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Mon Feb 18, 2013, 01:26 AM

Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth


Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth

President Obama’s second Inaugural Address used soaring language to reaffirm America’s commitment to the dream of equality of opportunity: “We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”

The gap between aspiration and reality could hardly be wider. Today, the United States has less equality of opportunity than almost any other advanced industrial country. Study after study has exposed the myth that America is a land of opportunity. This is especially tragic: While Americans may differ on the desirability of equality of outcomes, there is near-universal consensus that inequality of opportunity is indefensible. The Pew Research Center has found that some 90 percent of Americans believe that the government should do everything it can to ensure equality of opportunity.

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.

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jsr Feb 2013 OP
OffWithTheirHeads Feb 2013 #1
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blkmusclmachine Feb 2013 #2

Response to jsr (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 02:12 AM

1. Dude. Where did you ever get the idea that this was the land of equal opportunity.

Never has been, never will be. This country was founded on the idea that White, landed, gentry where the only ones with the right to determine the fate of the 99% and nothing has changed much in two hundred+ years. The game was rigged then, it's rigged now. It's not going to change.

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