Inequality for ALL

Danny is taking a Sociology Class right now.  He gets to write all these fun papers.  I usually, strongly dislike editing and helping with his papers, but sociology topics are way fun, I think.  So I thought I might share his paper with you.  We are on the same page in our views.  Enjoy and comment, sociology topics are always, a bit controversial.

Inequality for all

               It is true that none of us are born into the same circumstances.  Everyone comes into different financial, relational, spiritual, physical and intellectual means.  In this sense, none of us are equal.  We are all individually unique.  Some of us are born with high IQ’s, athletic abilities, organizational talents, sociable skills, drive and perseverance.  Others may lack in these strengths and may struggle with them.  Two types of people can even come from the same family.  Take my brother and I for example, my brother Kevin seems to be a natural at everything, but he especially excels in math, writing and reading.  Kevin could read a book in a day, while I was still learning the basics.  My brother and I are a year apart, he learned to read in a snap, while I struggled with dyslexia and couldn’t read for years.  I find it interesting that the things he excels in are the very things I struggle with.  We come from the same parents and same gene pool, yet we are so different.  I suppose the study of my family would be social stratification at its best.  We were raised the same, treated both well and had different struggles and talents.  

There are obvious blatant inequalities in life.  William the Conqueror defeated King Harold of England in 1066 and started Feudalism.  This may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but feudalism is anything but fair or easy, unless you were the king that is.  Basically the king owned all the land and then got to tell people what to do.  People were divided by namesakes or royalty, and then went down the pyramid of mistreatment.  The serfs got the worst of it, they had to till the ground, pay high taxes and barely had enough to feed their families.  They had no say in the vocation they chose or how they got to live their life.    It was first rate inequality. 

Slavery crept up all over the place, from Europe to Africa to America.  Owner would barely feed their workers and force them against their own free will to do as they say.  They didn’t get to choose their vocation or be compensated for it, and they had no security with their families, as they could be sold at a moments’ notice.  This is the worst inequality I can think of. 

And now we have today.  In the United States is there still inequality?  I believe for sure there is inequality.  I believe there probably always will be some way or another.  There are homeless people, and those who live in mansions, there are mentally challenged and geniuses.  But the real question is which inequalities can be avoided? 

Are those whom are born into poverty at a disadvantage?  Clearly, they are deprived in, education and safety.  Yet there are many people who have overcome these circumstances and have gone on to be huge successes.  My dad was born in poverty.  He is the youngest of twelve.  Food was sparse, their house was a small shack, there was no plumbing and had to use an outhouse.  He found himself in survival mode most of the time with an abusive alcoholic father.

My dad did not follow in the footsteps of his father.  He worked hard, built successful businesses, and provided a comfortable living for our family.  He does not drink and was never abusive to his children. How did he not follow the circumstances he was living in?  He has siblings that have made a good life for themselves and a few whom took to alcohol.  Each had their different talents, weaknesses and personalities and took the same environment and did what they could with it.  To me there is no arguing that being raised in the ghetto is unequal to suburbia, but the point there is still hope and that people can overcome it.  Also, I’m not sure if poverty can be avoided,  or John says in the Bible the poor will always be with us.  I believe there will always be inequality and poverty so long as there is substance abuse, domestic violence and laziness.  And how do you stop people from doing these things?  We all have free will, so I guess as soon as they will it, one person at a time.

What about the lovely middle class?  People say that the middle class is the best and worst place to be in.  I happen to be right smack dab in the middle of middle class.  I work hard for my family of four, with a baby on the way.  I live a comfortable, happy life.  I don’t drive an escalade, but an old beat up truck.  And I am happy.  Sure I am not living in a McMansion but a quaint cape cod.  In the 40’s after World War II, GI’s were able to buy homes.  Most didn’t own their homes before this, most rented in the city or tended to farms.  Then houses were being built, suburbia brought newfound responsibilities and joy.   The average size house being built was 700 square feet.  That is almost half the size of my home, and with no air conditioning or color tv. 

  I think the problem with our middle class today could be two things: contentment- or lack of, and financial thriftiness.  I think what should be measured more is not what we make, but how grateful we are for what we have.  My mother in law was raised in a cape cod the size of ours, but with six other siblings, less clothes and toys, no cell phones and still has fond memories of her childhood. Our inequalities these days are not in how much we make, but how hard we work, one feels better when they earn what they have and how appreciative we are for the good things we have. (De Graff, Wann, Naylor, Affluenza, pg. 24)

“When the film Affluenza was produced, Americans were saving just under 4% of their incomes, half the German rate and only a quarter that of Japan.  That seemed at the time, very bad news, since the savings rate had been 10% as recently as 1980.  But today our national savings rate hovers near zero and in some months, falls below that line.  Steve Lohr of the NY times reports that Americans now save only 2% of their personal incomes – about $1.50 a week on a salary of $40,000.  Meanwhile residents of the European Union save 12% and impoverished Chinese, Indian and Pakistani workers save a quarter of their incomes,”  (DeGraff, Wann, Naylor, Affluenza, pg.21-22)

It really makes me ponder whether middle class Amercians have forgotten that it has only a few decades ago that we were listening to radios, going to the bathroom outside and washing clothes in water basins.  We get obsessed with our iphones, texting, computers and cars.  We feel the urge to buy the latest and greatest and then dub ourselves “poor” if we have to wait and save up.  We look for the next get rich quick scheme and forget that we do have wealth.  We have all our needs taken care of plus, many luxuries.  I think this would be quite an interesting topic to truly study and discuss.  In equality will not be solved in a day a month or a year but the start to such success begins with hard honest work, gratitude, and living within your means. 



Lori Ann said…
I love this. I think he makes a lot of good points while; at the same time, being very fair minded. This is the kind of discussion we need to be having. :)

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