Sunday, January 30, 2005

Brooks Suggests President Talk About Social Mobility in State of Union

Conservative columnist David Brooks recommends that President Bush deal with the question of social mobility in the US in the State of the Union message. Brooks, looking especially at data gathered by The Economist, claims that the ability move up the social and economic ladder is threatened and says that it's an issue which each generation must address, lest old habits block advancement.

A sampling:
The United States is a country based on the idea that a person's birth does not determine his or her destiny. Our favorite stories involve immigrants climbing from obscurity to success. Our amazing work ethic is predicated on the assumption that enterprise and effort lead to ascent. "I hold the value of life is to improve one's condition," Abraham Lincoln declared.

The problem is that in every generation conditions emerge that threaten to close down opportunity and retard social mobility. Each generation has to reopen the pathways to success.

Today, for example, we may still believe American society is uniquely dynamic, but we're deceiving ourselves. European societies, which seem more class-driven and less open, have just as much social mobility as the United States does.
Economists and sociologists do not all agree, but it does seem there is at least slightly less movement across income quintiles than there was a few decades ago.
It's a column well worth reading.

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