. Maybe by Sunday or Monday.]

Escape 13: “…men fashion unfreedom as a bribe for self-perpetuation.”

Escape 13:  “…men fashion unfreedom as a bribe for self-perpetuation.”

 So, this is my 13th post looking at Ernest Becker’s last book Escape From Evil (EFE) published posthumously in 1975.  I’m taking a different tack from now on in these posts.  First of all, I’m changing the titles so that they always start with Escape, rather than Ernest Becker. I’ll start with a short quote from Becker’s EFE then put that quote into perspective and elaborate.  So far I’ve used sometimes long quotes from Becker so as to let Becker speak for himself.  As I said before, there’s no substitute for reading Becker himself, but this will hopefully tweak your interest in the subject of Becker’s work which can be summarized in this quote:

Each society is a hero system which promises victory over evil and death. [EFE 125]

Of course that promise is empty, always unfulfilled except temporarily, and brings with it astonishing pain and suffering to millions of innocent people, because more often than not evil and death are seen to have a face and that face must be destroyed at all cost.  This is exactly how Hitler thought of the Jews.  To him, the Jewish people presented a threat to the Aryan race.  Every Jewish face was a reminder for the Nazis of disease and death.  In the end, Hitler’s promise was a monumental con and he himself became the personification of evil and death for millions of people who vowed to destroy him even at the cost of their own lives.

But back to the quote in the title: “…men fashion unfreedom as a bribe for self-perpetuation.”  This quote is from the last paragraph of Chapter 3 in EFE called The Origins of Inequality.  In this chapter Becker tackles a basic fact of life in virtually all societies beyond the primitive.  Hunting and gathering societies had virtual equality, but even then there were people who stood out because of their prowess in certain things like hunting or healing.  Becker argues in this chapter that we are unequal in society because from the very beginning personal qualities gave rise to rank, power and privilege.  And those personal qualities were there for all to recognize.  Becker notes that a Sioux warrior announced by means of decorations on his moccasins how many horses he had captured, ‘enemies killed…etc.’  If a person is particularly good at hunting and consistently ‘brings home the bacon’ it’s hard not to see how all benefit from his skill.  He will always be rewarded and eventually the rewards become part of the structure of society.  This is the origins of the concept of hero.  As Becker notes “…he is the one who gambles with is very life and successfully defies death, and men follow him and eventually worship his memory because he embodies the triumph over what they fear most, extinction and death.” (p. 43)

So, we’ve always sorted ourselves out by personal characteristics, but Becker argues that the first real class distinction was between humans (mortals) and immortal beings which were not only gods, but ancestors and other fauna inhabiting the invisible world and played with human lives, or so the primitive thought.  What else was he supposed to think?  Without science, there was no recourse but to imagine or dream of what it might be that controls us.  So, class society began with the distinction between immortal and mortal.  It wasn’t much of a stretch then to see that heroes, because of their special skills might just have a special connection with the invisible forces that surrounded the primitives in their world.  Heroes were revered for their special gifts, but also feared because of their connection to the sometimes merciless and volatile forces that controlled life on this planet.

Once the ‘hero’ who was also the shaman and chief created the techniques of perpetuating his power even as he aged and became weaker the stage was set for society to have a structure of followship where the chief and shaman spoke for the gods and demanded subservience and tribute from the people.  “Who has the power to mystify?” (p.49)  Class distinctions have always been and still are sacred because they are all about the quest for immortality.  The leaders promise immortality or at least future prosperity and we sometimes gladly, sometimes reluctantly, surrender our own personal power.  We defer because we are promised immortality, we hold on to that promise with dear life and we bend to the wishes of the gods through their earthly intermediaries. We may complain now and again, but our first instinct is to submit.  Still, there are moments in history when our gods have abandoned us and that’s made it necessary to abandon their promises and adopt new, more powerful ones.

I haven’t been overtly critical of Becker yet in these posts but I must disagree with his analysis of Marxism in this chapter.  That won’t concern most of you.  Suffice it to say that his emphasis on the control of economic power by the elite is grounded in the humanism of a certain brand of Marxism and not of Marx himself whose analysis of class was purely historical and structural.

It’s about time I publish a new post!

Not much action on this blog lately! Truth of the matter is that I got very ill early in March and stayed that way for most of the month. Nasty flu. Then I confess that I’ve had outrage overload for a bit and find myself uninspired to write. So, what I’ve decided to do is leave current affairs alone for a while. I’ve got over 50 posts on current affairs and I want to give that interest of mine a break. [We’ll see how long that lasts!] Instead, in this blog, I want to address some issues around evolution, particularly the notion of evolution as it applies to social institutions. As Harold Innis (1894-1952), the economic historian and political economist who spent most of his career at the University of Toronto after getting a PhD from the University of Chicago, was quick to point out, following many others including Thorstein Veblen, that empires come and go. There is no example to the contrary. Every empire in the history of our species on this planet is either deceased or moribund. Go back as far as you like. Empires don’t last forever, So the question is not whether or not an empire – say, the U.S.-centered finance corporate empire – will survive, the question is how will it die? How did the Roman Empire wane and die, for instance? Or the British Empire? Are there patterns in these events or processes? Indeed there are. Imperial overreach is a concept used to try to explain why empires fail. There are different versions of it ( as these two reviews of Paul Kennedy’s book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 make clear. But for me, it’s fairly straightforward, say in the case of Rome. Here’s how it works.

An empire is born in the ruins of previous failed and exhausted quasi-states. Said empire begins to grow slowly by conquest. In that it faces sometimes strong external opposition but also domestic strain because the more military conquest is the favoured instrument of international relations, a ‘thinning’ of the young males in the population is inevitable. As well, there is the stress of volatile consumer markets caused by military conquest. But wait! The empire grows stronger. Conquest brings wealth and new recruits. Military success fuels more military activity and the armies get spread farther away from home. In order to maintain conquered lands, military leaders from the Empire’s armies become governors and bureaucrats of far-flung provinces. There aren’t enough Romans to keep this machine in play so one strategy is to free trusted slaves or not enslave some of the opponents of the Empire, the really nasty ones (warlords, really) in what we now know as France, Germany, and Britain, negotiating with them instead entry into the Empire’s sphere of trading activity while allowing them to maintain land holdings of their own. Once this practice becomes commonplace, there is an internal threat to the Empire and that is the erosion of slavery, the real economic base of the Roman Empire. Rome grew too widespread geographically to control all of its subject peoples from Rome. Communications strategies just can’t keep up with the logistical and military demands of maintaining an empire like Rome, keeping enemies at bay and conquering new territories. That’s imperial overreach. The American Empire won’t fail for the same reasons because essentially there is no ‘American’ Empire.

The prevailing empire in the world today is not based in any country or nation state and it’s not geopolitical. It’s financial. As Thorstein Veblen was keen to point out, states are creatures of higher order institutions like private property and class power. Capital rules. In our times (for the last 700 years or so) merchant capital slowly gained in power at the beginning of the feudal period and held on to power pretty well into the early 19th century in Europe. It was replaced as the dominant form of capital by industrial capital which itself slowly gave way to finance capital in the second half of the 20th century. This is an evolutionary process. Marx sees the driver of this as the process by which capital replaces labour in production. Of course this is too simple a presentation of a very complex process, but essentially, that’s it. Of course all capital is a product of human labour, but capital has had a smaller and waning use for labour in the productive process as automation, Fordism and technology become prevalent. The price of labour-power varies in different parts of the world and for different occupations, but there is a long-term tendency for the value of labour to fall everywhere.

My point is that countries are not in charge, nor are politicians. Capital is and has been for some time. For centuries it’s been in a struggle with labour, the only reason capital exists, to gain a larger part of the value produced by human labour. For centuries now, capitalists have tried and largely succeeded in reducing the value of labour with the help of the state. In the US now we have the spectacle of corporate business leaders and politicians openly sharing the same bed, seemingly without any guilt or shame whatsoever. And we have the pathetic spectacle of vast numbers of people completely ignorant of how they are being manipulated by the state and its communications corporations blithely going about their lives in the belief that the American (and in my case, Canadian) government acts on their behalf. Flags fly everywhere. Patriotism is a powerful force. However, it’s not powerful enough to counter the despair and angst that will drive many marginalized and disempowered people from turning on each other and others in a desperate search for meaning in their lives in the absence of a good, well-paying job and a sense of social security.

The end of the finance capitalist empire will come only when it has reached and dominated every nook and cranny on the planet and when it has exhausted itself in trying to eliminate labour. Finance capital is well on its way to dominating the entire planet. Countries are still based on land and borders and are thus restricted in their activities. Corporations have few restrictions now and want even fewer in the future. Countries and their citizens don’t stand a chance against finance capital because they operate within an old paradigm. That paradigm is based on the false assumption that countries have economies, trade with one another and are the basic global unit of analysis. Yes, countries can still go to war with one another, but the more finance capital and production infiltrate every corner of the planet it makes less and less sense to bomb the hell out of your own factories in the target countries because chances are that where you’ve located them to take advantage of low wage costs. Global war is a thing of the past as global production drives us and our labour-power into a global market. That doesn’t mean that threats of war and local military operations aren’t useful to reduce domestic dissent by targeting a foreign enemy. We’ve experienced over the last hundred years or so the consolidation of states into larger and larger units. The European Union is an example of this type of consolidation but so are the plethora of free trade agreements that are part of the geopolitical map these days. And why this expansion? To help in the free flow of capital and labour. Globalization is foremost a process of freeing up capital to move as it sees fit unencumbered by elected parliaments and other political institutions. It’s also about the control of labour by the free movement of production. If a ‘Canadian’ forestry company moves one of its sawmills to the Philippines to take advantage of cheap labour there, it’s effectively controlling labour in Canada.

After decades of study and observation of geopolitics and capitalist production I can’t help but conclude that the future will be fraught with uncertainty as governments give up power to finance capitalists and we are left with no democratic way of deciding anything about our lives. Politicians have sold us out for a pittance and now we’re increasingly at the mercy of the big banks and business corporations that are psychopathic by their very nature, unrestricted in their expressed need to pollute the planet at will, dominate our lives with pharmaceuticals aimed a lot less at making us healthy than to making corporate profits, and privatizing all public lands and services. Profits rule. Who gives a shit if they serve to help us or kills us.
Marx predicted that the end of the capitalist mode of production will come when labour has been largely replaced by capital in human production. Machines don’t buy commodities so by eliminating workers and replacing them with machines, the capitalist class is eliminating itself. What’s the fate of countries like the US and Canada? Well, before it gets better it will get much worse. There is bound to be class war in the US and all over the world, it’s just a matter of time. Throw enough people out of work and out of their homes, make cities impossible to live in and see what happens. We haven’t suffered enough yet to push us into precipitating a revolution, but we’re headed in that direction. What can stop the momentum?

Does Class Matter in Canada?

A script I wrote in 1993 for a Knowledge Network telecourse.

There are various ways that we can think about the question: Does Class Matter in Canada.  Because the question arises in the context of the conflict perspective in sociology, I want to address it from that perspective, but from a classical conflict perspective as well as from a more contemporary perspective.  From the classical conflict perspective in sociology, the question relates to the genesis of capitalism.  That is, to what extent class analysis can explain the course of history.  There is a contemporary conflict perspective on the question too, but it focusses on inequalities in society and life chances.


The question “Does Class Matter” arises partly because, in the popular mind, history is created mostly by politicians and political and military decisions.  That’s what gets into the history books.  Class, by any definition, doesn’t enter into the picture.  But there’s more to it than that.  In an article called “Does Class Matter,?” Wallace Clement of Carleton University notes that class analysis is currently under attack for being too narrowly focussed and for not bringing ethnicity, region and gender sufficiently into sociological and historical analysis.  I agree with Clement when he concludes that these factors are important, but that fact alone doesn’t lessen the importance of class.  And it’s necessary to point out, I think, that class doesn’t refer only to the “economic” relationship between the working class and the capitalist class, it refers to the entire spectrum of relations in society that are the experience of living in class society.


Class does kind of hit you square between the eyes, though, in a situation like the one surrounding closure of the Cassiar mine in northern British Columbia in February, 1992   In this case, the “company,” a subsidiary of the Princeton Mining Corporation of Vancouver, decided to close the mine for various reasons.  The effect of this closure, whatever the reasons, was the dislocation of 400 workers and their families, who were required to move out of their community, the company-owned town of Cassiar.  The place was then put up for auction.  The mine owners had every right to close down the mine and, in a sense, miners have to expect that mines must eventually shut down.  The decision on the part of the mine owners, nevertheless, demonstrates clearly the absolute power that the capitalist class has in disposing of the working class as it sees fit without regard for community, democratic process or anything else.  There’s no question of who’s in control here.  Same goes for mill shutdowns in Port Alberni and in single-industry towns all over the province.  Just ask the people of Sparwood how they were affected by the bankruptcy and shutdown of a Westar mine there.


The clear demonstrations of power by the capitalist class in these circumstances are not so clear in others, especially with regard to the experience of everyday life in capitalist society.  Many contemporary conflict theorists have focused on class inequality and its effects in everyday life.   Here, the overwhelming “collective consciousness” or ethos of capitalist life more often than not masks its class-based origins and sometimes, as with racism, family violence or education, there seems to be no connection whatsoever with class.  We have the illusion of living in a relatively classless society.


Class analysis from a classical conflict perspective is not concerned so much with documenting the personal experience of life in capitalist society as with how history unfolds in the dynamics of class conflict.  According to Marx, if you occupy a position in the class that owns the means of production, the factories, mines, mills, etc., then you are considered a member of the ruling class.  If not, you’re working class.  Obviously, however, there are significant differences in the life chances of a bank vice-president sitting in the top floor office in a downtown Vancouver skyscraper and those of a kitchen worker in a fast food restaurant, even though they’re both, technically, working class.  Furthermore, there are a number of ways that we get sorted out in our society, by gender, ethnic origin, religion, education, occupation, income, citizenship, organizational affiliation, etc…

There’s a very significant fragmentation and stratification of the working class in our society.


There’s very little chance of moving from one class into another in our society if we think in terms of a ruling class and a working class.  Hope burns eternal in most of us, however, of “getting ahead,” or of doing just a little bit better than the Joneses…even if we’re all on welfare.  Even at this level, however, there is really not as much mobility as you might think and we hold our relative positions in the class structure remarkably consistently from generation to generation.  The reason is that once a particular group gains an advantage in the class structure, it will do whatever it has to to maintain, strenghten and transfer that advantage to the next generation.


When sociologists talk about life chances in capitalist society, they refer to the ability or potential to live a happy, healthy and economically secure life…to quality of life.  It’s pretty obvious that there are different qualities of life, that there are major differences in the life chances of a single mother on welfare and those of a college president.  Conventional wisdom and liberal ideology don’t recognize the existence of social class, so inequality between a single mother on welfare and a college president is always seen as the result of personal characteristics.  The burden is always on the individual.  You occupy your place in society because of intelligence, or lack of it, willingness to work, thrift, courage, etc… By this analysis, those of you who have poorly-paid jobs, who are unemployed, underemployed, or on welfare, with low levels of schooling and no money are that way because you’re stupid, aren’t willing to work hard enough, or you’re wimps, or all three.  You may even believe that yourselves.  If you’ve bought the dominant ideology in our society, you probably do go along with this “cream rises to the top” business.


The problem is that persistent inequality in our society is not explainable with reference to personal characteristics alone although they may play a role in some cases.  In our society there are gradations of statuses on the basis of income, occupation and education.   Sociologists often refer to these gradations as strata or classes.  These should not be confused with the classical conflict definition of class, which refers only to your relationship to the means of production.  It’s not quite as simple as this, but if you score high on all three characteristics, good job, high education and lots of money you are considered upper class.  Score low and you’re lower class.  It’s only too obvious we’re not all equal in terms of condition, but what about opportunity? We have equal opportunity don’t we?  If we work hard, we can get ahead, can’t we?  Sorry to disappoint you.


If you were born female to native parents in Masset on the Queen Charlotte Islands what do you think your chances would be of being appointed to the Board of Directors of Noranda, or General Motors, or the Bank of Montreal?  Would your chances be any better if you were born male to a single mother in Burnaby?  What about if you were born male or female to the president of a major corporation living on the waterfront in West Vancouver, in Point Grey or Shaughnessy?  What all of these questions address is the relationship between social stratification, social mobility and life chances, but at the individual level.  Stratification goes much beyond the individual level.  It is a social fact.  What we have a hard time accepting is that we are somehow locked into a particular strata or class.  Is there social mobility? Let’s look at the way most of us think of as the best way to get ahead: education. Is there a class bias in access to higher education in B.C.?  Is a post-secondary education accessible to all and does it lead to social mobility and a better life?  In a paper called Education Under Seige: Financing and Accessibility in B.C. Universities, published in 1985 but still very much relevant today, Neil Guppy of UBC concludes that there has been no democritization of access to university.  He reports, based on a study he conducted that vocational institutes and community colleges cater to working class or lower middle class students while universities continue to cater to upper and upper middle class students.  And the reality is that a university education still produces greater material rewards so unequal access to university tends to reinforce social inequality.


For most of us, most of the time, class, defined both in classical and contemporary terms, has an enormous influence on our life chances. There you have it.

Class: What is it?

On Class: A script for the Knowledge Network Sociology Series.

By: Roger Albert

© 1993 Knowledge Network.


Boy, that guy sure has class!  Have you ever heard that before?  Or maybe you’ve heard: she doesn’t have much money, but she’s sure got class!  Well, what do we mean by class in this context?  We can’t just say “well, you know what I mean”…because this is a sociology course and sociologists don’t say “well, you know what I mean.” Sociologist need more than that.  As sociologists we can’t assume that other people know what we mean, or that we share their meanings with them.  So what DO we mean by class here?  I think that we’re communicating a whole lot of things when we talk about class like this. although I think that we’re mostly unconscious of the content of this kind of communication and its symbolic significance.  We can tell a bit about what’s important to us, and what we value by paying attention to the hidden messages in our conversations.  Implicit in the notion of class as I just used it in my examples is the fact that in our society people have different incomes, occupations and educational levels and those who have lots of income, prestigious occupations and lots of education are better than people who don’t .  They can afford to dress expensively, drive new luxury cars, eat in “classy” restaurants.  We admire them, wish we were like them and see them as being successful.  People who are less wealthy but who have discriminating tastes and try to emulate the people who have more are given thumbs up for giving it a good shot.  It also happens, of course, that we run across the comment: boy, that guy’s loaded, but he’s got no class at all! In this case, we have expectations of what rich people do, how they behave, you know, swavely, and we are disappointed when an obviously wealthy person doesn’t live up to our stereotypes and expectations.


Thorstein Veblen, an American economic historian and social philosopher who died in 1929 wrote a book called The Theory of the Leisure Class.  In this book he explains that we can relate to people just above and just below us on the social scale.  We are scared as hell of dropping down a notch and we’d sure like to catch up to the Joneses.  As regular people we can’t relate to people whose lives are so different from ours, that is, members of the leisure class, that class of very wealthy people who don’t need to work, at least not in the way most of us think of work.  They tinker with their stocks and bonds, or hire other people to even do that.  They invest.  They don’t collect wages or a salary.  They are the David Rockefellers of the world.   But let’s get back to basics.  Class, what is it?  Is it simply an attitude, a set of behaviours that we see as cool, calm and collected?


Well, class is different things to different people.  There’s a major difference in the way a structural functionalist or liberal sociologist and a conflict theorist or Marxist conceive of class.  And their conceptions have little in common with the common view of class in the sense of “classy” restaurant.  I’ve got a dictionary of sociology that defines class as a totality of persons having one or more common characteristics.  Class, according to the dictionary, may or may not signify the existence of a hierarchical scale of social power.  There are age, nativity, occupational, industrial, social, ideo-politico-economic, and income classes says the dictionary, but races and nationalities don’t qualify as classes although they divide the population.


In the “m” section of the same dictionary, we find the definition of middle class.  It says here that the concept of middle class used to really mean something in the 19th century, but that now most of us think of ourselves as middle class:  intellectual workers with moderate incomes, skilled artisans, prosperous farmers, white collar workers and salaried employees of large mercantile and financial establishments.   According to the dictionary, they have few common economic interests and whatever unity they possess lies in their standard of living and ideals of family life, their mores and recreational interests.  Well, this dictionary was first published in 1941 and it isn’t politically correct anymore (although my copy was printed in 1970).  The dictionary definition of class is basically a liberal definition whereby class is defined in subjective terms, by the way people think of themselves and describe themselves.  Not all sociologists are happy with that definition, however, and some think that the word class is too ambiguous or ideologically charged to be much good to use in a scientific study of society.  They want to be able to measure class objectively, recognizing that people don’t all have the same standard of living.  In doing so, they borrow a term from geology, stratification, which describes how the earth’s crust gets layered over millions of years via sedimentation and other processes.  Sociologically, the term refers exclusively to one’s relationship with the market…at the level of consumption.  If I can buy more than you, I’m higher class.  Class in this sense is separated from what is considered a person’s political and social status.  All three phases of life, class, status and political power constitute the context of the distribution of power in society.  This way of thinking also fits with the ideas that in our society, politics, business. education, law. etc., are all separate and independent spheres of activity and power in one is totally unrelated to power in another.  From this perspective, class can be measured objectively and people can be ranked on the basis of income, occupation and education.


A conflict theorist or Marxist would say that the concept of stratification is fine but it doesn’t explain much.  Sure, some people are rich and some aren’t, but just because a person is wealthy doesn’t mean that that person is powerful.  Win a lottery and get rich, sure, but do you have power? Depends on what you mean by power.  If we think that the ability to purchase things is power then we might think of the wealthy as powerful, no matter what the source of their wealth.  If we believe this, we are basically subscribing to a liberal view of the world.  The conflict theorist looks for the source of power elsewhere, at least initially…in the production and reproduction of wealth and ownership of the tools to recreate wealth…that is the factories, mines, mills, etc..  From this perspective, the basic class division is between the owners of the means of production (mines, mills, etc) and those who work for  the owners of the means of production and who are dependent on them for their livelihoods.  And the issue here is not relative individual power, Bill Gates versus you and I, but in the role that the owning and working classes play historically in the evolution of capitalism.  In this way of thinking, the affluent worker, who may hang out at the club and work in the highest offices in the highest sky scrappers downtown, is relatively wealthy, maybe, but is still dependent on the owning class.  And the determining factor for class analysis is not the worker’s affluence or poverty, but his or her dependence.  From a structural conflict perspective, its not the fact that there is social inequality based on relative wealth that’s important, but the problem of access to the opportunities to get that wealth.  That’s the difference between equality of condition and equality of opportunity, but that’s a topic for another day.