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USA, The "Land of Opportunity" Myth

 
 
Reply Sun 10 Jun, 2012 12:11 pm
Quote:
America likes to think of itself as a land of opportunity, and others view it in much the same light. But, while we can all think of examples of Americans who rose to the top on their own, what really matters are the statistics: To what extent do an individual’s life chances depend on the income and education of his or her parents?
Nowadays, these numbers show that the American dream is a myth. There is less equality of opportunity in the United States today than there is in Europe—or, indeed, in any advanced industrial country for which there are data.
This is one of the reasons that America has the highest level of inequality of any of the advanced countries—and its gap with the rest has been widening. In the “recovery” of 2009-2010, the top 1 percent of US income earners captured 93 percent of the income growth. Other inequality indicators—like wealth, health, and life expectancy—are as bad or even worse. The clear trend is one of concentration of income and wealth at the top, the hollowing out of the middle, and increasing poverty at the bottom.
A closer look at those at the top reveals a disproportionate role for rent-seeking: Some have obtained their wealth by exercising monopoly power; others are CEOs who have taken advantage of deficiencies in corporate governance to extract for themselves an excessive share of corporate earnings; and still others have used political connections to benefit from government munificence: either excessively high prices for what the government buys (drugs), or excessively low prices for what the government sells (mineral rights).
Likewise, part of the wealth of those in finance comes from exploiting the poor, through predatory lending and abusive credit-card practices. Those at the top, in such cases, are enriched at the direct expense of those at the bottom.
It might not be so bad if there were even a grain of truth to trickle-down economics—the quaint notion that everyone benefits from enriching those at the top. But most Americans today are worse off – with lower real (inflation-adjusted) incomes—than they were in 1997, a decade and a half ago. All of the benefits of growth have gone to the top.


http://www.slate.com/articles/business/project_syndicate/2012/06/the_american_dream_is_dying_here_s_how_we_can_fix_it_.html

It is about damn time for we idiot Americans to wake up and smell the coffee.


I am not optimistic that this will happen anytime soon.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 1,002 • Replies: 3
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hawkeye10
 
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Reply Sun 10 Jun, 2012 12:32 pm
I blame the broken education system.

Americans never used to be so dim witted.
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hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 10 Jun, 2012 08:37 pm
The ‘American Dream’ Is a Myth: Joseph Stiglitz on ‘The Price of Inequality"

By Aaron Task

Quote:
Income inequality has become the subject of much debate in this country, in large part because of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
In his latest book, The Price of Inequality, Columbia Professor and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz examines the causes of income inequality and offers some remedies. In between, he reaches some startling conclusions, including that America is "no longer the land of opportunity" and "the 'American dream' is a myth."
While we all know stories of people who've moved up the social stratosphere, Stiglitz says the statistics tell a very different story. In the last 30 years the share of national income held by the top 1% of Americans has doubled; for to the top 0.1%, their share has tripled, he reports. Meanwhile, median incomes for American workers have stagnated.
Even more than income inequality, "America has the least equality of opportunity of any of the advanced industrial economies," Stiglitz says. In short, the status you're born into — whether rich or poor — is more likely to be the status of your adult life in America vs. any other advanced economy, including 'Old Europe'.
For example, just 8% of students at America's elite universities come from households in the bottom 50% of income, Stiglitz says, even as those universities are "needs blind" — meaning admission isn't predicated on your ability to pay.
"There's not much mobility up and down," he says. "The chances of someone from the top [income bracket] who doesn't do very well in school are better than someone from the bottom who does well in school."
Because the children of those at the top of society tend to do better than those at the bottom — thanks, in part, to better education, health care and nutrition — the income inequality that's slowly emerged over the past 30 years will only widen in the next 10 to 20 years.
If the root causes of income inequality go unaddressed, America will truly become a two-class society and look much more like a third world economy, Stiglitz warns. "People will live in gated communities with armed guards. It's a ugly picture. There will be political, social and economic turmoil." (Hence the book's subtitle: 'How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future')
The good news is Stiglitz believes this "nightmare we're slowly marching toward" can be avoided, citing Brazil's experience since the early 1990s as an example of a country that has reduced income inequality. Among other things, he recommends improving education and nutrition for those at the bottom of society, and eliminating "corporate welfare" and other policies which "create wealth but not economic growth.

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/american-dream-myth-joseph-stiglitz-price-inequality-124338674.html
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hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 10 Jun, 2012 09:11 pm
What, no comment from a2k'ers???



We used to be better than this, we used to be able to spot the important subjects of the day. But then I did predict the the new programming would kill this place.
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