Great discussion in the comments section yesterday, and I really do have to continue this line of reasoning further.
Put simply, I’m constantly amazed at how the conservative mindset seems incapable of understanding just how uneven the playing field is. For instance, my buddy craighill said that people who want the good life need to earn it by choosing a high-paying vocation. But let’s look at what that usually entails:
– having some sort of childhood role model that encourages success
– surviving whatever neighborhood you grow up in
– doing well enough at a good high school in a good neighborhood to be taken seriously at a good college
– getting into that good college, and have enough money to pay for room, board and tuition (or pray for a scholarship that gives you enough to get by)
– graduating, which is easier said than done in many cases, given family obligations and money
– coping with the possibility of enormous debt after school
– having enough contacts to get an interview somewhere, and be taken seriously
– living, arbitrarily, in a part of the country that still has the kind of economy you can flourish in (or moving)
– managing to work through the lean years long enough without any health issues, let alone the problems of a family you’re probably starting.
Make any one of the above statements mandatory, and you’ve just eliminated millions of people in your state alone. You’ve effectively bounced the entire neighborhoods of El Monte, East St. Louis, Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn, South Boston, and about 8,000 others.
Guys – and I’m including myself here – we have NO FUCKING IDEA the amount of incumbent largesse we were born into. Our way has been paved for us in so many hidden instances that it staggers the imagination. Old boy networks, legacies at prep school and college, inheriting a nice neighborhood from our parents, friends that encouraged our academic achievements, fantastic doctors, healthy and plentiful food as babies… hell, just being WHITE opened doors we didn’t even know were ever closed.
I get it, you work hard. And other people, like Emma mentioned, abuse the system. But where is the empathy? When you’ve got nothing, no prospects, and don’t even KNOW to ASK how to START getting a $250K job, wouldn’t you game the fuckin’ system too? And do these despondent poor people truly cloud your vision of the entire lower middle class?
Let me repeat the stats: The top one percent of Americans own 34.7% of the total wealth. The top TEN percent own 69.8% of the wealth. By conservatives’ own logic, that must mean 90% of Americans are lazy and don’t deserve to be wealthy. Do any of you honestly think that’s true?
And rich people, let’s be honest. Obama’s tax plan constitutes a difference of puny percentage points in your overall portfolio. We could probably find that much cash lost in the back seat cushions of your Lexus. I know it physically pains you, and it’s abject torture to part with what you believe to be rightfully yours, but you know what? I have this funny feeling that you’re going to be just fine.