Critique “The Death of Horatio Alger”

The article “The Death of Horatio Alger” by Paul Krugman writes about the theory that might explain why rich people become richer while poor people remain poor. That theory has an economic and social background, and the author states that the explanation is simple for that tendency. The author establishes his argument over the fact that people want to transfer their money and richness to other generations which serve as the trigger for the development of social policies which do not help poor people. The credibility of the author is outstanding because he had already written different publications in the same field of study while he also worked for the New Republic, the Financial Times, the Mother Jones, the New York Times, and the Nation. The overall impression of the article is positive because the author presents an interesting explanation of recent trends, but I disagree with his theory after all. 

The article starts with the author’s impression of the recent article in the BusinessWeek that is called “Waking Up from the American Dream.” The author analyzes the article that summarizes recent research on the social mobility, or, simply, social class flexibility. The author delayed his opinion about the issue, but in the third paragraph, he said that our political leaders do everything to secure the gap between classes while trying to stop anyone who wants to change that. The author also mentions that the income distribution explains that tendency. The author suggested that only the generation ago gross inequality was very distant. However, now, it worth to mention that the income of the bottom 90 percent of people’s income fell by 7 percent while the income of top 1 percent rose by 148 percent, top 0.1 – 343 percent, top 0.01 – 599 percent. At that point, the author mentions that other reporters keep telling “never mind” to the society while their main statement is that these people might gain money today, but lose tomorrow. The author also states that the America became a caste society while all scholars who cite Glenn Hubbard’s report are wrong considering that people from the low-income families can overcome the odds and get to the top levels. The report by Glenn, 1992, stated that almost one-fourth of all children from bottom 25 percent income families advance to the top 25 percent income position on the “ladder”. 

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However, the author also mentions that it cannot be true today while social policies make it impossible for people to overcome the odds. Moreover, those cases where children can advance to higher levels became a rare scenario while it is almost wrong to say that this happens at all. For now, officially, only about 10 percent of those children from the low-income families can jump to the higher stage of the food chain while the “Wal-Martization” of the economy made it easier for people to find a low-income job and stick to it to the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, that works against them while the government does everything to support that matter of things in their country. The author finishes with the scenario where he explains the government’s official position. He stated that people who were able to advance to the top of the social ladder want to enhance the stability of rich people and make poor people pay for all things that might be necessary to them. Furthermore, those people will also promote the “equal” opportunities for the job promotions so that they can hire “untrained” personnel. The author concludes that it is the present situation that we all face in the US country and claims that it is the end of the American Dream in its origin.

The main point of the article is that the American Dream became unavailable for all of us while we have very small chances to overcome all issues and get to the top of the social ladder. The author presented clear arguments with the support of the relevant statistics which proves his point of view. I agree with the author on all stages of his explanation that the gap between social classes became greater than ever while it became even harder to overcome the barrier. However, his arguments lack the proper explanation of the reason for that tendency. The author theory is that this event happened due to the reflex of parents to protect their infants. He stated that rich people want to secure their funds and grant a better life to their children and future generations. While his theory is relevant to that story, it does not reflect the full situation that is evident in this case. As a fact, parents always wanted the brighter future for their children. That tendency was present all the time, starting with the cavemen. Rich people all around the world always offered the best education for their infant as well as the enormous legacy of respect and money. It is important to understand that there is nothing new in that tendency. What matters the most is what changed in our society so that fewer people could compete to the higher level of the social ladder. The answer to that question is simple – the lack of fear. What I mean here is that people always do better in critical situations. When the soldier understands that his shot decides either he would live or die – he or she shoots better. When the father understands that his children might die of hunger if he does not bring home food – he will work the best he can to get that food. When children understand that the only chance to change their life for better is to overcome all odds and do everything they can to advance to the higher stage of the social ladder – they will work hard the rest of their life to get things right. However, what matters here is that during the post-war period there were not enough working places in the US so that people understood that they need the job to feed their families while children wanted to end poverty in their family. All of them tried to get the best job that was possible and make every hour count. Each one of them did their best to advance to higher positions and make more money. For now, people have the backup. Children understand that if they fail to get the job they want or needs – they still have Wal-Mart to work in for the rest of their lives so that they will not die from hunger. Children from the post-war period did not have that privilege to fail. They could not afford any mistake so that they did their best on their way to success. That fear of death or poverty created the 25 percent rate of children who succeeded. For now, we have a backup which worked for more than a half of those people. They gave up looking for a better place to work in and took what the society gives them.

To summarize the issue, it should be mentioned that people all around the world center their attention to the wrong aspect of their lives. Instead of focusing on the government, it is important to work harder and do everything to become better. It is significant to grow continuously to get the position you want and deserve. Therefore, the author is wrong in his point that the government is responsible for the growth of the gap between social classes because we are the ones to blame. People are weak, and sometimes they choose the option that is easier. While at distinct periods citizens did not have any alternative options, those people did better than our modern representatives, unfortunately.

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