Laura & the Lotto

I’m a bit under the weather, so I’m just going to continue posting interesting links rather than try to say anything worthwhile myself:

This bit, from NPR, does a wonderful job of taking Dr. Laura to task for her recent spaz-out over her “first amendment rights”.  The situation itself is minor, but the point it illustrates — about how people willfully abuse the concept of “free speech” and conflate “freedom from government interference” with “freedom from all consequence” — is much wider and very well-taken.

I also very much enjoyed this post at The Atlantic, which looks at the continued existence of the lottery as a means by which lower-income people dream of bettering their lot.  The author’s point is that, as much as America subsists on a myth of its own meritocracy, anyone who succeeds has, in fact, won a lottery.  (Warren Buffett famously admitted that the best things that ever happened to him were being born a white male in twentieth-century America.)  I liked — and related to — this section quite a bit:

Over the years, I’ve taught a lot of kids who believe that they are “middle class” even though they grew up in Chappaqua or Radnor or Lake Forest in a family making a half million a year, who went to the best suburban, de facto private schools, took expensive SAT prep courses, got their first car and apartment and BlackBerry from mom and dad, and are now raking in big bonuses as investment bankers or corporate lawyers, and who believe that it’s all because of their hard work and merit. We Americans are congenitally allergic to the “c word” but I’ll use it anyway. Class. It matters.”

…At Georgetown, many of my classmates would claim to be “upper-middle-class”, even if they went to Andover and their parents worked in executive suites at major companies.  We’ll never be able to seriously address poverty in America until we can acknowledge that class problems not only exist, but are pervasive throughout contemporary society, and that most of our policies support continued stratification.

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