The issue of poverty has been present across the world societies since the beginning of times. It is a commonly held truth that there have always been rich and poor people. However, what the world’s greatest nations and minds fail to unravel is the ultimate cause of poverty. For all we know, the gap between the rich and poor has not ceased to grow driving the notion of a middle class further out of the picture. Over the last decades, the issue of inequality has been escalating causing higher rates of poverty across the globe, which has caught the attention of world’s state authorities to mobilize their efforts in search of a solution. However, as far as this concern grows, little of actual work has been done to change the situation.
Many experts and academics address the issues of poverty and inequality in attempt to establish the reasons of their emergence and raise public awareness. In particular, Matt Yglesias, in his article “A Great Time to Be Alive”, claims that the 21st century is the best time to live and yet, he stresses an argument that this has not really benefited anyone. Brink Lindsey, the author of “Culture of success” article, refers to modern economic environment as the “capitalist success story”, which generates more opportunities than there are people able to enjoy them, placing an emphasis on the barriers to equal access to education. The piece “Born Poor and Smart” by Angela Locke mostly focuses on the clash and interpersonal distance between the two social layers: rich and poor. In a light of the inequality issue, all three articles highlight the importance of education in shaping the society and its economic welfare as well as state’s failure to do it appropriately. Although education is a critical determinant of society’s welfare, I believe, it is not a sole factor in solving the issue of poverty; but the state government is the single major power who owns all capacities to improve people’s lives for the better.
All three authors have put a great emphasis on education presenting it as an instrument toward major achievements in life. To be more precise, they mostly focused on the early parental education, which a-priori contributes to the development of child’s worldview and capabilities. Matt Yglesias advocates that the humanity, in fact, has benefited very little from increased opportunities thereby widening the gap between the high and low skilled parts of the society. In this context, he believes that the set of major opportunities is embedded in early childhood education that can help solve the problem of inequality. In my personal opinion, Yglesias’ interpretation of the cause and effect of contemporary economic downturns is undoubtedly true. They say that children is our future. Thus, education is a significant investment in it, which helps build a strong society in various perspectives. In turn, Lindsey stresses an argument that parental education plays a crucial role in shaping child’s values and abilities. Parents that invest in their children from early childhood significantly contribute to their future and thus, to the future of a society in general. With this being said, Lindsey highlights that parental education also determines whether their child will be matriculated as opposed to a widely accepted belief that it is money that holds back individuals from obtaining higher education degree. I think that parents are indeed the initial contributors to children’s development and success. This opinion is supported with Locke’s personal story about her mother who has devoted herself to children’s education, two of which gained college degrees despite their limited financial conditions.
In support of the argument in favor of education, I would like to refute the idea that low-income families determine society’s success and lack of educated people. Although this assumption is entirely wrong in its nature, the fact remains that low-income families have limited access to proper education of their children. Addressing the issue of current economic recession, Yglesias asserts that it is in the priority of every state to build a safe country that offers all of the basic benefits to its people, including excellent education and equal access to it. To elaborate on his view, I would like to say that given the society is divided into two parts (those who can and cannot afford certain benefits of life), it is the state holding the initial responsibility to build a strong community by providing the nation with needed support and confidence in its future. As a result, society capitalizes on the provided opportunities accelerating the prosperous circle. Lindsey believes that government intervention is necessary to improve the economic conditions of a society, which can increase the “scope of individual autonomy”. Despite harsh financial conditions, it is still possible to educate and invest in children since “talking to your kids is free” according to Lindsey. This banal truth does illustrate that income is not a determinant of one’s future as well as does Locke’s life story example of parental education playing a defining role as “two of out of four got college degrees”. It is noteworthy that people do not choose their material state, which oftentimes prevents them from enjoying the benefits of life. Nevertheless, it is in power of their own will to decide how to use given skills and capabilities.
Finally, I would like to stress the importance of government’s role in fighting the issues described above. Both authors, Yglesias and Lindsey, seem to agree on the opinion that government is the one in actual power to make real changes. Yglesias, in his dual opinion on the current state of economic developments, advocates that raising taxes and improving public services are the best instruments to tackle the issue of inequality because they grant equal access to social goods and opportunities, which outweigh the number of people able to take advantage of them. In his turn, Lindsey offers the same idea that the economic development of the modern world has resulted in a robust growth of opportunities, which does not correlate with the social progress of the population. Although, it seems that both authors agree on the cause and effect relationship and solution regarding the problem of inequality, the nature of their argumentations is certainly different in some aspects. To be more precise, Yglesias believes that poverty results from the abundance of opportunities and lack of educated workforce to fulfill them. Whereas Lindsey thinks that economic progress has gone far ahead of the cultural development, referring to the nurturing and educating environment children grow up in: either rich, middle-class or low-income family. He asserts that high-income families possess a range of different motivators and contributors to a child’s education at the time when other families cannot afford such benefits. Nevertheless, he relates it to parental education, which can significantly change or influence child’s perception and willingness to develop and take advantage of possibilities. In this context, both authors agree that “early childhood education and general well-being” are the grounds for future achievements. In my honest opinion, Yglesias and Lindsey are both correct in their ideas as they emphasize that government must help its people adapt to the environment it facilitates itself.
I believe in the virtues of both education and government, and that their exact combination lays the basis for resolving the issues of poverty and inequality. In this instance, I think that government is the major actor and education is the instrument. Locke said in her article, “Oppression can't perpetuate itself without the cooperation of the oppressed”. Society is a subject to the surrounding challenges and opportunities (including poverty and education, for example) in different ways and oftentimes, it does nothing, but gives in. In this context, I would like to bring to one’s attention that people do not choose where and how they are born, but they can choose what they want to be. Therefore, education should be viewed as an opportunity to learn react and respond to the challenges of this world in order to achieve something bigger.