Once again we see the Left on display complaining that life won’t manifest itself into their whine of “equal outcomes.” The piece by Katharine Gregg (after the jump) complains about what most Progressives do – gee, some people have a head start and familial leg up on the rest of us; she labels that “opportunity hoarding.” Gosh, hasn’t that happened in ALL economies and political systems?
Yet, they wish to push for more and more Governmental interference to “remedy the marketplace” and never remember how well that worked in feudal systems and in Communist countries. All societies have elites that live differently than the rest of us. Yet, here in the US, our middle class is FAR richer when comparing living standards but their squawking never ceases. Aren’t all good parents wont to do the best they can by their children? Why should those that are successful be penalized for providing skills that the marketplace desires?Thus, I agreed with this comment from a Free Marketer:
Opportunity can’t be hoarded. That would suggest that there is a limited supply of it. Suggesting that the top fifth of income earners are taking all the opportunity is idiotic.
We live in a world where someone can come from poverty and become a millionaire. There is an unlimited amount of opportunity out there and blaming people for taking advantage of those opportunities is counterproductive and says more about the author. There will always be people who are wealthier than others and more successful than others. You can try to create a fantasy world where everyone is equal, but in the end it won’t happen.
Once again, Dan Williams (MrWonderful here in our comments), who seemingly hates choice in any kind of market (especially when it comes to Government schools and unions) went after what he believes is a totally selfish political stance – gosh, that people make of themselves more than what their families can do for them all the time. Yes, Dan hates Libertarians and we have the comments to prove it and once again he goes into the tank. Via a bellyflop (or worse, landing back first when going off a 3 meter board):
You must be a libertarian. Only a libertarian would make a statement like “opportunity can’t be hoarded. That would suggest that there is a limited supply of it. Let me illustrate my point. Let’s say that you want to take advantage of the “opportunity” to become a home-builder who specializes in making homes from old growth forest tree species. There is only a finite amount of old growth forest. Plus there’s regulations in place to protect our remaining old growth forest. You’d figure out pretty quickly that you only have a very limited “opportunity” to pursue your dream. That’s but one example. The bottom line is that there are a FINITE amount of resources on the planet – and since almost every vocational endeavor relies on certain resources – there IS a FINITE amount of opportunity.
My obvious response is that Dan is obviously not a fellow Libertarian but leans more Socialist than not – and as a teacher, not all that great at coming up with a “Teaching Object” unless the pre-determined outcome is to make those of us that understand how capitalism works a bad headache. I would LOVE to see him do exactly what he wrote above – opportunity sucks when you rig the game against yourself. Sheesh:
Dan Williams Your “illustration” doesn’t hold water at all. If you want to be that “home-builder who specializes in making homes from old growth forest tree species”, that’s not “opportunity hoarding”, that’s just making a real stupid business decision (to base a biz on an extremely limited resource”). He does, however, have the opportunity to be that home-builder. If you constrict yourself severly right out of the gate because of a really dumb outlook, you deserve Chapter 7 as quickly as possible.
Is he really that unthinking about what he wrote? No, not everyone is going to be successful even if you make ALL the right decisions – that’s capitalism and the opportunity to TRY which gives you the freedom to SUCCEED and to FAIL. Most businesses fail – that’s the creative destruction for which capitalism is known for. If you can’t make it work, those resources will be re-allocated somewhere else. Again, choosing a recourse that is just plain hard to get (if at all) is stupid. And so is his example.
Anyways, here’s the original piece that shows the anger of the Left that some get a better start than others. To me, she sounds like that Brit Professor that wants all parents that read to their little children to be made to stop because that gives their kids an “unfair advantage” over those kids whose parents don’t read to them. Hey, decisions have consequences – that’s what Progressives are doing here in the US – eliminating any bad outcomes even if it forces the rest of us to their lowest common denominator:
Katharine Gregg: Opportunity hoarding in America’s top fifth
I recently read an article in the Boston Review by Richard V. Reeves that shocked me in a number of ways. The piece is titled “The Dream Hoarders: How America’s Top 20 Percent Perpetuates Inequality.”
Shock No. 1: Reeves begins by recounting how in 2015 President Obama wanted to remove the tax benefits from 529 college savings plans. OMG, I thought, not President Obama! I have two of those plans for my great nephews. Don’t touch them!
Reeves immediately explained that Obama could see that these plans disproportionately helped affluent families, and he wanted to use the money to help fund a broader, fairer system of tax credits.
That these savings plans primarily help affluent people was shock No. 2. Though I live comfortably and am able to pursue many of the things I enjoy, I’ve never considered myself affluent. I’ve worked as an editor, a teacher and a writer, none of which has ever brought me close to the six-figure income that is the threshold, apparently, of the upper middle class. In the larger scheme of things, I may in fact be upper middle class, but at its lower level.
Shock No. 3: The reason the president’s proposal was dead before it ever arrived in Congress was that Democrats mobilized against it. Democrats? Yes, upper-middle-class Democrats. The top 20 percent. A 529 plan is a tax-deferred education savings plan, and while it’s a smart way to save for college, Reeves states that “more than 90 percent of the tax advantage goes to families with incomes in the top quarter of the distribution.” People with lower incomes can’t afford one. The inequality gap, he says, isn’t between the top 1 percent and the rest of us. It’s between the top fifth of income distribution (what I call the top fifth) – “broadly, households with incomes above the $112,000 mark” – and the rest of us.
In today’s world $112,000 may not make you very affluent, but it’s an opening with important ramifications. It may allow you to move to a town with good services and a good school system. The ZIP code factor, one of the few things children in a supposedly classless society can inherit. To be born in a place where affluence has allowed families to be educated, who read and discuss issues and introduce their children to the various cultural aspects of our society is a kind of inheritance, and it’s called upper-middle-class privilege.
Here is where Reeves sees a problem. The top fifth holds very tightly to its affluent position and the privilege it entails. Hence the reaction to the proposed reform of 529 plans. It’s as though we see the economic world as a zero sum game where the more qualified people are permitted into the marketplace the fewer opportunities there are for us. Reeves calls it “opportunity hoarding.” He says, “when the income gap of one generation is converted into an opportunity gap for the next, economic inequality hardens into class stratification.” And that is indeed what we’re seeing.
This must be a wake-up alarm to our comfortable middle-class way of viewing ourselves and our social and economic world. What most deeply shocks me is the realization of the degree to which our society is tilted in favor of the top fifth. It’s not news that colleges tend to favor children of alumnae/i and big donors in their admissions policies, and from there it’s an easy step to the good internships and jobs at prestigious law or financial firms.
Intergenerational legacies and connections open pathways and create opportunities for the children of the top fifth that are not available to equally worthy children of those stuck below what Reeves calls the upper-class safety net or “glass floor.”
He hastens to acknowledge that there is a distinction between good parenting – where parents provide security, good nutrition, education and enrichment opportunities for their children – and using their accrued position and power to increase their children’s success at the expense of worthy but less affluent young people. He calls these “anticompetitive behaviors.” To reduce this abuse of privilege he suggests strategies like curbing exclusionary zoning, making post-secondary education more affordable and opening up internships to job opportunities – all things we’ve already figured out.
But there’s one thing he doesn’t mention that could go a long way toward reducing this hoarding of privilege. Of course we should provide as many opportunities for our children as we can, but at the same time we must teach them that privilege entails responsibilities, in fact obligations. It’s the obligation of us in the top fifth to make sure we use our privilege not just to perpetuate it for our children, but to make it generally available so that those we have kept below the glass floor can break through.
(Katharine Gregg is a poet and essayist living in Mason. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
(H/T: Concord Monitor)