Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Naivete Running Rampent
Yesterday I argued with a group of students about the financial American Dream for over an hour. They claim anybody and everybody has a shot at being a millionaire in this country through hard work and a good education. It's an open road of success where all you have to do is travel it and everything will work out fine...for anybody. I sighed with a slight disapproving head shake.
First, economics in capitalism makes it impossible for everybody to be doing okay financially. There will always be a small, elite upper-class who claim huge percentages of our national income. Then there's this shrinking middle class where the majority lay. Finally the bottom feeders who have failed in the rat race make up the rest. This lower-class greatly outnumbers the upper class, and with the dissipation of the middle, is growing more everyday. That's simple economics.
The next question usually goes in the "why have the people of the lower-class failed?" direction. An example is given. The example's always a service job,often a janitor. They say "the janitor is lazy for not applying himself more in his educational process," or "he should have known how to play the stock market and increase his wealth." In short, the janitor consciously settled on a harder life with less money.
I argue social structures are implemented on the lower classes to limit financial opportunities for them. They don't want to hear it, "Naw! A degree gets you money. The poor don't want to have to go to school." I'm serious, this is how the discussion went.
I point out they're in a community college who doesn't offer any bachelors programs. I mention how the value of a degree becomes diluted as society approaches a more global job-market. I offer that all the nation's poor can't be that way because of their academic laziness or their indifference about having money in life.
Then the quiet guy in the back pipes up. "I invested in Google during the dot com craze and made over $800,000." Friends, I noticed this man earlier in the day looking at his Yugio cards in a protective binder. I was skeptical of such an audacious claim. His clothes and appearance indicated he didn't leave the house much and might have an on-line girlfriend. I check out his gym shoes and they were beat up Starter brand. Why lie? Try and make friends a more honest way, o' dragon slayer. (I had to mention that guy)
Back to the topic. Immigrants come here and bust their asses for sure, but it's normally an entrepreneurship they put their sweat into. Unless you want to try to be an entrepreneur, it's not up to you if you get rich in life. Hard work and determination can help that happen, but eventually other factors come into play.
One of those factors is you apply for a job, or submit your info for a job. Your giving your fate to these potential employers, hoping they'll pick you. All that hard work on your education just became obsolete because now a richer person decides if it's good enough. It doesn't guarantee you shit to get a degree, but a hefty loan to keep you down financially a little more. The other factor is the competitive advantage. What do you offer that the next man can't? A good attitude? Good luck. Does race come into play during interviewing for open positions? Um...yes. Therefore, is being non-white an inherited disadvantage when competing in the job market. I say yes.
Sure there's programs designed to fix that disadvantage but it has very little macro impact, economically speaking. Affirmative Action has produced bitterness in competitive workplaces due to positions being handed over to less qualified minorities. The better schools which give a person better credentials, cost more and promotes the rich kids, while making it nearly unattainable for the poor kids. The good ol' boy system is firmly in place among the upper crust to ensure generational success.
I'm not saying it's pointless; it's not. But it bothers me when youngsters are quick to blame a person's inequalities on not trying to do more to change it. The powers that be are not eager to share their power, especially not with any common folk. The American Dream seems to have low clouds.
Mojokong the Mirror