Comments about ‘How rich kids get ahead: 4 striking findings’

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Published: Friday, Aug. 15 2014 5:20 a.m. MDT

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5th gen Utahn
cedar city, UT

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.

Salt Lake City, UT

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.

Karen R.
Houston, TX

@ jcm53byu

Thank 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.

Salt Lake City, UT

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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