|My first Bimmer|
Upwardly-mobile Professional – a Yuppie. But, I am no longer young or upwardly mobile; so, I don't qualify.
My Dad was a Yuppie, too. No one was called a Yuppie in his day; but he was young and upwardly mobile. He was also a businessman. Today we would call him an entrepreneur. He and two partners each deposited $2000 in the bank and started a company.
It was quite an accomplishment given where he started. When I was born, he was collecting Aid toFamilies with Dependent Children (AFDC, a federal/state financial aid program). Thank God for the safety net!
Later in life, Dad sold his business to retire. He would never have been described as wealthy; that was not his goal. His goal was to be secure in retirement and he achieved that.
Dad also achieved something I never did. He transcended his socio-economic class. He started poor and became upper middle class. I started upper middle class and became – well – upper middle class.
Dad worked hard and played by the rules.
In the context of today’s debate about social mobility, he would be a success story. He relied on government assistance when he needed it but paid it back many times over by paying his taxes when he was economically successful.
A Harvard study published last year indicates that there has been little change in social mobility since my Dad’s day. Still, we are having a debate – which is bound to affect policy, the budget and, eventually, taxes – about how to help those in need move up the economic ladder. The study pointed to geography as the most important factor in social mobility. Areas where there was less segregation, more stable families and better education tended to have greater mobility.
|Michele and her family|
Yet, the debate seems to be about raising the minimum wage. How will that provide the stable environmental factors that will enable people to move up the economic ladder?
So, I am confused. We lionize hard working Americans and say we want to help people move up the economic ladder; but, the prescription has nothing to do with hard work. It is to unilaterally hand more money to people for the same amount of work.
I support the concept of a social safety net. My Dad took advantage of it when he really needed to. But, he succeeded perhaps more than most of his day because he worked hard and made tough choices about how to live his life and support his family. His success was self-made. It was not the result of the government reapportioning wealth.
Perhaps, the best perspective I have read on this topic came from my cousin’s daughter, Michele (my first cousin, once removed, if you’re keeping score). She and her husband are raising three boys on Long Island. They’re working hard and playing by the rules. Here is what she said on her Facebook Timeline:
“I usually don't do this on FB but can't help it because it's too irritating. Fast food workers are striking because they want minimum wage to be increased to $15 an hr.?? So after I pay my student loan bills and taxes they will make the same as me??? … So that's what we do now? Protest to make more money?? What happened to making more money based on merit and how good u are? Ok I'm done now:)”
So am I.
WHO WILL LEAD?