We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Sunday, January 2. 2011
Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times sums up the best that liberals can come up with for reducing income inequality: better education for the poor, to reduce The Upward Mobility Gap. He correctly points out that this goal is one of the few that Democrats and Republicans can agree upon. And, then he stops.
The goal is fine but how to get there is the question.
McManus says, “Opportunity in America isn't what it used to be.” Liberal nostrums fail to mention the biggest barrier to reducing income inequality – if considered needing reduction -- is government, whether one advocates more or less government programs.
To now, more government programs actually create more government workers, their pay and benefits unaffordable while diminishing basic public services. Less government programs tend toward wholesale cuts in unaffordable welfare and government worker benefits, while failing to refocus funding on productive education and related infrastructure.
As well, McManus passes over the “moral” or lifestyle elements that are necessary to taking advantage of educational and employment opportunities as being difficult to measure. Yet, these are crucial.
Three of the ways that the poor found rungs on the ladder of upward mobility, manufacturing jobs and small businesses, are under continuing pressure, while illegal immigrants reduce even sustenance jobs for citizens. US manufacturing employment has shrunk for repetitive tasks while requirements for technical education and skills has increased, overall production holding its own. Lesser costly environmental and workplace regulations, along with lower wages, has drawn much lower skilled manufacturing abroad. More government regulations and greater competition due to reduced transport costs and increased imports of staples has made small business less able to survive or thrive. Illegal immigrants – mostly uneducated -- mostly impact manual labor opportunities for the poorest American citizens, while consuming much government funding that could otherwise, maybe, hopefully, be redirected toward support and education foundations for poor American citizens.
Government programs that focus on useful job skills are un- or underfunded, in favor of expensive contemporary elite culture curriculums, especially victimology humanities. Legal immigrants – thankfully -- fill our sciences. Government programs that sustain or increase welfare dependency, and regulations that discourage risk taking, perpetuate a permanent lower income class. The virtues of stark choices may be overrated, but elimination of such choices is less virtuous. Corruption and self-dealing, either financial or ethical, is unacceptable. Fish stink from the head. The same standards must apply to chieftains of government as to of business. Lack of performance must not be tolerated in government any more than it is in private enterprise.
Two examples of the difference culture makes, my father and my son. The common thread, across the generations, is work habits, learned young, family emphasis on useful education, and behavioral skills and focus.
My father, born 1920 in Detroit, from a large poor immigrant family, dropped out of high school, did manual labor and worked for local retailers, then went to trade school to become a tool & die maker (others in the family had similar life-stories), thereafter earning a decent worker’s income. His choices were stark, the path up clear.
My son, born 2000 in California, from a middle-class family, is an A student. The caliber of primary education in his school district is high, the primary differences among schools and their scores being the lesser parental involvement at the schools in the poorer areas. My wife and I are pretty demanding and involved. There are almost no manufacturing jobs locally, the few being highly technical. There are few local stores, and laws forbid he being hired for anything. Anyway, what retail jobs there are go to otherwise unemployed humanities college graduates! New Years eve he watched MTV’s Jersey Shore revelry, before getting bored and going to sleep. Last night, he watched Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig in The Pride of the Yankees. After the movie, he said to me that people used to act nicer. On one side of my house are the two, contemporary culture, lazy 20s boys taking four years to complete two-year AA degrees, their courses being weak humanities type. Their father had gotten them manual labor construction jobs and, though they are big and strong, the illegal immigrants outworked them. On the other side is a former Eagle Scout, majoring in a technical field at a top college.
Today’s choices are no less stark than they once were. The only real difference is between those who recognize that and those who avoid the choices or enrich themselves by sheltering those who would otherwise benefit from starker choices.
Tracked: Jan 03, 12:11
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A good summary observation. I would only note that parental involvement is coincident with better schools, but hasn't been shown to actual cause better schools. People feel like it should, but it is likely only a marker, deriving from deeper differences in the families sending children to the schools.
That son is not a "former" Eagle Scout, he is still an Eagle Scout even though he may not be registered in Scouting. Kinda like calling a person who won the Medal of Honor a former MOH winner.
Sam L. ... In regard to the use of the word "former", it's also kinda like calling a retired Marine a 'former Marine.' As i understand it, once a Marine, always a Marine.
A matter of lifetime commitment ...
After reading the PS-given article, one can see the obvious foreshadowing it displays. I have MANY friends with tech degrees, sitting idle, watching their homes be foreclosed (due to lack of payment) and with prospects little better than finger twitteling. Nothing worse than dispair that laughs back at you.
Sadly, I also fear, that if we do succeed in removing ALL the obsticals/roadblocks that have been fastooned and shackled to us and our quest of betterment, will it even right a sinking ship? The poison has been administered - and its taken hold.
With countless mind-numbed drones dependant upon the dole, how can they survive when forced to? Without handouts, they will succumb to the fetal-ball syndrome and whither away.
I don't have much faith in our more recient generations. There are exceptions, but the rot has consumed far more than the resillient few. God Help us....
Bruce, I’m pretty familiar with the employment environment here in greater San Diego, and I doubt that the illegal immigrants “outworked” your neighbors in construction. What most likely happened was that their employer realized he could save a lot of cost by not paying workers’ comp and withholding taxes knowing that the illegals wouldn’t say anything.
Most work done by the government should be outsourced to private employers. Additionally the average pay for government workers should be no higher then the average pay of the taxpayers. Citizens are being held up at gunpoint to overpay teachers and other government workers. Eliminate government unionization and reduce the total number of governbment employees and then we will return to prosperity.
''Last night, he watched Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig in The Pride of the Yankees. After the movie, he said to me that people used to act nicer''
--in those old movies there's a world of knowledge besides the moviemakers' intended. Elements of the milieu inherent in comportment and interaction that were in no script and in no conscious acting.
Mr. Kesler's son is very observant and goes right the core.
A parent with say ten year olds up thru high schoolers have a great ''parenting aid'' (gad such normal words have become so nanny-tainted!) right there in the old idiot box, in TCM.
Thanks, Ted Turner, for this, anyway.
Flat Tax @ 15% --everybody, so that there's a single not a dual binary citizen government. Or better said, so that no tax system opposes same.
Those who study these numbers say that the above would have the federal government in surplus, now, at current levels of spending.
"Government programs that focus on useful job skills are un- or underfunded, in favor of expensive contemporary elite culture curriculums"
Meanwhile, Bob Villa and Martha Stewart grow rich, providing the education that people really want.