Professor, Economist, & Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz wrote a prescient article titled “Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth” in the New York Times that one would think would get national coverage. As the talking heads in the mainstream media are spun by special interests, it is the middle class and poor that will ultimately suffer unless they force their own voices to be heard now.
Perhaps a hundred years ago, America might have rightly claimed to have been the land of opportunity, or at least a land where there was more opportunity than elsewhere. But not for at least a quarter of a century. Horatio Alger-style rags-to-riches stories were not a deliberate hoax, but given how they’ve lulled us into a sense of complacency, they might as well have been.
It’s not that social mobility is impossible, but that the upwardly mobile American is becoming a statistical oddity. According to research from the Brookings Institution, only 58 percent of Americans born into the bottom fifth of income earners move out of that category, and just 6 percent born into the bottom fifth move into the top. Economic mobility in the United States is lower than in most of Europe and lower than in all of Scandinavia.
Americans have been indoctrinated in that past truth. The problem with indoctrination is that it becomes difficult to introduce fact and reality. While everyone is well aware that things are not right, they succumb to tales of those that would use that state of indoctrination against their better senses.
If the sequester were to go into effect, it is fact that 70,000 kids would be kicked out of Head Start, $902 million in small business loan guarantees would be slashed, 7200 special education teachers will be cut, and many other services that affect either the poor or struggling business that keep many in the middle class. Yet, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham suggests
Here’s my belief: Let’s take Obamacare and put it on the table," he said. "People are leaving the private sector because their companies can’t afford to offer Obamacare. If you want to look at ways to find $1.2 trillion in savings over the next decade, let’s look at Obamacare. Let’s don’t destroy the military and just cut blindly across the board."
In other words, in order to placate the military industrial complex, simply swap the destruction of a set of poor and middle class programs for another, Obamacare. Put simply, either choice, sequester or not, the poor and middle class gets the bill. To be sure, America’s military might is second to none by several orders of magnitude and as such never in danger even with the cuts in the sequester.
It is no wonder there is no longer equal opportunity. Opportunity is mostly offered to those who have already had opportunity.
Stiglitz provides a lot of what needs to be done in his article that would really provide access to equal opportunity. The problem is that one cannot get there without a fundamental change in America’s politics.
Why is it that Senator Lindsey Graham is so concerned with saving the military from cuts while decimating the American safety net? The answer is simple; the corruptive and corrosive influence of money on our politics. He is owned by the military industrial complex like many other Republicans and Democrats alike.
Americans no longer having upward mobility and equal opportunity must be blamed on supply side economics that allowed the hoarding of capital by a few as well as on Republican unadulterated supports for this failed ideology. Much blame must also be placed on Democrats. After all, they have been in power during many instances where if they governed by the creed of the Democratic ideology, equal opportunity would have been the major driver of their policies. Instead they have governed as Republican lite. Obamacare while better than not having it ceded middle class wealth to insurance companies instead of the straight institution of a single payer health care system. They supported free trade even as foreign slave like labor & lax environmental policies put the American worker at a disadvantage.
Equal opportunity, upward mobility, and access to success will only return to our shores when the politicians fear the middle class, the masses more so than the Plutocracy, the few. This will occur when money is removed from politics and a mass movement comes to fruition.