Are rich people ruining America?

Hey monkeys,

Just like the title says, are rich people ruining America? The article claims that the future potential of the children of low-income Americans are being diminished by upper-middle-class Americans.

Why?

Apparently this stems from residential zoning restrictions.

Well-educated people tend to live in places like Portland, New York, and San Francisco that have housing and construction rules that keep the poor and less educated away from places with good schools and good job opportunities.

Also, he shares a story.

Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named "Padrino" and "Pomodoro" and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.

The above anecdote was sort of confusing to me at first; I didn't quite grasp the significance of it, but I think that he is trying to show that a less educated person (his friend) is "separated" from the world of the wealthy.

So, do you think that rich people are ruining America?
What do you think the point of the anecdote is?

Comments (117)

Jul 15, 2017

It's not the rich people that have run up $20 trillion in debt and $120 trillion in unfunded liabilities - those are politicians who've ruined the country. Rich people, the private sector, have survived in spite of the aforementioned jackasses and provided immense opportunity to people. So no, the people investing and creating jobs aren't ruining America, the people bankrupting the next six generations to buy votes are.

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Jul 15, 2017

They dont actually run the country but they can heavily influence political decisions via lobbyists.

Best Response
Jul 15, 2017

Reading the NYTimes. Your first mistake.

People ruining this country are the politicians plain and simple. The wealthy pay the vast majority of the taxes in this country. That revenue goes to the government where it is pissed away. Blaming the rich because poor people choose base pleasure over learning is a scape goat.

Ask yourself this. Millions of poor Chinese and Indians come to the US. They work hard, get an education (while often living in poor and horrible areas) and seem to do fine. Yet Americans, already speaking English, knowing the system, cannot do the same with the same resources. Yeah, 'nuff said.

Jul 19, 2017
TNA:

Ask yourself this. Millions of poor Chinese and Indians come to the US. They work hard, get an education (while often living in poor and horrible areas) and seem to do fine. Yet Americans, already speaking English, knowing the system, cannot do the same with the same resources. Yeah, 'nuff said.

Finally someone gets it. This applies to immigrants in general IMO. They come to this country seeking a good education to be able to access better opportunities than what they had in their own home country, often performing jobs on the side that we ourselves don't want to do. Despite cultural differences, they are able to learn and utilize the great resources we have in this country to become successful. But then when they do become successful, Americans get jealous as a result and bitch about how globalization is bad and that they are taking over, etc etc. No, if you recognized the resources that you have at your disposal and stop doing dumb shit then you'll sure of a hell of a better chance of being successful, if not greater than those coming into this country.

I've seen this firsthand. My parents are not from this country. My mom did not even go to college. Yet she was able to work hard, successfully start a business and is making so much more than the majority of a lot of people. It's about realizing that success requires working hard and that you may have to forgo certain luxuries in your life temporarily to reach it.

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Jul 19, 2017

agreed! +1

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Jul 19, 2017

You're talking to the wrong person, he hates America's current immigration laws. Also, this statement is without nuance, many Indians and Chinese that come over are poor relative to Americans but they may already have been former professionals or children of professionals. This dynamic instills a natural inclination towards education. This is certainly my case, I am sure I appear to be a "poor immigrant" who came over when I was young but my dad was a lawyer in our home country and my mom was a teacher, they quickly got educated and certified here in those respective professions and instilled the same value for education in us, so statistically I am a poor immigrant that used the benefits of 'Merican education to better my situation but in reality that's 1/2 the story at best. Comparing that to American poor whose grandparents may have been subsistence farmers and parents (if they have two) may be house maids is disingenuous. Plain and simple. Statistically my parents likely made roughly the same income as the American poor but that is only 1/2 the story, at best. Idk why I even bothered to post this, it should be obvious to anyone thinking beyond the surface level.

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Jul 19, 2017
CreditMadrid:
TNA:

Ask yourself this. Millions of poor Chinese and Indians come to the US. They work hard, get an education (while often living in poor and horrible areas) and seem to do fine. Yet Americans, already speaking English, knowing the system, cannot do the same with the same resources. Yeah, 'nuff said.

Finally someone gets it. This applies to immigrants in general IMO. They come to this country seeking a good education to be able to access better opportunities than what they had in their own home country, often performing jobs on the side that we ourselves don't want to do. Despite cultural differences, they are able to learn and utilize the great resources we have in this country to become successful. But then when they do become successful, Americans get jealous as a result and bitch about how globalization is bad and that they are taking over, etc etc. No, if you recognized the resources that you have at your disposal and stop doing dumb shit then you'll sure of a hell of a better chance of being successful, if not greater than those coming into this country.

Lol.

So let me guess, Americans died in world wars to protect freedoms. They earned their freedoms. Now that the Liberal elite finds them ''expensive'' likes to call them lazy and deliberately imports immigrants to undercut wages as a ''thank you for dying in our wars''.

And if Americans dare to complain about that, then they are entitled, because having fought for freedoms makes you entitled. O-fucking-k.

The funny thing is that you guys don't even get that the Liberal fetishism for immigrants is simply exploitation. Oh no, you are proud of being exploited, but just like Liberals dumped the American working class when it's not longer of use, then they will dump you when you become ''too entitled'' as well. For now, they can just bribe your attention with token candidates like Obama and pretend they ''care about minorities''. Once robots are fully around, you'll see what happens. Immigrants will be on the same boat to hell with Steve the redneck. Because they are no longer needed. Be careful what you wish for.

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Jul 15, 2017

No. Unless the person is using dishonest methods to get rich, she's actually one of the people keeping the country from getting ruined. Very rich citizens invest in education, health and scientific development. Rich investors help new companies and people with great ideas. Upper middle class people help the money go around, buying items that contribute to the rise of several industries across the country, which give jobs to lower class people. The only people that can ruin a country are corrupt individuals, who may be rich and powerful, but may also be poor and feeble.

"I'm into, uh, well, murders and executions, mostly."

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Jul 15, 2017
itriedtobecreative:

No. Unless the person is using dishonest methods to get rich, she's actually one of the people keeping the country from getting ruined. Very rich citizens invest in education, health and scientific development. Rich investors help new companies and people with great ideas. Upper middle class people help the money go around, buying items that contribute to the rise of several industries across the country, which give jobs to lower class people. The only people that can ruin a country are corrupt individuals, who may be rich and powerful, but may also be poor and feeble.

yeah I agree with this for the most part

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Jul 19, 2017

West Coast NIMBYs =/= all rich people

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Jul 19, 2017

"Hey everybody, look at how privileged this columnist for the NYT is, he can read Mexican."

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Jul 19, 2017

There's a section of the ultra rich that should have been bankrupt since 2007. Many of those, whose jobs and wealth has been subsidized by the US government ever since via bail outs and quantitative easing, now mock the average Trump voter that wants government intervention to prevent his job being offshored to Asia.

Now, those kind of the rich, and yes they reside mainly in NY, are the cancer that's killing America. The free market said it, they need to go, yet survive and look down upon others.

Very much like the average Liberal of Portland and San Francisco, all about socialism and yet live in ultra gentrified areas, overwhelmingly white too, because they love ''diversity'' as long as it's not in their neighbourhood. None of them would accept to permanently move to the average Latino or black ghetto.

On the other side, if somene built a business and became rich out of it, he's not really ruining anyone.

Gentrification is a problem because it's enforced by inheritors, not fortune makers.

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May 4, 2018
neink:

Gentrification is a problem because it's enforced by inheritors, not fortune makers.

Sorry for the bump but this quote pretty much sums up the entire issue. Take my SB m8

Jul 19, 2017

People who get ahead are going to try and stay ahead...how does someone fix this, do we all through our belongings in a pile and raffle them off? Not saying it's right, but what does someone expect.

And in a lot of ways, rich people ruin America the same way America ruins the rest of the world (not hating on America, just an observation)

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Jul 19, 2017

I don't think the point of his column is the fact that rich people exist, it's that the culture they tend to live in is something that is all exclusively reserved for them. That culture bleeds into significant life events that define how a child turns into an adult, and how an adult finds their place in society (rich/poor, skilled/unskilled, etc. etc.). So for someone who grew up poor but wants to get ahead, a lot of the chances he/she will get are slivers of open doors...that are much more open for kids of affluent backgrounds. Brooks is arguing the class division in America is stark and there's no hope to jump the fence.

Now, just out of curiosity, I'm going to ask you this question: Brooks says that 70% of students at top 200 schools come from the top 25% of wealth. Why do you think that is?

I'd like to hear people's opinion on that, not looking to argue, just curious where people would land on that.

Jul 19, 2017

Because culture is inherited. But I disagree that this article is to be taken as some negatively active occurrence in American fortunes. I think a biased mind will take the lefty position and try to blast the culture of wealthier people. But that is bullahit.

Jul 19, 2017

must be, that's why all those poor people are making Venezuela a top destination to live..

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Jul 19, 2017

Yes

Jul 19, 2017

Learn Italian, and you too can be a part of the echelon of society that frequents gourmet sandwich shops.

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Jul 19, 2017

+1

Jul 19, 2017

Or just learn how to read, I have been in maybe a handful of restaurants in my entire life that are in the US that don't have an English explanation for what a dish is. Of those that don't have this they all are run by those douchebags who moved to the states from French Canada.

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Jul 19, 2017

I'm sorry but in my tenure on wall street, I've neither given nor received "define soppressata, capicollo and striata baguette" as an interview question before, nor do I know of anyone who has given or received that as an interview question

Jul 19, 2017

It's an analogy for don't be a dick.

Jul 15, 2017
Lizard Brain:

I'm sorry but in my tenure on wall street, I've neither given nor received "define soppressata, capicollo and striata baguette" as an interview question before, nor do I know of anyone who has given or received that as an interview question

Its an easy answer, anyway. "Yes, I know what they are, they are delicious."

/hired.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jul 19, 2017

Brooks overblows cultural examples from East Coast intelligentsia like legacy admissions, David Foster Wallace, and intersectionality, as examples of "cultural codes" that the successful people must reach. In reality, the vast majority of highly successful Americans couldn't give less of a sh!t about any of it. That's because his view of what makes a successful American is so skewed.
Brooks doesn't realize that the successful people of most of America are the guys who bought a burger franchise in the 80s, or white trash guys who got their sh!t together and went to engineering school. Probably it's because he's never really left his coastal bubble, but it's what makes reading his columns so frustrating. He doesn't even know what he doesn't know, and so instead of exploring the country and figuring out what it's actually about, he sits back down in his leather armchair and drowns the rest of the world's idiocy out with a glass of brandy and a copy of Foucault's Discipline and Punishment.

Jul 19, 2017
Kboy86:

He doesn't even know what he doesn't know, and so instead of exploring the country and figuring out what it's actually about, he sits back down in his leather armchair and drowns the rest of the world's idiocy out with a glass of brandy and a copy of Foucault's Discipline and Punishment.

This is an excellent distillation of the frustration with elitism (social, intellectual, or otherwise). It's not even the differing viewpoints, it's the casual dismissal of any intellectual curiosity. If you've already decided the answer, then why bother?

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Jul 19, 2017

This comment cracked me up (by SB posted July 11 2017 and a Reader's Pick):

Recently I took a friend with doctoral degree to lunch. Insensitively I led him into a McDonalds. Suddenly I saw his face freeze up as he was confronted with menu items like "Hamburger" and "Fries" and ingredients like ketchup, mustard and a sesame seed bun. I quickly asked him if he wanted to go somewhere else and he anxiously nodded yes and we ate gluten free vegan Thai.

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Jul 19, 2017

This pretty much sums up the NYT's readership.

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Jul 19, 2017

Are zoning laws problematic and an example of people using political influence to prop up their own asset values? Yes. Would we be better off with more lax zoning laws? Yes. Are legacy admissions to college grossly unfair and unwarranted? Yes (there have been several studies to show that they do not drive any incremental donations). Are rich people "ruining" America? No.

Jul 19, 2017

Actually I would argue against changing zoning laws. They exist to stabilize regions. Can it work with more lax rules? Sure it could, but you would see an insane amount of turn over in neighborhoods being gentrified and then falling into disrepair and the cycle repeating. Neighborhood segregation as a systematic symptom of government enforced rules is almost entirely a thing of the past. It does exist in very very rare cases and should be stamped out when found, however the overwhelming majority of the segregation that goes on now is completely voluntary and is done so because culturally it is easier to exist that way.

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Jul 19, 2017
heister:

Actually I would argue against changing zoning laws. They exist to stabilize regions. Can it work with more lax rules? Sure it could, but you would see an insane amount of turn over in neighborhoods being gentrified and then falling into disrepair and the cycle repeating. Neighborhood segregation as a systematic symptom of government enforced rules is almost entirely a thing of the past. It does exist in very very rare cases and should be stamped out when found, however the overwhelming majority of the segregation that goes on now is completely voluntary and is done so because culturally it is easier to exist that way.

Eh, there's a strong argument to make for changing from traditional zoning to form based code, but the problem isn't as much segregation as it is anti-density policies and zoning codes.

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Jul 19, 2017

NY Times...

https://media2.giphy.com/media/3o6Zt80MXsxUwVcQiA/200_s.gif

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Jul 19, 2017

underrated comment!

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Jul 19, 2017

The impact of globalization and immigration has completely blown up the idea of nobleese largesse in America, and this has been perpetuated by the elites. Go back 50 years and it wouldn't have been crazy to have a doctor, banker or executive living in the same neighborhood as a teacher, union worker, or cop/fireman. Their kids would go to the same schools, they'd go to each others' houses for BBQs and more often than not they'd vacation in similar areas. Those days are long gone, and it has become this way due to the dog-eat-dog competitive mentality that has pervaded society in the advent of winner-take-all globalization.

For the sake of "efficiency gains" and cheap labor look at how many business owners and large corporations have cut staff, moved jobs overseas and simply reaped the benefits of this new order without providing trickle down effects to "lessers". Blue collar, lower and middle class people were never looking to become "rich" in the first place, but they certainly expected to have the opportunity for a decent wage that affords a modest home, a modest car and a modest family. The rich lost sight of this fact and basically said "I got mine! Fuck them!". The rich then moved to over-priced secluded areas, put their kids in private schools and looked down on those backwards people who haven't quite made it to the same level. I still see it all the time coming from a lower working class background to now being in "elite" circles. People on WSO are too young to know any better, but it wasn't always this way, just ask your grandparents. There was a time in America when the "elites" truly cared about the common man and looked to provide opportunities for them, not handouts. Today, more often than not, elites want to provide handouts in order to assuage the discomfort they feel from their cognitive dissonance.

The elites are the same ones who talk out of both sides of their mouths, saying "Oh yea, we totally need more opportunities and jobs in this country!" while at the same time they propose to their company's board to move manufacturing and call centers to Cambodia, since it will save 15% on the P&L and they can now better compete with slave-equivalent labor from China. It's ridiculous. Like why the fuck did American businesses even go to places like India, Mexico and China in the first place, especially when the latter has no problem stealing IP and technology, considering we were ALREADY the world leader in business, education and technology? Oh yea, it was for short-sighted gains even though their own countrymen and women would end up getting the axe down the line.

Look, I'm certainly a capitalist, but there has got to be some type of moral compass in society that helps to connect the different classes. People should be able to make money, become wealthy and reap the benefits of their intelligence, but too often these same people disconnect from normal society. All that has been accomplished in the last couple of generations is further stratification between the haves and have-nots, and this is not going to end well IMO.

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Jul 19, 2017

While I want to agree with you I can't, at least not based on your current reasoning. If you live anywhere outside of the east coast/ California and a few other high COL cities it is very easy to see a family of two teachers live in the same neighborhood as a family of two doctors. Additionally, private school is no where near as prevalent outside of the east coast. I think perhaps you may be from that area so your perspective is skewed.

p.s. I don't really think there was a time when "elites" cared about the common man beyond making a profit off of him, that is very idealistic "back in those days" thinking

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Jul 19, 2017

Possibly, and I see your point, but you have to remember that the elites on the coasts completely 100% drive the policy and direction of this country, and this is their experience exactly. If you were in LA, SF, NYC, DC, etc. and made a joke about those "backwards" people living in flyover states no one would even think twice about it, and everyone would likely laugh.

Even take for example some super smart kid who grows up in some flyover state like Iowa or Oklahoma. 50 years ago it wouldn't have seemed "stupid" for that kid to go to their flagship state university on a full-ride, maybe end up with a professional degree or PhD, and end up back in the general area of where they grew up, contributing to their community. Today that same kid is a completely stressed out goon worrying about whether their 2310 SAT, 9 APs and laundry list of extracurrics will get them into an Ivy. Then when that same kid leaves for college and ends up getting a professional degree he/she would never dream of living back where they grew up, and they likely disdain their upbringing since being introduced to so much LOL "culture".

Now there are many reasons that this scenario has played out, but IMO a big one is the competitive landscape that the elites have sowed in America, all in order to squeeze a few extra dollars out of the system. Just look at the picture below, from Harvard Business Review, showing the disproportionate gains; its sickening and wasn't always like this. These actions have consequences, hence where we are today as completely divided society.

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Jul 19, 2017

Have to refute this.

I'm from Kansas City, which could be argued is a city where you have a flatter curve of class separation, but go look up these neighborhoods

Mission Hills
Fairway
Prairie Village
Ward Parkway
Plaza
Leawood

All of these are condensed affluent neighborhoods where price/sq ft. is rising rapidly and shutting out many people. I really think that the class separation is a problem at all levels of metro areas. Even in the monstrous incorporation like Overland Park or Blue Valley, there's separation in there between housing developments.

Take another example, I in a mid-sized Midwestern city, that has equal number private and public schools in the whole metro area. Go into the City limits, private schools heavily outweighs public. It's part school system, but a lot class system based.

Jul 19, 2017

This post reminds me of the opening scene in the Newsroom. Kudos

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Jul 19, 2017

The ridiculousness of this article is right up there with an article I read awhile back about how parents who read to their children are giving their children an unfair advantage in life because there are parents out there that don't read to their children. It is really all about values. Upper-class parents are more likely to instill the values needed to stay upper-class than lower-class parents are. Obviously, there are some lower-class parents that teach their children the importance of education to get ahead and those children are the ones that do go up in classes.

He implies that parents shouldn't try to set their kids up for success as adults which is never going to happen. I've always been told that life isn't fair so I'm not sure why all of a sudden it is becoming a huge deal when people realize that old saying is actually true.

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Jul 19, 2017

It's absolutely not "all about values". It's partly about values. "Values" don't grant the kids of UMC parents legacy preference in college admissions. "Values" don't drive up real estate prices through exclusionary zoning laws and make housing in areas with good schools far less affordable. "Values" don't pay for Johnny's French lessons, piano lessons, unpaid internships and trips to Europe. Is there an easy solve for these disparities? For zoning and legacy admissions, yes. For the French lessons, etc, no, but let's not pin this all on values when wealth drives a very large part of it.

Jul 19, 2017

Values don't but reality does. Rich people care far more about setting their kids up, so they will seek out the areas and things that provide these to their children. When rich people congregate money follows, thus driving up the COL for the area. This isn't a system that is pushed by rich people like a bulldozer, it is more akin to a pulling effect where the rich people pull the reality to them. It creates the same thing, but originates from a completely different point and therefore makes a completely different viewpoint of how this should be addressed. In this case not at all.

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Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

Jul 19, 2017

Another "who is ruining America thread. OP FUCK YOU.

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Jul 19, 2017

Geez you people get so triggered. Google "jingoism". America is not automatically the best at everything or perfect.

Jul 19, 2017

I did not suggest America is the best at everything. I simply do not care. America is clearly not the best at everything. America does however, give me the ability to wake up every morning and have the freedom to compete and carve out the future as I see fit. Sometimes things are out of my control...and that shit... I don't worry about. Set the goal, execute, win or lose, back to the drawing board. People that constantly try to figure out what is ruining America are just whiny bitches. They ride in the passenger seat and get angry they don't end up at the right destination. Fuck that, take the wheel. So as I said, OP FUCK YOU. Also CoreyTrevor...or whereever you are, FUCK YOU TOO.

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Jul 19, 2017

rich vs poor comes down to resourcefulness. It's never resources, if you have a great idea you can find a way to get it funded.
Perfect example, your local library. It's free to get a library card and in that library I'm guessing there are few books if you read them they would drastically change your life for the better. It's a gold mine of knowledge that if you apply it will reap rewards.

Jul 19, 2017

Right! VCs generally are just as willing to meet with black kids who went to BMCC as they are with white kids who went to Harvard. It's always just about the idea, nothing else matters!

Your post is so naive it's almost comical. The thought that growing up as Lloyd Blankfein's son would make no difference in whether you become rich or poor is a) absurd and b) contradicted by so much data it would take weeks to read it all (for a good starter read Raj Chetty's work on income and wealth stickiness).

Jul 19, 2017

Yes, because the entire world revolves around VCs for fucks sake pull your head out of your ass.

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Jul 19, 2017

the only aspect of OP's post I agree with is the proximity/awareness factor. I live in a middle class town and spent my entire childhood thinking that the only way to get rich was to be a celebrity/ inventor of something brilliant because I never saw "real wealth" up close-- it seemed so distant and chimeric. Then, I got to prep school and saw the true power of education/privilege. All of my peers were absurdly rich yet when I met their parents they seemed like completely normal people, the only difference being their educational backgrounds. I just couldnt wrap my mind around how wealthy they were. I thought that magnitude was reserved for famous people.

Fast forward to junior year of college, and I am worlds ahead of the kids I grew up with. And I will attribute none of my success to personal talent or brilliance-- Im confident that all of these kids that grew up in public schooling are equally as capable as me of getting a high finance job. They dont know any better, though. They dont see the doors that open with good grades and putting effort into networking. They just coast through school with a smile on their face completely oblivious to the other side of the world. If they knew what I knew about getting the best possible grades, exerting effort in the proper ECs, and whatnot, they would be wildly successful. But they dont know better. And the only reason there is a barrier between them and me is because I was exposed to something they were not.

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Jul 19, 2017

I agree BC I have a similar story.

It's kinda like the Rock's speech at the end of season 2 of ballers, it's not always the most talented who make, a lot of times its about having the ability/temperament right.

Jul 19, 2017

oh absolutely, if you don't believe this, check out who's the president

Jul 25, 2017

No, entitlement is ruining America.

May 4, 2018

Are the wealthy ruining the country? Not even close. They are making it WAY better today than it was yesterday; and tomorrow things will be better than today.

Are the wealthy creating little fiefdoms with strict building and zoning restrictions that make organic, market rate affordable housing much harder to find? Yes, without a doubt.

May 4, 2018

As an alt-right Trump supporter, my philosophy is that poor people should get to work and cease their bitching

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May 4, 2018
eric9242:

As an alt-right Trump supporter, my philosophy is that poor people should get to work and cease their bitching

"Alt-right" has nothing to do with the philosophy you just put forth.