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View Diary: Another study blows up the myth of upward mobility (51 comments)

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  •  I went from poverty (13+ / 0-)

    (trailers, alcoholic parents, one pair of pants) to becoming an attorney.

    However, I had a lot of things going for me:

    1. the lucky biology of a very high IQ
    2. good teachers at key points/moments
    3. A real stubbornness to be different from my parents
    4. the aid of friends/girlfriends at key moments
    5. a minority scholarship aka affirmative action (say it ain't so Justice Thomas!)
    6. the military (not perfect but one place where meritocracy has SOME hold and where higher education is promoted)

    Probably dozens of others I didn't know about.  Of course, I barely make 6-figures which doesn't put me in the top 1% but puts me high enough to qualify as upwardly mobile I'd think.

    Still, soooo many ways it could have not happened, irrespective of my individual talents or efforts.

    •  Same here (0+ / 0-)

      not quite poverty but close

      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Sat Jun 07, 2014 at 12:16:46 PM PDT

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    •  but also a personality type/talent type (0+ / 0-)

      that made being an attorney a desirable and compatible career for you.

      there are plenty of career paths that never end up in 6-digit incomes.

      "Today is who you are" - my wife

      by I Lurked For Years on Sat Jun 07, 2014 at 12:35:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  well law wasn't my first path (0+ / 0-)

        I originally wanted to be an astronaut, but high level calculus is not my friend.

        Law was a backup plan. I'm good at it, or at least at the criminal law part of it, but it wasn't my first choice.

        But my six figures actually comes from being a military officer (we get paid the same no matter what career we are in...except doctors) not from being an attorney.

    •  I'm similar (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Geenius at Wrok

      With some variations.

      White, raised by a poor single mother with mental illness.  Actually no help from teachers; where I grew up poor white people were socially similar to black people.  Friends neutral - my friends were mostly similar kids, white guys from single parent families.  They didn't push me into crime or severe substance abuse, but were as naive as I was to how the system actually works.

      I graduated from high school, started in life as a dishwasher, worked and borrowed my way through college completely on my own, and through medical school.

      I needed my advantages.  Being white was an advantage, in my opinion - not having to deal with racism vastly outweighed the lack of "affirmative action".  Affirmative action helps those who are already doing well to do even better; it has no impact on kids who aren't learning how to read.

      I was raised in a home with books and learned to read early in life.  My home was far too disrupted to encourage academics, but it didn't discourage it either.

      And of course, academic ability, however one gets that.

      Some seem to have misinterpreted the fact that 89% of lower class white 22 year olds were "employed" as meaning that they were employed in decent paying jobs.  That's still an 11% unemployment rate for 22 year olds, and most of their jobs are probably very low paying.  The fact that it was insanely worse for black 22 year olds doesn't make that great.  

      I think the class system in this country is more rigid than any other industrial nation's right now.  I work with a lot of educated immigrant colleagues.  They all figure out the class system within an incredibly short time of arrival.

      •  and a high IQ which you were born with (0+ / 0-)

        while we can get the best out of people by giving them good nutrition and a loving home, and that can help a few points in IQ, there's nothing to be done about it for the most part. We can argue about the merits of IQ, but simply put, it tends to measure things schools value. True, some high IQ kids don't do well in school, and many don't do well on SAT's, but they usually have other things compensating for it that allow them to get ahead anyway. For the most part, though, IQ is something you're born with, and is usually inherited. You can't pick your parents. And you can't exercise your IQ to make it better. The only thing it can usually do is go down, due to injuries, disease, aging. BUt I don't think a high IQ is enough for kids in poverty; I think you are an exception. The report would seem to indicate having a middling IQ in an upper class family would give you better advantage than a poor kid with higher IQ.  But that wealthier kid still wouldn't get into med school, and if he did, he'd never get through. Not that high IQ med school grads can't say and do stupid things; I give you Ben Carson....but there is no section that currently tests for being an asshole on the WAIS, DAS, or Kaufmann...which I'm sure our friend Ben would fail should psychologists develop one.

        •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

          My (white) mother dropped out of high school and had 3 mixed-race kids as a teenager, but because she had a high IQ, when her husband (unenrolled Native American) divorced her from his prison cell, and left her with 3 kids under 5, no diploma, no driver's license, and no job she was able to get a GED without study, get an occupational bookkeeping certificate, and navigate the system to get housing assistance, etc.

          I can only imagine how much worse things would have been for her had she had an 85 IQ instead of ~130 (my estimate, AFAIK she was never tested).

          Of course, this was in the 60's, and so the job she got as a bookkeeper paid well enough that after getting a job her market rate housing only cost her about 15 hours of labor per month.  She was middle-income when she married my then middle-income father (white, high IQ high school dropout who finished high school by correspondence) in the late 70's.  They were doing very well until some business reversals in the early 80's put my age 6 thru college family income below poverty level.

          Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

          by benamery21 on Sat Jun 07, 2014 at 01:30:24 PM PDT

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          •  My mom got her GED in her 50's with minimal (0+ / 0-)

            study. She grew up in the depression in Indiana and attended a one room school, where her teachers would ridicule her older brother because he was "stupid" ( probably had dyslexia ) and look how smart your little sister is, she's already passing you by.....ah, the golden age of the minimally trained teacher...people don't even realize that today's teachers are the best trained in American history. But no matter, we must go back to the untrained ones, the folks at TFA tell us.....

    •  Almost exactly the same here (0+ / 0-)

      Except I'm white and female.
      I had points 1-3 and I would add:
      4. I scored well on the SATs and a school counselor helped me get into a state school at the last possible moment.
      5. Because that state school's tuition was so low, I was able to literally (using it correctly) work my way through college and emerge without owing anyone a dime, just gratitude to the taxpayers.
      6. And I never made more than mid to high five figures but ths enabled me to join the Middle Class and keep myself and my son off welfare.
      7. Social Security survivors benefits after my husband died also was a life saver.

      Freedom of speech, in my view, does not mean the freedom to buy the United States government -- Bernie Sanders

      by OnePingOnly on Sat Jun 07, 2014 at 12:58:35 PM PDT

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    •  Check (0+ / 0-)

      Although my socioeconomic status as a child is best described as odd (highly variable gross income, crushing business related debt, bottom quintile consumption) rather than typically poor, I went from being below the poverty line as a high school senior to top quintile in my first job out of college 4 years later (my income has tripled in the succeeding 15 years, despite not being particularly upwardly mobile).  I was the first person in my extended (all descendants of grandparents on both sides, including about 40 siblings and first cousins) family to get a 4 year degree.

      This was entirely due to luck and social provisions for economic opportunity.

      1)High IQ
      2)Stable, high IQ (HS dropout, low-income), intellectually inclined (but anti-college), involved parents
      3)Tuition waiver to state college for top 5% of HS class
      4)Free AP tests due to income level (60-odd credits)
      5)Family residence 4 miles from state university
      6)National Merit Scholarship

      Had I had similar circumstances but been born into a top quintile SES family I have no doubt I would have attended  Ivy League schools and had a law or grad degree.  My similarly dis/advantaged siblings have had less success financially (luck of the draw).

      Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

      by benamery21 on Sat Jun 07, 2014 at 01:09:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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