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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 8, 2005 / 30 Iyar, 5765

The Upward Mobility Myth

By Michael Kinsley


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | According to our founding document and our national myth, we are all created equal and then it's up to us. Inequality in material things is mitigated in two ways: first, by equal opportunity at the start, and, second, by full civil equality despite material differences. We don't claim to have achieved all this, but these are our national goals and we are always moving toward them.

The 20th century added two somewhat vaguer elements to the myth. One is that even material inequality will be limited, at the bottom end, by social guarantees against absolute deprivation or vertiginous plunges. Another is that prosperity will gradually make us all more equal even in the material sense.

Three of the nation's top newspapers have been examining the national myth recently. The Wall Street Journal has looked at social mobility. In recent decades, financial inequality has been increasing, not shrinking. That didn't matter, many said, because studies show a constant shuffling of the deck.

Where you are today says little about where you might be tomorrow and even less about where your offspring will be in 25 years.

But it turns out these studies were flawed. Where you are is the best predictor of where your children will be. And immobility over generations is what congeals financial differences into old-fashioned, European-style social class.

The Journal series included a wonderful story, straight out of Trollope, about a vulgar arriviste trying to crash the absurd charity ball society of Palm Springs.

Less fun, but more telling, was a New York Times piece comparing three victims of heart attacks. The series has been especially good at capturing the subtle ways in which privilege manifests itself and gets transmitted over generations. It's not just money. It's not just IQ or education or blue blood or even good values. It's how all these combine into knowing which hospital to ask for when the ambulance arrives.

The Los Angeles Times takes over with a scary look at downward mobility. The national myth imagines the ascent from poverty to the middle class as a ratchet. But sliding out of middle-class prosperity is getting easier every day.

You can do it by losing your job, as the result of an accident or other health emergency, by squandering your savings. Globalization and technology may make everyone better off on average (I believe they do), but they land like a boulder on individuals who lose their jobs to foreigners and machines. Healthcare becomes more costly and employers get stingier about paying for it. And President Bush wants to make Social Security more of an opportunity to do well and less of a guarantee against doing disastrously. In short, if insurance means shifting risks from individuals to society, what has been going on lately is the opposite: shifting risks from society back onto the individual.

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Of the many questions raised by all this, the most pressing is: What happened to the Washington Post? If the Post wants in on the discussion, there are still rich veins to mine. For example, it might reexamine the role of civil equality as a consolation prize for economic inequality.

This conceit seems to be eroding in two ways. First, money is playing an ever-larger role in the mechanics of democracy. Second, whole areas of life that were part of everyday democracy have fallen to the empire of money.

People increasingly go to schools with people of their own class, live in class-sifted neighborhoods, hold their Fourth of July picnics in their own backyards rather than the public park.

Meanwhile, despite months of superb reporting by three great newspapers, the question of how closely our national reality resembles our national myth remains open.

Does it matter whether your place in life is determined by your IQ or your schooling or your parents' wallets — all of which are beyond your control? As we learn more about the human mind, even qualities such as self-discipline seem to be a matter of genes, not grit.

The problem, in short, may not be that reality is receding from the national myth. The problem may be the myth.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Michael Kinsley is Los Angeles Times Editorial and Opinion editor and former editor of Slate.com. Comment by clicking here.



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