A Fair Shot
We shouldn't trade in the legacy of the New Deal and Fair Deal for a Raw Deal. It follows from the Declaration of Independence that declared that "all men are created equal," expanded over time to include all men and women. It follows from the Pledge of Allegiance that promises "liberty and justice for all." Not for a few. Not for most. For all.
For some, it's the 1 Percent and Super PAC Deal. For others, it's the Middle Class Deal. In America, the land of opportunity, every American deserves the Fair Chance to Succeed Deal.
Notice the limits. Success is not promised. Some succeed; some fail. Only a fair chance is promised. It does not promise equality. People have different gifts, different capacities, different amounts of luck and pluck.
But we are a long way from reaching this goal. If you are born in Appalachia or in
If you are a young person entering the workforce or a veteran returning from service risking your life, you face the worst job market since the Great Depression. It's hard to have a shot at success if you can't even find a job to get started.
For many coming out of high school, a college education or advanced training is becoming both more important and less affordable. The extraordinary can still make it by juggling classes and jobs and taking on debt. But it is hard to argue that everyone has a fair shot at what is considered the vital to making it into the middle class when many must take on tens of thousands of dollars in debt (an average now of more than
Adequate health care also is essential for a fair chance to succeed. But our broken system rations health care by the ability to pay. Those with the money can get the best health care in the world. Those without go without. Health-care reform was designed to ensure that almost all Americans have health insurance. But rollbacks of
A fair chance is essential to the American dream -- to the belief that if you work hard, you can provide a home for your family, an education for your children and a secure retirement for yourself at the end of your working life. Now we are stunned to learn that the U.S. falls behind other industrialized countries in upper mobility -- and that your parents' economic status is more likely to determine where you end up.
This is not because private wealth is too great, but because our common wealth is too poor. We know how to create remarkable public schools, but we don't create them for all children. Contrast the shining schools of our upper-middle-class suburbs with the aging buildings of working-class suburbs and the barren facilities of our inner cities.
College used to be affordable to working families. Now cutbacks in state aid have sent tuition soaring, and stagnating family incomes make college a forbidding expense.
Surely this should inform the president and
We needn't squander trillions on wars of choice. We can eliminate tax dodges and crack down on offshore tax havens. We can cut the subsidies that go to powerful corporate interests. Those who have done well in America can be asked to do well by America.
Shared sacrifice sounds sensible, but only if the rewards have been shared. When it comes to a grand bargain needed to reduce our deficits, let's start by ensuring that everyone has a fair chance to succeed.
We owe one another at least that.
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A Fair Shot | Politics
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