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Privilege in America hurts our integrity

Res Stecker
Res Stecker

Growing up, many parents and teachers will tell children that if they try hard enough and believe, they can be anything they want to be. This is thought of as an extension of the American dream; just put in the effort and you’ll get a reward.

It’s likely the reason there is the idiotic commonplace practice of giving every kid a trophy just for participating, and it does more harm than good. I mean if you’re not essential to the team, and did not earn something, why should you get it? This is the same reason why kids hate the coach that puts his son at quarterback, totally unfair and usually unjustified right? Many people agree.

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Still the idea that if someone just pulls themselves up by their bootstraps and perseveres they will then succeed is really popular, despite having little basis in truth. Like some Gilded Age lie, this archaic form of thinking lingers on to our present day. And part of the reason it is so false is because of another institution that spans thousands of years.

That is high born privilege.

Privilege by birth right is something to be absolutely detested; essentially we have an aristocracy in America, only we do not call them that. The idea that because one just so happens to be born into a lap of luxury they can just cruise on by through life should be enough to make anyone nauseous. The problem is people like the Walton family who with the six of them together control about $148 billion. It’s absolutely ridiculous, because they haven’t done anything to deserve anything near the billion dollar mark.

The Walton family and thousands of other individuals like them are living off the success of their parents, just like the aristocracy of the Old World. The problem isn’t that these people are wealthy; who doesn’t want to be rich? Rather, it’s that these people didn’t do anything to deserve all that money, and even worse, they hoard it and don’t spend it.

Being rich isn’t a bad thing, nor is this article an attack on the rich. Rather, it is a stab on the practice of passing down unseemly amounts of wealth to people that quite simply: do not earn it, don’t do anything with it, and don’t need it. Society is giving out trophies to these people just for having the right blood and standing on the sidelines.

To be brutally honest, not everyone who tries will succeed. More often than not, the people born with little usually end up with about the same. America is special because we have a great deal of class fluidity, but it’s far from ideal. People like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Sam Walton should be considered prime examples of determination, talent and luck. They did something important and society gave them great wealth. Any of the people that inherit money from them, however, should be shunned.

There is no easy solution to dealing with the problem of wealth based privilege. Ideally, society would limit how much one could give to his or her family and the rest of the money should be evenly dispersed to the community upon the benefactor’s death.

Let’s face it, no one gets to the top by themselves, and after living a life of luxury it would be a pretty good thing to give back to the people who helped put you there. Society is a team, and when the team wins, the captain doesn’t get all the glory, rather they recognize the contributions of everyone, and all are eventually praised.

Redistribution of wealth is not the goal; again no one gets a piece of the pie if they didn’t help bake it. Instead, personal wealth that equals the GDP of a small country should be put to use to the betterment of all Americans, upon the departure of the person responsible for its accumulation. Libraries, parks and places of scholarship should could be unrivaled if this were the practice.

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In our society, people are bound to accumulate wealth, which is great, good for them. But they should not be allowed to pass all of it on to people that did nothing to deserve it. Aside from lottery winners, everyone owes their success in part to others, in part to society. No one should get a freebie.

That is just downright useless to the general public.

Res Stecker is a senior international studies and history double major, and is happy to write witty whimsical words of wisdom for all. Questions and comments can be sent to letters@collegian.com

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