After reading Joseph Stiglitz’s article on America’s social inequality (in Vanity Fair, just under the hyperlink to the International Best-Dressed List) I wondered what is it that allows us to maintain this idea of America as the land of opportunity? Are we truly a nation that believes in equality and the American Dream? Or is it an ideal we clutch on to like a worn-out teddy bear to give us a semblance of comfort while equity vanishes from our homes, our jobs are shipped to other countries and our kids’ academic performance continues to decline? Are we a nation of equal opportunity or a society functions on survival of the fittest?
“While the law [of competition] may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it insures the survival of the fittest in every department. We accept and welcome, therefore, as conditions to which we must accommodate ourselves, great inequality of environment, the concentration of business, industrial and commercial, in the hands of a few, and the law of competition between these, as being not only beneficial, but essential for the future progress of the race.” Andrew Carnegie, “Wealth,” in the North American Review, June 1889
And if social darwinism is the driving force for opportunity that concentrates our country’s wealth into the hands of a few, what does that mean for the well-being of the other 99% of us?