Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Declining Graduation Rates and the Disparity Between The Rich And The Poor

America's political left wants us all to believe that the rich are getting richer off the backs of the poor. But, that argument simply makes no sense. Using that kind of logic is the same as saying that, if we had no rich, we would then have no poor. In reality, if we had no rich we would look more like some of the poorest, 3rd world, countries on this planet. When it comes to the rich versus the poor argument, I think John F. Kennedy said it best: "A rising tide lifts all boats". Meaning that, as a country becomes more wealthy, even the poorest of the poor will benefit.

To me, the progressive/liberal argument is totally ignorant of reality. Did Steve Jobs, in becoming a millionaire, take money away from those who were poor in this country? Not hardly. If anything, his wealth, his company's profits, and the personal incomes of the workforce that he created have only helped pay for all of the government programs that support the poor; such as food stamps and even the earned income tax credit where that poorest of our tax payers pay no tax and actually get money back.

In my opinion, the real reason that the poor are getting poorer in this country has do with a decline in the value of our human capital. By that, I mean, that our workforce has become less educated and less dedicated and, as a consequence, less able to get the kind of jobs that produce a lifetime of good earnings.

In the 1960's, the average high school graduation rate was 82%. Today, that national average has declined to 70%. Worse yet, in our 50 largest cities, the rate stands at only 53%. Conversely, this means that 47% percent of the people in our highest population centers are without the discipline and motivation to finish high school and, subsequently, are without the education needed to obtain a quality, high paying job.

Based on a March 2011 report from the Bureau of Labor And Statistics titled "Education Pays..," the unemployment rate for those without a high school diploma was, at that time, just under 15%. Also, those with a diploma were nearly 50% better off with an unemployment rate of 10.3%. But, for a college degreed worker, the unemployment rate was only 5.4%; three times better than the non-high school graduate.

So, obviously, those who don't finish high school are a real drag on the economy when it comes to the unemployment rate. More importantly, a worker without a high school diploma will, on average, make 41% less money over his/her lifetime than a worker with one. And, that's the the crux of our increasing rich/poor disparity problem. With declining high school graduation rates in America, our overall workforce is becoming less educated and poorer. It's also the reason the middle class is in decline. Its no coincidence that 47% of us pay no taxes and 47% of high school students in our major cities don't graduate.

The rich aren't responsible for this. Yet the Democrats still insist on playing the class game. Just recently, the Government Accounting Office released a set of statistics showing that the top 1% of all wage earners have had their salaries jump by 270 percent in the last 30 years while the bottom 20% only saw a gain of 18%. Of course, to a liberal, this just proves that the rich are getting richer at the expense of the poor. But no. This just proves my point that we have an education problem in this country. And, despite decades of effort and billions of dollars being spent on liberal programs like increased teacher's pay, smaller class sizes, preschool and after school programs, etc., the problem has only gotten worse. But, you see, education still all comes down to the student wanting to learn and work hard for that degree. Instead of condemning the rich, we should encourage our nation's students to look up to them and want to emulate them by working hard to get a good education. Maybe then, the disparity between the rich and poor will start to narrow again.

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