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This pervasive American myth is utter baloney

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- Commentary

The American dream promises that anyone can make it if they work hard enough and play by the rules. Anyone can make it by pulling themselves up by their “bootstraps.”

Baloney.

The truth is: In America today, your life chances depend largely on how you started – where you grew up and how much your parents earned.

Everything else – whether you attend collegeyour chances of landing a well-paying jobeven your health – hinges on this start.

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So as inequality of income and wealth has widened – especially along the lines of race and gender – American children born into poverty have less chance of making it. While 90% of children born in 1940 grew up to earn more than their parents, today only half of all American adults earn more than their parents did. 

And children born to the top 10 percent of earners are typically on track to make three times more income as adults than the children of the bottom 10 percent.

The phrase “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” itself is rubbish. Its origins date back to an 18th-century fairy tale, and the phrase was originally intended as a metaphor for an impossible feat of strength. 

Other countries understand that the family you’re born into as well as the social safety nets and social springboards you have access to play large roles.

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Children born poor in Canada, Denmark, or the United Kingdom – nations without America’s degree of inequality, nations which provide strong social safety nets and public investments – have a greater chance of economic success than children born poor in America. 

Individuals in those countries are blamed less for their personal failures and credited less for personal successes.

So, why is America still perpetuating the fallacy of the self-made individual? Because those in power want you to believe it. If everyone thinks they’re on their own, it’s easier for the powerful to dismantle unions, unravel safety nets, and slash taxes for the wealthy.

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It’s in their interest to keep the American Dream deeply rooted in our psyche – the assumption that you determine your destiny. So we don’t demand reforms that are necessary – paid family and medical leave, for example, or early childhood education, accessible childcare, and policies that lift every family out of poverty.

Let’s stop perpetuating this myth of the self-made individual. And let’s start rebuilding the American dream by creating opportunities for all, not just those who are already wealthy, privileged, and well-connected.

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This article was originally published at RobertReich.org


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Desperate conservatives unleash a torrent of misogyny to undermine Pamela Karlan’s devastating testimony

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As soon as Pamela Karlan, a constitutional law professor at Stanford who specializes in voting rights, opened her mouth during Wednesday's impeachment hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, I knew she would become the prime if not exclusive focus of the entire right-wing response to the hearing.

This article was originally published at Salon

Republicans were desperate to do anything to keep voters from paying attention to the actual substance of the testimony from the three law professors summoned to explain why Donald Trump should be impeached for his crimes, since the substance of their testimony is irrefutable. And while all three were articulate, intelligent and crystal clear in their arguments, only Karlan was female.

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This conspiracy actually exists: Trump and the GOP are waging a war on reality

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Words have actual definitions. Conspiracies do in fact exist.A conspiracy consists of two or more people acting in private to advance their own interests against and contrary to those of other people.

Donald Trump and his agents’ bribery and extortion plot to withhold congressionally approved military aid to force the government of Ukraine to “investigate” Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, with the goal of helping Trump win the 2020 presidential election, is a textbook example of a very real conspiracy.

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Congress schooled in the Constitution: Impeachment hearing was less about the answers than about the questions

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The Judiciary Hearing Probably Changed No Minds, But, Yes, the Democrats Had the Better Questions

The opening of the new round of impeachment inquiries before the House Judiciary Committee was less about the answers than about the questions.

If you were a Democrat, you asked questions that prompted the constitutional scholars present to pin the available evidence about Team Trump to a rogue plot to trade Ukrainian recognition and military aid for Donald Trump’s personal political gain.

If you were a Republican, you asked about anything else, from historical precedents about elapsed time, about the meaning of bribery in the 18th Century, about non-existent testimony about Joe and Hunter Biden.

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