Published: Friday, Aug. 15 2014 5:20 a.m. MDT
The consensus here seems to be that, despite scientific evidence to the
contrary, poor folk do not escape their lot in life because of their
unwillingness to work hard or live a morally just way of life.
Many of us rationalize our acceptance of a social order that keeps people in
poverty. We assert that the poor are responsible for their own situation.
They’re just not working hard enough, not staying in school, having
children out of wedlock, etc. The study contradicts this belief by concluding
that those who start life with advantages of access to jobs, relative wealth and
stable families overwhelmingly maintain a higher level of economic success than
those who start life in poverty. The “opportunity” playing field is
very far from level. This is not surprising, but most responses, instead of
considering what we can do to level the "opportunity" playing field, try
to reinforce the case that the poor are responsible for their own problems.
Instead, we should be recognizing that 1) Luck of birth determines most of your
outcome, 2) the rate of movement up the economic ladder is pretty small, and 3)
most importantly, the opportunity to work your way up the socio-economic ladder
is NOT a morally adequate response to poverty and unemployment when we acquiesce
to a social structure designed to maintain a highly unequal distribution of
wealth and income. We hate when our moral cop-outs are challenged.
I like most of the smart comments posted here. I attended a professional school
in the health care field where 70 of the 100 students were Asian. Many of them
were Vietnamese that came to the U.S. with nothing in the 1970's at the end
of the Vietnam War. Their parents worked hard in donut shops or other similar
low-paying jobs while the kids worked hard in school. Now those kids are making
big incomes.Even if a child in poverty only achieves a much smaller
percentage of this above example, they can still pull themselves out of poverty,
in most cases. If a strong desire and work ethic are there, it can be done.
@ jcm53byuThank you for saying that. I decided against including in
my comment the fact that my acquaintance was white and male at a time when those
two characteristics were more explicitly favored by our society. My thought was
that this would be too easily dismissed as carping, when it's simply a
fact. White males were and still are favored (though less so now than in the
past).Two more features we don't choose, but that have
significant implications for our futures.
Someone should do a study where the findings are white males are sick of being
shamed and that they owe someone else. We live in a pretty great country where
your opportunities are endless, even overcoming conditions that you were born
into or overcoming stupid mistakes that you made. In my comment above, I
mentioned that the majority of my class was Asian, but I did not mention that
the majority was also female. Many of them as children had little at the end of
The Vietnam War.Two decades ago I wanted to be accepted into the
physical therapy school at The University of Utah. About 200 applied each year,
but only 24 were accepted (12 males and 12 females). Of the applicants, about
150 were white males. If you were a female or minority with ambition, you had a
many times higher chance of being accepted. I became discouraged at my odds and
went for a different healthcare profession.Stop your whining,
finger-pointing, and over-generalizing and go out and accomplish what you would
like to do. Also know it will not be handed to you and will require a lot of
hard work and determination.
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