The person who has the hardest time getting ahead in this day and age is the single white male.
Today's Poll: Do all people in the U.S. have an equal opportunity to get ahead?
Submitted by Howard Owens on February 18, 2013 - 8:59am
New York Times: Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth
Equal Opportunity is the impossible dream. We will never have equal opportunity. Some people will always be more advantaged whether that be economically, educationally, physically or socially. Clinging to the myth that we can have equal opportunity for all, does little more than provide another way for less advantaged individuals to be viewed as victims of some cruel cultural conspiracy. Life is not fair and suspecting that somehow society will balance the scales for each and everyone of us is foolish. Want opportunity? Work harder than the guy/woman next to you and stay focused on your goals. We make our own opportunities. Refuse to be a victim.
I think I get what you are saying, Howard, but I can't agree that a person born into a billionaire family has the same opportunities as one born in poverty. Money can buy a lot of opportunity. If a poor kid wants to go to Yale or Harvard, he/she had better work their tails off AND be pretty damn smart and still has a poor shot of getting in; as for the child of a billionaire....well if Daddy or grandpa buys a library, dunce drunk Jr. gets in (see. G.W. Bush for an example). Having said all that, Jim is correct in that government / society cannot level the field. It is what it is. We are who we are. You can pick your nose, but not your family. Accepting that is step one to success. Next is again as Jim said, Refuse to be a victim. And then never give up. It is not easy if you is po' folk. Unfortunately a lot of us work our tails off and don't get far. As for me, I got tired. I guess that would be giving up. But again it is what it is.
Also, from the article, the author talked about bachelor degrees not being a good enough ticket for success, you need the advanced degree. Yes, sort of but also I have talked with too many young people that see a degree as a finish line, and think they are entitled to a big paycheck. It really is only something that proves you are capable of learning and completing projects. Don't get me wrong, I am all for education, I think it is the key to the future, we all should never stop learning. It is unfortunate that so many are saddled with such massive amounts of student debt. If the government didn't continually get involved with education, it wouldn't cost so much, it wouldn't be a requirement for so many jobs (especially Gov't jobs, go figure) and so many wouldn't need financial assistance. It has become a very vicious circle.
I see both sides of this.
I came from a poor family, never stayed in one place or home for more than a year at a time, was homeless myself, and was told by a counselor that I would more than likely be dead or in jail by the age of 19 due to the fact I missed so much school to work jobs and help pay bills.
I do not hold an advance degree of any kind, but instead listened, learned, failed...failed some more, and then succeeded.
My point is, the power of the individual will always be stronger than the power of the situation. That's not to say that there are those, some right here in our city, that have much tougher roads to follow, but I believe in them all!
I have seen rich, well to do kids, never achieve a damn thing, and kids poorer than me who are now far richer than I could ever hope to be!
A situation can be changed.
That said, it is our job as those who have succeeded to help bring those along who wish to come. That is a fundamental foundation of being a free society. It takes us all.
Advantages / opportunities, actually not a whole bunch of difference in the meanings of those 2 words. I agree that it is up to the individual to make the best of his/her circumstances. I also agree that noone else can do it for them. especially one size fits all government ham handed approaches.
But, it's a hell of a lot easier for some than others. That's a fact.
I don't know how to fix that, I don't think you can, nor do I even think we should try.
Just don't tell me life is fair, 'cause it ain't.
Well, no Howard. Opportunity is a favorable condition for advance.
I believe free market economics work because everyone benefits from transactions free from Government intervention. Taxation and government controls over pricing, minimum wages and hiring quotas, for instance limits everyone's opportunity. Like Phil wrote above " ... it is our job as those who have succeeded to help bring those along who wish to come. That is a fundamental foundation of being a free society. It takes us all." This should happen freely, not through Government intervention. Everyone has a vested interest in free market economics and should act to continue, not limit. The rich and the poor. The government has mucked it up from the left and in it's clumsy one size fits all mentality, has stifled opportunity.
BTW, some would say that I am that tool who would argue against government intervention in the market place. LOL
I disagree that, everyone in the U.S. has an equal opportunity to get ahead. Wealthy people in this country can afford better quality educations than those on a low budget income. Granted there are grants and scholarships out there but, even they are in limited numbers. It is first come first serve for these programs. I have three children who are all planning to attend university, college or vocational schools within the next two years. Two are planning to go to GCC until they figure out what careers they want to pursue. One is planning on attending Cornell for Bio-medicine. Cornell is only a few thousand dollars a year less than, my yearly income. Which means I am going to require assistance or need to find additional jobs since, I am a single income. My daughter plans on going to either RIT or some other advance university after GCC. Tuition are costly and yes, you can get a loan but, then you have to hope there is a job out there to help pay it off. Employers will also, use the university and/or the colleges to influence their decision making when hiring. Meaning if, they have two medical students (Studying the same medical field) one from GCC and one from UB, more than likely they will go with the UB student because, the quality of education is stronger from UB (Well known Medical School) than GCC. American companies are outsourcing jobs making it very hard to find quality work here. Now Governor Cuomo wants to give tuition assistance to illegal immigrants which means, less monies for US citizens to request. So, to say it is equal is not true. Everyone has an opportunity but, it truly is not equal.
i do believe the opportunity is out there for whoever wants it,especially since clinton enacted the A.D.A....
however the current POTUS has taken any insentive a person needs to take that oppportunity and become successful and shoved it in their face.....why work hard to achieve goals when you have to give half of what you work for, away to some slob that doesn't want to work?...you know free phones,free rent,free health insurance,free food,it's all free,unless you work....it must be depressing to be the youth,i do feel terrible for my granchildren..
David, maybe the slob is waiting for the right opportunity to come along.
Meanwhile if the slob has kids, and they're not quite school aged,
the slob would probably have to pay for child care, and the slob would need transportation, money for gas if he had a min.wage job.
If the slob is getting along better without a job, what incentive does he have to go to work and have less???
Most of the opportunities in this country have been shipped overseas by greed driven opportunists.
I have a client (Also after many years of doing business, a close friend) on Grand Island.
He is literally a share cropper's son from Alabama and a ninth grade drop out. He escaped that by enlisting in the Army at age 17. After the Army, he formed a small country western band, got a few gigs traveling around the East, 5 guys packed into motel rooms for a few years.
When the money ran out, he ended up in Tonawanda, penniless and had to take a job in a car parts plant. He married, saved as much as he could and went on for 15 years until one day in 1977 while at work, his employer was seeking a lease for some new equipment and he entered into a conversation with the rep from the leasing company and soon got a part time job, in addition to his shift work writing leases for other companies.
He took every additional penny he earned from that company, banked it, and immersed himself in study abut the commercial leasing business using the library, and some books he had purchased in addition to quizzing his employer almost to the point of becoming obnoxious.
In 1982, he began writing his own leases for companies using his savings, and working from a home office with his wife. He worked 14 to 18 hours a day. 6 days a week for years. Steadily his business grew by the late 1990's was worth over $20 Million dollars, today much more. In 2000, he paid out of his pocket and traveled to Dallas TX and had 3 professional albums recorded fulfilling his dream to be a recording artist. To this day he is still selling his albums and running his business, however, he also spends 6 months of the year in one of his two homes in the Philippines, where he also started two other businesses.
My point is simple, I have discussed his success with him many times over the years, and he imparted these little tidbits.
1) Just as Howard posted, he educated himself by every means available, library, bookstores, and by learning from people he had met. He once told me, education is everything, whether you go to school or to the library learn something new everyday.
2 SAVE!, Even when he was living on peanut butter and bologna sandwiches he forced himself to save a few pennies a day, but everyday he put something aside.
3. Do Not reach for a handout, whether from government or individuals, you reap what you sow, if you need help seek advice and knowledge, then work as hard as you can with that in hand.
4. Do Not fear failure, just prepare yourself for it by saving, he said that every wealthy person that he knew had failed several times before achieving success.
5. Most important, look for opportunity everywhere because it exist everywhere. If you educate yourself you will eventually see it, but seeing it is not enough, you have to seize the opportunities and that only comes through knowledge and hard work.
6. Lastly, he had never met a successful business person that hadn't worked harder than those around them and sacrificed immediate pleasure for long term gain.
This just seemed an appropriate story to tell at this time, he is a real person.
frank, that's what i'm talking about. i've been helping take care of these ill-responsible people long enough. i don't want to do it anymore..i reared 4 kids,they were MY responsibilty,i didn't ask or expect anything from the taxpayer.i went without a lot of the good things in life to work and support my children..i had to do child care,i had to buy gas,i had min. wage jobs, but i never waited for some opportunity to come along,i went out with a high school education and i found it.
Of course anything is possible, and everyone in America has the opportunity to follow their dreams. However, I will never agree that everyone has the same opportunity. It's not an excuse, but everyone has different obstacles to climb. I admire those who beat the odds. It's not class envy, I hate that term BTW, it's simple reality.
John, there is an Education Bubble Burst coming soon. So many folks have very high student loans and can't get enough employment to pay the payments and are going into default, that it'll collapse just like mortgages did. All the banks and colleges will be demanding bailouts, and unless we are careful who we vote for, they'll get those bailouts.
The colleges will go ok, they already got their money. Banks will be ok, because the loans were federally backed. It's the taxpayer who will get nailed to the wall.
John R. many people have both federally subsidized and non-subsidized loans as well. The cost of this has gone crazy in the past 10-15 years. When the banks aren't able to loan as much or won't, the colleges will either have to cut tuition or accept far less students, that's when the whining will begin. Just like the housing market, the higher ed. market will have an adjustment period. And yes, the taxpayer will get hit. Unless of course the federal government can stop spending so much on everything.
The billionaire child may be a drunken lout, but they don't have to worry about where their next meal is coming from and they never have to worry about being homeless. I'd say that's a pretty good advantage for staying in the good graces of opportunity. They don't have to scramble for contacts or worry about seed money when and if they decide to get their act together.
Having to fight for success seems to make the successful person appreciate it more, though. Being poor, hungry and intelligent drives many people to success because growing up that way disciplines them and humbles them.
Everyone has opportunity and the ability to reach their goals, but it's certainly not equal if some have more and better opportunities from the get-go. Some people coming from disadvantaged families do well, but they struggle through much pain to get there. Some people coming from affluent families also do well but they certainly didn't face the same hurdles as did the person from the disadvantaged family.
How did you get that from what Doug wrote, Howard? I don't see it. Reality is.. life isn't fair. It can't be helped, it's not going to change and the individual effort is the key to success, but that doesn't mean we all have an equal opportunity. The people like you mentioned and the one Mark shared are people to be admired and learned from, to be sure. I doubt any of them will tell you, they had the same opportunity as everyone else. They didn't, they persevered.
For the record, that is the first "down" vote I ever gave you. So there.. LOL
(If I knew how to put a smiley face emoticon here, I would)
We are obviously never going to agree, on this Howard. I will say though that recognizing something exists is not necessarily focusing on it. And the government solution you mention is a leap you made, not Doug and not me. You seem to be advocating for ignoring a problem, because if you acknowledge it you'd have to have a solution. Inequality exists, Fact. This is not a perfect world, Fact. Deal with it.
Denial is not just a river in Africa.
We are shaped by our experiences. I'm not going to go into mine. Howard, encouraging others is great, I encouraged my children to learn from my experiences. Mostly on what NOT to do. Exposing them, however to reality is the only way they can conquer the obstacles put up in front of them. Such as being poor. I truly believe in the human spirit and in the individual's ability to surmount obstacles. But everyone has to face and face down reality to succeed. For some it's a massive giant, for others it's a butterfly. Not equal, and not government's place to try and make it so. Everyone has to walk their own path.
You have much to be proud of, I'm honored you respect my opinion enough to argue with me.
It is impossible for opportunities to be the same, every opportunity in life is unique in itself.
The old expression, "No Pain No Gain" not only applies to workouts but to life in general. The truest statement on this thread has been.
"Life is not fair"
That is something that I drilled through my children's heads the entire time they were growing up, but that should never be an impediment, it should be viewed as a challenge.
When our founders felled trees to make farm land, life was certainly unfair then as well, remember that many people of that age did not survive their dreams because of the obstacles they faced.
To succeed you can't run away from the obstacles you face you must address them head on, adapt and overcome, and certainly you will fail more often then you succeed, but when you do succeed, it is all the more rewarding.
I see the problem with society today is that we teach our youth in general that menial task are beneath them, we forget to teach them that they are necessary. A truly educated person in my view, regardless from where that education is derived, realizes that we all must start at the bottom, but recognize opportunity as it arises and seize upon it to climb the ladder of life.
Make no mistake, everyone has opportunity because each opportunity is unique, seizing that opportunity as it appears is the difference, and again that comes more from awareness than anything else.
We can rail against the government for creating programs, but we forget that the mindset that someone should be helping us instead of us helping ourselves is what allows our government to do that.
We can say that we should help those less fortunate, but that in effect is charity and by definition charity is giving when you do not have too.
Dave where I see your position as very close to Howard's whether you see it or not, It is not that opportunities are not all around us, it is that ability to recognize them is often lacking
For the record, just so it doesn't sound like a whole bunch of ideals from me. I and my wife have raised 3 children, 2 daughters and a son, all are adults now, all have made me very proud. We sent them to a "liberty" school when we lived in another state, no grades no curriculum, totally free to do what they want all day. The kind of thing that wouldn't be allowed in NYS. 2 have completed associates degrees, and are both working, learning and actively beginning to be self-employed. The 3rd (middle daughter) has completed 2 masters degrees and is employed at a large university in another state. We never limited them, we never pushed them in any direction except to do their best and understand that failures are lessons and nothing worth having comes easily. They got it. The girls, I am proud to say have both chosen husbands that I am proud to call son in law. Solid, honest, hard-working types all 5, who respect their fellow human beings and don't accept the limitations others try to place on them. They all know the old man has their back.
David, I worked my whole life as well, starting when I was 13, I worked on the muck to pay for my school clothes.
I believe people would rather work, but not to end up with less, meaning not enough to even get by on.
I'm not saying it's the right thing to do, but it would seem almost hopeless to think you could ever get your head above water in
George Carlin said it best," America is circling the drain ".
I never said life should be pain free, and I don't think it's pain free for anyone. There's a lot wrong with society. All anyone has to do is look around and see it, but what does that have to do with equal opportunities? Many people have far better opportunities than other people just by being born into certain families. Everyone has a chance to get ahead, it's just not equal in opportunity.
So if the child of Bradd Pitt and Angelina Jolie wants to become an actor, you're saying that the child that grew up in anytown USA has an equal opportunity to get into acting? The child or Donald Trump doesn't have an advantage to break into the real estate business? C'mon....