What would reduce the poverty rate? (user search)

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May 07, 2021, 03:03:23 PM

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  What would reduce the poverty rate? (search mode)
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Author Topic: What would reduce the poverty rate?  (Read 2065 times)
The Community of Xi Guay Ong
Jr. Member
Posts: 1,610
United States

« on: February 22, 2021, 03:46:14 PM »

2. More subsidies for formal education. If education is about as expensive as a hobby (which is about what it was in the 1970's at land-grant universities), then people are less likely to quit for reasons of cost... or compromising their education to work in menial jobs. It's  hard to see what college students learn from working in fast-food places, dollar stores or convenience stores... the people who need such work most as a long-term career are typically poor people with little education and few skills.


We need to question the importance of matching in our society. Tyler Cowen makes a good case in his book The Complacent Class that America has over-indexed on sorting and stratification in our society. Thereís probably diminishing returns to putting all the top people in one room or on one team. It means ideas spread around less, and the top people have less of a chance to educate others. Itís like a gifted-and-talented program for all of society, but instead of one hour a day itís forever, and instead of just extracting the nerds it extracts the rich kids too.

And thereís a strong possibility that our obsession with matching has negative side effects ó when all the talented and rich people befriend and marry all the other talented and rich people, the rest of society is left to sort of fend for itself. Whatís more, even the commentariat doesnít seem to realize what a problem this is, possibly because so many of us went to those top schools too.

A creeping, toxic elitism

I donít want to veer too far into cultural hand-waving here, but it seems like obsession with the Ivy League is a symptom of a creeping, toxic elitism that has permeated American society over the last four decades. Weíre obsessed with high-status winner-take-all jobs. Our economy is dominated by superstar companies. The cult of Hollywood celebrities may have given way to the cult of Instagram influencers and YouTube stars, but itís still all about the glittering few. Even the people who spend all day yelling about Elon Musk on Twitter are still spending all dayÖthinking about Elon Musk. Itís as if the inequality of income and wealth is mirrored in a general inequality of status, where only a few people and institutions matter and everyone else is left to watch the glitterati from the cheap seats.

I donít know how we reverse this trend. I donít know how the everyperson becomes central to our culture and our policy and our visions of our own lives again. Maybe redistribution will do the trick. But I think one small piece of it is for the commentariat (and that includes me) to focus less on the Harvards and Stanfords of the world, and more on the Cal State Long Beaches and the SUNY Stony Brooks. Already I like what the Biden administration is doing, focusing more resources on HBCUs and community colleges. Perhaps the old man is onto something.
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