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Stingy Rich or Utopian Dreamers?


Article by Joseph Stiglitz

Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth

The New York Times Opinionator. 2/18/13

According to Doctor Professor Chairman Nobel Laureate Stiglitz, America is offering less and less opportunity to the disadvantaged, especially during the past 25yrs. He’s a brilliant man, so I guess he should know.

Unfortunately, brains and politics sometimes don’t mix, at least not in the conventional sense, where intellect unencumbered by bias or agenda analyzes facts/figures independently, without regard to consequence or personal preference.

DPCNL Stiglitz, with all due respect, is trapped in a permanent state of liberal thought. Someone needs to put both him and the record straight, lest we believe his self-serving arguments.

First, why have more immigrants come here during the past 100 yrs than anyplace else? Some countries rival us on as a percentage, but nobody takes in the sheer numbers we do. Why has this been the case consistently for the past 100yrs, if opportunities have declined, as the professor says, during the past 25yrs?

Either our diminishing opportunities are still far superior to what other places can offer, or the average immigrant doesn’t fit the professor’s profile of a typically disadvantaged person. Never mind if they have no education, can’t speak English, suffer from a variety of health issues and in fact are far below the economic status of our own poor and disadvantaged. Evidently, regardless of origin, they think they can do better for themselves here than in England, France, Australia, Brazil, wherever. Many are the lowest of the low, yet even they can sniff out where the best chance exists for help, opportunity and success.

This makes the point, indirectly, that America’s poor/disadvantaged are still well above the world’s poor/disadvantaged, and arguably the richest, healthiest poor on the planet. How can that be, if they’re being victimized by a callous, uncaring system that makes no allowance for their welfare, and gives them little or no chance to get ahead?

As to the upwardly mobile American becoming a statistical oddity, why do we suppose that is? The professor blames what he calls persistent discrimination, particularly against blacks, Latinos and women. Never mind the tremendous headway each of these groups has made over the past 50yrs. It’s not enough.

They’re under-represented statistically in the upper quartiles denoting success, so must be being held back by some mechanism or impediment not suffered by whites.

vladimir-leninNever mind comparing their upper-quartile presence, say in 1950, with today. Pay no attention to the fact they’ve actually doubled/tripled that presence. Definitely ignore as irrelevant the fact they’re approaching levels representative of their underlying proportion of the population, and are even over-represented in some areas. These must be anomalies or statistical absurdities since they don’t fit nicely in the professor’s argument.

Here’s a thought: what if the statistical oddity of fewer upwardly mobile blacks, browns, poor whites, women etc. is caused by a false economic premise, created by Prof Stiglitz and his peers, wherein modestly successful people are punished with tax and regulation, such that the more successful they become the more they’re punished?

Could it be people climbing the ladder back in the 50’s & 60’s could achieve much higher levels of success before being hammered by a class-driven tax code? Before being demonized as selfish bastards getting more than their fair share of the pie?

Another thought: successful people back in the 50’s & 60’s were hard workers, high achievers and self-motivated. In other words, they earned/deserved what they got. Strangely back then every class of individual from bottom up believed if they worked hard and stayed focused, they’d succeed. Someone born into middle/ upper middle class had an easier time, but that doesn’t detract from the fact a poorer counter-part, the guy without advantage, could still aspire to be equal or better than rich-guy.

LeninOne more thought: the economic cauldron from which a vibrant highly motivated poor began their climb bubbled with a symbiosis of their own individual energies/ambitions combined with the efficiency/effectiveness of a freer, more enterprising capitalistic society, where government stayed out of it and didn’t interfere. The system of the 60’s/70’s/80’s was encouraging, even enticing, to anyone wanting to work, be responsible & get ahead, whereas today’s system of the 90’s/00’s/10’s, works to mollycoddle, disincentivize and excuse. It actually discourages self-actualization and independence and strives to make people more dependent on government, rather than themselves.

The false reality for which the professor pines is a pipe dream, and all the government meddling or good intent can’t change it. It does no good to criticize or complain about realities of life which, simply stated, require that some of us regardless of back- ground or ethnicity are more talented, skilled and ambitious than others. Our system 50yrs ago had been growing more aware and accepting of this, with affirmative action and increasing liberal curriculums in the schools. Anyone wanting upward mobility could get it, in greater & greater numbers, but they had to work.

We can’t alter the fact some have more than others, or their parents are more attentive and encouraging, their schools better staffed and so on. These realities will not go away and, in any event, have always existed. A growing achievement gap over the past 25yrs of 40% supports the idea things were much better before government got involved and began its campaign to egalitarianize society, giving everybody a college education.

We now have over 40% getting degrees, and I would guess the professor would like to see 50-60%. Isn’t this the old too many chiefs and not enough indians argument? Natural selection dictates only 20-30% of us are accomplishers and leaders, and an overly intrusive, interfering government can’t change that.

Using Europe as a paradigm is ridiculous. Just look at them and their socialist monstrosity, with countries going bankrupt right and left. There is no utopian dream, no socialist paradise where equal opportunity leads to equal outcome, and everybody wins.

To say youths without a college education are condemned to a life of poor prospects is patently false, and outrageously so. A very high percentage of successful entrepreneurs and small, independent business people don’t have degrees, but still achieve high levels of success due to their work ethic and perseverance. In many cases, getting a degree would have slowed them down!


College costs too much, the financial burden is unfair, advanced degrees are necessary, government must level the playing field and on and on. Dr. Stiglitz and his peers want the impossible, at the expense of those who ask for little or no help, just to be left alone to get on and achieve their dream.

The ghost of American greatness is still here, lurking in and around every community, urban, rural or otherwise. Kids will rise to their potentials, given chalk, blackboard and the right encouragement. Throwing money and technology at schools does nothing to improve the talents/skills of teachers who,by the way, are churned out of schooling mills like so many widgets on a conveyor belt. In many cases, they are the classic example of lowering the bar, downgrading expectations and dumbing-down an entire profession under the banner of equal opportunity-equal outcome. Rubbish!

In any case, example after example show government is a lousy surrogate for parenting, which is where the problem lies. You can’t encourage parents to do a better job if there are no parents, or only one parent. Government and its liberal, progressive policies can only be applied if it gets bigger and bigger, all on the backs of the working, achieving class. These in large part are 2-parent families who care and encourage their kids. But government is squeezing and stifling them, as it makes more and more demands. At the same time, it actually promotes a 1-parent syndrome amongst the poor, with its food stamps, aid to dependent families, free this, that and everything. Government’s effort these past 30yrs, though well-intended, has actually been counter-productive to the goal of equal-opportunity.

Education can be had in many ways, formally and informally.

The competitive, leobama-marxgitimate market on the street offers a better classroom than shoving it down one’s throat whether it’s wanted or not. Let’s stop regimenting lives with programs and quotas. Make both people and schools responsible and accountable. Make them work for their rewards, and the rest will follow.

Stop using the discrimination card for explaining all our faults. In most cases it doesn’t exist, except as a figment of the imagination in the liberal professor’s mind. Unfortunately, we have way too many liberal professors, which is the crux of the matter.


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I’m Al Shane

Alvan I. Shane Author, The Day Liberty Wept 2270 N Euclid Ave Frequent Op-Ed Contributor Upland, Calif 91784 Political Donor to Cons Grps / Causes (909) 946-5104 Ex-Marine / California native Tax Accountant / Mar 43yrs / 1 son
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