Sunday, January 31, 2016

U.S.A., Land of Limitations? by: Nicholas Kristof


1. "Yet I fear that by 2015 we've become the socially rigid society our forebears fled, replicating the barriers and class gaps that drove them away"
- Specifically relating to the text, this quote shows that Kristof believes that today we as a society are born into certain social status and more often than not follow that social status leading into our adult lives.  In simpler terms, the meaning of this quote is that today we live in a society that was once fled by our ancestors because it has always been dictated by a rigid class system of impoverished, middle class, and the wealthy in which poverty stricken people struggle with opportunity, while those born into wealth do not.  This clearly resembles Kristof's belief that the U.S.A is in fact a  "potential" land of limitations because it is often difficult for those to establish an opportunity for who's parents did not have one, and vice versa.  This is more than relevant to the text because it not only displays the clear message that if your ancestors struggled or thrived then you will struggle or thrive, but also from an economical success standpoint that what was once considered a "land of opportunity" with social mobility in the U.S.A is not what one should think of it as.
2. "too often the best predictor of where we end up is where we start."
- In talking about his friend Rick Goff, Kristof explains the trials and tribulations he (Rick Goff) went through as a young child essentially with no mother or father from a  young age, and with siblings.  He possessed certain talents such as custom car painting, but worked a few dead end jobs before that because he had never finished school at a young age.  Rick Goff had quite the rocky life, and as Kristof describes in what his theory is about the socially rigidity, he left off right where he started.  He had children and raised them himself, divorced twice, and towards the end of his life didn't have much money sacrificing medicine for money to give to his ex wife.  This quote again emphasizes Kristof's belief of poverty and wealth existence in the U.S.A and the different opportunities involved in each of the social class systems.  Kristof instead of giving strictly facts of what he is talking about, details a picture of what it is like and how close it can be to anyone and everyone that if you grow up in a rough and unstable household, your life might not entitle much success.  This is relevant to the text because his own story allows readers to also think of someone they know where this also might be the situation and that is what gets the message across.
3. "Success is not a sign of virtue." 
- This quote summarizes Kristof's belief that success doesn't cross someone who is of righteousness and respectability, but rather someone whose parents and ancestors were successful in their time during society.  This is relevant to the text because it argues that although very few who grow up impoverished "make it" in life, society falls in line with itself in terms of who will be successful.  This quote more than not relates to the Johnson reading on Privilege, Power, and Difference because as Kristof explains those who are successful are those with advantages, and those with advantages according to the Johnson reading are those who are white and with some form of wealth.  Also connecting to the Johnson reading we as a society need to notice the discrepancies that set us apart and become part of the solution to fix it, evident when Kristof says "this is what presidents need to be talking about."
Point of discussion: What was interesting in this blog post was that although failure and success dictate itself much of the time for the future generations, everyone still has an opportunity to "make it" or "break it" after they have given full effort to achieve something they want.