On Tuesday, December 6, President Obama gave a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas invoking the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt and praising the progressive ideals which Roosevelt’s Republican party had quite a bit of in the early twentieth century. After the speech, Mitt Romney was furious. He insisted that while Roosevelt believed that government should level the playing field to create equal opportunity, President Obama believes that all members of society should receive, equal rewards regardless of effort, and willingness to take risk.
Funny thing, I thought that as a Mormon, Mr. Romney did not drink. He must have really been plastered that day. Or, perish the thought, he was lying! One has to ask why he thinks that his party cares anything about equal opportunity. Right now, a lot of Americans are living in the delusion that we are a land of equal opportunity. We were when I was a kid. I am a lucky guy. I am not so sure that youth growing up in the America of today have the same opportunity. In all likelihood their schools teach them almost nothing in comparison to the rest of Western or Oriental societies. I have heard from exchange students that spending a year in school in the US is basically taking a year vacation. They love to come to the US for a variety of reasons but when they get back home, they have to take “catch up” courses to get back with their peers.
Our government has fallen down. The holes in our social safety net are gaping. Low income mothers and children are generally malnourished and suffer from poor health care. In schools, the kids from affluent households will go to some of the few good school districts or to private schools. The rest get a poor education. Poor kids are unlikely to go to college. If they do make it, they are more likely to drop out for financial reasons. A long term Department of Education study has shown that high achieving poor kids are MUCH more likely to drop out of school than dumb rich kids. The dumb rich kid will get his degree (Ref: George W Bush).
As Paul Krugman, a Nobel winning economist has stated, “Someone who really wanted equal opportunity would be very concerned about the inequality of our current system. He would support more nutritional aid for low-income mothers-to-be and young children. He would try to improve the quality of public schools. He would support aid to low-income college students. And he would support what every other advanced country has, a universal health care system, so that nobody need worry about untreated illness or crushing medical bills.”
Where do the Republicans stand on all this? Well, Mr. Krugman goes on: “they are determined to make upward mobility even harder. They have tried to slash funding for Women, Infants and Children programs which helps provide adequate nutrition to low-income mothers and their children; they have demanded cuts in Pell grants, which are designed to help lower-income students afford college. Lastly, of course, they have pledged to repeal a health reform that, for all its imperfections would finally give Americans the guaranteed care that everyone else in the advanced world takes for granted.”
So, if you are an American youth, how do you get ahead? Do you remember when the former Republican candidate, Herman Cain made the comment, “If you are unemployed it is your own fault”. He is right, you are really stupid, you picked the wrong parents.