A practical application of socialist ideas (Read 1168 times)

    No one is "discounting" opportunities here. Everyone is absolutely FOR opportunity. I would argue that people who recognize the decline in opportunity and attend to those facts are the ones who care most thoroughly about opportunity. Can we appreciate the opportunity that we have while hoping to maintain it and/or extend it?

     

    I'm wondering what the relationship is between individual economic opportunity, disparity between the top and bottom 10%, and the overall size of the pie.

    - What about the US economy has made it the largest in the world? American exceptionalism? A climate of opportunity? Rich folk "trickle-down"? Social programs?

    - And in reverse, how does it being the largest economy in the world contribute to individual opportunity?

    - Is growing the economy a large part of a solution to the opportunity problem, and if so, what should a government be doing to encourage that growth?

     

    I have a similar family story as some related above (prison camp, just happy to have survived WW2, immigrating with nothing) which has instilled a deep appreciation for this country and the opportunity (economic, social, religious) it provides. I completely identify with the defensive nature of some of the comments above and disagree that this is being close-minded or demonstrates a lack of global awareness.

    Scout7


    CPT Curmudgeon

      There are ways to help fund an education.  Military for one.  Scholarships for another.

       

      The cost of college is not the biggest impediment.  It's the quality of education in the primary years (1-12).  And here is where the disparity of wealth tends to show up, in an indirect manner.  Public schools are funded by taxes, which are usually (but not always) based on property values.  Areas with high property values tend to have better schools, because they can afford better facilities, higher salaries, etc.

       

      In the end, however, a fair amount of it comes down to community and involvement of the family as a whole.  Schools that do well have involvement from all parties; students, parents, teachers, administrators.  Unfortunately for the public school system, they cannot establish contracts the way private schools or some charter schools are able to.  They have to provide an education to everyone.  And, perhaps unfortunately, primary education is not viewed as being a critical issue, unlike other countries.  The US approach to education is very much along the lines of every person for himself.

        I think through the high level leaders in my company, sure a couple of them are Ivy League trained.  However, a large share of them went to state schools....even for their MBA in some cases...but what got them where they are at is that they made good impressions on the right people at key junctures in their careers.

        Not arguing, but providing a historical context: I know a law firm that does significant life sciences-related patent work.  The partners, almost without exception, have no advanced degrees.  If you applied there now and lacked a Ph.D., you wouldn't even get a GFY letter.  I get that the law field isn't perfectly representative, but I've seen countless job listings where credentials and school reputation were specific requirements/considerations.

         

        My siblings and I are the first generation to earn college degrees (with the majority us holding advanced degrees).  In their earning prime, my parents were solidly middle-class, I think.  So are we.  And I don't think I'm any less afraid of instability than were my folks; things can crater pretty quickly if I lose my job or we sustain a significant medical debt (despite having decent insurance).

        “Everything you need is already inside.” -- Bill Bowerman

          The cost of college is not the biggest impediment.  It's the quality of education in the primary years (1-12).  And here is where the disparity of wealth tends to show up, in an indirect manner.  Public schools are funded by taxes, which are usually (but not always) based on property values.  Areas with high property values tend to have better schools, because they can afford better facilities, higher salaries, etc.

          Ha!  This was going to be my next post!

          “Everything you need is already inside.” -- Bill Bowerman

              On the question of social mobility this is quite interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_mobility#Socio-economic_mobility_in_the_US

               

              MTA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socio-economic_mobility_in_the_United_States

               

              Yeah, I posted that on the last page. I assumed that these were the statistics you were referring to.


              Feeling the growl again

                 

                 

                The cost of college is not the biggest impediment.  It's the quality of education in the primary years (1-12).  And here is where the disparity of wealth tends to show up, in an indirect manner.  Public schools are funded by taxes, which are usually (but not always) based on property values.  Areas with high property values tend to have better schools, because they can afford better facilities, higher salaries, etc.

                 

                In the end, however, a fair amount of it comes down to community and involvement of the family as a whole.  Schools that do well have involvement from all parties; students, parents, teachers, administrators.  Unfortunately for the public school system, they cannot establish contracts the way private schools or some charter schools are able to.  They have to provide an education to everyone.  And, perhaps unfortunately, primary education is not viewed as being a critical issue, unlike other countries.  The US approach to education is very much along the lines of every person for himself.

                 

                IMHO the role of property values and money is given more credit than it deserves for the outcome, and the most important factor -- which you describe in your second paragraph (family, society in which they live) are under-appreciated.  You can throw all the money you want at inner city schools, but kids raised in that type of environment will not derive much benefit from it.

                 

                My high school was the second-lowest spending school per student in my state.  The school did, and continues to, turn out an abnormally high number of exceptional students who go on to do very well on standardized tests, in college, and in life.  Despite spending far LESS money than poorer performing schools, there's just a really good culture that drives kids to succeed and supports them, and that's the real difference.

                "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                 


                Feeling the growl again

                  Not arguing, but providing a historical context: I know a law firm that does significant life sciences-related patent work.  The partners, almost without exception, have no advanced degrees.  If you applied there now and lacked a Ph.D., you wouldn't even get a GFY letter.  I get that the law field isn't perfectly representative, but I've seen countless job listings where credentials and school reputation were specific requirements/considerations.

                   

                   

                  I've never seen a job posting that said "must have attended Ivy League school or equivalent".  Have you really seen this?

                   

                  I never said anything about LEVEL of education.  That's completely different.  As you eluded, I too think it's pretty clear that there has been a migration towards the requirement for MORE education over the years.  A bachelor's degree today is worth no more, in many cases, than a HS degree was for our parents or grandparents.

                   

                  Given that it takes a larger investment to get you to the same spot, this does place more financial pressure.  Of course, we also spend a lot of money on stuff that prior generations did not.

                  "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                   

                    I'm wondering what the relationship is between individual economic opportunity, disparity between the top and bottom 10%, and the overall size of the pie.

                    - What about the US economy has made it the largest in the world? American exceptionalism? A climate of opportunity? Rich folk "trickle-down"? Social programs?

                    - And in reverse, how does it being the largest economy in the world contribute to individual opportunity?

                    - Is growing the economy a large part of a solution to the opportunity problem, and if so, what should a government be doing to encourage that growth?

                     

                    I have a similar family story as some related above (prison camp, just happy to have survived WW2, immigrating with nothing) which has instilled a deep appreciation for this country and the opportunity (economic, social, religious) it provides. I completely identify with the defensive nature of some of the comments above and disagree that this is being close-minded or demonstrates a lack of global awareness.

                     

                    There are lots of positive things to say about the U.S. economy. We have half of the top 1% of global earners living within our borders. There is a lot of wealth here. Our economy is the best place to innovate because of its dynamism and--in part--because of the large concentrations of capital in places that can be moved quickly--i.e. rich folks.

                     

                    You ask three really good questions that get to the heart of the political divide. I don't know the answers to those questions; I could only speculate and my answers would probably say more about my pre-existing political intuitions than they would about the fact of the matter. Does anyone know the answers to these questions with certainty? Seems to me that we have to experiment, look to see the effects of the experimentation--both here and abroad--and take an intelligent, non-binary approach to these problems. Easier said than done [see recent posts on the need for education.]

                     

                    Your final paragraph: I hope I didn't insinuate that anyone was being close minded or demonstrating a lack of global awareness (though it is really obvious that many Americans do have a lack of global awareness--as do people living all over the rest of the world.) I also understand the defensive nature of the comments, but I don't think defensiveness justifies insulting someone--what it demands is a reasonable defense.


                    Prince of Fatness

                      You can throw all the money you want at inner city schools, but kids raised in that type of environment will not derive much benefit from it.

                       

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbott_district

                      Semi-retired.

                        It's obvious that schools are really weak mechanisms for redistributing social outcomes. Sometimes when we say that education is the answer, people jump straight to the conclusion that "schooling" is the answer. 

                         

                        For example, it might be argued that a primary way to really help folks in poor/marginally middle class communities would be to pass universal health care so that instead of being stressed out by their poor health and the high cost thereof, parents could do the work of parenting. That would do a lot for education in America.


                        Feeling the growl again

                          Many poor have Medicaid or simply use the ER as a walk-in clinic.  It's not like some very high percentage of the poor are straddled with healthcare bills, forming the primary reason their kids do poorly in school.

                           

                          Such areas often have very high crime rates and proportions of single-parent households.  In one of our poorly performing neighborhoods a survey of school-aged children was conducted to find out what could be done to improve school performance and the response -- from the kids -- was to provide them dinner as they could not concentrate on homework as they were often were not fed outside of school meals.

                           

                          All of this goes back to, you can throw as much money into whatever you want, but it's not addressing the real problems, which go much deeper.  

                          How do you reprogram an entire generation within an area to believe that education is important for their kids, that their kids stand a chance of breaking the cycle (a lot of poor parents are defeatist and don't believe this is possible), or than parenting their kids is more important than getting drunk or high?

                           

                          The problem is, "redistribution" is a poor way of solving anything.  You have to get to the source and fix the cause.  

                          "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                           

                          Scout7


                          CPT Curmudgeon

                            My belief is that the underlying problem is really quite simple.  We have, as a culture and as a society, swung too far away from providing a basic structure for living.  We have pushed the concept of individualism too far, to the point where we have lost touch with anything to provide a foundation on which to build.

                             

                            I'm not saying that this is a lack of religion, or that we need strong government or more laws.  What I am saying is that we have lost our sense of community, and along with that a shared sense of values.  Communities with strong ties tend to be far better off than those with little or no social ties or values.

                             

                            People are angry and upset, and it's easy to blame politicians, or Wall Street, or unions, because those are easily identified groups.  We demonize these groups in the hopes that we will find our own group to join.  The explosion of social networking only serves to highlight the concept that we are looking to belong to something bigger than ourselves, something that can provide us with a level of stability, a foundation on which we can build the rest of our beliefs and values.  Unfortunately, I do not believe that social networking tools are as useful in this regard, because there's nothing to bind a person to it.

                             

                            The solution is that we need to work on getting back to the idea of community.  We need to find the core values that we all believe in, and we need to begin to instill a sense of belonging, community, value, and citizenship.  People will be involved when they realize they need to be involved.

                              The solution is that we need to work on getting back to the idea of community.  We need to find the core values that we all believe in, and we need to begin to instill a sense of belonging, community, value, and citizenship.  People will be involved when they realize they need to be involved.

                               

                              Very well stated on the idea of community. The devil, of course, is in the details. The old community structure was taken apart by capitalism and individualism, but also by feminism and the civil rights movement. The problems that we see as a problem of "inner city" social mobility today are in some ways the lingering effect of the segregated society of the 50s that people hearken back to with nostalgia.

                               

                              So, our community has been fractured in many ways in order to liberate people from the old modes of association. How do we put it back together in a way that is inclusive, that doesn't repeat these mistakes--and in a way that still provides avenues for breaking community and liberating ourselves from its continued modes of oppression? 

                               

                              Can human beings "belong" without also pitting their communities against other communities? Is it possible to be inclusive without also excluding? How tightly can we form our communities before they become inward-looking and closed? Can we share experiences without deciding in advance what the right sort of experiences--and what the wrong sorts of experiences are.

                               

                              MTA: These sorts of concerns might also provide a window into why it might be easier to create social mobility in a relatively homogeneous nation like Denmark, whereas in a highly pluralistic nation like ours, people from certain communities have to learn a whole 'nuther way of life in order to move upwards.

                              Scout7


                              CPT Curmudgeon

                                I definitely agree with the point about a homogenous society.  In fact, this exact issue is a big one in many European countries, because they are having to suddenly deal with larger and larger numbers of immigrants that come from completely different cultures.  I know in Germany, Turkish immigrants and how to deal with them has become a huge social issue.

                                 

                                How we handle this type of issue is to focus on citizenship.  I think that citizenship should be something achieved, rather than a birthright.  We need to determine, as a nation, as a culture, what we consider to be our core values, our main institutions, and our expectations for our citizenry.  We educate our children, and establish this sense of community, of belonging to something bigger.  At the very least, we can establish a this idea at the local level, and then extend it up to the national, and possibly global levels.