Spread the Opportunity Around and Then Some

October 31, 2008

I was born in the late ’50s, and pretty much grew up with the modern Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and Labor movements. Things have changed a little since then unless my memory fails me.

If the old synapses serve me right, the whole idea in the beginning was to level the playing field. After all, blacks in America simply weren’t given the same “fair” shot at success. Women never had a hope of earning equal pay for equal work. And the poor white coal miner in West Virginia had virtually no choice but to risk it all for virtually nothing at all. Back then, all those folks were saying (I think) was, “Be fair, and let me compete equally and safely. I can handle the rest.”

But to paraphrase Bob Dylan, the times they did a-change. The once-liberal concept of letting all get an equally “fair shake” in this country has changed to redistributing from those of higher station to those of lower station regardless of who takes advantage of opportunity. Oh, plenty of opportunity has been spread around in this country, and everyone who’s willing to work his way up can take advantage of that opportunity. Consider this McDonalds piece by George Will… And then there’s the military, community colleges, vocational schools, online classes (and free online education), large businesses and small… Plenty of opportunity for all. But what have we become as a society? Far too many people consider themselves above a McJob. Far too many people unwilling to pay their dues to earn a McCareer. People not willing or “able” to pay federal income tax.

It’s interesting to note that 50% of Americans pay only approximately 3% of the federal income tax. And of that group, most pay no income tax at all. Gee… I wonder how that stat breaks down relative to the number of people who are going to vote for Obama?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. In the 1960s, liberalism won. But it won too well, and in 2008 with opportunity abounding, that victory wasn’t nearly good enough. Forget about spreading opportunity and start spreading the wealth.

Alan Speakman