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Group of Diverse Students Celebrating Graduation
Graduating college is right next door to impossible for low-income kids.
The myth that the United States of America is a place where upward mobility is a real possibility available to anyone persists, despite evidence to the contrary like the fact that rich kids with low test scores are more likely to graduate from college than poor kids with high test scores, and poor kids rise to the top income group as adults at rates of less than 5 percent in big parts of the country. Now, another study backs that up. Sociologists Karl Alexander, Doris Entwisle and Linda Olson followed nearly 800 Baltimore kids starting in 1982, when they were first-graders. Thirty years later, their study shows just how rare it is to rise from a low-income childhood to a high-income adulthood, as well as the added challenges black men face:
Out of the original 800 public school children he started with, 33 moved from low-income birth family to a high-income bracket by the time they neared 30. Alexander found that education, rather than giving kids a fighting chance at a better life, simply preserved privilege across generations. Only 4 percent of the low-income kids he met in 1982 had college degrees when he interviewed them at age 28, whereas 45 percent of the kids from higher-income backgrounds did.

Perhaps more striking in his findings was the role of race in upward mobility. Alexander found that among men who drop out of high school, the employment differences between white and black men was truly staggering. At age 22, 89 percent of the white subjects who'd dropped of high school were working, compared with 40 percent of the black dropouts.

These differences came despite the fact that it was the better-off white men who reported the highest rates of drug abuse and binge drinking. White men from disadvantaged families came in second in that department.

Just 33 people out of 800 move from low-income childhood to high-income adulthood—around 4 percent. And only 4 percent of the low-income children have college degrees by age 28. Unless you believe that work ethic explains everything and is like 96 percent heritable, there's no way to deny that this lack of upward mobility is a societal phenomenon. And if you do believe it's all about work ethic, the racial disparities leave you with some serious, serious thinking and explaining to do.

When you're dealing with a societal phenomenon, policy is the best kind of answer. From job creation to a higher minimum wage to stronger anti-discrimination policies to shutting down the school-to-prison pipeline to making college affordable, we know the answers. But, between Republicans virulently opposed to them and Democrats too often too weak, we're stuck with this status quo.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 12:34 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  While I agree that upward mobility is a myth (4+ / 0-)

    in this country, which has the lowest rate of upward mobility of any industrialized country, you need to define "high income" in your diary for it to make sense. Does that mean the upper two percent? If so, four percent of low income kids reaching that level is quite remarkable.

    •  What percentage would need to achieve (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dizzydean, jbsoul

      "high income" status to show upward mobility is possible? As noted above, 4% is significant if high income is top 5-10%. Also, how does raising the minimum wage affect upward mobility? 10 or even 15 dollars per hour does not equal "high income" by anyone's definition.

      •  $15 an hour allows (7+ / 0-)

        one to save and invest. It allows one to help their children through school. It allows one to eat a decent diet, improving productivity and income. It takes the focus off of immediate survival and allows one to plan and work towards a better future. And it allows many to participate more fully in the economy, providing income opportunities that would not otherwise exist.

        $15 an hour isn't high income, true, but doubling one's income is a first step in that direction.

        •  $15 an hour for parents would allow kids to live (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ypochris

          at home and attend a community college without working full time.  Parents could go to school a class at a time to work their way toward a better future for their family.  This is not possible for people working 2 or 3 jobs.  

          Even families that did not choose to pursue more education could have decent, middle-class lives.

          •  Speaking of 2-3 jobs (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lexicon, BYw, benamery21, Fixerguy, Laconic Lib

            How exactly is a person working 80 hours a week at 2-3 crappy jobs not working as hard as an executive working 60 hours a week at a cushy corner office job?

            If "hard work" were the ticket to high income, about 50% of our workforce would have their incomes reversed.

            (Note: This is a generic question based on your observation, not a specific response to anything you said)

      •  Yes, that statistic is meaningless without (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MissouriMatt

        at least know what percentage of people the author is classifying as "high income."

        And wouldn't it be more interesting to know how many kids went from "low income" households to being "middle-income." ?

    •  Don't answer this poster. The people prating an... (0+ / 0-)

      Don't answer this poster.

      The people prating and whining about how high income isn't "defined" are *only* looking for an argument.

      We all know goddamned good and well what high income is and what poverty is. They do too. The moment you define it, they'll argue your figures and bury important comments in their nitpicking over numbers.

      Don't rise to the bait. Stop the fucking trolling before it even starts. Don't entertain them.

  •  Interesting findings from Hopkins' study (7+ / 0-)

    http://releases.jhu.edu/...

    Almost none of the children from low-income families made it through college. Of the children from low-income families, only 4 percent had a college degree at age 28, compared to 45 percent of the children from higher-income backgrounds. “That’s a shocking tenfold difference across social lines,” Alexander said.
    Among those who did not attend college, white men from low-income backgrounds found the best-paying jobs.
    White women from low-income backgrounds benefit financially from marriage and stable live-in partnerships.
    Most likely to abuse drugs — better-off white men.

    To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

    by dizzydean on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 01:11:33 PM PDT

  •  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

      [ Parent ]

    •  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

          [ Parent ]

          •  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

      [ Parent ]

    •  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 ]

  •  Capitalism is a state of temporary social insanity (7+ / 0-)

    There is a way to design a society that provides equal opportunity, a quality lifestyle for all, and environmental responsibility, but it's not called Capitalism. You can't expect individuals to behave primarily in their own interest and have a functioning society that works for the best interests of all.

    The only semi-ethical justification for Capitalsim is that everyone starts out with equal opportunity. Not only is this not true, but the concept implies that those who can't find monetary success in a Capitalistic society, deserve a miserable life. Clearly happiness as measured in various countries increases with more Socialism. The challenge is to move even further in that direction, preserving and enhancing the important aspects of freedom and opportunity.

    •  European social democracy is best (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Darth Stateworker

      As I understand it, places like Germany mandate that the working class, not only the upper class, MUST be allowed to set wages along with the executives.

      This leads--surprise!--to fairer distribution of company profits, with top executives pulling down a "mere" 40 or 50 times what their employees make, rather than the several hundred times what their employees make that is somehow not enough for our executives.

      Not only does no one in northern Europe go bankrupt for health care, but they don't even have any people screaming that they wish people would once again go bankrupt for health care. (For fun, when a right-winger says "it's different in Germany and Scandinavia 'cause size and homogeneity," as their Americans for Prosperity script tells them to do, ask: "oh--um, so? What exact size and homo- or heterogeneity does a country need to have before it's too much or too little?" and watch them go silent. No script for that. Of course, first you have to wade through a few posts where they pretend that All European Countries Are Greece.) I could go on, but I already have.

      We will progress to a more cooperative world--we must--but until then, the northern European model is the best model. We should copy them, since they are doing better (note, finally, that the EU has had a larger GDP than the US's, for several of the last 10 years).

      •  Yeah, but that's mostly because they lost WW2 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Geenius at Wrok, benamery21

        and their occupiers made them set up this system:

        As I understand it, places like Germany mandate that the working class, not only the upper class, MUST be allowed to set wages along with the executives.
        I suspect there's some good irony in there, someplace.
        •  There were no rich people left. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Laconic Lib

          That had a lot to do with it. In countries like Italy, when the wealthy refused to give up land after the war, the peasants killed them.

        •  Hm... where did you hear that? (0+ / 0-)

          Not that it can't be true, but do you have a paper trail of any kind, or anything showing that we made them do that? I always thought that they simply did that of their own accord,
          1) because it makes sense, and avoids the sort of Either-You're-the-Five-Walmart-Billionaires-or-You're-Homeless problems America is facing, and
          2) because Europe has a greater history of social democracy than we do, even BEFORE the war--view Germany, again, having social programs in the Bismarck, post-Bismarck Wilhelmine, and Weimar eras.

          This is the first I've heard of such a claim. Again, it could well be true that we forced them to adopt it, but do you have evidence that I can read?

        •  More complicated than that. (0+ / 0-)

           Sweden and Switzerland didn't participate in the war and still developed successful social-democratic societies. In fact, their neutrality allowed them to avoid the destruction and bankruptcy of their neighbors and even profit from the war.  Some would denounce this.  I prefer to think it intelligent to avoid war if at all possible.
            Japanese society was completely made over by the US - a thoroughly designed and micro-managed transition into a modern and highly successful democracy carried out by teams of experts, including former Roosevelt New-Dealers.

      •  Size and homogeneity (0+ / 0-)

        Yes.  I always wondered about that claim.   Are they saying the US is socially backward because we're a big melting pot?  Or is that just an excuse?  Then there's the one about how there are too many unwed mothers in Scandinavia.  Did they invent single motherhood?  You know they breed like bunnies, those Swedes.

        When I think of the EU nations in economic trouble right now, I also think of their postwar history.  Spain was neutral, but fascist.  Smart and reactionary at the same time.  In Italy, the Allies helped the Mafia recover from the war.  It was one policy designed to thwart the Communists there.  The other was Gladio, a stay-behind operation in which right-wingers, not Mafiosi this time, were armed and trained by the CIA and other NATO agencies to create an insurgency force there in the event of a Commie takeover.  The program evolved in the '70s and '80s into a full-blown terrorist campaign aimed at sowing chaos that would drive the Italian middle-class into the arms of the mildly conservative Christian Democratic party.  Italy was the most intensely affected by Gladio, but the policy was followed in other parts of Europe as well.  Similar pro-fascist policies were enacted in Greece.  Partisans, mostly left-wing anarcho-socialists, had liberated much of the north of Greece from the Nazis.  They were running communities in the rural areas there according to socialist self-determining principles, so they had to be routed by the returning exile army, but not before it was purged of real or potential leftist elements.  The ensuing political development was turbulent, including right-wing military juntas.  

        •  It seems for all the world that the homogeneity (0+ / 0-)

          claim and size claim (which is ridiculous in Germany's case, because they have over 85 million people, which is, like... a lot?? And not so different from America's 330 million that it'd make ANY difference to a health care or any other government program?) is just something their Americans for Prosperity script-writers had to think up on the spur of the moment, and never bothered to elaborate on.

          Which is just as well, since, as you mention the Poor Four Plus Italy, they are among (in Greece and Italy's case) the ones with the LOWEST tax-to-GDP rates, and (for Spain and Ireland) the LOWEST social welfare spending. So they can't force the whole "Europe is over! Nothing to see here!" junk to make any kind of sense. Europe has GDP to match ours, along with better conditions for workers, less inequality, and greater social mobility if you're working class and hope to afford not to be homeless.

          That's interesting stuff about Italy and Greece, though!  Thanks!

  •  I think the whole 20th Century idea of (4+ / 0-)

    'go to college/grad school + work hard  =  you'll do well' has been savagely damaged since at least 2000.

    It doesn't seem to work, or I have just missed something for the last 35 years.

    I have a BA a masters degree and  a professional license (with which I COULD open a business, but I think I totally suck at business) and I have had 10 jobs since 2008. I can get jobs, but they do not pay what one might expect graduate-level educations to pay and they constantly go out of business or the owners/managers suck massive balls and I quit.

    Currently I am lucky to be employed making less than half what I thought I would be and actually $3000 a year LESS than 12 years ago and I have no benefits (other than Obamacare and that's coming out of our pocket in post-tax dollars).

    I blame republicans.

    Legal means "good".
    [41984 | Feb 4, 2005]

    by xxdr zombiexx on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 01:47:28 PM PDT

    •  A lot of people with graduate degrees in STEM (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xxdr zombiexx, Whamadoodle

      fields are out of work or badly underemployed.  The real job creators are those of us who invent things, those who organize production, and workers who physically produce of the new inventions.  Companies could not produce much of anything if CEOs were the only ones who showed up for work.

      •  YES ^^^^^^ (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        benamery21, Laconic Lib

        CEO's are NOT job creators. The creatives who do the work and the customers who buy the product are the job creators. While the CEO probably deserves a reasonably high income, they are NOT the be all and end all of a business.

        Just because you are the banker in the game of Monopoly does not mean you can take all the money you like for yourself.

    •  That's why I picked public employment... (0+ / 0-)

      benefits, pension, retire at 55 or 60. Then Whitman blew the pension fund in NJ. Then Christie gutted it further. Now he wants to get rid of retiree health benefits. Ok, so I'm 51 and make a good salary, which was cut, what do I do now? If you tell me this 25 years ago, I fight like hell to get into any law school in the country that will take me, and go on to defend high profile criminals. But I can't. There are no do overs. I've had cancer. I have other health issues. The papers talk of the "sprightly" 55 yr olds who retire from the school system. I don't know anyone who retired at that age who was sprightly. I know some cops who did, a bit younger in their late 40's, but you can't do most police work at 55. Well maybe you can, but you can't chase down crooks or rescue cats from trees. And where did the money go? To pay for tax cuts for the wealthy, mostly. Who used the money to fund think tanks to attack the rest of us.

  •  It's not dramatic, but it happened to me (4+ / 0-)

    I grew up in a lower middle class military family.  We didn't have a lot of cash on hand, but thanks to VA benefits and being close to the military base our household expenses were low too.  When I went to college, my father's official taxable income was about $3000.  He himself was the son of a poor 2nd gen immigrant farmer who went into the military because it was a better living than growing sugar beats.

    My husband and I now technically qualify for the upper quarter household income in the country, if not the upper quintile.

    I have the advantage of being white, and the disadvantage of being female.  I had the advantage of being smart enough to go to "good" public schools and universities and getting a master's degree in a fast growing sector.  I also married someone who had a much more dramatic rise, from the son of a mechanic who only finished high school to having a PhD in education.

    I'd be interested to see more stories about us.  Instead of a rise from the lowest incomes to the very highest, about folks who managed to move a notch or two on the income scale in one generation.

    The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

    by catwho on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 02:01:38 PM PDT

  •  'upward mobility' (5+ / 0-)

    I made, at most, the same amount of money as my father, adjusted for inflation. I can barely afford an apartment for one; he had a family of five.

    Fuck the GOP and the economists who enable them.

    (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

    by PJEvans on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 02:32:16 PM PDT

  •  Unpaid Internships Are (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allie4fairness, catwho

    only for the upper middle class and above.  It's how personnel trash weed out low income applicants and get sociopaths from higher income families that stress the importance of money and material possessions.

    Young people from single parent, low income families aren't going to be able to work for any length of time for no pay.

    Kellogg's Pop Tart factory near Muncy, Pa. had an unpaid internship advertised on CareerBuilder.com a few years ago.  You needed 2 years of experience as an unpaid intern to qualify.  What kind of horseshit is that!?!

    Unpaid internship pay less than slavery -- slavery at least paid room and board while unpaid internships pay absolutely nothing.

    EOE -- l/i/e.

  •  My father died when I was five, several alcoholic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allie4fairness

    step-fathers, but I worked my way through Cal Berkeley, & emerged with degree in Mechanical Engineering  no student debt. Then when to work on the Apollo Program. But this was the 50's before Reagan went to work on the social net.
    It is one of the things I love about Elizabeth Warren. We had similar backgrounds & she really gets it. In case you missed her last night, watch Elizabeth Warren & Thomas Piketty on Inequality in America

    Warren is neither a Clintonesque triangulator nor an Obamaesque conciliator. She is a throwback to a more combative progressive tradition, and her candidacy is a test of whether that approach can still appeal to voters.-J. Toobin "New Yorker"

    by chuck utzman on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:24:49 PM PDT

  •  There's a group called "Brothers Code" (0+ / 0-)

    teaching young black men how to code. Considering that women and latinoamericanos are way underrepresented in the tech world, I wouldn't mind seeing a "Sisters Code" and "Vatos Code" as well. But I think that since poverty is very WELL represented in the black community, this seems a very important development to me.

  •  While dispelling the myth is important (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lexicon, historys mysteries

    we shouldn't even accept the premise that mobility is sufficient.  Make society better for everyone, not just those positioned to take advantage of mobility.  I like social and economic rights more than increasing the number of lottery payouts.

  •  This fits with what i found and what my dad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock

    told me. I.e. education doesn't guarantee a thing.

    IMHO the post WWII era was an aberration and the typical condition of the US class structure is what existed between 1890 and 1941. At least without vigor o US government intervention.

    The cards are just s t stacked too much.against the average person.

    And I am Kilrain of the 20th Maine. And I damn all gentlemen. Whose only worth is their father's name And the sweat of a workin' man Steve Earle - Dixieland

    by shigeru on Sat Jun 07, 2014 at 12:41:13 PM PDT

    •  Panics & Depressions Our Entire History Beginning (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Icicle68

      just after the Constitution, and increasing wealth concentration, are what's normal for our system.

      Remember it was a full century and more behind its own times when it was written. Despite some of our own framers writing and speaking of most of today's known threats from a trading economy and wealth concentration, financial speculation etc., to the point where Jefferson and Madison both wanted an 11th Amendment freedom from monopolies in commerce for example, what they could agree on is basically ignorant of economic threats.

      The New Deal half century was indeed anomalous, it was the only period where the system worked for average people in many ways from economic well being, upward mobility, secure old age, food and water safety, only large middle class, only period of widespread decent journalism, only period of easy access to higher education, so much more.

      It was built on the principle that there is such a thing as too much income and too much wealth, both individual and corporate, and imposed heavy regulation that put the brakes on both. Here and abroad, that's the only approach that works with capitalism.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Jun 07, 2014 at 01:02:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  222 years ago (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DBoon, shigeru

        Congress was paying cod fishermen to fish to reduce unemployment.  Free public primary education became the norm early in the country's history.  Land (which remained a source of a decent living into the early 20th century) was available on the frontier, and the Homestead Act, and Reclamation Acts continued that.  Land grant colleges provided additional opportunities.  Although the post war era to 1980 was even better, and although there was plenty of economic injustice, America was a land of comparatively strong economic opportunity for many for much of its history until now.  There is a reason for the waves of immigration to our shores, by which most of our forebears arrived.

        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 01:54:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  today we get less for our tax $$$ than (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          benamery21

          any other major democracy. And major economy except for China. Most of them get college, health care, education, freedom, infrastructure, a living wage, social safety net, etc.

          And I am Kilrain of the 20th Maine. And I damn all gentlemen. Whose only worth is their father's name And the sweat of a workin' man Steve Earle - Dixieland

          by shigeru on Sat Jun 07, 2014 at 09:02:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  upward mobility is also a trickle down myth (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    benamery21, Laconic Lib
    The No. 2 author on Amazon's best-seller list, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, weighed in (April 25th) on the No. 1 book, identifying overlapping themes.

    At a reading at the Harvard Book Store, the Massachusetts Democrat, author of A Fighting Chance, was asked about Thomas Piketty's new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, and specifically about its contention that trickle-down economics "definitively do not work."

    Warren cut in. "Can we say that part again? 'Definitely do not work,'" she repeated. "Not as in that's somebody else's opinion or this comes out of a long-held political opinion. The data don't lie on this. He's got good historical data, and boy, what it shows is trickle down doesn't work. Never did, doesn't work. Just so we're all clear on the baseline. I just saved you 1,100 pages of reading." (The book is shorter than that; Warren may have assumed the audience would also read the online technical index.)

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Sat Jun 07, 2014 at 02:00:16 PM PDT

  •  Myth? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Whatithink

    I find the article seriously flawed.  1st, define 'upper income'?  2nd, define 'upward mobility'.  Is it the ability to rise in socioeconomic status if one is determined & puts forth the effort?  Needless to say, those born in upper incomes will tend to do better.  We aren't born equal - neither in biological ability, nor to families with more money.  A statistical correlation between those born in poverty & those born to a more successful family is as predictable as the sunrise, and proves nothing beyond the obvious.  No doubt those born in poverty have a harder road to hoe, but opportunity exists at all levels for the determined.  "The constitution only guarantees you the right to pursue happiness, you have to catch it yourself." --Ben Franklin.  Maybe rather than complaining about how people are victims of an unjust society, which does nothing to solve problems, perhaps we should look at the root causes that drive poverty.  I've worked w/ high school kids enough to know you cannot teach someone who isn't the least motivated, doesn't apply themselves, and doesn't want to put forth an ounce of effort.  If I had to pick one factor, it would be good parenting.  You can be dirt poor & provide a stable household with both parents who stress value to learning & making a better life.  Mobility is not about moving from the bottom to the uppermost, it's about moving up a step (quintile) or more.  While our poverty rate has remained static over the past 50 yrs. (at roughly 15-17%) the same people don't occupy this group.  60% of those born in poverty do not remain there as adults.  Beyond that, comparing us to other countries isn't a fair comparison due to huge cultural differences.      

  •  Does Ivy League limit number of Asian-Americans? (0+ / 0-)

    Shades of earlier decades when Ivy League colleges had quotas on admitting Jews.

    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

    by lotlizard on Sun Jun 08, 2014 at 05:04:31 AM PDT

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