Preschool Halloween and Inequality in America

So, yesterday was the Halloween at Evan’s preschool: St. Andrew’s Catholic Church Early Childhood Center in Apex, NC.  He made a great Yoda.

Anyway, Kim pointed out to me the incredibly high number of fathers attending this event, at about 10am.  Probably about 2/3 to 3/4 of the kids had their dads as well as moms there.  Basically, this struck me as quite a symbol of the amazing advantages all these kids will have in life.  First, as if living in Apex alone didn’t tell you, that fact that all these dads were there means that they were likely upper-middle class professionals in control of their own schedule.  They don’t let you leave your job at the factory for your kid’s Halloween parade.  Secondly, it shows that these are involved dads.  That’s a couple of very important legs up on life for these kids.  Personally, I appreciate this fact, which is one of the reasons I’m a liberal.  I was thinking cynically about how many of these kids some day will go on to graduate from a good college land a good job, credit it all to their own ingenuity and hard work, and get angry at all those poor, lazy people wasting all of their hard-earned and well-deserved tax dollars.

So, the same day I’m thinking all of this, Matt Yglesias had a nice post on inequality.  We have nowhere near the social mobility in this country that most people think we do:

Pete Davis mentions a new book that sounds interesting. He observes that we like to think of the United States as a land of opportunity, “but a new book, Creating an Opportunity Society, by Ron Haskins and Belle Sawhill of the Brookings Institution proves otherwise.”

That’s what we like to think, but a new book, Creating
an Opportunity Society, by Ron Haskins and Belle Sawhill of the
Brookings Institution proves otherwise. They took a close look at
intergenerational mobility and found that 42% of American men
with fathers in the bottom income quintile remain there as compared to:
Denmark, 25%; Sweden, 26%; Finland, 28%; Norway, 28%; and the United
Kingdom, 30%
. They present a wealth of new and old research
evidence to support the conclusion that if you’re born poor in America,
you’re likely to remain poor.

In fact, non college graduates of the richest fifth of Americans end up doing better than college graduates whose families come from the poorest fifth.  How’s that for a meritocracy.  I’m lucky and so are my kids for having huge advantages early in life.  I’m also lucky because I appreciate that fact.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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