When Republicans and Democrats believe different things, but Democrats are right

So, Pew tweeted out the other day, this…

Not all that surprising, to see a large partisan difference here.  But the truth is, it is not just a matter of partisan opinion, but I’d argue, pretty close to quantified, objective reality that “advantages in life” are a larger component of a person being rich than “worked harder.”  Now, of course, hard work matter, but would you put your odds on getting “rich” by being a hard worker born to a poor, minority family in an inner city (or a third world country for that matter) or a not-hard worker born to a wealthy white family in a suburb.  I suspect not even most Republicans are actually lying to themselves when thinking about it that way.

Anyway, what was particularly interesting to me was that when I tweeted a short version of the above, it was my most liked and re-tweeted tweet ever.

Not that these are high number at all, but, even though I know a bunch of you see my posts primarily through twitter, fair to say my posts are very low on engagement.  Was just kind of interesting to me that this one broke through.

And, as to the reality of what Democrats “believe” here, Robert Frank’s Success and Luck covers it quite thoroughly.  Here’s his Vox interview with Sean Illing:

Robert H. Frank

I speculate briefly in the book about why it is that people seem so keen to deny the fact that chance plays any role in these outcomes. If you’re giving advice to your kids, it’s probably good to encourage them to think of themselves as the captains of their fate. You want them to believe that they can work hard and succeed on account of that hard work. Even if it’s untrue, it’s easy to see why we need to believe these things, and therefore why we persist in believing them.

My view is that there’s still room to include in this conversation the notion that chance events play a role and that you shouldn’t assume that it’s entirely to your credit if you do make it big.

Sean Illing

You note in the book that roughly half of the variance in incomes across persons worldwide is explained by two factors: country of residence and the income distribution within that country. How do you account for the income disparities in this country?

Robert H. Frank

Obviously, the income of one’s parents and the place of birth matter a great deal. But the other variables are also explained by things that are external to you. As I mentioned earlier, intelligence and drive and energy are critical in virtually every environment, including our own, and these are exogenous factors. This is more or less what I mean by luck.

Sean Illing

You cite a revealing statistic in the book, which is that the correlation between parents’ income and children’s income in America is the same as the correlation between parents’ height and their children’s height. If true, that’s awfully instructive.

Robert H. Frank

Yes, this affirms my point that these things we’re not entitled to claim moral credit for are the driving forces behind success. We don’t do anything to deserve the parents we get. These are accidents of birth.

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