Middle Class

Amplified Advantage: Why Education is Not the Answer to Our Class Problems

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Thirty years ago, after having dropped out of college after just one term, unable to pay for my dorm room, I was unsure if I would ever leave the working class. Two years later I was a student at Barnard College, an elite small liberal arts college three thousand miles from my parents’ home. To this day, I am not sure how I made that leap, but it was smoothed over by significant financial assistance from the college. Unable to pay for my public university, I was able to graduate from one of the best private colleges in the country virtually debt-free.  read more »

Immigrant Entrepreneurs Drive Main Street's Growth

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In cities and towns in all reaches of America, businesses started by immigrants are critical pieces of the fabric of our economy and communities.

My children attend a Montessori preschool started by an Indian immigrant. Like many, she did not come to this country to start a business. But after multiple college degrees in the U.S. and some years working in corporate America, she opened her first Montessori school. Nearly 15 years later, she owns two schools, employs 100 women, and touches the lives of hundreds of students each day.  read more »

California Preening: Golden State on Path to High-Tech Feudalism

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“We are the modern equivalent of the ancient city-states of Athens and Sparta. California has the ideas of Athens and the power of Sparta,” declared then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007. “Not only can we lead California into the future . . . we can show the nation and the world how to get there.” When a movie star who once played Hercules says so who’s to disagree?  read more »

The Middle Class Rebellion

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We usually associate rebellions with the rise of the desperate. But increasingly we are seeing large protests in comparatively wealthy countries that are led not by working class sans-culottes or starving peasants, but what was once the stable middle class.  read more »

Giving Thanks Matters

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Thanksgiving may be approaching, but its chief value, that of gratitude, seems oddly out of fashion. When the Pilgrims broke bread with their Native American neighbors, it was with full appreciation of the role of Providence in their salvation.  read more »

America's Drift Toward Feudalism

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America’s emergence in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries represented a dramatic break from the past. The United States came on the scene with only vestiges of the old European feudal order—mostly in the plantation economy of the Deep South. There was no hereditary nobility, no national church, and, thanks to George Washington’s modesty, no royal authority. At least among whites, there was also far less poverty in America, compared to Europe’s in­tense, intractable, multigenerational poverty.  read more »

Stomping On the Suburbs

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Our way of life is a miracle for this kind of world, and … the danger lies in thinking that of it as ‘natural’ and likely to endure without a passionate determination on our part to preserve and defend it.” — W.V. Aughterson, The Australian Way of Life, 1951

For generations, Australia has enjoyed among the highest living standards in the world. The “Australian dream”, embodied largely by owning a single-family home with a small backyard, included well over 70 per cent of households.  read more »

Unsustainable California

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The recent rash of fires, like the drought that preceded it, has sparked a new wave of pessimism about the state’s future. But the natural disasters have also obscured the fact the greatest challenge facing the state comes not from burning forests or lack of precipitation but from an increasingly dysfunctional society divided between a small but influential wealthy class and an ever-expanding poverty population.  read more »

Why America’s Free Market Economy Works Better in Some Places than Others

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Is America’s free market system working as advertised? Mostly yes, but it depends to a surprising degree on where you live.

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Democracy is For the Dogs

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With a new round of state and local elections just around the corner, I am regularly asked about what brings Americans out to the polls and helps them politically engage them with their communities.  read more »