Sunday, September 11, 2016

Land of Limitations

                                          "The Land of Limitations" by Nicholas Kristof

In this article, "The Land of Limitations" by Nicholas Kristof argues that success is not a result of the choices a person makes nor their personal responsibility but it is far more complicated than that. He states, rather repeatedly in fact, about how a persons success is determined based on the social and economic status of their parents and grandparents. Kristof highlights the idea that those who are born in the bottom quintile very rarely become successful enough to rise to the top quintile. He followed these statements with short factoids and multiple quotes from republican standpoints who see minute potential in anyone of the lower class.

What Kristof doesn't fully explain is the WHY when discussing how people are falling into this statistic. Why is it that those with more economic privilege also continue to stay in the highest quintile? I began wondering if this was a mental barrier that humans created for themselves, having only known one economic class their whole lives. Did they go on limiting themselves and their own successes based on the successes of their parents? Why is it that a persons skills and abilities are deemed less resourceful than the amount of money they have in their bank account?

The writer uses a man whom he knew personally named Rick as an example of how no matter how hard you work in life, without money, one's ability to become successful is futile. He highlights how hard Rick had to work his whole life in order to stay afloat and how ultimately he died because he could no longer afford his medicine to live. Having been raised with no father and a mother who died when he was young, Rick looked after and raised his two younger siblings. He dropped out of school so that he could work and take care of them, and from that point he worked for the rest of his life. I believe the purpose of bringing in Rick's misfortunes into the light in this article is to reinforce the ideal that "the best predictor of where you end is where we start".

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