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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What Obama's Inaugural address got wrong about poverty

What Obama's Inaugural address got wrong about poverty

From the piece:

However much we might like to imagine otherwise, a little girl born into the bleakest poverty will never have “the same chance to succeed as anybody else.” If you take a step back, could anything be more obvious? And yet this notion is so thoroughly woven into the “American creed” that we barely notice how misleading it is.

The Horatio Alger story was always a myth, of course, as class at birth has always shaped the life outcomes of Americans, just as it does for residents of Sweden, Siberia or anywhere else. But in today’s America—where the richest 1 percent have doubled their share of national income since 1980, according to Oxfam—an individual’s fate is truly forged by the circumstances of her parents. It’s easy to lose sight of this fact when the inspiring stories of Sonia Sotomayor, or the president himself, show us extraordinary individuals beating the odds. But that’s the thing about odds—most people don’t beat them.


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