Friday, June 21, 2013

Upward mobility and the Nanny State

George Will has penned a remarkable opinion piece in the Washington Post, in which he postulates (in so many words) that the diminishing opportunities for upward mobility in US society are also diminishing the possibilities for limited government.  In other words, the less potential for upward mobility in society, the greater the demands for 'Big Brother' to redistribute rewards downwards in society.  Here are a few excerpts.

...expanding equality of opportunity increases inequality because some people are simply better able than others to exploit opportunities.

. . .

Lindsey cited research showing that “by the time they reach age 3, children of professional parents have heard some 45 million words addressed to them — as opposed to only 26 million words for working-class kids, and a mere 13 million words in the case of kids on welfare.” So, class distinctions in vocabularies are already large among toddlers. Parental choice of neighborhoods and schools mean that children of college-educated parents hang out together. Such peer associations may have as much effect on a child’s development as do parents. These factors, Lindsey said, explain why “people raised in the upper middle class are far more likely to stay there than move down, while people raised in the working class are far more likely to stay there than move up.”

. . .

Today, the dominant distinction defining socioeconomic class is between those with and without college degrees ... Soon the crucial distinction will be between those with meaningful college degrees and those with worthless ones.

. . .

“Most American kids,” Lindsey concluded, “are now raised in an environment that is arguably less favorable for developing human capital than that in which their parents were raised.” America’s limited-government project is at risk because the nation’s foundational faith in individualism cannot survive unless upward mobility is a fact.

There's more at the link.

I think George Will has struck gold here.  I highly recommend reading his column very carefully, and more than once.  There's a lot hidden between the lines . . . and it's bound to make those of conservative and/or libertarian persuasions very unhappy indeed.



Farm.Dad said...

Honestly Peter , I think he misses the mark by a wide margin . Many degrees are proving to be worthless in an economy that they only overquaify the holder to ask " You want fries with that? " .
I cannot foresee a large change making the adult aged children that collages turn out the sphincter end of the educational tract employable for much more . Higher education is a wonderful opportunity .. at least for anyone who has tenure in the system . For the students it is more likely to be a sure path to debt for years if not lifelong .
Looking down the road we travel as a nation I much more agree with Mike Rowe in that what we need to turn out is people grounded with actual skills and an ethic of work that does not involve being handed the corner office because you showed up day one with a freshly printed degree and thus " deserve" to be in charge . I am not anti-education by any means , but this college for everyone scam they have going is just that . A scam nothing more or less than that . Instead of bilking little old ladies out of their pension checks they are bilking kids ( and their parents in some cases ) out of thousands for more years of childhood and parties without instilling a single usable skill or any sense of what a job actually is .

Y. said...

Time to emulate Denmark?

Been the most socially mobile country for years, I believe.

trailbee said...

I was the worst high school student on the planet! I went from HS to Sir George Williams University, now defunct, and felt burned out and totally unable to relate to what I was trying to learn, and work at the same time, because my family needed my income.
I dropped JC, and worked. Married. Worked. Ten years later we had two children. I believe that if I had had at least two years of JC I would have been better off. I was a stay-at-home mother, my husband worked three jobs at times, and when the children were old enough, I worked part-time.
When we retired in 1996, moved to the hills, I entered college. I was the oldest student in JC and definitely the oldest Grad of my year, 2005.
I believe that what George Will wrote is correct. The gap between the literate and the illiterate now entering college is incredible, BUT only if there is a comparison available - me. If all the students are coming from the same class structure, not counting Asians, they will all fit into one group, and that group will remain illiterate for most part, because the educational system is designed to keep students dumbed down. But they will owe an incredible amount of money for learning to be stupid, with no work ethic!
I will not bore you any further, except to alert you to the approaching stupidity of each successive graduating class. If you have young children, or young grandchildren, PLEASE make certain that you talk to them, buy them manual games, have them read everything from books to food labels at the table, ration their electronic games and TV if possible, take them on visits to every Museum and Aquarium you can find. If you live near deep water, take them to see incoming freighters and have them show you on a map, where they came from. Buy them an Atlas and ask them to play geography games at dinner.
We are being forced into a Nanny State and Big Government will look very good to children/adults when they find themselves on the short end of the economy. Sorry I took so long. This is an important post.

perlhaqr said...

So, what's the difference between the environment kids are in today vs: the environment I or my parents were raised in? (I'm 36, born '76, parents born '51 and '52.) Specifically in terms of this distribution of neighborhoods, schools, vocabulary, etc?

trailbee said...

Personally, I can only take a guess: I think the cut-off date might have been the 50's. Memories of the Depression were still raw, and men and women were returning from WWII. There was still that idea of the unspoken work ethic.
I think turning points might have been Dr. Spock, Vietnam, Haight Ashbury, SCOTUS' rulings on flag burning, cursing, Affirmative Action, the slow ascent of technology.
Taken separately, each had its own consequence. Add them together over time, there was a metamorphosis or congealing of attitudes, which continue to this day. This is not just a different America. There is a force intent on under-educating middle class citizens, and to keep African Americans ignorant, sidelined, unemployed, and totally believing in their self-victimization.
Could you imagine the United States of America, right now, as a tremendous powerhouse of success and growth and true patriotism, if all African Americans were to participate in this country? If they all sent their kids to school, who would graduate and become teachers, lawyers, doctors or ditch diggers if they so chose?
I don't know what the real reason is, but every day we awake, we are looking at it and it confuses us and blinds us to the possibilities of our own power, because we have given it away, believing others know better. They don't. Please excuse the length.