Unequal chances

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I think Stan Hogarth (Letters, 15 October) does such a good job of revealing his own prejudice that there is almost no need for a reply to it.

His central point, however, must be challenged. Everyone does not start in the same place.

I read his letter about how he had no advantages when he was born but he is lucky enough to have the wit, entrepreneurial spirit and grey matter to succeed in his businesses.

The idea that someone living in Pilton or Govan – whose dad beat his wife and went to jail leaving her to her drug habit during pregnancy, which meant the son has a learning disability – starts at the same point and is a bit hard to fathom.

I’ve picked an extreme example, but domestic abuse is prevalent in some communities and you might argue that few of the children there start with the same life chances as Mr Hogarth.

He says editing altered his tone but presumably his most recent letter is unedited and the tone seems the same: if you’re not as wealthy as he is you’re a scrounger or you’re not trying hard enough.

It reminded me of the single mum I met while canvassing for a Yes vote, who worked 12 hours a day as a cleaner since her husband left her.

She had a three-bed house and one child but had tried to downsize to no avail to avoid the bedroom tax. She told me she could no longer afford to save £10 per month for Christmas as a result.

The fact that Mr Hogath agrees with Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith about a pre-paid card system sadly points, again, to the fact that whatever new powers Westminster deigns to give us, without due democratic process, power over the key issue of equality and dignity of the population will be retained in the hands of neo-liberals.

Jonathan Gordon

Brunstane Road

Edinburgh

After reading Stan Hogarth’s arrogant and nauseating defence of egotism we were unsurprised by his final sentence, that he was “not in the least religious”.

Most religions preach that we have a duty to help the weakest among us – children, the aged, the sick, the mentally and the physically disabled.

This includes the poor, both the deserving and the so-called undeserving. He is wrong to claim that we all began at the same starting line.

Some of us had the good fortune to be raised by a loving and supportive family; some did not. Who are we to judge?

Many of the most successful in our society concede that luck played an important part in their rise – they happened to be the right person in the right place at the right time.

The fact that a very small number of people may be abusing the benefits system is no justification for disregarding the many who have no other choice than to accept support.

We would hate to live in the kind of society which Mr 
Hogarth is apparently describing: thrusting, self-satisfied and careless of the needs of our fellow citizens and focused on the accumulation of wealth.

We all depend upon each other. Nobody has expressed it better than John Donne in his masterpiece Meditation XVII, which begins: “No man is an island” and ends: “and therefore never send to hear for whom the bell tolls – it tolls for thee.”

BARRY & HELEN HUGHES

Comiston Drive

Edinburgh