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UC Econ prof says the American Dream is dead

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There is no American dream

 

DAVIS (CBS13) — A UC Davis economics professor has determined there is no American Dream.

 

Gregory Clark is sharing his research as a hard truth with no hope—whether or not you can get ahead in America is as predictable as any formula.

In fact, he says, the formulas for social mobility in the United States show there’s nothing to dream about.

 

“America has no higher rate of social mobility than medieval England, Or pre-industrial Sweden,” he said. “That’s the most difficult part of talking about social mobility is because it is shattering people s dreams.”

 

 

Ok, time to give up.  You can't prosper in present day America. 

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Some of his students are astute enough to recognize he has not identified the fundamental deciding factor(s). "[T]he idea that much of their lives can be predicted from their lineage and their ancestry" is very deterministic. In this sense, I would say that it is Gregory Clark who has given up on his American dream.

 

I also note that the Professor has added a disclaimer that he thinks covers anyone that might discover differently. "There’s one caveat to the study, and that is for any one of us, there is always an exception to the rule." So man as a being of self made soul is a mere exception and, as such, has no bearing on the supposed veracity of his conclusion.

 

The fact that it was published by the Council on Foreign Relations suggests what resonates with their bleak outlook for humanity.

 

 

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This reminds me of a guest lecturer we had once at the university I was attending. His opening remark was, "Look to your left and to your right. Only one of the three of you will graduate." He then went on for 25 minutes about how our dreams would not come true, "don't believe me, look at the statistics," and how we should accept a dreamless life.

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Not having read Clark's article, I get an impression from the news story that it's a big post-hoc fallacy.  Suppose that, as he says, economic standing correlates with race, culture and parental economic standing.  That would not prove that these determine economic standing.  It's equally consistent with the explanation that values are transmitted through family and cultural milieu and that these are the real determinants.

 

My hunch is that Clark's findings will follow a Piketty-like arc, though on a smaller scale.  Gushy initial reception from various media outlets; somebody (maybe Kudlow or Samuelson) publishes a refutation; six months from now nobody remembers it.

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This reminds me of a guest lecturer we had once at the university I was attending. His opening remark was, "Look to your left and to your right. Only one of the three of you will graduate." He then went on for 25 minutes about how our dreams would not come true, "don't believe me, look at the statistics," and how we should accept a dreamless life.

In that context, do you think his data was right: i.e. that only a third of students in his class go on to graduate university? Or, was it at least close (say 50% wouldn't go on)?

 

On his lesson: was he trying to shock people into being the exceptions, or was he actually suggesting people should give up as they were attempting something futile? 

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Not having read Clark's article, I get an impression from the news story . . .

Good point. I did not read Clark's published study. My response was to the news story highlights that stood out to me.

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In that context, do you think his data was right: i.e. that only a third of students in his class go on to graduate university? Or, was it at least close (say 50% wouldn't go on)?

On his lesson: was he trying to shock people into being the exceptions, or was he actually suggesting people should give up as they were attempting something futile?

I was able to go back in my Gmail history to read my email, and his reply. (I have been waiting for a day like this, where my digital footprint is an easy Internet search away, in place of a fuzzy memory.)

What he actually said was, "97% of you will wind up in the gray area." Not much can be gleaned from that alone, but unfortunately that is the end of my clarification from Gmail. The rest of my email to this professor was me being incredibly rude, based on my assumption that he had the worst intent out for the students. He responded with some sarcasm, choosing not to address my assumptions about his talk, but insinuating I'd only heard half of it. I don't now remember specifics of his lecture, and it's possible I'd just heard what I wanted to hear in order to start an argument. :|

Adding evidence to that possibility is a link I found.

http://buchtelite.com/1572/news/as-careers-program/

This same professor, who otherwise has a (typically?) narrow academic focus, decided to branch out and found a program in the 80's (which is still around today) to help English majors get jobs. The core of his strategy appears to be internships, in order to gain an edge through experience and practical knowledge.

So, my current self would probably ask my 2006 self if he even listened to the lecture -- kind of like this guy did in his email reply to me back then. The University of Akron was probably filled with "gray area"-type students, and it looks like he was actually trying to motivate some of them beyond that. Though, maybe he wasn't the best spokesman for the job, as I remember the talk being very dry. (But... my memory!)

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where to start? This proposition seems so insulting. Economists in the preceding six years have been quarter after quarter unexpectedly surprised or taken aback by the results of the previous quarter. These same economists made predictions or assessments for the next quarter and again unexpectedly surprised to be off the mark where reality fell short of their attempts to talk up dysfunctional policies.This fellow is no different. His making a comparison between a society formed around principles of minimal governance and respect for the individual against societies of the past formed around monarchical, centralized governments and the economies therein would seem to be too dishonest to be taken seriously.

To his assertion the American dream is dead, I think he is missing a basic point the American Dream is not a dead but has been put on a severely shortened leash by onerous, statist politics. The American dream when put into practice rewards the individual who is motivated, has skills and is inclined to act on his or her abilities and skills to reap the rewards for that hard work and perseverance. The American society has in the preceding decades, going back to the great society policies anyway, been incrementally boxed in, hemmed in and restrained by statists motivated a social engineering agenda rooted in the artificial outcomes based on fairness. The opiate of fairness has been the fuel which has driven the welfare state, sapped individuals of their individual motivation and thereby fed a perception that because the trappings of success have not been handed out there is no longer an American Dream.

An essential tenet of the American dream is we have the right to nothing but the pursuit of everything.

In as long as society accepts success is rewarded from a government program, the American Dream will be perceived as non existent. In as long as there are Americans willing to reject this idea of the state as guarantor of success, the Dream is alive and well. Society must reset expectations where It is not the state's role to guarantee outcomes based on fairness or even define the starting line, much less the finish line. Success is not defined or declared by the state. Success is achieved and earned by the individual. We must dispense with this tyranny of altruism which decides to confiscate the earnings of a person to reward another person has chosen not to take the initiative be productive and earn.

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