The Rich R Different

Reader: the rich are different than you and I. For one thing they keep getting richer. But that’s not the only good news. The days when the rich were content to sit around grooming their corgies and watching their portfolios blossom are over. Today’s wealthy want to give back, using their wealth, or at least a small part of it, to address the pressing issues of the day. There’s just one teensy, weensy catch. No messing with the system that put them on the right side of the have/have not equation. Darling—it simply isn’t done!

These days, the cause du jour of the day is the wealth gap, the vast gulf that has opened up between the nation’s wealthiest children and the growing number of children in poverty. Did I say wealth gap? How very gauche of me. I meant the achievement gap between white students and their minority peers which has been narrowing steadily since the 1970’s. Today, one would be hard pressed to find a person of means who is not directing their wealth, or at least a small part of it, to this cause du jour of the day. And reader: this equals a win/win for almost everyone involved. Rich people can sleep a little easier at night knowing that they’re helping to prepare poor minority students for the jobs that won’t be there in the future, and a lot easier knowing that they’ll still be wealthy in the morning. In other words, problem solved!

Bad teachers on the rocks
So how does one address the consequences of inequality without ever mentioning the inequality that caused the consequences of inequality in the first place? Well, that’s where things start to get just a little bit confusing.
Imagine if you will that you’re viewing the world through a piece of exquisite lead crystal, perhaps a Waterford tumbler. Notice how everything seems distorted, especially after that extra finger of Laphroig? Now close one eye and turn the tumbler ever so slightly. Do you see the same thing that I see, reader? Bad teachers: they are every where!

No excuses
Put our tumblers down (fear not reader—it is only to refill them) and it’s impossible to ignore the fact that income inequality in the US has exploded in the past decade, with half of the population, now considered poor or low-income. Add to the equation a brand new finding that 4 out of 5 Americans are teetering on the edge of the poverty gap and the joblessness gap, and an undeniably grim picture comes into view. But here’s where our handy tumblers come in handy once again. Our patented Waterford vision tells us something very different: that poverty isn’t an excuse. This is great news, by the way, as the last time there was so much inexcusable poverty was during the Great Depression, a period marked by exceedingly low expectations.

Excellence 4 1 is excellence 4 all
Having watched the outstanding docu-drama “Waiting for Superman,” we are steeped (baked?) in the knowledge that bad teachers and their unions are actually causing poverty. But with their short work days and summers off, that seems like a lot of poverty for teachers to spawn. Might there be some other forces at work? It’s an increasingly poorly kept secret that by *accidentally* eliminating unions, employers and their friends may have *inadvertently* invited surging inequality to dine. The good news is that the richest 10% have more disposable income at their disposal than ever and can now direct at least some of that money to fixing our nation’s most fiercely urgent problems—like the fiercely urgent need to unstifle our union-stifled public schools.

Hail fellow well met
While we have our glasses in hand, shall we not survey the edu-landscape one last time in search of other “solutions” to the problems that plague our failed and failing public schools? There are the pensions, of course, that, with their perverse incentives, cause teachers to want to be teachers for an entire career rather than moving onto jobs in lawyering, consulting, or education reforming. And who needs pensions when one’s portfolio is blossoming so fruitfully? Or what about the musty, old-fashioned practice of teachers teaching in the communities in which they themselves were taught? Surely we could invest in a sparkling new property—say a Teachers Village—where young people, high of spirit, expectation and IQ might reside temporarily while putting poor minority students on a path to college and 21st century prosperity. And if that sparkling new property just happens to provide a handsome return on our investment?  Another problem solved, reader. Bottoms up!

What problem should rich people solve next? Send comments, tips or questions to tips@haveyouheardblog.com.

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