I opened up my NY Times app the other morning to discover this opinion from Richard V. Reeves, fellow in Economic Studies and policy director for the Center on Children and Families at Brookings:
"Let" affluent children fail is a thinkable public policy goal?
The logic shoots off in all kinds of horrifying directions. E.g.: granting for the sake of argument that letting affluent children fail is a good thing, wouldn't giving them a little push off the cliff be even better?
(And how much should we pay suburban teachers for that service?)
I haven't been able to bring myself to read the column, especially after spotting this line:
"It is a stubborn mathematical fact that the top fifth of the income distribution can accommodate only 20 percent of the population."
Twenty percent is 20%, so the "bottom" 80%, a supermajority of the population, is forevermore locked into the bottom 80% unless we "let" affluent children "fail."
By that reasoning, whenever a child grows up in the top 20% and then, as an adult, descends to the top 21%, that child has "failed."
I skimmed long enough to spot the term "opportunity hoarding" and to discover that it originates with Charles Tilly, with whom I think Ed and I had dinner in Los Angeles years ago. I remember liking Professor Tilly immensely, assuming our dinner companion was in fact Charles Tilly; Ed doesn't remember. On the other hand, Ed did know Tilly, so I think it was Tilly.
Anyway, on the strength of one nonverifiable memory of a fabulous evening with Charles Tilly, I have decided that if I want to know more about opportunity hoarding, and I may want to know more about opportunity hoarding, I will go directly to the source and bypass Brookings.
In the meantime, I am now sufficiently well-versed in macroeconomics to know that the answer both to twenty percent being twenty percent and opportunity hoarding is a roaring economy and a weaker dollar.
Today's factoid: our strong-dollar policy apparently originated with Robert Rubin.
Another member of the policy elite.