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  • Morning Bell: Time for a True Opportunity Agenda

    Occupy Wall Street’s pathetic first birthday last week confirmed that the longstanding reports of the movement’s death have not, in fact, been exaggerated. So why are we keeping it alive by talking incessantly about income inequality instead of focusing on what really matters — opportunity and upward mobility?

    All this huffing and puffing about widening income gaps — coupled with strident calls for wealth redistribution — detracts from the urgent need to shore up our threatened American Dream and develop an opportunity agenda. The nation’s attention should be squarely focused on expanding everyone’s prospects — especially those at the bottom who most need a hand up and a way out.

    What matters is not how much more those at the top earn in relation to those at the bottom — they are, after all, not in competition with one another — but rather the real needs of those at the bottom and the opportunities for advancement available to all Americans. And while government “spreading the wealth around” would surely equalize outcomes — the Left’s Dream — it would neither address the real causes of poverty nor expand the real opportunities and earned successes that define the American Dream.

    A new Heritage report defends the American Dream from liberalism’s misguided attempts to redefine it along statist and egalitarian lines and explains why income inequality is not an obstacle to advancement in the United States. What really matters — and continues by and large to thrive — is upward mobility.

    Rather than focus on those at the top of the ladder we should be concerned about the hurdles that threaten those struggling to achieve the American Dream. “Defending the Dream” draws attention to six factors that most threaten upward mobility:

    1. Statism: The modern administrative state entangles businesses in a suffocating web of regulations and laws. All of this red tape takes a toll on the economy, which in turn leads to fewer jobs being created. And fewer jobs means fewer opportunities for those most in need of jobs.
    2. The Collapse of the Family: The decline of marriage, especially among the poor, has devastating, long-lasting consequences on children and their prospects for success. When it comes to the American Dream, the family is not a tangential social or religious issue; it is a crucial economic one that is deeply intertwined with mobility.
    3. The Dependency Fostered by the Welfare State: Far from eradicating poverty, the welfare state traps people in poverty by discouraging work and undermining the family.
    4. The Erosion of our Culture of Work: By legitimizing indolence and devaluing hard work, our culture decreases the likelihood that the poor, who are most in need of sound cultural indicators, will take advantage of the opportunities America continues to offer.
    5. The Failures of Public Education: Our failing public schools deny countless children the rudimentary skills they need to move ahead in the life.
    6. The Looming Fiscal Crisis: Unless we change course, continued massive government spending and the surging public debt will destroy the foundations of our economy and put the American Dream beyond the reach of our children and grandchildren.

    The rise in income inequality in recent decades has in no way contributed to these problems. They grow out of ill-conceived government policies, point to the complete failure of government to address some of our social problems and, in the case of the collapse of the family, are deep-seated cultural problems encouraged and made worse by governmental policies.

    The United States must remain what it has always been: the Land of Opportunity. Misguided efforts to use government to transform it instead into the Land of Income Equality will inevitably leave us all worse off. Our first priority must therefore be to refocus the national conversation and our nation’s policies on the promise of upward mobility that is at the heart of the American Dream.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    28 Responses to Morning Bell: Time for a True Opportunity Agenda

    1. KC-NM says:

      I will not vote for Obama. But many whom I know will not vote for Romney as well and would rather vote for Johnson. I believe for the 2nd time (2008 and 2012) that the GOP has not been able to generate real leadership who can politically influence this country. Instead, we have weak agendas and speeches being made that do little to tell the population about what Romney will actually do. This concerns me after watching the movie "2016". If this is even partially true, America as we know it will fall. Obama is a terrible socialistic leader who has half of the country believing in redistribution and handouts for the lower and middle class. No defense, no foreign policy, no rebuilding of America – just pure destruction. Romney needs to get with the program and start influencing America. Maybe he needs to change his campaign team and get some tough love folks to get ahead of Obama. We are in trouble today!!

      • Sheree says:

        I agree, we need to get ahead of the propaganda machine and lay out the details of what will change to get this country back.

      • Michael Wise says:

        It's true, that the GOP failed once again. But to the many people who said they would rather vote 3rd party than for Romney, you can't say they didn't warn you. Romney appears to have the business savvy exterior to pull us out of this mess, but yet again no one (even this blog) is mentioning inflation and our fiat currency. Ron Paul was right yet again. I'm reading Unfair Advantage by Robert Kiyosaki, the same guy who wrote Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Great investor, US Marine Pilot in Vietnam, and even before jus introduction he has a message to the readers and in his first 6 pages he speaks of fiat currency, the US being bankrupt and what we should be looking forward to in the next 10th years. The prices of gold, oil and food respectively. Ron Paul also said there would be a dollar crisis, and he's probably right about that as well. Are we going to threaten countries who don't accept our dollars with war? And people frowned his foreign policy, but I'll give you two words: Middle East. They hate US, and it has more to do with bombs than movies.

    2. Wes Evans says:

      It is unfortunate but for a large number of people victomhood sells. Class warfare has brought dictators fasiast and socialist to power many times in history. It often works politicaly. Obama and the Democrats are the party of goverment. Least we forget FDR was reelected 2 times despite the economic failure of his
      ant business agenda.

      • Juan Martinez says:

        Lest we forget, actually, FDR was re-elected 3 times. He died in his fourth term, and Vice President Harry Truman became president.

    3. toledofan says:

      A great article and to the point, but, it will fall on deaf ears as long as Obama and the Democrats are in control. It is very clear to me that they can't be trusted with managing the economy, government or the military. It is amazing to me that Obama has failed miserabley and there are still those who question Romneys message and his committment to getting America back on track. I mean are you folks for real? I just wonder what the outcry will be when everyones taxes go up on January 1 and Obamacare is implemented 100%.

    4. Lee Sherwood says:

      Excellent essay. Our founders meant our "the pursuit of happiness" to indicate that we all want something better for ourselves and succeeding generations. But "Statism" has taken over because of pure unadulterated greed. Greed feeds on itself, and in America it has had a terrible appetite. Are we lost? NO! Are we at risk? YES!
      The founders knew that "life" would not be enough; that "liberty" would not satisfy; that Americans have an appetite of their own, and that is to "pursue happiness". Will we give it up for "comfort" as so many have? I pray daily that we will not. God WANTS to bless America, but will we allow Him to do that or will we become lazy and comfortable? May God forbid it!

    5. ThomNJ says:

      I have told my grandkids that there is a simple distinction between the liberals and Conservatives. The liberal believe there is only one pie, and we all need to share it by government fiat. Conservatives believe we can each make our own pie and share pieces of it as we see fit.

    6. Arima says:

      The Morning Bell is "right on". Unless we begin restoring christian values and ethics into our society, we
      will continue to decay and rot to the point of no return! We must get the word out that, restoring honor to
      our country is critical in our efforts to restore our country. Let's make the changes we need and turn our country around! May God Bless all of us in our efforts.

    7. Curt Krehbiel says:

      I found this morning's article to be so true and worth reading it compelled me to forward for any who may not receive these Heritage writings. The Morning Bell was given full credit.

    8. Marcia Neal says:

      What actions can be taken to bring/keep the Middle East issue in the public attention? With O'Bama's "investigation" into the matter we can be guaranteed that no results will be announced until after the election. He referred to it on 60 minutes as a "bump in the road." An American ambassador is dragged thru the streets and murdered and it is a "bump in the road!" This is criminal. What can be done?

    9. nehemiah says:

      Who ended up with all the funds donated to that warped cause? Did anyone follow the money they received?

    10. Goushka says:

      The six factors of "Defending the Dream" describe the beginning and continuation of the "U.S.S.R." (not Russia, as it was or is now) from 1919 until Gorbachev started the 'turn around and ended by Yeltsin to regain "Russia". Let's remember that the U.S.S.R. was a "Union" of 15 nations, of which ''Russia', as we know it geographically today, was one of the group of 15. It was Yeltsin that 'liberated most of the others who became independent (such as the three Baltic Countries). So, who is better off now??
      Lets not have history repeat itself in the West!

    11. Kenneth W. Chilton says:

      Candidate Romney should put today's Morning Bell in his own words, give Heritage attribution for the concise statement of what is important to preserve the true American Dream. Congratulations.

    12. will says:

      Wealth without morality may exploit some of the people;
      Morality without wealth will exploit all of the people.

    13. Bobbie says:

      I believe that all successful people and personal achievers took the opportunities America made possible without government! I saw a terrible showing of the "Koch brothers exposed" whom have contributed so much of their American dream to "government" run schools where they blame the Koch brothers as if the Koch brothers have anything to do with the running of schools or the spending of their own money Koch personally contributed.

      They demoralize all kinds of people that make their wealth honorably through America's freedom and independents instead of encouraging the American people without the brainwash, the same. They mention think tanks (that expose the the whole truth, like Heritage) a threat to America while they bad mouth her! its appalling how they are taking this country and people down. They even had the gall to manipulate as inspirations, Bill Ayres, Van Jones and the anti American like minded who make their wealth off tax payers and "government labeled special interests." Not representative of America at all! Suggesting the wealthy has been running the government exposing the truth, government isn't trusting and failures. The more government the less freedom and the greater less your mind will ever meet it's potential.

      Government intrusion is doing it for you so your mind won't have to and when government isn't there for you, you won't know how to…

      99% of perception is not reality when 99% are taught or told A perception without allowing people all considerations to freely form their own perception…
      High tax paid American haters or failures have formed their opinion into their perception calling it 99%.
      Manipulating perceptions does not make it reality!

      Even the president says "most of Americans agree with his foreign policy?" Who's he talking to? I bet Chris Stevens and the rest, didn't! How dare they! I can't believe we have Americans that want this country run by such incompetence and blatant lies.

      • "The more government the less freedom and the greater less your mind will ever meet it's potential."
        Dude, wth are you going on about. I think I understood your Koch thing(they are angels, if by angels you mean guys with a lot of money who throw it around, isn't that what an angel is?), but then you sorta drifted in the last three paragraphs. Can we get a do-over?

    14. Mitchell Maloney says:

      What I wish would happen in the debates is that Mitt Romney would look at the camera (the American People) and say that the vision difference between Obama and the Left and Romney on the right is just this: we live in the land of opportunity and we have the right to pursue happiness. Nowhere does it guarantee that if we live in America, we are guaranteed these things. He needs to articulate that this election is not about income distribution/equality but it is all about who we are as a country and people. He is fighting for the ideals that made this country what it is and is still struggling to be. If I were Mitt, I would make absolutely clear that his vision and traditional conservative people like myself is to reign in big government and restore the belief in who we still are and why people still come from around the world with very little to speak of and become successful.

      • Jeanne Stotler says:

        Good Luck with that, all the people that are associated with the debates are members of the liberal media, They will go out of their way to reelect Obama and crucify Romney

      • I agree. Most liberals AND conservatives would love to hear Romney say this. We would love it because, like the 47% video, it would be a clear "shove off" to those people who can't make ends meet working at their minimum wage job, or who sit around all day on their lazy butts collecting their social security check after working hard for 50 years. That would be a great day.
        Mitt is fighting for a vision all right. That vision includes the right to keep capital gains taxes at the bargain-basement rate of 15%. (In typical bizarro-world fashion we hear him trumpeting high corporate taxes in his platform. Nice) In his case, that made the difference last year alone of around 10 million dollars in income, as much as 285 average american workers. Feelin that American dream yet? But you mentioned curtailing big government specifically. By eliminating or curtailing big government, corporate profits would skyrocket, and his net worth I mean American dream would be fulfilled. I'm SURE that means the average worker would make way more, right? Isn't that what happens when companies have a good year? They give out big raises, right? Suddenly I'm feeling very trickled-down upon.

    15. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Denmark, according to Fox Business Network's John Stossel, had five years of unemployment. What happened? Danes went through the motions of looking for work and said: "I'm making more money collecting
      unemployment than I would be working." So what happened? Denmark's Socialist government cut it back to four years and Danes got off the couch and started going to work. It was the same here. With AFDC, more people, (usually single women because the government said "If you live with the father of your children, or get a new car, you'll lose your welfare"). Since Ronald Reagan, welfare reform had been talked to death but nothing was done about it. Like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, welfare was the third rail of American
      politics____touch it and you'll die. Now Obama wants to create a loophole big enough to drive a Mack truck through.

      • lol Blair, a) do you really think that Denmark changing unemployment from FIVE years to FOUR made a difference? Really? And b) Since it works so well, are you advocating for a four-year unemployment package in America?
        Recently, Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security are considered third rails of politics – not welfare reform. The programs are vastly different, and lumping them together as if they perform the same social need is ridiculous.

    16. Glen says:

      Mentioned in this article, "The failures of public education" What most of the American people do not realize is how our history has been changed in the education system, to suit political agendas. The children of today will never see history as we elders were taught. Also writing and reading have been changed to something I don't even understand myself. Hopefully things will change before we turn into another third world country.

    17. A s far as the economy is concerned the obama team has been in neutral and not doing anything but creating
      higher debt.

    18. Socialism rails against capitalism with the rhetoric that they are greedy and live on the backs of the poor. What they are realty against is the control of greed by the competitive marketplace. The control of greed in the competitive marketplace is being eroded by the lefts constant badgering of politicians to eliminate the penalties of wrong doers with welfare,subsidies, unemployment etc in the name of compassion. Socialism wants greed. How else can they buy votes if they can't promise “bread and circus'” to propel themselves into power.
      The unintended consequences of the competitive marketplace is that it provides more goods to more people. The unintended consequences of the government interference in the competitive marketplace leads to a depression.

    19. WordsMatter says:

      I worry about the fear mongering about wealth redistribution! What I hear is some people urging that wealthy citizens pay a higher rate of taxes for the sake of the common good, The challenge for the government is to
      find ways to enlarge opportunities so workers can support themselves and their families, and this often takes funding, i.e., tax revenue, for education and job training.

      Another issue concerns the enormous salaries now being paid to corporate executives to manage companies so as to maximize profits. The result: many of their employees are paid not much more than the minimum wage.and benefit packages are becoming less adequate.

      Some might talk of these needs as redistributing wealth. I prefer to see these issues as a matter of fairness and economic justice.

      • Bobbie says:

        Agree with your redistribution theory but… Job training is best left on the job minus government costs and control. People have lost the motivation to be self reliant because of government taking people on as subjects creating access to services for their losses. People need to have the initiative to build their own self reliance and find opportunities on their own accord but government is changing everything so people only see government as a resort.

        Private businesses with no ties in government are honorable. The ones you speak of are cronies. Removing government where they are unconstitutional will open the doors of FAIRNESS AND opportunity so people will regain the freedom to pursue their own happiness using self reliance omitting government control from our FREEDOM!

    20. Joan from Dallas says:

      I read an article yesterday about a woman using food stamps who was offended when the grocer said "get a job". She claims that her husband doesn't make enough to support the family. Maybe so. But what's wrong with her getting a job when her husband comes home from work? People are lazy and dependent, and it is shameful that an able bodied person can't figure that out. I have two degrees and lots of work experience in the legal profession and can't find a full time job.My ex-husband is paying most of my bills while I'm now working a part-time job for $10 an hour to feed my family. My advice to this woman is to "suck it up and go work at McDonald's!"

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