With Bernie Sanders re-igniting the socialist movement and the “unfair inequality” battlecry still revered by progressives, we’re seeing this article and corresponding graph being passed around yet again:
The cringe-worthy article from the Washington Post starts like this: “Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong. America is the land of opportunity, just for some more than others. That’s because, in large part, inequality starts in the crib.”Never mind that the author makes the highly offensive assumption that simply graduating college equals “doing everything right,” and dropping out of high school is “doing everything wrong.” He presumes that someone who gets a college degree, regardless if the degree is worthwhile, is “doing it right.” He suggests that you’re a rich spoiled brat if you drop out of high school to work on the family farm or in the family restaurant. The former, while not necessarily contributing anything to society, shall be revered, and their failure is solely society’s fault. The latter, regardless of how many jobs or how much economic value they create, are “wealthy ne’er-do-wells,” (his words) undeserving of their wealth, simply because they were born well off.
Never mind the bitter language suggesting a blatant bias against the well off. “Rich high school dropouts remain in the top…these low-income strivers are just as likely to end up in the bottom as these wealthy ne’er-do-wells. Some meritocracy.” Sounds like somebody never got over the fact that his classmate got a BMW for his 16th birthday, while he had to take the big yellow bus.
But the problem is the graph itself. Maybe the author doesn’t know how to read graphs, or maybe he does, but thinks his readers are too stupid to understand. Because clearly, the graph completely refutes his claims against upward mobility.1. Notice “poor college grads” are 143 percent as likely to reach the top quintile as the “rich dropouts.”
2. “Poor college grads” are 216 percent as likely to reach the top 2 quintiles as the “rich dropouts.”
3. “Rich high school dropouts” are 156 percent as likely to end up in the bottom 2 quintiles as the “poor college grads.”
Considering those odds, it sure looks like “poor college grads” end up MUCH better than “rich high school dropouts.”
The article goes on to claim stats, facts and figures claiming that rich kids have all the advantages in life. Including how 70 percent of Canadian one-percenters work in the family business. Or how “Affluent parents talk to their kids three more hours a week on average than poor parents, which is critical during a child’s formative early years…rich students are increasingly entering kindergarten much better prepared to succeed in school than middle-class students.”There’s no doubt an extra 3 hours a week of parent-child interaction is critical to a child’s development, but is wealth a requirement for spending time with your kids? Yes, parents who have to work two jobs don’t have the same opportunity to spend quality time with their children as compared to housewives and the independently wealthy. But with that logic, someone who is unemployed should be raising genius kids since they get to spend all day with their kids, right? Are the perpetually underemployed REALLY that much busier than the lawyer who works 80 hours a week? Or maybe because they CHOOSE to do something other than spend time with their kids? Or perhaps, like many other “justifications” for disadvantage, it’s merely an excuse.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]