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Jon, that's one interpretation of the comic. Another would be that its author is attempting at showing that the concept of equality of opportunity is a farce. Of course there will be people who start in the right column and through hard work and some luck end up in the left. That's not really the point.
The point, as I infer it, is that when conservatives go on about "equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome," they're either blinded to the fact that equality of opportunity doesn't exist or they're aware of that fact and simply being disingenuous.
I'm happy for you that your parents knew the value of education and hard work and instilled those values in you and your siblings. Many people are not so lucky in who they get as parents.
This comic seems to be aimed at making people aware of the opportunities that they enjoy, which others do not. I view it as a reminder that those of us who have gotten somewhere in our lives did not do so through the proverbial pulling up of our own bootstraps, but on the shoulders of others, be they parents, taxpayers, teachers, or others. This knowledge, that our successes are not merely our own, can hopefully instill in us some empathy for people who didn't have similar opportunities, and maybe that empathy can inform our positions on certain social policies.
Little non-partisan note here. I've met the evil conservatives you describe, but I've also met liberals blissfully unaware of their privilege who want the government to help Paula because they refuse to dig into their own deep pockets. I ALSO know conservatives who, when they say "equality of opportunity," they mean, just like YOU do, that it doesn't exist--and that we need to create it.
Sometimes life isn't about liberal or conservative. There are good guys everywhere. And the good conservatives and good liberals both agree on this: we need to CREATE equal opportunity. The debate is HOW. Can we teach Paula to fish, or are we going to throw fish at her so she's always eating out of our hand & voting the way we want her to vote? How do we encourage her freedom & avoid paternalism--are we helping because we want to control her, because we think some class lifestyles are inherently better, because she should be like you? What even ARE hand-outs, defined? At what point do "hand-outs" create dependency, low self-worth, and classism that keeps Paula from succeeding so we can look down on her as a "charity case" and feel good about ourselves? How do we define basic need? How effective are govt programs vs. charities vs. individual aid? Can we encourage organic, sustainable success w/out running others' lives? Can we create a society of willing givers, or must we resort to legislating financial morality? Do we personally know to do more w. less, & do we know how to share that skill? Problem on both sides: am I helping Paula, or do I just want someone else to assuage my guilt?
I think you've misunderstood what (most) people are talking about when they strive for "equal opportunity". They aren't saying that poor people are just lazy and had the same opportunities. They are saying that the equal opportunity has to be created. In a (very) general sense, conservatives and liberals have different views on how this could be (it certainly hasn't so far) accomplished. If I went into all of them, I'd be typing all night. For the sake of this discussion, I'm just going to pretend that there are only two sides. There's the side that believes the problem can be fixed by using money to take care everyone with things like universal health care and higher welfare. On the other hand, there is the side that believes the problem can be fixed by focusing on educational opportunities.
You should be so quick to stereotype people as good or bad by if they are conservative or liberal. Identifying as a conservative or liberal doesn't determine whether or not you want to help the less fortunate.
@Pan, no no no you got it all wrong. No one is saying give handouts or charity to help Paula.
What is needed here is equal access to good education - as well as healthcare, transportation etc. Basic needs that would allow everyone to have equal chances in life.
What they do with this chance would then prove if they worked hard or not.
This the the clearest and most concise description of the problem I have ever seen. Absolutely excellent. Thanks so much.
What problem? That life isn't fair? Why should people who have good parents or better opportunities feel guilty about that?
Karen, this comic does not in any way imply that those born with good parents should feel guilty for having good parents, because they shouldn't, and saying that would be ridiculous. What this is directly targeting and criticizing is the people who grew up with good parents who no doubt provided opportunity for them, and then say that they got to their successful position all on their own, like they had no help whatsoever.
@Austin - Sorry but I disagree. You can't just "buy" an education. To get those grades or to get that master's degree you still have to put in an awful lot of hours. I am fed up of people saying that the one on the left has had things handed to him on a plate. You think getting into law school was a walk in the park? Of course not. He's had to work bl**dy hard to get there!
Charlotte, no one is saying the guy didn't work hard - but he surely wasn't working as hard as girl, juggling work with school, along with a myriad of other issues. He also started out with a huge advantage just in the education and encouragement he received before then. He was, in fact, handed advantages on a platter - and it's people like you who feel compelled to try and dismiss that built-in advantage that are making it harder and harder for anyone not born to privilege to get ahead in this country.
And in the comments we see the point whizzing so far over the heads of the privileged, that they do not believe it could ever have really been there.
What about the poor who have overcome and made it the ranks of privileged? isn't it true what one man can do another man can do?
@Karen why do you consistently miss the point? It's like you don't want to see the truth. If everyone could literally do what everyone else can then all 7 billion of us would be millionaires. There are variables in everyone's life that prevents them from being the main on the left. Yes we all hear those stories about people rising up fr being homeless and what have you and having a 5.0 and scholarships but again those aren't the norm. If you have a bad start in life it will be 10x as difficult to bece successful as it is for someone who had a good start
@karen- you keep saying people with good parents should feel guilty about it. i don't believe anyone except you is saying that. i also think you are confusing guilt with responsibility, which is easy to do. people with privlege (like myself) shouldn't feel bad about it- but (in my opinion) they have a responsibility to have some awareness of the various factors that were in place long before they were born that helped them in their success. in honoring and appreciating the work of our predecessors, we become more aware of others who's predecessors struggled much more.
Hey Jon, it's good that you're proud of your parent's hard work. You should be! They've overcome great obstacles and they've beaten the odds! They managed to give you the same opportunities that the kids of wealthy families had.
Of course, their parents had a much better and easier life while giving the kids those opportunities.
Truly, your family beat the odds. The odds...
Which also means many more families in the same situation as yours DIDN'T. Maybe some parents valued spending free time with their kids more. Or they couldn't handle 14h shifts. People have different capacities to handle stress. Some parents weren't brought up to value education as much. Maybe their ethnic or cultural background caused people to mistrust them and look funny at them.
Some parents were looking for work in a more modern New Zealand. One where formal education has become much more important (in NZ the majority of the baby boomer generation didn't finish high school. It wasn't as important then). One with different economic growth and opportunities and more competition.
Your family beat the odds. So what? Does that mean that, those who didn't deserve to be in poverty? Why should the obstacles for some be so much larger than for others?
Congrats to your parents, in all honesty, but maybe you should have learned some compassion from them.
Just because some kids don't have good parents, does not mean those that do have good parents should feel bad about it.
Karen, it isn't about one group having better parents than the other. Both sets of parents in the cartoon did the best they could for their child, but there is a built-in advantage for one and not the other - it had nothing to do with how hard they worked and why am I even bothering to write this? If you don't have to common sense to glean this from the article or figure it out for yourself then you're just a narrow-minded, short-sighted nincompoop.
I am inclined to think this issue of the middle, I am inclined to place myself in this camp is becoming greatly undermined by an increasing inequality. The very issue that the cartoon cleverly reveals is becoming increasingly relevant for the majority because the present economic system disabuses the entire philosophy of dusting oneself down and working hard.
How many times do we hear politicians batting around the phrase 'hard working families', while simultaneously failing to recognise that 99% of all capital growth since global financial collapse has gone to just 1% of the population.
What was once an economy of have's and have nots mediated by some opportunity to improve ones self has now become a majority who are lucky to reach the end of their working month and not be in debt. Conversely a new elite can make 5% on investment even in a fat lining economy, aggregating the sort of gains unimaginable forty years ago. This is not an issue of not working hard or of jealously but recognition that the virtue of Adam Smith of liberal economic theory having become completely superseded by a Right Libertarian view of human existence driven by hard morality and cold logic.
Or you could you know...just work hard. There is money to be made...go get it. It is amazing what having a plan can do.
Stop worrying about all of these numbers that everyone with an agenda wants you to focus on...99%, 1%, etc. Start worrying about how you are going to take yourself from $10k/year to $20k/year, to $40k/year, etc.
So in other words, stop worrying about everyone else...start worrying about yourself.
Wow, Jeremy, that is some very impressive tunnel vision you have cultivated there.
The problem with that whole idea of worrying about oneself alone is that it does not take into account that one's self is directly affected by the immediate surrounding environment, which, as you might have noticed, actually is affected by a whole slew of other folks and their particular realities too.
The criminal element that looks to support themselves through robbing others since they are not as articulate as their upper class peers and don't have the same skills and basic fundamental mastery of the three R's due to the lackluster public education they are relegated to, and may even be less physically presentable without the available money to spend on nice clothing and do not have practice in the social graces of polish and politeness because their upbringing was not around adults who went to business meetings or pta meetings with other parents but maybe instead had one parent who was stretched thin picking up extra swing shifts leaving the kid to get most of their elocution lessons from the guys talking smack to each other rather than nice dinner conversation.
Even if you managed to get yours, that criminal element may just be looking to take what you got since he don't have what got it for you. It really behooves the have's to make sure that they aren't vastly outnumbered by those have who might think about how much they would do to have some for themselves whose only tools to get it are a weapon and a moral compass that has a weak attraction to true north at best.
@Jon - There is nothing wrong with success; it should be celebrated no matter where you start from in life. You and your family should be proud of everything you have achieved. And the cartoon does not vilify success.
There is nothing wrong with anything in the left column until the final box.
The evil is in claiming that those who are not successful are whiners or cheaters or less deserving of basic humanity. The evil is in vilifying an entire group of people without reason to do so.
Yes there are cheaters and bums in the world. But there are also people who worked just as hard as your family, but did not achieve as much.
It's not about you.
^^^ This 100%!!!!!!!
Lisa you totally missed the point
Totally agree !
Malena, I guess you missed the point !
Absolutely spot on. I'll be re-sharing this with pretty much anyone who'll pay attention. And even with those who probably wont.
Well, that'll help solve the problem! By raising awareness! Well done!
Welly, you made my day. Funny but point well taken. :)
Such a great comic but also so sad.
The split really seems to happen when one has his parents pay for university while the other has to pay for polytechnic. This is the part that people who it's all personal choice are ignoring,
The children of parents with plenty of money will always have that advantage handed to them.
And what is the problem with that?
The children of 'rich parents' still have to put the hours in and work hard though.
Jon I think you've missed the point, which is all in that last frame. The notion some people have that you are responsible for your own successs and that we all started the same.
My parents still work hard to this day and had high expectations of me too. But I disagree with my father's view of how we should be giving less aide to those less fortunate. Because the reality is my parents had a bit of child support and I had student allowance going through Uni.
So I'm very thankful as it has helped my family to come out of poverty. Because little things like that added up to a better future.
So insightful and profound. Really makes you wonder what kind of heartless people are against the minimum wage and welfare benefits for people.
Idk maybe your handing it to people you don't deserve$15 hour to say would you like fries with that people go to college and worked hard don't earn that pay should be what you are worth how hard you work quality not oh I show up where is my money tired of the hand me crowd oh I deserve a free cell phone I deserve welfare but don't wanna work that's what wrong and tired of paying for it out of the tiny check I do get for working my ass off
Idk people who work hard then see their money buy cellphones Internet for people who refuse to work or stay off drugs I know all don't do that but a lot do and minimum wage you don't deserve $15 a hour to say you want fries with that people expect to be taken care of not take care of them self I'm tired of the money that comes out of my tiny check going to ungrateful lazy people they should make people get a job stay off drugs then I'd be happy to help but giving someone everything is stupid make them work
I think saying that people that are against $15/hour are heartless is a bit emotional don't you? I personally am all for a increase in minimum wage, but I am tired of everyone screaming income inequality, but sweeping the real problem under the rug.
If you cannot afford to raise a child, you should not have a child. If you cannot afford to have a child, it is because you have not properly invested in yourself, and therefore are not ready to raise and pay for a child.
Fix that issue, and suddenly the minimum wage issue starts correcting itself...amazing.
I work very hard, I have had a steady job more then my adult life. Yet I can barely afford to support my little family. I can not get welfare and such because I am with my husband. Other government assistance programs will not even look at us because we have jobs. Together we make $1.86 to much for food stamps in my area but they do not take in to account that how high our living costs are here. (Options are live in an area that upper class citizens would not even drive through or pay $200 a month extra on our rent)
I personally feel they should bring back the work for welfare programs where you had to have a job to get welfare, foodstamps ect. (Or do community service with obvious exceptions for the handicapped)
To me, the "real problem" is that we shouldn't live in a world where a large portion of the adult population can't afford to have a child.
It sounds to me that you're buying into the myth that these economic issues exist because poor people do nothing but make babies and demand handouts. Sure, there are deadbeat moms who basically use their children as a way to boost their welfare check, but that's hardly the norm.
These issues exist because income and wealth disparity in the US has gradually increased over many decades, and may reaching a critical point. It has the highest of any developed world, and is more comparable to that of many 3rd world countries. This disparity has grown for a variety of reasons, including economic policies which favor the rich, and the rather obvious fact that wealth provides one with greater opportunities to amass more wealth for oneself and one's offspring.
We allow this situation to exist because we believe in this idea of "equal opportunity." But, that is an illusion, which this comic clearly highlights.
In order to invest in oneself, one needs time and resources, rather than struggling just to get by. The reality is that there can be no equality of opportunity in a society where your average citizen can't make a livable wage, and we are approaching just that situation in the US.
People who understand that raising the minimum wage will not solve the problem.
so wait? you think raising the minimum wage means they will have everything that rich people do?
Needs a sequel where she joins a union, strikes for higher wages, meets some socialists, and discovers that the world can be changed by people like her.
Susan, this is completely unrelated, but did you used to manage a pottery studio in CT?
This is Terri.
Raising the minimum wage should be a platform of the conservatives. They love to talk about how "they worked hard to get theirs", and that all the government programs for the poor are simply to help "lazy people who don't want to work." But raising the minimum wage should be a perfectly acceptable way to address the poor. No handouts, just more money for working people. And raising the ceiling on salaries that don't qualify for overtime would mean more people working, companies would not be able to pay employees peanuts and ask them to work 70 hour weeks.
In America, the average household income is $51,000. The minimum wage is $7.25 or $15,080. This means that to live comfortable life in America the working people in the house would have to work 135 hours per week combined to make ends meet. Two parents working 65+ hours means no support or attention to their families, or possibly more importantly to their spouse... which leads to huge percentages of kids raised in single parent homes who can offer even less time and money to their children. Obama's suggested $10.10 would mean two parents working 40 hour work weeks could make 80% of the national average income in only 80 working hours.
This should be an absolute cinch to get passed, but the power in this country lies in the very wealthy, who own massive corporations, that pay armies of people $7.25 an hour.
If minimum wage is the answer, how come it didn't work the first time? How come there is still a need to raise it again? Will we have to adjust in the future? if the cost of living does down, will minimum wage be reduced? What about people making just over 15 bucks an hour, and have been years without a raise? Will they have to wait even longer now?
how is it moral or just for the gov't to arbitrarily and with prejudice decide only a small percentage of the population should get a pay raise, putting them ahead of others who work just as hard.
Sorry but I think you've missed the point of this entirely, to say you help pay for Paula to possibly move forward is a rather arrogant statement to make. The worlds wealth is unevenly distributed there is no denying this, the middle class does not suffer the same disadvantages as the lower class. If you don't have sufficient shelter, enough to eat or a family who can afford to care for you properly other things in your life will suffer. What this comic portrays is 2 individuals who did not have the same advantages growing up and therefore were give different opportunities to advance. Richard hasn't had to watch his parents struggle to put food on a plate, or pay enormous Uni fees whilst working. He also has a well connected father that helped him advance in his career. Paula may very well become a success in her own right, but this isn't what it's about. It's inequality and a huge gap between rich and poor, to say life is not fair. period. to me is a cop out, there is so much more we can do for people who struggle and making high income earners pay more taxes is just one of them.
If you are privileged, good for you. No one here can judge whether or not you deserve that. Maybe you work hard and earn it, maybe not. It's up to you to decide if you're earning it or not. If you aren't privileged, that sucks. No one here can judge whether or not you deserve that. Maybe you're not living up to your full potential, maybe you are. It's up to you to decide if you're earning it or not.
This comic here is to make those who are privileged recognize their privilege and be thankful and humble about it. Whether they earned it or not, there are other people less fortunate who may or may not deserve their lot in life. So no one gets to judge just because they happen to be privileged. No one wants to take your privilege away, we cannot know whether you deserve it or not. But those of privilege cannot know whether those who aren't privileged deserve it or not. This is not about Republicans or Democrats, this is not about 99% or 1%, this is not about social welfare or trust funds, this is not about greed or laziness, this is about being mindful of yourself and others. And if you're going to continue to point fingers, our society is never going to move past this unjust class inequality. Shut up and play nice.
Toby, kudos on your shortie....and I am compelled to to respond....I totally understand the premise, as well as the purpose, of your story, but I feel it was lacking in a middle. You see I am the middle...I help pay for Paula to possibly move forward....and as far as Richard, well, his family contributes to my not being able to move forward easily. I am a well educated woman with a Master's degree, intelligence, compassion, and 3 children. I have been known to work 4 jobs to keep food on the table and the creditors at bay. My children do not need to wear designer clothing, they are polite, compassionate individuals with intelligence and a strong work ethic. We will never be rich, in the material sense, but we work hard to stay afloat and most of all we are close and have a strong love of family. We, the Middle, are being squeezed so tight and there is no one to help us. I am a high school science teacher working with underprivileged, abused/traumatized youth; my youngest is in college working hard for a nursing degree in pediatrics and maternity; my son just graduated as an Athletic Trainer; my oldest daughter is a chemistry major. And we all work any jobs we can. I have mingled with the rich/elite, as well with the poor....social status has a broad spectrum....it is those of us in the middle that are usually the forgotten ones....Toby, please do not be offended.....thank you for giving me the opportunity to have a voice. Life is not fair. Period. End of sentence. Wishing you well smile emoticon
2 mins · Like
With all due respect but if you're working 4 jobs to keep food on the table and pay your creditors, you're definitely the latter. Anyone working more than one job to keep food on the table and pay off your loans or mortgage can definitely be considered the latter. Though in reality I think most children are granted a healthy environment as far as I know (which is the only part that lacked some nuance to me).
I've mingled with both classes and had the privilege to mingle with both classes in multiple countries and I can definitely say that according to what I read you are the latter.
There really are only two classes: The upper class with a decent amount of cash and connections only limited by their ideas (and have enough capital or access to capital to pursue their own business idea's or other life plans), and the working class who have to work in order to secure a better life for their kids.
The middle class really is another word for working class that can afford to a great set of opportunities (affordable education, own housing, access to business loans, travel, leisure) that are otherwise only reserved for the rich. Unfortunately this group is more and more dying, hence the working class is starting to consist more and more of a group of working poor. :-(
We can only hope that times will change for the better!
'no one ever handed me anything on plate' - imbecility of the highest kind !! - arrogance of the lowest order !!
they abound around us all the time !?!
Loved it. Much more than food for thought. A definite insight inducer.
Keep these coming.
great work of art.
Jon, your story is wonderful-- a testament to all of us who have worked hard to rise above difficult circumstances. I'm not sure why your narrative results in your dislike of this visual art, however. It would seem that the family unit on the right is cohesive and supportive, and although you may disagree with Paula's parents not setting higher standards and holding Paula to them, they clearly love and support her. This art is not shaming your narrative or anyone who has a similar narrative -- rather it is asking everyone to take a moment to consider the many different life paths that we are all on. Richard's character in the last panel seems to have forgotten that there were people who helped him in life, and that although he worked hard to get where he is, there were things that simply happened easier for him because of his parents' income and their social/economic agency. The art is not denying any of Richard's efforts or his parents' determination to instill in him strong work ethics and self-sufficiency -- but it is pointing out that Paula had to work even harder (holding down a job to pay her way through college is certainly a strong work ethic) to simply make do, to get by.
I get where you are coming from, I do. And there we are -- you and I look at the same piece of art and we bring our own narratives and perspectives to it and so we see the same thing, but differently, which is the beauty of being. As an artist myself, I'm always intrigued by the infinitely varied responses from an audience. Keep on working hard, Jon, keep looking at art, keep sharing.
It's great that your parents were go-getting and farsighted enough to achieve this for you; also great that your teachers inspired you enough to perpetuate your parents' good work. Well done to all of you, Jon.
This piece is less about you, though, and more about Paula - who was not surrounded by a hard-working and inspiring community.
My gripe with David Cameron's so-called "blue-collar" Toryism is that Mrs Thatcher's personally focused, share-owning, "stakeholder society" works to discourage communities from pooling their talents and interests to help ALL members - including those without family support - get ahead. It wastes a great deal of human potential, and duplicates a good deal of expenditure without increasing the benefits. All the additional expenditure keeps financial institutions - who lend people the wherewithal to start to buy themselves education, housing, or other privileges - rolling in illusory wealth (a promise to repay is treated as money). The carrot for the working man is that such privileges will insulate him - and, with luck, his children - from the increasing poverty of others. In fact, his debts enslave him to the same corporate paradigm.
The corporate view is of an individualist struggle from which only the fittest survive; the spoils go to the victors, since losers would only waste them and so deserve to be neglected.
I believe the majority of human beings are quite communally focused; prefer to work with and on behalf of their neighbours. The more selfish a society becomes, the less happy its members - perhaps selfishness is unnatural?
Congratulations on that, Jon. No one would be villifying you (nor is the comic villifying the 'left column family' here, simply pointing how different starts in life might affect us). However, just because it isn't true for you, doesn't mean it isn't true.
This is exactly what is wrong with our Society . It is a 2 tier system . The haves and the Have nots.
To the previous commenter: Life is not fair, but society should be. Do you not value equality and fairness? I'm not just going accept being treated unfairly. I'm going to fight for what I deserve, and for people like the character Paula to get what they deserve too.
Too bad there are so many people who apathetically and cowardly accept injustice as the way things are, because it doesn't have to be this way. It really doesn't.
I am just curious who you perceive and doing the injustice? Society, or Paula's parents?
Very interesting. I like the way you crafted your words, with great care I believe.
I understand that this comparison is just an "instance", not a generalised "truth" for every individual. Every box cannot and will not represent everyone's life, may that be a reader's, or any individual's (in any country). And no one can generalise this complexity. It seems that some readers think this is meant to represent a generalised truth, hence some comments about simplification, bias, etc. But it also shows that this comic strip has achieved another good thing: it generates discussions. And I believe many of them were written with good intentions, by people with good hearts.
Thank you for the work. With admiration.
You got this in NZ, too? Well done and not overdone! Over here, the cutting word we use is "entitlements" and an understanding of it is like a Rorschach test.
Wow scrolling through the comments section to this is scary. Like, holy shit, everyone is attacking everyone else and talking politics and one dude even made a revised version of the comic that blames Paula's parents for everything. And reading all of this makes it very clear why no one can get along: It's nobody's fault. Nobody wants to accept any responsibility for this. One side is saying that the other side is holding them down and the other side is saying that the first side is just lazy. And basically we're all just trying to blame each other. What the fuck? That's not what this is about.
Richard is very fortunate to be where he is, but he's not the reason Paula is in a less than ideal position nor are his parents the reason.. Paula works hard, but her not working hard enough is not the reason she's in an ideal position, nor are her parents the reason.
Let's establish two things right away. I'm not attacking anyone, I'm not blaming anyone, this is just pure, unadulterated fact.
1. Some people are given a better deal in life. They just are. Their parents are rich, they're born good looking, they happen to fit a particular racial/sexual profile that is more privileged, whatever. And whether they want to admit it or not, their privilege DOES affect them. It's not always hard work that gets them to where they are. Sometimes your dad knowing someone is what brings you your opportunities.
Overly simplified and probably designed to troll.
I don't like this because I come from a family that started at box 1 (my grandparents, father, mother and uncles all lived in ONE room above a restaurant when they were young).
But by box 5 they expected nothing but high expectations from us 3 children - A-grades were expected and no expense was spared to get us good education.
Now, we as adults could be considered the left column story. We are all professionally qualified, mingle with those of a similar stature and work in industries which stereotypically command above average salaries.
But still, my parents only retired last year from their working class jobs albeit ones they worked hard to eventually own their own. My mother only finished high-school, my father not even that.
This is an insult to all those hard working, poor, underprivileged, working class families that value the family unit, espoused hard work and high expectations - now we are probably considered as a family in the left column and would be vilified under this article for it but why? We as a family lived and worked under the same obstacles and we rose above it and we also know many from our past that did the same, this is something to be PROUD of and not made to feel ashamed of what we have achieved.
Hard work and high expectations does pay. My parents worked 14 hour days when I was a child but still never let the TV babysit my childhood, neither did they have the education to help me with homework but they found other means.
Hard work and high expectations used to pay, for your parents. It's a different world in the good ole US of A now. And not a better one, for those not connected.
I think you, like so many others, work hard to miss the point. The real issue is always assuming that success or failure (no matter how you define that) is the result of hard work or a lack of it. That there are no other variables than hard work is the fallacy.
Let's take your own example (and I know of so many just like you who love to adopt your POV and miss the point entirely). You said your parents still had high expectations and seem to imply they did what parents should do for there children. Do you think all people get to have parents such as yours? Do you think even rich kids always get such wonderful parents with such good strong values and teaching to give their children? Do you think you deserve your parents and that others do not? That it was your choice? Do you think the result you describe here would be the same if we switch parents for some who are more damaged by life if I may say it like that? Yes, you come from a modest family but you were lucky where it mattered.
The lesson isn't for people to feel bad that they "succeed" but that they start to be grateful for what they got that made the difference and that they had no power over. Learn to say "thank you" and to look down on others a lot more than you probably do. You do not know others history. You just know the result you base your judgement on.
to Jon: I, too, had the severely impoverished but bootstrapping parents who instilled a lot of common sense and value, and who also showed me what I could end up in if I wasn't careful. They didn't value education, but they taught me what they knew which was how to work. We have been, as some say, lucky to have had those values imparted to us. We also worked and scarified a lot to get to current places, and I think there are few who are self-made. Unfortunately, there are a LOT who don't see that formation, or who refuse to believe it or undertake it. Cheers to you, and may you pass those lessons forward!
to the prior replies:
MGJ -- Hard work and high expectations are all I had--not even indoor plumbing for the early years, yes that still exists in the rural US--and I climbed my way from near bottom to top. Near bottom because I had shelter and regular food--my parents provided those luxuries that they did not grow up with. And in my 30s, I suppose I'm a "millennial." By the time I hit medical school at 23 I had worked full time almost 7 years piecing together part time jobs on nights and weekends and used it to pay for school and rarely nice treats. I certainly had no connections--it took years to get my accent toned down, certainly no one from home could put in a weighty good word for me. It takes (still!) seemingly unending common sense, elbow grease, exhaustion, patience, and sacrifices. I missed out on a lot. Occasionally, though rare, I meet others that came from where I did in my current circles, and I revere them dearly. It is possible. My favorite people to work with and be around are the ones who have worked their way through all the ranks. Are there tons of people who work themselves to the bone only to survive without much "success" out there? Yes. But no one should blame a lack of connections. May we all fight a strong fight.
to JFR-- Certainly not all children are so blessed to end up with attentive stewards/teachers for parents. I still had to dream up and create my own circumstances from scratch. Interestingly, the poorer classes are generally thought of as being hyper observant to blend. Malcolm Gladwell's David & Goliath is worth a read.
When you say all you had were high expectations and hard work, I genuinely think you should reconsider. Do you think someone with a IQ of 70 and bad health could have made it to Med school like you did? You more than likely got a good genetic or at least some kind of advantage in a form or another if you made it despite all that while countless others did not. What is the story behind the man you came to be? There are circumstances that gave birth to what enabled you to make the choice you did in conditions you were able to meet the challenge. Many, despite their socioeconomical situation, never had such luck...
Nobody is ever self made. This is pure unadulterated BS. Period. How many who had all you had and similar situations didn't make it? Beating the odds will always happen but let's not try and make it sound like the outliers are the norm. I would also suggest to all the people falling back on anecdotes to try and dismiss the point being made to just stop. Specially if you are well educated since you should know that an anecdote is worth dirt shit when you want to infer something to a whole population.
Still, I repeat, the point is not to make people feel bad to be successful. Far from it. You have worked hard or not to get where you are? Good! Enjoy it. However, can we please stop already with the "if you are not as successful it therefore mean you did not work hard enough" BS? It removes nothing from your success while being way less insulting to so many others. BTW I'm not targeting you personally here CL. I'm genuinely glad for you.
The problem with privilege is it is so embedded into our psyches we don't even recognise it. The above contributor made an interesting comment, that I think they are not even aware of. "I am the middle...I help pay for Paula to possibly move forward" - the assumption is that Paula is not the middle...when she probably is at the bottom of the middle, it gets much worse for those below the middle. Privilege likes the middle to believe they are paying for people like Paula...privilege also assumes that people like Paula can get ahead (if she only works hard enough). I am not sure in which context the above comment was made, but in the New Zealand context, those at the bottom, those working two jobs just to make ends meet are by far paying more tax than those at the top of the income bracket and even more than those in the middle. So to assume that the middle are paying for people like Paula is another form of privilege, the assumption here is that people like Paula are taking something that is not theirs...the reality is that it is actually the top that are taking what is not theirs from both the bottom and the middle. The middle are in a state of false consciousness because they don't see this but of course the top don't want the middle to see this either. The systems of power and privilege are hidden. Our own privilege is hidden...it is hidden by an individualistic ideology that makes you believe that we all have the same opportunities, clearly the cartoon shows that is not the case, neo-liberalism hides its power, which has become ingrained in our psyches.
Paula is in the 1% globally.
Pretty awesome. I'm gonna be referencing this a lot!
Then there is the American version, where Richard and Paula both take on huge student loans (Because parents just "doing ok" doesn't cut it with current tuition costs), Richard's dad lands him an internship, but it's unpaid and at the end of the day, there are few professional employment opportunities for either of them due to outsourcing of jobs overseas and a "loot the place" corporate mentality. Both end up working as cleaning contractors (since you don't need to pay contractors a minimum wage like you do employees) at the Koch brothers' mansion. The End.
Well you see he has the option to do the unpaid internship BECAUSE his parents are rich and still support him.
He has no bills and no debts to think about until he is secure in a position and/or leaves home.
But you see he can afford do the unpaid internship BECAUSE his parents are rich. He has no bills or debt because his parents have paid for everything including uni. Now they have the means to continue this financial support until he's in a secure position that pays well, he'll also have all the expected clothes, and a posh home to invite his boss to.
It's really not as straightforward as people like to think it is.
Did you miss the bit where she is working to care for her father, and probably cover his medical bills. They live in an NA republican state that wouldn't expand medicaid so there's a gap with the AHA. It's not like that in other states, sadly they can't afford to move.
This was kind of like my family growing up - actually both Richard and Paula. I was Richard (first born) and everything went pretty well for me. Because my Dad was the kind of guy he was, I never took anything for granted. I worked my ass off and got ahead and stayed there.
After my dad died when I was a teen, the family went downhill. Money became scarce and my mother wasn’t up to the challenge. My younger siblings were more like Paula. My brother didn’t apply himself and my little sister did. She eventually got to a head administrator’s job at a hospital in Maryland. But things were hard for her, both things that she did to herself and things that were done to her.
As life went on and I ended up as a 2-star General in Desert Storm, I ended up losing two limbs, went to a VA hospital (yes, Generals do get hurt), and eventually to my sister’s hospital. Unfortunately, she had held a grudge because things came easier to me than to her (nothing I did, just a sign of the times we lived in). To this day, she still thinks I got my success at the expense of hers, but this was mostly a trope positioned by my mother, who became extremely bitter after dad died. As there was a 12-year difference between us, it was an easy trope to maintain; after all, I was a freshman at West Point when my sister was a 1st grader.
Kinda ironic that I could see two families in one here.
I call BS on this post.
According to the Pentagon, there were EXACTLY ZERO MajorGenerals in Desert Storm who lost limbs. ZERO.
Nice try, though.
it's so true...
First off, speaking as one of the semi-privileged who, frankly, squandered a lot of that privilege? It's a fantastic comic. It really shows how the advantages can build and build and build.
If there's an issue in it... its that last panel. The sorta-strawman Republican creed coming out of the guy's mouth... it turns him into a bit of a villain. Don't get me wrong, I get where you're coming from with it, that he's so bought into his success that he thinks he's responsible for it all, there was no luck or circumstance that gave him an edge...
...I just wonder if it would've been stronger if it had been one of the other guys in the group saying the same sort of thing, but third person, to leave it ambiguous if he's bought in, just as the original kinda leaves it ambiguous that she's bought into it too.
Because the important point of the comic is not that he's an evil bastard. He did work hard, he did succeed, but he had advantages that Paula did not, through circumstance of birth.
To those that did have advantages growing up? Don't feel ashamed that you succeeded. There was hard work there, you didn't just need to coast through life. But recognize those advantages you did get, and understand that few get them. Only once that happens are we going to be able to make real change.
I teach at a community college in Lima, OH. I love this work not only because - as Henry Case accurately acknowledges - the comic serves as a concrete reminder of the abstract concept that success is never really achieved individually, but also because it makes that abstract concept through vivid visual imagery. I will be teaching a course in the fall on the graphic novel, and I would love to have my students look at this comic. Will the comic be archived on this site, or is it possible for me to obtain an electronic copy I can use for the course? I'm interested in having students analyze some of the visual choices the artist has made (i.e. establishing Paula and Richard in separate columns, keeping a muted color scheme, extending Paula's reach past the gutter in the final panels - which could possibly imply that sometimes physical labor is the only way to break through the barrier and/or that physical labor is the only means by which the privileged will allow the not-so privileged to come to their side even temporarily).
Thank you! (from a sister of the girl in your comic)
It is not unusual for Jon to take the position that success comes simply from hard work, sacrifice and personal resiliency. These characteristics may be important contributors to eventual success, but not the only ones. Jon may have come from a poor working class family, but was certainly not underprivileged. Jon had the privilege of a caring, supportive and nurturing family. Unfortunately, Jon ends up with the same attitude as some of those with the advantages of money, caring adults, good education, and social and business connections. Jon needs to acknowledge that the most important things were given to her/him on a platter. The question remains – how do educators deal with children, mostly poor and sometimes not so poor, who don’t have the privilege of early positive nurturing? - An Educator
This is a very elegant exposition of the very real problem of (increasing) inequality in (western) countries like the UK; succinct; incisive; tragic.
Should be required reading for privileged people like Richard. Even the people in Paula's situation could benefit from being reminded that it's not their fault.
Thank you, Toby.
I think you missed the point. It's clear that her parent's can't help her study because they are working 2 jobs to pay for expenses.
The point is, the socio-economic system we have created does 2 things:
1) it makes it so people like Paula's parents can't afford to spend time to support her emotionally and educationally (for example, a govt. stipend for tutoring for children of parents that work 2 jobs would alleviate this problem)
2) it makes people like richard think that his environment had nothing to do with his success; and when people like richard are in positions of making policy, they look at people like Paula and her family as lazy, and unsuccessful purely from their own lack of ambition and fortitude.
Each one of the panels calls out a problem that lower income families face, that wealthier families do not... The effect cascades through the generations. Paulo looks after her dad NOT because she is a "better person", but because Richard's family can likely afford better healthcare.
Richard can afford to spend more time studying because he doesn't have to work, while Paula must juggle work and education, which can be a great builder of character, but doesn't do much for helping people get a leg up academically, which often leads to better internships, better connections, access to better graduate schools, etc.
So spot on. Happens all the time here.
Perfect. Thank you for drawing this!
It's Paula's fault because she CHOSE to be born into a family that didn't have as much money or health as Richard's parents. Her hard work can't overcome her initial mistake. She was too lazy as a fetus and/or a pre-teen to select the environment she was in. If she had been a real go-getter, she would have demanded a different set of parents the moment she was born, or run away from home at age six. But she didn't do either of those things. Lazy, lazy, lazy. And hey, why did she allow her parents to spend money on purchasing a TV set? And shoes? Hard workers don't watch TV or wear shoes. They get out there and look for better parents, just like Rich did.
Perfectly put. - "And because each little difference sneaks by unnoticed".
The strip is not disqualifying your family hard work. It is not an accusation against a raising middle class which sacrificed well fare so their kids could have the best. It is, however, an attempt to unveil the intolerance (hidden behind successful people's "pride") to the less favored ones who didn't have the same opportunities: those whose parents lived in a slum, were drug dealers, or even those who have never had parents.
Besides, we don't really need to go that far once education and success are inherited by cultural capital. Thank your parents for being well instructed.
It's not out of the ordinary fortunate people attacking governments' social inclusion policies: after all, it's the money of proud hard-working people they're using. It just doesn't sound right.
Jon this is not a post to talk about yourself but the sad reality of millions, not only in USA or New Zealand.
All the stories about working class are not supposed to revolve around you or your familly, and I will even say, who cares?
You totally miss the point about overpriviledged kids who don't need to work or to try hard. You totally miss the point about most famillies trying to work 2, 3 jobs to survive and who still cannot expect a decent future for the kids.
Don't make it about yourself, about another self infatuated white dude unable to contemple the world as it is.
Great example, will use it in my studies to show many of my colleagues the danger of making statements from interpretating a moment instead of the whole story.... I'm a year one mature BA of Social Practice.....
Keep up the inspiring work...it's needed more today than ever before...one of the last platforms of informing not censored by corporate government....
Anyone who feel offended by this comic are clearly in the left column.
Having said that, you shouldn't feel ashamed or debased for being privileged. It's not meant as an attack on your character, but rather a way to illustrate that privilege is real and that those without it should receive consideration and ultimately compassion and assistance. Privilege is not something liberals made up to promote an agenda.
In terms of material wealth, my family has been solidly in the middle, but I was always fed, had parents who were invested in my schoolwork/development and always provided the essentials. They took out loans for me to go tot college and along with need-based aid, I was able to receive the same quality education as wealthier people. By this measure, I am absolutely privileged; and I would never belittle or blame those who are without it by calling them lazy and unmotivated.
This is pretty stupid.
People act like "privilege" is such a bad thing. I would hope that every parents dream is to provide their child with opportunities that they never had. Just because previous generations of Richards family worked hard and were able to provide him with every advantage he should not be looked down upon.
In this hypothetical cartoon if Paula was able to rise above her parents station in life would she not pass the benefits on to her children? If she did would her kids be looked at as having "privilege"?
That is the thing about life people today don't seem understand about life, it is not a level playing filed. The sooner you understand that and accept that no amount of tumbr blogs will change that fact the sooner you can focus on what really matters... your self.
It's not necessarily or specifically about being privileged. It's about people like you. It's about not recognizing your privilege or not using your privilege to help others get a hand up. Embrace your privilege! Use your privilege! Help people who did not have such privilege instead of blaming them, ignoring them, or bullying them!
It's not that Richard is being "looked down on". It's that he thinks he achieved his success on his own, when in fact he DID NOT!
All this comic outlines is the importance of having parents that love, care for, discipline, and have high expectations for their children. Paula's parents are largely at fault for her situation because they drove her upbringing. Richard's parents are largely to credit for his success because they could provide for him.
It's up to both Richard and Paula to do the best they can with what was provided to them at birth. That's not privilege, That's life. Life is unfair. Biology is unfair. Society is unfair.
Here's a version of your comic where Paula will learn from her parents mistakes. And in correcting those mistakes will allow her to raise Richard to have a better life than she had.
That's how society corrects unfairness. That's how the species improves.
I started out in paula place, but with hard work and persistence and sweat i am approaching richards place, and yes i believe i deserve it, because i worked for it
Omg, right? Why can't poor people buy more money?
Granted some people are like Paula, who had to take care of her poor parents who got sick. Other people might be disabled, and really be unable to learn skills, or function like a healthy human being.
But, at some degree you must admit, SOME people, are actually the result of their actions. Imagine that... am I right?
Two major things that people do to make their life difficult is, choosing leisure over studying when young, having kids (sometimes several) before having a solid personal economy.
But what's worse... choosing excuses over responsibility. It's not their fault. There's always something else to blame... the "system", whatever that is, is to blame, but not them.
Hence... why would they keep their kids making the same mistake?
You've clearly missed the whole point of the comic strip.
You do realize in a lot of cities, the school you go to is dictated by where you live right? Kids from Rich neighborhoods go to well funded schools, kids from poor neighborhoods go to crappy schools. Also did you not notice Paula's parent couldn't always be active engaging parents because they were busy working 2-3 jobs
@José, absolutely everyone is the product of both their actions and their circumstance, and anyone who thinks they are entirely one or the other is deluding themselves. Both people in the comics worked hard, both had supportive parents. And yet..
While it is true to some extent that every child is a product of his or her parents, I am going to have to agree with Alex Burnell. Unfortunately, you along with many others will miss the whole point of this comic strip. And the reason why will stem from some deeper sort of misunderstanding. People will claim that it’s the parents fault, but what you fail to acknowledge is the (what I like to call) underprivileged-cycle that caused Paula’s parents to be different-minded than Richard’s parents.
A handful of us think of the word “underprivileged” and only see one big difference between Richard and Paula. Richard is seen as the man who was raised well enough by his loving parents whom are academically successful and are therefore financially well-off. While Paula is deemed the product of her uneducated and therefore “horrible” parents who weren’t able to raise their child “correctly”.
Coming back to my definition of underprivileged-cycle, instead of putting the blame on anyone why don’t we dig a little deeper and see the root issue at hand here? By digging deeper I mean understanding Paula’s parent’s story. Where did they start off? How did they end up being a part of the underprivileged community? But while you’re digging don’t forget, that every single person’s story is different. Therefore Paula’s story will be different from mine. And Jose Pedro Diaz is right, every single person has the ability to be in control of their life. With enough determination, we can not allow the past discourage us and instead we can choose to let it empower us in achieving our dreams.
So by the strip's own admission, Paula had to marry out of poverty. Novel idea.
how can you be such a bad personnnnnnnnnnnnnn
No, sorry, a personal attack was unnecessary.
PAULA'S PARENTS CANNOT HELP HER WITH SCHOOLWORK BECAUSE THEY NEED TO WORK LATE HOURS AND PAY THE RENT.
Like, period. Like, they can't. They can't help her with schoolwork. They need to pay rent.
They are not as highly compensated at their jobs as the other dude's parents are, so they need to work at them for more hours.
Or they would be kicked out of their apartment.
Like.... I don't........
What exactly about that basic fact is unclear to you?
Wait, is this trolling?
IS THIS WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE TROLLED?
1) I can't actually tell if you are the the problem with society or if this is some kind of disruptivist performance art
2) If it is disruptivist performance art, that doesn't make you not an elitist
Your version is beautiful. Thank you for fixing this guy's cynical comic and turning it into something lovely and true!!!
Take a deep breath Emily. I am sorry to tell you that this is a fictional story and the characters that you love do not exist.
There is no need to get angry.
Great job being privileged and ignorant about reality in poverty. I also like how "Life is unfair. Biology is unfair. Society is unfair." And these unchangeable absolute truths must be embraced and accepted with no attempt to mitigate such injustices or to change society to make it more fair.
I'll never watch A Bug's Life the same way again.
Let’s go through all the things you haven’t addressed:
Paula is raised in a bad environment because her parents are poor
“They let TV raise their child”
Her parents are both working 2-3 jobs and can’t be there for her like Richard’s wealthy parents can.
“kids who are also the product of inattentive parents”
How does a parent who works 2-3 jobs stay sufficiently ‘attentive’?
“Paula’s parents have low expectations that Paula inherits for herself”
Paula’s parents realise she’s struggling with her work because she a) is going to an underfunded school, and can’t be sent to a better, private school because her parents are poor b) doesn’t have her parents there to help her with her work (because they’re working) c) doesn’t have a tutor to help her because tutors cost money, and Paula’s parents are working to get by.
“juggling work and polytech, still getting in debt”
Completely unaddressed by you
Father is sick, Paula needs to take care of him, which impacts her life, and has to pay his bills, which impacts her life and puts her in further debt
Completely unaddressed by you
Paula marries into wealth
Wow, a magical, feasible solution. Why don’t all poor people just marry into wealth? Economic inequality and poverty is solved.
“Paula and Roger love him”
Implying Paula’s parents don’t love her because they were too busy working to pay the bills to stay at home with their kid? For real? That’s low.
“Richard’s parents will do anything for their baby”
Like come home from their high-paying 9-5 job and help with his homework
“Richard goes to a great school. Because his parents a
I agree with Emily Carmichael. This adjustment misses the point entirely.
The point is, BOTH PARENTS LOVED THEIR CHILD AND DID EVERYTHING THEY COULD FOR THEM. But due to different backgrounds, the results were different.
Richard: He was born into a financially secure family. They had enough time off to be able to push him, and enough money to get him into things, such as extra lessons, tutors, a good school. There is no doubt they love him, but Richard also never had to worry about his future. His future was secure. If he stumbled, his parents would step in. If his parents died, they would leave everything to him. He didn't even need their pushing. He got it because his parents wanted the best for him and gave it to him on a plate which he chose to eat from, but as a result - he grows up in privilege. That is just fact.
Now Paula. Her parents are poor. Very poor. They are also probably uneducated compared to Richard's parents, and they don't know better. Now Paula grows up, with her parents working every single day for long hours. Both need to work because if they didn't, there wouldn't be a roof over Paula's head. They want the best for Paula, and it's in their power to make sure she has a roof over her head, food to eat, somewhere to sleep. That's their love. They don't have the time to push her the same way Richard's parents do because they're already doing everything they can.
When her father is ill, it's proof of his love. He is in hospital from the years of hard work caring for her. And she loved him enough to care back, instead of study.
As if parents not giving all a child need = bad parents. News flash, you don't get to decide all you can give to your children. You can't give what you don't have. Many parents feel very guilty about not being able to do as much as they would like but still did the best they could with what they had...
The comic mostly highlight parents here, but it could have been many other variables. If you were always able to counter everything by just "working harder" in your life I can tell you that from my perspective you are some lucky motherfucker. Try being forced to stop working because of health issues and then entertain the "hard work" solution.
If hard work and willpower was all that was required, most people in poor countries working 16 hours per day in conditions you would never dare to endure would all be bazillionaire. Reality is they are not... very far from it...
It is soooo much more complicated than that. Just learn to be grateful for what you have and were able to do. Even if you had to work 120 hours per week with half a brain, one leg and no family to get all you got, the fact remain you were able to somehow pull it off despite all that. Adversity, in your specific setting, can be a boon that led you to become an example of perseverance and of god knows what else. The point remains some made it, while many didn't. Why if, like we saw, hard work can't be the sole explanation? Maybe, just maybe, something was working in your favor in a form or another and you weren't as disadvantaged as you thought you were after all (and vice-versa)...
So people who work hard and have goals can actually make a difference, regardless of their social or financial status. Nothing is impossible, and we shouldn't teach kids that they will never be more but encourage them to be their best. Social status doesn't define us, what we do does. Sure there will be some kids that will grow up and expect things to be handed to them, but who is to say their parents had it handed to them? Some people come from a long line of hard workers who had very little or nothing to their name, and years and years of dedication and effort they grew to become successful and wealthy, and GAINED that privilege. That's what the American Dream is all about! Having the opportunity to better yourself and become that person you've always wanted to be and have the life you've always wanted. We all have that opportunity equally, just some of us have started on it sooner and made it easier for our descendants to get out there themselves.
This guy lives in a fantasy world, thats the problem with rich white people, everything comes so easy for you people. Well guess what not every child's parent can be home watching them 24/7, someone has to pay the bills and rent. That boy got almost everything handed to him, he did not pay for his own school, his father's hard work got him the internship, he did nothing except go into a path that was already made for him. Not all parents can do that, my parents could barely afford paying rent, you really think they had money to pay for my school tuition. I had to use financial aid and loans. The world revolves around money, not loving parents. It pisses me off so much, how dumb some people can be. But at the same time, my parents pushed me, so the B that girl got would not be enough with my parents. My parents pushed me to do better, that is something I can agree with, but there was no such thing as getting a tutor, yea f'n right, who the f*** is that rich to afford a freakin tutor???? I sure as hell am not. And your a moron for thinking that every parent can do this.. shame on you. Idiot...
Oh and your basically saying that because she could not get a good job, she married a rich guy? How the hell is that making her life better???? What garbage is this?
I identify and agree with this comment so much. Both the original comment and this edited comic Are spot on. Having loving parents is not enough. It helps but studies of adopted children have shown that the IQ of children adopted at birth is directly proportional to the socioeconomic status of the adoptive parents. That means money and achieved education level Of the parents factor in.
Part of being a good parent is being a good provider. If you are working a low wage job and have little to know education than your child will be at a disadvantage compared to children of higher socioeconomic backgrounds. love and attention do help but they don't erase the difference.
Fact of the matter is that most people don't prepare for having children. They have accidents or have their children earlier than they should. Convincing themselves that it doesn't Matter as long as you give your child enough attention but the issue is more complex than that.
I'm an adoptive mother and I'm a teacher so i know these stats well.
the fallacies and violence of capitalism that despises and criminalises poor people, the majority of whom are people of colour. the 'reality' that you are talking about is the ultimate denial of the anxiously privileged, it is a tool of an active oppressor. 'that's just how it is,' 'that's the reality,' what a vague crock of nonsense. what a convenient, shortsighted conclusion. all privilege needs to be challenged in the capacity of justice and not denial. i believe that we would all stand to gain if we paused and identified and then challenged our own privilege. instead of the usual, those who are at the top pat themselves on the back and completely ignore external factors; those who are at the bottom collapse with exhaustion, forget about themselves and crumble under the weight of external factors. it's easy to dismiss the legacy of economic disenfranchisement and the multiple iniquities that the majority of the world has been and is experiencing today, especially when you are comfortable and sedated, driven by a system that encourages reckless and impulsive 'individualism.' anyway...
Ofcourse!!!! You nailed it... Marry a rich guy.
I'm something in between Paula and Richard, perhaps closer to Paula because I live in a 3rd world country, so I have even less tools to grow than her. And I realize the world isn't fair, but this comic is certainly biased. It feeds the idea that people aren't in control of their life, they drift through life as victims... and should just sit and wait for aid.
I think, in general, what usually happens is that Paula probably didn't spend that much time studying as the comic suggest, am I wrong? Lets be honest .. And Richard parent's were never for him, and forced him follow a certain career, that's why he's a selfish prick when he grows up. I mean Paula spent that much time studying hard, yet can only get entry level jobs? Is it also "always" the case that parents get sick too soon for her to finish studies? That's so biased. Also, statistically Paula has several brothers and sisters, that could also help in that matter.
A big problem I see is that people are too scared to change. They get a low paying job, and stay there, spending the little money they have in things like, cellphones, flat screen TVs, even private transport. Then they need two jobs to sustain that lifestyle. I spent most of my life without any of those things, it would have been crazy for me to spend that sort of thing, instead I lived with very little and studied, and eventually got a job I'm happy with. You can mange, it takes some sacrifice, you eat a lot of rice, find places where vegetables have discount, but it's not that terrible. But people are scared, and this comic doesn't help at all.
do you know that being from a third world country doesn't exempt you from privilege? actually, it becomes mode damming being on the lower top percentile of a poor country and spout crap about the lazy people who actually generate the wealth the upper class lives of.
look, it's good that you got out from wherever class you happened to be born into, it's amazing, really, just try to count all the little times you were a bit luckier than most, small things that added up to your very real effort got you here. think about this: a lot of people worked their asses and minds too, but simply had a bit less luck, a bit less education, or an untreated condition, maybe one or two complexes fired up at the wrong moment... and it's over for them, they are out of the race and didn't even realized that.>
tell you what, I count all those little lucky times, or else i will become a preachy prick too... again. but, think this too: on this system -the one "lazy people" blames- misery, poverty, -a very real hell- it's still there, it just need one small slip to go back, one tiny miscalculation... so no matter what, keep your guard up, man.
And that's the crux of the matter, the system is not even close to fair, it allows for an inhuman amount of misery -that keeps breeding more misery- that's what this comic is about.
The comic merely points out that there are life differences that advantage some and disadvantage others. Paula would have to be highly gifted or very lucky to do better than Richard no matter how hard she worked. However, at the same time it is undoubtedly true that those who work hard, delay gratification and take responsibility are likely to be more successful than those who don't. In the end life is unfair but that doesn't mean we should sit back and expect to be looked after nor should we do nothing to try and redress the imbalance where we can in order to assist those who are disadvantaged through no fault of their own.
Are you ignoring the frames where Richard had his parents pay for university while Paula had to pay for Polytechnic? You cannot say that was due to superior studying by Richard.
Assuming you are from a developing country like me, you should take a more careful look at what you mentioned. In part, because when the disparities between classes (and God knows how I hate this name) are so evident, such as the situation in Brazil, one cannot only dedicate his life to study, while his family lives miserably. How many hours would you study if you were in the middle of a shootout, hidden above a table? Howany dedication would you have if you had to work your ass for like 14 hours a day just to eat? Or how well would you be to concentrateon your books if you had to travel on a daily basis the distance of 150km just to reach education?
It isn't only a matter of choice, but, as someone said on this discussion, it's a balance between circumstances, dedication and opportunities.
I myself was in Paula's place most of my life. I barely saw my parents because they were too busy working, had to work, giving music lessons, to pay for my studies, have a mentally ill brother and even now, that my life starts to take off, I recognize that if it wasn't for a bit of luck, I could certainly be on Paula's feet right now.
Growing up in a situation resembling the right column, I was fortunate to have parents who still would take the time to help me with studies when they could. As time passed, my family found themselves becoming more financially stable and I now find myself in Richards situation, literally getting an internship through my parents. I think as my life has transitioned this way, it has been extremely tempting to think that my opportunities and the things I've achieved have been through my own hard work and that this will be the pattern in the future. However, this piece really reminds me of what could have so easily happened if my parents didn't go that extra mile, or if I stayed in the 'right column' until now. While we shouldn't be afraid/ashamed to take advantage of the connections we have, we certainly cannot be ignorant of how fortunate we are to have them and how much of a difference it makes.
Toby, while I agree with the above that the "middle sort" above may often be forgotten I think the main point was that the privileged may often not even notice the privileges they receive. And those privileges are often based on the schools they attend, which are based on locations earned by those four jobs. There are those who cannot even be hired based on prejudice, racism, classicism, and isms I can't even think of. So- I think the point is more observing what's given to you. Notice what you've been given that you did not earn - we pretty much notice when we're working 4 jobs! and I applaude your hard work. You're amazing!
Become an entrepreneur or wallow in crumbs thrown at ... that is the theme of the times. The sooner one realizes this and puts into action the better off one's chances of a better life.
May be the system-makers can help people in this by abolishing employment - esp. private employment. So that people don't keep chasing the mirage and know by default that everyone needs to make it on their own.
Karen, we're not trying to shame the rich. Wouldn't be nice if poor people could afford the few things that could help them better themselves, that the rich take for granted? Post secondary schooling, access to better health care, decent pay for good work? This isn't an "us vs them" fight that we're trying to instigate - it's a "we're in this together!" community that we should be trying to achieve.
One of the most advantageous privileges is not an additional boon but a lack of additional burden. There's advantage in walking up a stopped escalator over climbing one moving the wrong way, It's energy they did NOT have to exert overcoming obstacles they can put to getting the most from their hard work to move ahead, while others use theirs trying not to lose ground.
A pretty girl will never understand the difficulties that a more homely one will face, because she doesn't even realize that the smile on the face of the person interacting with her is there because they find her pleasing to look at, and don't have the personal experience or understanding of how it feels to be scowled at or ignored instead of greeted when she approaches someone. She will tell her less attractive friend that all she has to do is ASK for help and she will get it, says she's being too timid or not trying hard enough. But SHE has not had to endure the pain of getting the irritable impatience of the person who is less than pleased to interrupt their moment of peace or busy-work to look at her with annoyance at the intrusion.
SHE is used to faces that are pleased to have an opportunity to flirt or show off for her, and they ask "How can I help you?" in a pleasant voice, who are approachable because they like being approached by attractive people. But otherwise are eye-rolling, or sighing with exasperation "Yeah,...what?" to someone they barely see, and body language says it doesn't matter what "what?" is because it is sure to be a chore to accommodate,
Brilliant, simply brilliant!
there are always a few exceptional persons in the underclass that can work their way out. what isn't fair is the masses of the underclass who have the same abilities of those born to the haves that will end up like these in the cartoon.
Ben Carson, for example doesn't understand that because he grew up poor but happens to be smart enough to get into Yale, that sort of opportunity isn't open to everyone.
Studies show that a wealthy average student has a much higher chance of attending college than a smarter poor student.
I am one of 80 volunteers who personally read/assist K-2 grades one-on-one at a poor preforming school. THe elementary school is attended by children from mainly low-income households. Last year 4000 volunteer hours were logged in. We are now in the 2nd year of the program. Teachers are reporting a huge improvement in the readiness of children who were in last years program.
Will the long range prognosis for these under privileged children change for the better? We are aiding them on the first step. Who is going to step up with the necessary support to put them on the continued road to success?
As my children and my grandchildren have gone on to succeed in their chosen fields, the "privilege" my family received is glaringly portrayed in the cartoon.
Thank you for a dose of reality.
And discrimination against Dalits is still rampant in India. Even in most elite colleges. Affirmative action ie reservations (in India) are looked down upon and made fun of. Upper castes have disproportionate representation in every sector in India. While Dalits are still supposed to be uneducated or semi-educated and expected to work as sweepers of group D workers (lowest work)
I think this is a great cartoon and an excellent and sadly accurate depiction of privilege or lack thereof in our society. Thank you.
That poor girl grew up and now she has to work as a cater waiter.
So true and so sad.
Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much by Sendhil Mullainathan comes to mind.
I totally agree with u. What do u think th chance of success is for the inner city youth, and I'm not just talking about white and black here. There are many underprivileged white children as well, they end up in the same position as the black youth. How can we all not see this?? How do we stop the cycle here? I'm sure education and better after school programs will help, but don't know all the answers. I see a lot of support going to the refugees in other countries and the right will tell us it's because these poor people had no choice in the war, which I just don't take, buy they also say that the poor in our own country DO have a choice and they choose the life they live. This is total BS and we must find the answer or nothing will change!
In fact, life is but all a lottery. And this comic shows it clearly with the satire pointing at the quintessencial unfairness of life: you do not choose your genes, nor your birth place, nor your family. We should all learn to be more empathetic and more caring by seeing farther than our own shortages and efforts--especially if we have by any possibility seen this comic. No one merit his bad lucks, no one deserves his chances either (at one hundred percent). So let us help around ourselves instead of being egocentrical jerks...
I live in a third world country (Argentina) and I see this a lot.
I come from a working class family, I am the first person in my family to get a degree in a prestigious university (here, luckly are public and with good level) and I really can emphatize with Paula (and also I have seen a lot of guys like Richard since I was lucky), it is not the same if you have so spend your energy not only in studying, but in working,
Higher classes are spoiled and they come with this message of "merit" there is no such thing, there are classes, people with money that gets more money by just having money and making us believe that we "can do whatever we want" but is just a simply lie, a product of marketing.
Your story is so well told that I am sharing it once again - a year after I first saw it. Thank you very much from halfway around the world
I find it interesting that the artist wrote about privilege vs. lack of privilege while many of these comments are about how the person without privilege and/or her parents are slackers. It's akin to blaming the rape victim for the rape (What was she wearing? Had she been drinking? What was she doing there?) rather than blame the rapist (What was he wearing? Had he been drinking? What was he doing there?). Clearly some people do not understand their own undeserved privilege or power.
And yes, I know it's sexist to assign these genders this way but, hey, it fits the statistics.
Sad sad sad, and mainly because those with privilege will scoff at the cartoon and not realise how much truth there is in it
The next drawing in the sequence will be ponytail being pulled
The second part: RIchard went drugs, failed several times, bankrupted, became sick and died with his daughter crying along his bed. Meanwhile, Paula worked hard, became a success, married to her colleague, taught her son to work hard etc. Paula's son name is Richard, and Richard's daughter name is Paula. The third part about their fate is equal to the first part.
The lack of 'a' between "on" and "plate" is literally the only thing wrong with this cartoon!
^Your description of the "Middle" sounds a lot like Paula. You're working multiple jobs and still in debt. Programs designed to help Paula are designed to help you as well. The answer to your problems will never be lowering taxes. You need more tax funded programs and higher expectations of your employers. When people argue for more progressive reforms, they want them to be funded by asking the very wealthy to pay a fair share of taxes, so families like yours and Paula's can get by without killing yourself working multiple jobs.
Jon, you are right. Many families overcome difficulties and achieve great things as your family did. But sometimes families do not have the strength to do this or do not have the knowledge to do what works.
I have worked with many of those families, good families, trying their best to make things work for thier children often against great odds. Their kids are bright but never get the chance to show it. Most of them never dream of going to higher education and have to settle for low paying jobs.
I think the message is tyhat we have to provide support for families as well as individual kids and that we (teachers) need to be more aware of wht is goping on in the home before we rush to judgement.
When I askeed one student why she was late she told me that she had been making sure her brother cleaned his teeth after breakfast. When I asked this 7 year old why she was doing that she told me they had had sweets for breakfast because that was all there was in the house. The mother had left in despair and this 7 year old was trying to hold the family together.
An extreme example perhaps but one that gets played out more often than it should.
be thankful for your family - as you are - and ready to help others wwhen they need help.
This is very perceptive and true. The privileges enjoyed by the upper middle class (let alone the truly wealthy) make big differences. Having been on the working class side of things, I've seen what a head start these kids get.
BUT...what is the solution? Should we deprive Richard of his benefits? Can we raise all "Paulas" to Richard's level? Life is unfair. Some kids are smart, others slow. Some athletic, some weak. Some beautiful, some ugly. There will never be an even playing field. Why is money any different?
I think the only solution, is for Paula to bust her ass until one day she gets close to being a mother to Richard. Will she be even to Richard? Not close. Is this fair? No. But it is the only way to improve. As a Paula myself, I am doing my best to be in a place where my kids can be more like Richard.
(But I agree it's maddening to see Richards cluelessly gloat about meritocracy.)
Scientific investigation has established clearly the marked differences in both opportunities and outcomes between those who live privileged lives with greater wealth and those who do not. Only those who have are in denial about the effect on those who don't. They try to mask the differences in terms of "working harder", "demonstrating greater initiative", and implying that those who get ahead or somehow more morally superior than those who don't. But research clearly demonstates the contrary. The saddest part of this is that even for the wealthy and privileged, it is clear that our economy works so much better and they are more successful when there is less inequality in out society. What we need is a vision of a rising tide lifting all but based on greater equality as the driver and not on the top-down logic of supply-side economics.
I GREW UP IN BOTH COLUMNS. MY PARENTS HAD LITTLE MONEY, BUT TONS OF BOOKS. AT THIRTEEN I READ "CRIME AND PUNISHMENT" IN A BARREL SLAT HAMMOCK UNDER A SCUPPERNONG VINE, AND ATE THEM AS I READ. WE HAD DINNERS TOGETHER AND CONVERSED. MY MOTHER HAD WRITTEN FOR THE FEDERAL WRITERS PROJECT AND ACTED IN THE UNC PLAYMAKERS, THEN TOURING THE COUNTRY DOING FOLK PLAYS. AFTER MARRYING MY FATHER SHE WAS STUCK HOME WITH TWO BRATS. ONCE SHE SAID, "IF I DON'T GET ADULT CONVERSATION, I'LL GO INSANE." I TOOK AT VOW AT 15 TO NEVER GET PhD. (SOON MY BROTHER'S BOOK ON CHAOS AND COMPLEXITY IN URBAN SYSTEMS WILL COME OUT FROM MIT.) WE HAD NO TV: THANK GOD! (THOUGH WE'RE ALL ATHEISTS. LATE, GREAT. DAVID CARR DIAGNOSED ME AS A "WASAM": WHITE ANGLO SAXON ATHEIST MYSTIC). IF I ASKED MY FATHER A QUESTION ABOUT GEOLOGY, I'D GET A PRECISELY 50 MINUTE LECTURE WITH LOVELY ILLUSTRATIONS. NOW BOTH OUR PARENTS ARE DEAD. MY FATHER PREDICTED KATRINA BEFORE HIS DEATH, BASED ON WHAT THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS DID TO THE MISSISSIPPI. (WHICH THE TIMES FINALLY COVERED.) THEY CAME TO INTERVIEW HIM ABOUT WHETHER THE EVERGLADES COULD BE SAVED. DON'T KNOW WHAT HE TOLD THEM. MY BROTHER, A COUSIN AND I WERE ALL IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. ANOTHER COUSIN WROTE A BOOK ON THE GREENSBORO LUNCH COUNTER SITIN: "LUNCH AT THE 5 & 10".
HE WAS HAPPY TO DIE, PICKED ME UP AT RALEIGH DURHAM AIRPORT BEFORE 9/11 AND TOLD ME "I'VE PROGRESSED TO INCONTINENCE." (STUPID FREUDIANS DON'T BELIEVE IN A DEATH INSTINCT. ("BEYOND THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE"). HE EXCITEDLY TOLD A FRIEND, "I'M GOING TO DIE TONIGHT!"
There is another way that people once moved to a better life. I got a low-level job with a big corporation that then trained me for a high level job. Internal training. On company time. That does not seem to happen anymore.
Exactly - in current times individual development has to take place in personal time. Reducing the work hours is one means to increase this personal time.
I am certain quite a lot of people can do better with less work hours by using the free time in bettering their opportunities / themselves or at least life style. At the same time money should come from work (alone) - but too much work spending all the active hours at work is only counter-productive for an individual in the long run.
This is so true, whats crazy is .. this is an exact depiction of my life.. I am in debt for school, I need a loan, but I don't have a job, so no loan. I already used up all my financial aid and loans that were offered by the school. I have 2 classes left to complete my Bachelors in English Literature. I cannot take those classes until I pay my tuition for this spring semester which is about $5,000. I don't have a job, and am currently using a loan from last semester to pay for rent and other expenses. I applied to so many places for a job, and of course many places rejected me, I know some jobs are racist, such as Barnes and Nobles. I was overqualified for the job, yet they did not hire me. Same with Subway, again I am overqualified, yet no job. It is getting frusterated, I have had jobs before, I worked my entire 4 years in doing my Bachelors, and I worked when I was getting my Associates. Luckily I had enough financial aid to cover my tuition for my Associates which I did in Houston. I am getting my Bachelors in western New York. Not the city, but still crazy expensive. I have had to move so many times in my life, because my parents could not afford the places. I am now living alone. My mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and my father left her. I am desperately looking for a job. It is so tough for me living alone, and I have a cat. I really wanted to get a job that was related to writing, and publishing, but now I will take any legal job I can get. It is so depressing, because I only have 2 classes left to finish my Bachelors.
This is my situation almost exactly. I live in Central NY after having come within a couple of courses to finish my engineering degree in Michigan when I ran out of financial aid. On the off chance you come back to read this, check out AmeriCorps! After a term of service (9-12 months) you get over $5k in an education award that can be used to pay existing student loans or tuition and you can earn up to two of theses awards. You only earn a minimum wage stipend but you do get health insurance for yourself. It also looks good on a resume and you get to work in a community-service oriented capacity vs a lot of other minimum wage jobs that are less than satisfying. I am finishing my degree at a SUNY school with my AmeriCorps education benefit. I hope you come back to see this!
Afraid I detect a bit of a strawman, here.
I'm one generation removed from Poor White Trash; my father waited tables, scrubbed dishes, dug ditches, and roughnecked in the oilfields... to pay his way through CalTech.
Seems poor hard-working single mothers can set high standards, too - Standards that their offspring can live up to and exceed.
Oh, and the nose-in-the-air brigade? Neither my father, nor any of his siblings, nor any of my generation, nor any of our children.
(BTW: My wife? More of the same - It's not exactly rare)
Maybe if Paula's parents didn't have to work so hard, they could have invested more time and money into her education. Maybe if she hadn't had to wash dishes, she could have worked harder in school. Maybe if she had someone vouch for her for an internship, she could be the one throwing a catered party. Maybe then when Paula became a mother she could provide for her children in a way that gives them privilege. Maybe somewhere along Paula's family tree one of her relatives was someone of privilege who didn't take life seriously and lost everything. Paula just happened to be unlucky enough to inherit that.
Life is unfair and luck does exist. Maybe not in the supernatural sense that involves black cats and four-leafed clovers, but the circumstances you find yourself in when you are born into this world are random and some people draw better than others. And some people learn the drive they need to succeed regardless of their situation. And some people work really hard but continue to eat shit for the rest of their lives because of circumstances beyond their control. And others still do nothing to contribitute to the world and continue to live the high life supported by their privilege. Paris Hilton would be an excellent example. NO ONE can say that she worked hard for what she has. Her father might have. Her grandfather might have. She did not. But you can bet she will be privileged til the day she dies. And I'm willing to bet each and every one of you knows at least one person who works their hardest but never seems to get what they deserve.
and herein lies another problem...the person who identifies as "the middle" in the comment above does not recognize that he or she is actually Paula. There is no middle anymore, thus the vast chasm between Richard and Paula.
Richard thinks that this is the way life is. He has arrested development just like Mitt Romney has. Also crazy stupid rich, such as trophy hunters, and CEO's, Boards of Director's who do note pay their own taxes. It comes from Miscellaneous Compensation. Read a prospectus sometime, it is in there.
I've never seen so many bullshit in my life in a single comic page, my dad lost his dad when he was 1 month old he was raised alone by her mother, she was a really poor woman and already had a child before him. When he became 6y/o he got a step father which was alcoholic and gave him another brother, his step father used to hit him, his brother and his mother, after he grew up he got get rid of him by force at the age of 17y/o. A few month after he got rid of his dad, he had to leave to another city all alone to find a work, he started working at the Pepsi at same time he was studying for an engineering degree (All payed by himself and a bonus from Pepsi for his good grades) later he aplied for a job at the Oil Industry he had his first son (me) when he was 23yo and he had little more than nothing not even our house was ours, but I grew up watching him becoming one top tier engineer at the Oil Company, he and my mother raised me and my sister and gave us everything, my father became someone while his brother is still living at the same place in the ghetto.
You want to know the difference between him and his brother?
LESS WHINNING AND MORE HARD WORK, that is what he says to me always and I believe him because I saw it with my very own eyes.
Maybe in your comic "Richard" parents didn't have it as easy as his son, but some people never see beyond what their envy allows them to see.
Yeah there are some important details missing from your lovely story here. Exactly how did he manage to finance an engineering degree with one job - even if he got a bonus? Where did he live? Who cooked for him? Who did his laundry? An engineering degree is extremely rigorous. A certain percentage of students drop out after the first year in their major. Also, how did he manage health care? I'm sorry, but somewhere, somehow, your father got some extra help in the form of public assistance or loans OR he did something he doesn't want to own up to. And what do you mean "a few month after he grew up he got rid of his dad" then "he had to go to another city all by himself"??? What happened to your grandmother?
I used to believe these idealistic stories but I'm a middle-aged woman now, I've seen way too much, learned way too much and most people who start out where your father did do not get ahead unless they got their hands dirty at some point. Or they got massive assistance (hence, they didn't do "all by themselves through hard work".) Or they happened to have the BEST LUCK EVER in terms of a combination of a healthy job market + flourishing economy + cognitive intelligence + ample social and educational programs. Which does not happen to everyone through no fault of their own. THAT is what this comic is alluding to. And THAT is not BS.
Dude, you are trolling.
Nothing like a little ignorant over-simplification. It's just those two choices. I never had anything handed to me. I had to work hard for everything that I've ever gotten. Perhaps the girl should have worked her way through school instead of getting loans that she couldn't afford?
Work her way through school? How old are you? This is 2015 -- check tuition prices nowadays and then come back and we'll talk more when you have a grasp of current reality.
sigh... Think further than your own life you self absorbed douche.
How can people possibly take a fictional story for something real ?
This is a problem in most people : they see life as a story, they make analogies. You cannot make right decisions in your life when you want to believe that you are a victim.
It is too easy to blame on the others : "my parents didn't love me, my family was poor, ..."
People always compare themselves to others that have more of what they want but never compare to people that have very little or nothing.
What don't the author add an other character born in Baghdad or Tehran ?
What about people living a non-material life ?
Are we supposed to believe that poor people (of very rich and democratic countries) have a bad situation ?
Is life a pissing contest for the best victim ?
I'm not saying the author is bad but his work (on a plate) seems like trolling to bet a quick buzz and I hope he'll use his recent buzz for something less stereotypical and more personal.
I can't believe anyone would think this cartoon would change anyone's opinion. It makes me think that Elizabeth had lame parents who made bad choices. Don't make babies that you can't afford to care for.
Geez, Richard. I think your point should be, Men, don't get girls/women pregnant unless you are prepared to take personal, financial and educational responsibilities for your child(ren). Until they're 20. If everyone waited until they could "afford" to have children, there'd be fewer born. And then who'd look after you in your old age?
Or maybe you're making sure you can afford decades of access to good health and housing before you "choose" to become old.
Maybe you've made sure you'll never experience depression, ME, MS, anxiety, macular degeneration, diabetes, spina bifida etc.
Maybe you're too well organised and hard-working to be affected by the stuff most people experience.
Perhaps you've got things planned so neatly that you can't spare empathy for those less - organised? privileged? arrogant?
Don't know about other countries, but in the context of the UK this doesn't really make sense.
I felt the cartoon implied it was somehow Richard's fault that Paula struggled in life. The third slide in particular annoyed because it implied that his parent's didn't work hard for their child.
The sixth slide made no sense - low income students get grants from the UK government and there are plenty of families that aren't rich enough to afford it but are too wealthy to get grants - they get hit harder than Paula did. Polytechs don't even exist in the UK anymore.
The 7th slide was even worse. It seems to imply that rich people don't get ill, or that they are immortal or something, whilst ignoring the existence of the NHS, which helps people regardless of income.
The 8th slide made no sense based on what we are told of Paula's situation - there's no reason for her to get into debt apart from education, and student loans don't affect your credit rating.
For all we know Richard's ancestors could have been in exactly the same situation as Paula, and similarly Paula's ancestors could have had Richard's life and fallen on tough times.
Social mobility does exist in the western developed world - where this comic is set. There is still some way to go, but this comic doesn't offer anything new onto the table.
Loved the art style though!
This comic is interesting. It is obviously very biased...the author's previous work shows that he has a very biased opinion on the matter so it is not surprising. There is an easy solution to this problem, but many people shy away from placing blame where they should. So who is to blame? Paula's parents.
We live in a society that no longer values accountability. Something so simple as asking someone to be responsible for their own actions is frowned upon. It is very simple...if you cannot afford to provide for your children, then you cannot afford to have children. It really is that simple. You can trace the issue back to panel number six on the comic...where Paula is watching TV because her parents are working two jobs. While it is admirable that they are working two jobs, the fact of the matter is that they put themselves in that situation, and further their lack of planning has endangered Paula's chances of being successful. I know, what a horrible thing to say...but the truth hurts. What would have happened if her parents waited a few extra years before having Paula? What if they looked at their finances and realized that at that point in their life, having a child wasn't the smartest choice?
Now sure, you can argue that it is their choice to have a child...they are free to do as they wish. But if they do indeed have a child when they are not financially able, then whose fault is it really? Can we honestly sit here and demonize Richard's family because they made smart choices, and coddle Paula's family because they made poor choices?
Might be a good idea to look at the bigger picture here, instead of laying the blame on individual parenting. Perhaps harking back to the time when our government thought it would be a good idea to introduce neo-liberal politics to our land - ensuring a fair whack of working/middle class people lost their jobs, which started a generational dependancy on welfare. Perhaps the words privatisation and deinstitutionalisation, may ring a bell? Or perhaps being narrow minded and ignoring the bigger picture is a good way of blaming individuals and keeping one's head firmly lodged in the sand? Can I recommend you watch an excellent documentary called "Mind the Gap" by Bryan Bruce. It's available on Youtube, and a very good way to understand the bigger picture of inequality and its outcomes. Unless you are more comfortable with your head in the sand. Then you probably wouldn't want to watch it.
That would certainly solve the poverty problem. In about 30 years there would be no poor people, because they would all die out while waiting for the "perfect" opportunity to have children. Because a large number of poor families will never be able to "afford" having children. Should they wait until they pay off a 30 freaking years of mortgage? Wait till they paid off their house, then save for the child's college, and then have the child at what age? 60? Yeah, that would solve the poverty problem all right. I just don't know who'd serve you your oysters then.
You know Jeremy, I am really baffled by people like you. You seem to live in a sort of Utopian bubble where you are unable to view another person’s life journey objectively.
You blame Paula’s parents because we see Paula watching TV. She is not watching TV in lieu of studying. What the panel conveys is that her parents are working hard and she is alone. What's the other option? To not work? In fact, we see she gets a B grade and her parents are supportive. You say they “put themselves in the situation” of having to work long hours instead of waiting a few extra years. Who's to say her parents didn’t have better-paying jobs at one time? People lose their jobs all the time due to outsourcing, bankruptcy, industry changes. Some need to relocate for health/family reasons, and the job market they end up in is limited so they take what they can get. Planning is good but it's not guaranteed. You say Richard’s family made “smart choices”. How so? Do we know exactly what choices this family made that led to their financial security? Why assume those choices were all good ones? Because the family is wealthy and white? I laugh when people suggest that wealth is a result of hard work and “smart choices”. I've seen people become wealthy from gambling, drug dealing ( in upper class communities, mind you), political handouts, exploitation of others, shady business tactics, STEALING, LYING, CHEATING, the list goes on. They reach a certain social level and they suddenly get selective memory. This is the reality we live in. "It's really that simple" you say. No, my dear, it isn't.
Are you freaking kidding me? So what are the parents suppose to do? take her with them to work? The problem is that having everything given to you, you will never understand the meaning of struggle. Her parents are WORKING!! what parrt of that don't you get???? She is at HOME! what else is she suppose to do????? Did you not watch TV as a child?? was your mom home with you as you watched TV? I know my mom was home when I watched TV. What because she is poor now she cannot even have the leisurely to watch TV? I am sure freaking Richard had TV in his house too. Blaming parents for a child watching TV is STUPID! Blaming her parents is ridiculous. No one plans to have a child, what you are saying that poor people shouldn't have sex!??? WTF? what kind of idiot are you? this is like communism or something, dictatorship perhaps? I don't know what world you live in, but its obviously not reality or this planet. Not everything in life can be planned, that is why it is called life.. maybe when something shitty happens to you, instead of blaming someone, look at yourself. It is not Paula's fault that she has to work to help her parents, and help pay for her school. It is also crazy how Richard gets a B even after his parents are home, and he has no job. That Paula should be the one giving the speech, and Richard should be the waiter. She got a B working while in school, that is hard to do. Paula is smarter than Richard, even though she spent most her time watching TV. WTF was Richard doing? He has time, and studies, yet he still got a B.
Even assuming you are right, you have PROVEN THE POINT OF THE AUTHOR!!!
You see, maybe Paula's parents are to blame. But even if that's true, it disproves the idea of "Equality of opportunity".
THERE IS NO "Equality of Opportunity". The rich have opportunities, and the poor have few to none. And every time some Republican insists that the rich shouldn't have to support the poor with welfare and food stamps (which, as you know, is the ONLY THING that rich people regularly spout off about) they prove the point again.
Follow the family tree of the "privileged" back in time. Were Richard's parents also privileged? Were his parent's parents privileged too? Was his entire family tree privileged? Obviously not. It had to start somewhere. Someone in that family tree worked, went from nothing to something and that allowed his ancestors the benefit. Or maybe it was cumulative. Each generation added more privilege and benefit to the descendants. The result is the latest generation being very privileged. No matter how you look at it, the family as a whole contributed to Richard's success. To say that Richard doesn't deserve it is nonsense when generations of his family worked to get him there. If I work hard and help my child succeed, it's similarly nonsense to say that he/she didn't deserve it.
This is misleading propaganda from people who do not understand that the truly poor ARE getting handouts. They get free food, free heat and rent, free childcare and can go to college for free... If they also work a crappy job, seasonal or part time job, they can also get a $10,000 tax refund...w/o having pain in a dime. When they spend all their money on game systems and big screens - instead of rent, they just live for free until evicted. After that they are too lazy to move out their belongings- so they leave most of them behind and get new stuff.
wow that's pretty heartless and rather narrow minded in my opinion
The "Priveledged" s**tlord is a white dude and the oppressed person is a hard-working vaguely ethnic woman... of course. And then it really goes off the rails. This is the cancer of comics.
In reality...Both Paula and Richard won the lottery at birth.
Paula got $5 million.
Richard got $10 million.
Throughout their lives, each one worked with what they had, leaving some up to chance, some up to social connections, and most up to hard work.
In the end, Paula is a greedy little bastard because she refuses to acknowledge that she won the lottery. She ignores anyone less fortunate than she (99% of the earth's population) while blaming people like Richard because she didn't win a a few extra million dollars at birth.
Paula is eternally the oppressed, but never the oppressor.
So, what is the prize when you win the Oppression Olympics anyway? Must be something cool given how popular it is.
Ok I just wanna say I grew up Paula but now I'm Richard. Everything in life breaks down to the 3 c's:
CONDITION-where I'm from/who my parents are
COGNITION-how I process my condition
CHOICE-what I do with what I know
U can only control 2 out of three.
Of course I can't choose my parents, neighborhood, color, etc. my parents chose to stay in the Paula zone their whole lives. Maybe they couldn't perceive it? Either way they chose their lives and and my condition.
But once my cognition changed, the way I saw my environment changed & stopped thinkin that 'everyone here will turn out the same', I saw that we have choices..
Choice is so powerful! True enough Paula faces struggles Richard doesn't. But she can CHOOSE to overcome that like Richard can CHOOSE to fail regardless to what he was given!
Bottom line: your life and it's ENTIRE current condition is a product of your thinking and choices! Regardless to whom or what no exceptions!(unless u are a baby or a retard!)
One must choose to think and behave differently that those around him if one wishes to rise above those around him... Js... Keep doin what u been doin and u get what u have always gotten..
-diary of an ex homeless man. Ex federal convict. Ex cognitively indolent human who blamed my choices on those who do better than me!
What this cartoon left out is this, the FREE VPK, free before school care, after school care, free lunches, Pell Grants plus the endless opportunities to dual enroll in both college and high school FREE in many districts today.
As far as the family a person is born into, no one should feel guilty about their ancestry. No one should use it as an excuse either.
Life isn't fair. Gov't can't make it fair. Even those born into wealth are still only one case of cancer or one job loss away from losing everything. Nothing in life is guaranteed to anyone.
God has a plan for every person born. Rich or poor, CEO or waitress. Better to be the best person you can be, do your best and grow where you are.
We cannot live in a society that faults the privilege with having privilege, but yes, we can fault people for not using all the resources made available to them these days.
Truth of the matter is the people who really without help are those in the middle. Not poor enough for social services, yet not rich enough to have all they want.
There is no way to "solve" these sorts of "inequalities."
They should do another one about Paula, an "underprivileged" girl in the US, and Abaskuul, an "underprivileged" boy in Somalia (one of the poorest countries in the world).
"Privilege" is all about perspective. From a global standpoint, few in America are truly "underprivileged."
for the record: I grew up without much money, power getting shut off, etc. The underprivileged always tend to think that others have it easier in life, however, I have never met ANYONE (and I now work for a man worth several hundred million dollars) who thinks life is easy. Life is difficult for everyone, just in different ways.
This is such a loaded full of shit cartoon.
Fictitious overly simplified pap.
Well that was a well reasoned reply. I guess you're Richard but a straight D student version
Except that it doesn't always look like that for the lower class family. My dad tried to start a business and worked for years to get it off the ground. My mom stayed at home and took care of me and my siblings (of which I have 13), and did some babysitting to make extra money while homeschooling us. My dad sold he portion of the business to his partner, after paying off all the debt he had accumulated from starting it up, so he could become a pastor. He still doesn't make very much money. Now for the kicker. I am doing fairly well, I plan on starting my own farm here soon. One of my brothers works for a big chain auto body shop, running a crew and makes quite a bit of money doing it. Another will soon be going to school to be a police officer and has saved up a lot of money from working during the summers to help pay for it. Plus everyone he as worked for will be more than happy to give him work when he is on break from school. several of my sisters are married now and chose to be stay at home moms. Before they got married they were doing quite well taking care of themselves. I do have one brother who decided to make some stupid decisions with his life that landed him in prison but that was his choice that put him there. My parents still have some kids at home but all in all we are doing quite well for not coming from one of those privileged families.
My father came illegally from Mexico and worked three jobs to support the family. I worked from 7-4:30 and took classes 5-10:00 during undergrad. I went on to finish my graduate studies. Guess what, it was really hard. I could've quit, but I kept going. Granted my parents never got sick, but I don't really see any excuse to not get ahead in America. Do I feel for those who opt not to work hard? Maybe, but who am I to rob them of the consequences of their decisions?
You're lucky. So many others work hard and get nowhere. I wonder what privileges you enjoyed?
This comic is pandering to people that think that life should be everyone starts with the same thing, as if they are a video game characters rather than human beings. It discounts the every day personal choices and hard work that lead to success and makes it seem like Richard got everything for free. He earns no karma points for being responsible on his own and everyone should feel sorry for Paula. And that the system kept Paula down rather than her circumstance and choices after she became old enough to understand what was going on. As if Richard did no work at all. And Paula was being held back because she was female with the 'know her place' comment. She grew up in a home with 2 working parents with 2 jobs and then turns around and does the same thing? Whose fault is that? It's not Richards. Once she was old enough to make her choices then she was on her own. Hell she shouldn't even be waiting for a Richard to solve all her problems either. This type of BS is what has people thinking they should be getting more than they actually deserve.
except literally everything in this comic is wrong wrong wrong.
Turns out your wealth level has everything to do with you and nothing to do with your parents.
Dont believe me? Talk to an immigrant sometime.
Let me tell you about Philippe. He had no father.
His house was full of … wait a little… he didn’t had a house!
His single mother was working two jobs.
Philippe was bullied at school.
Nobody paid his education.
No bank was willing to finance neither!
Philippe started working hard.
He got to the top once, then fall and rise again. And again. And again. He even move to another country.
No one ever handed Philippe anything on plate.
Today he own 3 (soon to be 4) successful companies.
There is no "privilege", there is too many excuses, complaining and laziness.
Be careful of the message you send to our youth. "If you don't come from privilege, you can work hard and maybe get a little better off than your parents, but people who don't work nearly as hard who do come privilege will get ahead of you."
There is some validity behind the comic, but there's also a slippery slope into a "the world is against me, why bother" mentality. Privilege shouldn't be something we display as the problem - that it's something we are either born with or without. Privilege is attainable through hard work. Underdogs do win ... they just have to want it more, work at it harder and be unwilling to take the easy way out of "well, the odds were against me anyway."
Some of us have found our way out of poverty - and the understanding that our kids will have it better than we did is the reward for our hard work. Not an evil that we now wish to infect upon the world.
Oh, please! Let's give underachievers another excuse for their lot in life. I came from a family with two working parents that barely made ends meet. I have never received help from my parents or society. I have a brother who wallows in poverty even though he is a licensed Master Electrician. He is constantly missing work and spending unwisely and always complains how unfair it is that some people have more money than others. I was not able to go to college, but worked extremely hard to get where I am today a, 45 year old female retired millionaire. You only get out of life what you put into it. In my experience most people who are "privileged" got that way from hard work and not from complaining how unfair life is. If "underprivileged" people put their energy into improving themselves instead of whining, they wouldn't be "underprivileged." Everyone is in charge of their own destiny.
I might not mean much to you, but here's an account of one of those whiners: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/sep/21/linda-tirado-poverty-hand-to-mouth-extract?CMP=share_btn_fb
A few years ago, a government-funded video called "The Story of Julia" provided a step-by-step guide on what programs and services were available to a white woman in the US. They were so numerous that she could live from cradle to grave on handouts from American taxpayers.
So I cannot in good conscience accept what you have drawn here as either valid or thought-provoking. It's just more class envy.
The premise is two parents both working "two jobs." Let's just assume they are both working 50 hours and not "two jobs", or even just a few hours of overtime. The Australian minimum wage is $15 USD. The U.S. hourly wage is $11 at the 10th percentile. So assuming this couple is a the top of the bottom decile, they have an annual income of $55,000, with two weeks of for unpaid vacation or sick days.
This is not abject poverty. In fact, with a bit of thrift and the willingness to drive a crappy car, one can get by pretty well on $55,000 a year. They cartoonist clearly didn't want to deal with the fact that real poverty is the product of single parenthood.
So really, everything in the cartoon is a misrepresentation of the facts.
Let's assume the work 2 jobs at 20 hours each in 10 4-hour shifts and one hour travel time to either job. That's not unusual for low-paid workers in the US.
The federal minmum wage is $7.25, so together they make about 30.000 a year with no vacation or sick time and are away from home for 60 hours a week.
Most people living in poverty work 2 or 3 part-time jobs which carry NO benefits such as paid sick or vacation days and health care. (If the workers have Obamacare, they may sill have a co-pay.) Usually those jobs are minimum wage (<$8 and hour; if lucky, maybe as much as $10).
This is a ridiculous comic. Very few successful people have their college paid for (look at student loan statistics). Very few people intern or get a job because their parent's knew someone at the company. Very few people take their jobs for granted (look at statistics on how many people do not even take paid vacation).
Look at the crime in poor neighborhoods. They believe they are entitled to what someone else worked hard for. Look at the absenteeism and truancy in poor neighborhoods. Their parents are failing their children by not instilling the value of education.
Everyone can be successful and live out of poverty. Everyone has a chance at the American dream. All those successful people who did have good homes had someone in their lineage who sacrificed to give the next generation an edge and then made sure their kids used that opportunity to dig their family further out.
This comic is perpetuating the myth that poverty is thrust on people and there is no way out. Every child has a free education through high school. How that individual accepts that mission is up to them.
Make comics that inspire those parents to instill the value in education, inspire communities to focus on kids. Teach parents how to be good parents instead of making excuses and perpetuating lies.
The successful 2nd generation immigrants all have one thing in common: Parents who were active in their child's education.
Life is not fair. Some will be kings and queens and some need to plow the fields. There is plenty of opportunity for everyone to go to school. It's called scholarships. And if you are a minority, you get a bunch of scholarships that white people cannot apply for. Poor white kids have to battle for a scholarship that Everyone is allowed t o apply for. But that's not discrimination at all.....
You only presented two aspects of society which represents only a "few". There is a yet more powerful and realistic aspect which most of us relate to. This is the precursor to the so called "privileged" These are the first immigrants, the current immigrant and their siblings - people who start with nothing, work hard, sacrifice and now experience the fruits of their labor!!
I'm still on the fence about this. I grew up in a near poverty home where both my parents were always working and almost never around. I did have the privileged of going to a great high school but my elementary and junior high was not particularly good. I'm also pretty sure I had to struggle with ADHD and having ESL classes through out all of it too. I did not take any medication, and my parents were uneducated and do not speak English to this day.
There was one thing that was the secret to my success though. My parents always told me to work hard, not just for my future, not for their future, but for our future. And they believed AND encouraged their children to do the hard work / follow good people. Although we almost never see each other, that few times they did, that's what they told me to focus on. That's the real secret to success IMO. Good parents regardless of background.
I should mention that I completed my undergrad with no outstanding debt (no my parents did not help me other than provide a roof over my head), graduated in '09 in the midst of the recession and still manage to buy my California home at the age of 25. A good attitude and hard work can still go a long way regardless of background.
I have felt both sides of this. I definitely was raised as Paula and despite my IQ being genius, I had to settle for $2500 college I could pay a loan for instead of being a doctor in America which requires too many hours and money that you need outside support. Still, I am inventing a machine to treat cancer non-invasively.
@szorokin 'cept it's not.
The column on the left doesn't represent most people. It represents a teeny-tiny cadre of government connected insiders.
So here's the REAL tragicomic punchline:
The people of the right column endlessly scream that we need to give the people of the left column more power, more money in taxes, more power over our medical care, so they can make everything all better.
Maybe Pala's parent's should have waited to have a kid unil they were more financially stable?
MY problem isn't that I don't understand this, my problem is that this is referred to as "White Privilege" and that we owe black people. In your Story Paula is or could be white, Richard could just as easily be black, and that can happen as well. - You can also be missing that Paula (or in my case, me), could be white, male, and come from a little, but not a lot of money, but also could have had parents that drink, did drugs, had mental issues and did everything they could to help their kid fail. - You are also missing, that it's not those working jobs, going to school etc, that we are considering the problem. (Both sides like to make the stories extreme, with no gray area). We (my group) doesn't have a problem helping vets, people that try and fail, those that worked but can no longer do so. We have an issue with the third generation of family that hasn't worked a day in their life living next door in a house twice the size, getting more money a month then we earn, and complaining about how little the government does for them. - -- I should add, that not everyone from money, has parents that would do everything for them. so will do everything to them.
The cartoon is great.
The last bubble does contain a couple of errors in it, however. I don't know if these could be fixed. I'm also suggesting a word change, but that is just a suggestion.
"Less whining, more hard work, I say. I'm sick of people asking for handouts. No one ever handed me anything on a silver platter."
Thanks again for the great cartoon!
American English "corrections" to NZ English are neither appreciated nor appropriate.
There are some like me, as well. I have been tossed in between classes like a baseball. As a child, I grew up with a family of wealth, but they were not the softest family you've seen. They never handed me a thing physically, but helped me a lot with my learning disabilities throughout elementary and middle school, and expected me to earn everything with jobs that I found myself. I was never given a car like some kids I grew up with. In fact, I'm on a 5 year lease. Youch! I pay my own bills and often find myself working 70+ hours a week. I also love my life, I love my wife, and I love every single thing I do or have done. My family lost their wealth by the time I hit college, and I currently struggle trying to find the time or money to decide to go back to school. I may never get back to college, honestly. Here's hoping I do, though I'm in my mid 20's. I would say that I classify as the Middle, as well. I have ties to both upper and lower class. I have friends and acquaintances in every spectrum and am proud of it. I try my hardest to do the impossible. My wife is foreign and we have jumped over many hurdles emotionally and financially to get to where we are. We are going out of town for our final citizenship appointment today, actually. I'll be leaving in a few hours. When some have to go out of town for a day, they pay no mind. When I do, I stress about cell phone bills, loan payments, rent, groceries, etc because I'm losing opportunities to work. But, I know I'll be alright because I always find a way by it. I'm not in debt, or get gov help. But, I do struggle...
Interesting illustration of the concept of systemic privilege. Illustration plus a perhaps non-random creative license in making Richard ignorant of his good fortunes and a bit of a jerk? Paula was a very sympathetic character, caring for sick dad and working crappy jobs, wasn't she?
Wouldn't it be interesting to see several versions where the artist mixed up the races and genders and attractiveness and physical abilities and mental health and cognitive aptitudes of the characters? I wonder what the different impressions would be? How about a handsome white male with cerebral palsy and a mild learning disability pitted against a half-black, half-chinese medium attractiveness female engineer and athlete with a Rhodes scholarship?
Or what about the radical twist of imagination of not making Richard an asshole... What if he was sympathetic. Understood these systemic forces... What should he do?
What if he was totally on board... and wondered to himself - "what can I, in practical term, do about the situation? what is the correct response? is the right answer to feel feelings (like guilt or awkwardness) about it? Should I feel bad about my good luck? Should I help Paula? Or is Paula ok and should I seek out people worse off than her? Is that it? Which ones?
What about Paula? Does she have any responsibility relative to the people who are far less privileged than her, racially, aesthetically, geographically, physical and mental health-wise?
What about each of you or me? What should we do about inequity of privilege?
Everyone has an opinion determined by their personal experiences. Try applying some double blind conclusion techniques
Wow, the number of people complaining that a short several panel comic OMG doesn't cover every freaking life story on the planet and just paints a general picture of the problem is ridiculous. Missing the point much?
Paula didn't get to go to nice educational daycare facilities, instead she had Sesame Street because that's all her parents could afford. She did not get to go to a private school that had fully updated computers and enthusiastic teachers and academically inclined students, she had public school where the computers were slow and troublesome and the teachers were disenchanted by poor pay and uninterested students so they didn't put any effort into teaching. Her parents struggled with school when they were younger and knew that the school system they had Paula enrolled in was less than ideal so they were pleased when Paula's hard work resulted in a B when many of her peers were averaging D's or failing grades. She didn't have money for tuition that allowed her to focus on her studies and attend a school with great academic programs, she had to work to pay for a community college where again the facilities and staff were less than ideal and her having to split her attention between a job and school meant that neither effort would be as strong as if they were her sole focus.
No one is saying that Richard doesn't deserve what he has. No one is saying that Richard is at fault. Richard merely had better opportunities. He had better luck. Maybe somewhere along Richard's family tree one of his relatives was an under-privileged kid who worked real hard and earned his success. Richard just happened to be lucky enough to inherit that.
If you have two candidates for promotion at Chipotle, you'd probably pick the homely, latino kid who smiles for all the customers and fills-in for co-workers during their absences and doesn't complain about the clearly incompetent manager and spends the slower times wiping down tables over the rich, cute girl who's only doing this because her father made her but doesn't need the money to pay for her tuition and who frequently comes in hungover from the party she had at her parent's really nice house and spends all her time texting and who is always complaining about how her other co-worker can't do his job right. If someone grits their teeth and rolls up their sleeves, they will gain experience and a reputation for good work that will move them forward eventually. This is fact. You cannot deny that the right attitude and perseverance DOES work and CAN affect people's success.
The point of this comic was to make people aware of the fact that privilege often does play an unfair part in someone's success. And maybe that privilege came from a place of hard work, but then the privilege turns into a smaller need for hard work for the next generation who might be able to scoot by on mediocrity or maybe does well, but is doing equally as well as someone who has fewer privileges. No one is being blamed here. It's a matter of raising awareness.
Sometimes having money allows you to seem better equipped than you are. Sometimes being white or male or straight or black or asian or latino or female or homosexual or whatever makes you more desirable for something whether it's a job or an opportunity or affirmative action or whatever. If you have two candidates for a position in a hair salon, both equally qualified, you'd probably select a straight, black female over a straight, white male. Or a gay, white male over a straight, white male. If you have two candidates for an executive position in a advertising company, you'd probably select a straight, white male over a gay, white male, or a straight, white female, or a straight, black male. And if someone has money, they can afford to go to better schools or get nicer clothes and tools that make them look better equipped for a position. This is fact. You cannot deny that privilege DOES exist and CAN affect people's success.
2. Hard work does pay off. If someone doesn't do a good job, people will notice. Some people do pull themselves up from nothing and become very wealthy doing so. Whether their peers who don't work as hard want to admit it, their poorer performance DOES affect them. It's not always some perceived inequality that makes a person more successful. Sometimes showing up earlier than scheduled makes them look more responsible. Sometimes doing more than the minimum shows that they take pride in their work. Sometimes having a good attitude despite shitty circumstances endears the right people to them.
Nature, Nurture, and Environment are what makes a man or woman.
Lol :) Having a good laugh at this joke. It's not so much about the parents, dear Toby. Indeed, the parents can guide you and teach you the difference between success and failure. But it is YOURSELF that makes the choices of your life. For example, when Richard was learning letters, Paula was just sitting on the floor; When he was studying hard, she was watching TV; when he was working hard in school, she was running around, having fun. She surrounded herself with people of her ability - which is not much. She was happy with a 'B' and never asked more from herself.
This is what led to the final presented situation. After-all, no one really handed anything to Richard on a plate. He really worked hard for everything; parents were just a hand to hold.
I must admit I am much of a Paula. However, unlike her, I worked hard; I visited places where I knew I would meet people that do better than myself or my parents; I stood up from the crowd through hard-work and through doing more that the average kid. Indeed, I had to study and work at the same time. I started working when I was 15 but never gave up my studies. It was not easy, but it paid off. I am now Richard :) .
I don't think this is right. People of all walks of life overcome a hard upbringing to become successful all the time. My dad was piss poor and his parents were psycho. He ended up getting himself together after being a literal vacuum salesman and started his own company. Same thing with my grandfather. You're not automatically a victim of your circumstances. Some people are better looking than others, some are smarter, life isn't fair. Once you're a grown up, you're life is up to you.
If this is supposed to illustrate "white privilege", I don't buy it. The whole premise of white privilege is a meme to reduce our accomplishments to a simple a matter of opportunity, and nothing could be further from the truth.
Another American who thinks in terms of "job creators" and "takers."
Consider reading this book if you find the topic interesting.
"The kind of work performed and the sort of anxiety that besets one as a result of work are ways to divide the working class into its three strata. The high proles are the skilled workers, crafstmen, like printers. The mid-proles are operators, like Ralph Kramden, the bus driver. The low proles are unskilled labor, like longshoremen. The special anxiety of high proles is fear about loss or reduction of status: you're proud to be a master carpenter, and you want the world to understand clearly the difference between you and a laborer. The special anxiety of the mid-proles is fear of losing the job. And of the low proles, the gnawing perception that you're probably never going to make enough or earn enough freedom to have and do the things you want."
the meaning of hardwork is should not interpreted like this, not the comparation in one same generation, but from the long time generation ago, like what was your great great grand parent did?
is not like we magically born form wealthy family or poor...but what did they struggle long time before us
so stop the propaganda we born wealthy or poor. unless you do believe in magic
I prefer to give Richard a little more credit. Most guys like him that I have met KNOW they are privileged. The question is whether or not such privilege is unavoidable or even warranted.
My parents gave me a good work ethic that kept me going, And I'm thankful for that.
No excuses here.
I grew up dirt poor with crappy parents in crap hole towns that were dead ends for everyone that ended up there. Force of will got me out. Vision of how I wanted to live vs. how I was living motivated me. Growing up poor is not the whole story for people who stay there. Blaming people who were born into good families won't solve any problems for the people who weren't.
And I tell you what, I would not change a thing. Why not? Because growing up like I did makes me appreciate everything I have now and I know when times get tough I will make it. I have GRATITUDE. Not everyone can say that.
Tom - you miss the point.
The cartoon is NOT about blaming the rich kid. The point is that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS "Equality of Opportunity". Rich kids have lots of opportunities (from "Legacy" style affirmative action in employment and college admissions, to having tutors when growing up, to getting a job due to Daddy's contacts, to being able to put 100% of your waking hours into studying because you don't have to keep a part-time job to pay for your school. . . . . . and the list goes on and on.
Sometimes I think you righties INTENTIONALLY miss the point. Like, you're not so stupid as to not see it, but you delude yourself into thinking something else, just so you don't have to deal with the harsh reality that you did NOT make it by yourself.
Pretty cliched. I was born and raised like Paula, but I'm successful, so everyone assumes I'm Richard. Stereotypical cliches like this don't help. They just breed more intolerance.
While I'm glad you acknowledge that you are like Richard... that actually means you're not. If you actually read the comic through, you'll notice that Richard did not acknowledge the resources he had or the people in his life who helped him get where he is and he did not use his status to help others, either.
Don't just be like Richard. That's the reason for comics such as this. Give another person a hand up.
Very didactic, describes very clearly a tool of the capitalism
Nice easy read....
I think this is pretty darn spot on.
This is a great fictional story. It makes a lot of assumptions. Everyone is not exactly the same and everyone will not achieve the same. To assume this is how it works all the time is naive and childish. No country is perfect, but America offers the best chance to achieve what you want. Some will succeed, some won't, some will be somewhere in the middle... Stop whining...
The problem with this comic is that it focuses on just two pixels of the whole picture. We don’t see what happened in the previous generations, nor do we see those better off that Richard or worse off than Paula. Some better off than Richard will end up worse off than Paula and some worse off than Paula will end up better off than Richard. In America, the start does not determine the finish. Many of those in the 1% traversed each quintile of socioeconomic status to reach the 1% and many of their children will fall back into the pack despite their head start.
This all begs the question, what is the ask? Is there a way to promote the general welfare in a multicultural society as well without any disparity?
The polices that are said to have led to increased inequality also resulted in the greatest reduction in poverty in human history. Since 1980 world poverty declined from 50% to 21% - at the fastest rate in history
Worldwide the number living in poverty has decreased dramatically.
Help me understand the prevailing perspective here. What is the ask? Should Richard be ashamed or embarrassed of his accomplishments? Was Richard’s success inevitable because of his “privilege?’ Was Paula’s fate preordained and inescapable? I really don’t think so, but happy to hear from you.
I`ve retired from teaching , full time but am going in for 2 days to work at the secure unit. I`d love to have a comic strip like this to discuss with the kids. Is there any way it is available to be used, please? I`d have to have permission maybe from the head but I`ve always liked to get the kids to start thinking...
It works particularly painfully when applied to beneficiaries.
Its seems to me the ones who made their money are the ones who love it most. I'd imagine I suppose, that they get their attitudes from their parents, usually their fathers, who did earn their living. I know a lot of Nigerian immigrants where I come from, they're insanely industrious. They're the type to not want to let go of their wealth, or that of their family's. Especially for the sake of others, they despise the dirty open palms.
"This comic seems to be aimed at making people aware of the opportunities that they enjoy, which others do not."
This statement is based on the highly questionable thesis that opportunity is something which one is given.
Having high expectations certainly does pay. What happens, when through exposure to stereotyping and occasional and normal failure, young people don't have high expectations of themselves? What happens when you have high expectations that people should transcend stereotypes, but the people who you are trying to influence, cannot see and believe that for themselves?
Unrealistic picture of the world. Every one of the steps on the way through might be related but in many cases are not related at all. Success and poverty are not causal based upon privilege or lack of it. What is the measure of success and what is the measure of poverty? If as this comic strip suggests it is only to do with money and wealth then it misses opportunity, and individual motivations. Like others I speak from my own experience from a situation worse that the child on the right to a place that I call successful. Placing expectations that wealth or money is the thing that divides us from other people is in my opinion more the obsessiveness of the socialist position; and not the conservative position. In fact your last picture presents an entirely skewed view of how conservatives have treated me over the years - the negativity has been sourced primarily in the so called progressive position.
I'm a product of both column B with some advantages of column A in terms of Jewish community help & philanthropy, as well as a grandparent who had the means to help us financially.
Long story short, I grew up in a family of 10 kids, mostly in a single-parent household after my parents' divorce, and we were on welfare and in a very crowded space, but we were well fed, and though the TV was on too much, we had lots and lots of books, my mother was well-educated and was busy at the home, but didn't have an outside job so was present to help with homework. Myself and a few siblings with good grades were also able to go to very good private Jewish schools on financial aid scholarships, but I had to work and take out loans for college, and had to help out in the home too and take on many parental duties.
Deciding what to pursue career-wise, was therefore even that much more fraught with stress and potential risk, because I have no family financial 'safety net', I have student debt and I had a lot of pressure to pick something stable and lucrative -- and yet, I realize that I'm way more advantaged than so many people. It's also why I make it a point to give back by donating my time/money/skills to worthy causes, especially ones dealing with kids and education.
The biggest thing that annoys me is not that people have privilege, but their outright ignorance and denial of even having it and how it's helped them get them where they are.
I'm a product of both column B with some advantages of column A in terms of community help and philanthropy, as well as a grandparent who had the means to help us financially.
Long story short, I grew up in a family of 10 kids, mostly in a single-parent household after my parents' divorce, and we were on welfare and in a very crowded space -- but myself and a few siblings with good grades were able to go to very good private schools on financial aid scholarships, but I had to work and take out loans for college, and had to help out in the home too.
Deciding what to pursue career-wise was therefore even that much more fraught with pressure, stress and risk, because I have no family financial 'safety net' and I have student loan debt -- and yet, I still realize that I'm still way more advantaged than so many people. Realizing what's helped me makes me give back by donating my time/money/skills to good causes, especially ones involving kids and education.
This pulls some heartstrings since my family has struggled and my father has become disabled. However creative and not false, it poses two extremes, something that happens often and allows families like mine to fall between the cracks. I grew up in a warm apartment filled with books... on a poor commercial block with a mexican bar downstairs that blasted music all night. My parents don't work two jobs, they have spent time helping me with homework, but they have no connections and zero equity to help me with anything. My city is filled with programs and there are scholarships for both the extremely nurtured/trained and those for the extremely poor. There is nothing to help families like mine who live paycheck to paycheck in some semblance of normalcy even though I am going to amass debt and we will never own property or a car or be able to crawl out of our piece of poverty.
Well done, Henry, and spot on in my opinion. Thank you.
This might have been more effective had they not gone the predictable route of making the guy turn into a total dick. Liberals have the fatal flaw of not perceiving how talking down to people makes them not want to even consider any point you are trying to make, no matter how valid.
This piece is highly manipulative, right down to having the privileged one being male and the unprivileged being a poor, downtrodden female. Way too many tropes in this piece. There is a very good argument to be made on this topic, but this is not the way to do it.
This idea of enequality is false. To say that a person's life is dictated by luck is a democratic liberal point of view no doubt. My family was poor, I grew up in Sneedville, TN which was a very poor place. I sometimes couldn't afford meals at school. Now I'm working as a marketing manager for Kimpton. My father had to work two jobs and my mother worked as a janitor for a hospital almost 24/7. I had to excel using my own skills. I spent hours studying each day until I got a scholarship to the University of Tennessee. If someone didn't work as hard and didn't become as successful, it's their own fault they failed to make it. Why should I have to feel sorry for a person who has a low paying job if they didn't work hard enough to get a scholarship?
Partisans on the Left and Right will have different visceral responses to this and all discussions about privilege, but none of us should forget that our actions have consequences, not just for ourselves but also for our descendants. The good decisions you and I make during our school and work careers, and in our marriages, are very strong predictors of the privileges our children and grandchildren will enjoy, just as many of the privileges we see in our contemporaries (and sometimes resent) are in fact manifestations of the decisions those people's parents and grandparents made years ago. Please don't misunderstand me to be suggesting that we should not make every effort to provide educational and occupational opportunities for every citizen, because our communities are best served when the talents of all its citizens are utilized. What I am saying, though, is that actions have consequences, and hard work, thrift, and good parenting are in fact privileges that all parents can and *should* confer on their children, and that those of us parents who do so scrupulously will, on average, have more privileged descendants than those who don't.
I'm taking issue with your assumption that 'hard work' is good. I'm from the UK and 'hard working families' is bandied about a lot. Hard work for whom? Does it mean doing something we don't like for pay? To make other people more money? When I was at school in the 1980s, we discussed the future problem of leisure time, when there would be so much automation that we'd be working two day weeks with tons of time on our hands. Wouldn't that have been wonderful? Where the remaining work was shared around but still had the same salary? Where everyone could be relaxed and enjoy their familes, or make music, art, play football, visit their friends? In other words, LIVE.
Yes, there a few things evry parent can do to give their children a slightly better start in life, but in my experience privilege trumps hard work most of the time.
Great work. Privilege justifies itself by putting on a disguise of hard work.
Suggesting reading: "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell, and "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" by Barbara Ehrenreich.
To actually create equal opportunity get the right politicians up there - retards and self servng scum in the parliaments are the root cause of discrimination and poverty. E.g. A lousy public education system in Australia that doesn't teach kids grammar (!!) --- I rest my case.
Not all privileged kids are like Tony Abbott, I'd say.
The majority of us know how we got here and are proud that our parents were smarter when planning their family.
Sometimes it is a vicious cycle of circumstance that puts underprivileged people in that spot - sometimes it is just selfish parents who reproduce without thinking how they will provide for their kids.
The difference may n or be obvious from a person's character.
Nevertheless, the presumption that I'm a snob because my parents were smart is easily off the mark.
Ethics are not related to poverty, and poverty is nothing to be proud of either - poverty reflects a badly designed society.
hey moderator, if you don't allow my previous comment to go through I will think about calling you very un nice names, and I will imagine a situation where you and I would theoretically cross paths and I would say things to you in an argument and you would become very sad from what I said about the not nice things
poopie squiddgy bum squidge
Excuse me, Emily, I might be on the wrong here, but I don't think you understood the point of this strip.
I don't think the author is trying to put any blame on Emily's parents, quite on the contrary. He shows how much they're working, trying to give Emily the best future they can. It's just... not enough, but it isn't their fault, they're doing absolutely everything they can, and besides that, they're supportive of their child, I can not think of them with anything but respect.
I believe this strip is just a way to deliver the truth of what's going on with our society. You might not agree with it, I know I don't. But that doesn't change the fact that situations like the one is being shown in here happen all the time, everywhere in the world. I honestly believe that the author drew this as a critique. At least that's what it looked like for me.
For any enterprise, capital and workforce are required. In current economic systems capital is treated as valuable where as workforce is deemed otherwise.
It can be made a little interesting by reducing the availability of a worker to a maximum of 4 hours for any enterprise. Enterprises needing more work hours have to employ more workforce and people who want to work more, will need to try more than one work place. Workers will definitely improve their chances of better life style by actually working less than what they are doing now. Because it is a given - by remaining a worker without turning entrepreneurs, few can make a great life in the current scheme of things. They only burn up by trying to work more and more.
Maybe i'm wrong,but i think you misinterpreted the whole concept.The artist states clearly that Paula's parents will do anything for her, and that's exactly what they're doing, by working two jobs.Overall, i think he is with "paula's side",if i may, and not with the spoiled guy.
The comic does not fault the less fortunate parents.
It merely shows a few societal mechanisms which favor the fortunate.
It also implies the fortunate seem to think they lifted themselves by their bootstraps; I could agree or disagree based on the case.
You called someone "such a bad person" after not understanding the comic. The author did not imply the parents are were wrong for doing what they had to do to secure essentials for survival. He drew parallels between someone in that situation and someone more fortunate.
You are the "problem with society "for attacking the author personally because you disagree with the message you interpreted. Despite that message not actually being present.
You are calling him an elitist? What do you think that means? This comic is about how people are a product of their environment and how the elite seem to think they are just well... Elite!
BTW. Nice double negative for clarity. Let me try!
If you got offended by a non-existant theme in a web comic, that doesn't mean you're not an idiot.
See how that works? Trolololol
Please fix typos in final sentence. Really loses its punch with that distraction. Great illustration and points. Thanks.
Toby, great work! It explains in very simple terms the sense of entitlement that many otherwise good-meaning people display when talking about equal opportunities.
Question: have you thought of allowing viewers to contribute translations in other languages? I would love to help with an Italian one! Ciao e grazie!
Outstanding! Both informative and entertaining.
I'd almost say Paula is in the middle...
This comic makes its point well. However, there is one square I disagree with. High-decile schools don't have smaller class sizes and a monopoly on 'teachers who love their job' (implying low-decile teachers don't). High-decile schools have many advantages, but more money is not one of them. (The ability to fund-raise is one though). I'm also a little bit cautious of some of the stereotypes the comic plays too.
Well-thought-out story and tastefully sketched. I posted it on my blog:
I was a combination of both, born to educated parents who died young...worked my way though HS and College and worked my way up from a Lab Assistant to a Senior Environmental Specialist serving the People of Michigan... too bad the System is not just ;Rigged; here in Lenawee (Anyway) County, IT's Corrupt as Hell..
When I complained to the MDEQ Executives that Family and Friends of Management were being hired and promoted over BETTER Qualified Applicants, including minorities with advanced Degrees and Experience, I was harassed mercilessly!! The People I complained about and to, concocted a reason to fire me after 31+ Years of Award winning work..
This cartoon shows in my opinion how far we have fallen as a society that even the simplest thing as giving credit where it is due, is no longer a necessity. Personally, I believe that from the beginning of time (preschool) all the way to college, every opportunity that a child gets to be educated can help that child in his or her future. A child that attends the best preschool would in fact grow up and become someone special but also a child that goes to a horrible school or even for some reason not go to preschool, could actually be economically wealthier than a child that had it all, due to persistence. I think that in the end of it all, it is up to that student to apply themselves and to make something of themselves. There are students whose parents work day and night just to pay for their education and then there are those that are privileged to be given everything by their parents. I personally was not one of those children however i worked hard to get what i needed and up until now, I am still working for the things that I want. Yes my parents have money but that is not my money. That is their money and they worked hard for it. I have learned that if I want something, I need to find a way to get it myself. As a reference to this cartoon, I guess I would be the girl in this case. With this cartoon, I think that the parents are also at fault. Children need to figure out a way to get what they want without their parents interfering. The privileged child in this cartoon could have found a way to get the internship without his father's help in my opinion.
By Laila Cooper
This makes a lot of sense thanks for shedding a little light, its all about perspective....
You are right. The concept of equality is a farce. In Indian in addition to economic disability, you also face caste discrimination. Where is a fair world? We need empathy for people. Thanks for posting a great comic, which summarizes in five minutes the economic inequality.
I wish you to kindly address the issues in India. I am including a website for your consideration.
Let's think for a minute about the reason for Paula's difficulties in her life.
Q1: What is the real reason for her tough start in life?
Q2: Who is guilty and why?
(Let's use some Socratic questioning ;-)
Best possible comment! Yes, the point of this cartoon is well taken. Also, there is much to think about when considering our position in the world.
The-Pencilsword-on-a-plate nails it.
“Those who travel with the current will always feel they are good swimmers; those who swim against the current may never realize they are better swimmers than they imagine.”
The Hidden Brain: How Ocean Currents Explain Our Unconscious Social Biases
Exactly true. I always cringe when I hear the son or daughter of a famous or rich person, especially in show business, say their name got them in the door,and they still had to audition, but, getting in the door is half the battle!! If your last name is "Cruise" or "Hanks" or "Paltrow" a producer is going to want to see you. But if you are the child of John or Jane Doe, they sent you away with nary a look. It was an ad executive from the 1950s, Charles Brower, who said: "Few people are successful unless a lot of other people want them to be." You have to have some of influence backing you.
Great story and great comments. Thank you . My opinion is that actually equality exist. We are born , we live, we get sick , we get better , we get stds , we get worse we die.
The money, the stuff, the illusions we accumulate during the years make us different in our eyes. But we are not actually after stuff or money , all of us are just trying to get in the state of happiness for a second , day or a year. Sometimes a little is enough , sometimes "all " is not.
But "handouts" in a literal or metaphorical essence are needed as all we need at least a worm place for the night, some food and water during the day and a couple of hours with the family etc.
there should be some help for people to get to a safe minimum of bearable existence, if for one or another reason they can not get there by themselves. just my 2 cents.
What is real "privilege?" Paula's situation forced her to develop an ethic of hard work, frugality, goal setting, and ingenuity. Richard, not so much. In 20 years, odds are Paula is going to be in a better position and Richard broke and living on the street. So having your life handed to you on a silver platter is not all it's cracked up to be.
Isn't that rather wishful thinking?
At worst, Richard will be have a cushy job with not to much responsibility and be married to a woman whose wealthy parents can help them rise a rung or two on the ladder, just like his parents.
Paula will probably marry a guy in a similar social position, they'll have a few kids, work far more hours than they should making less money than they should and, with luck, raise their children with a little bit more that they had growing up.
i was fortunate to grow up in BOTH of these scenarios. i literally and figuratively lived on both sides of the tracks after my parents divorced. my dad is white and jewish and my mother is mexican-american. i have many intelligent cousins on my mom's side, but they did not have the same opportunities as those just across town on my dad's side. their parents struggled to make rent, they went to under-funded schools, the expectation to go to college just wasn't there in the way it was in my dad's family- not out of laziness, out of figuring out how to pay bills. they had to work through high school or community college. they had to struggle to pay for books. they didn't have money for SAT tutors or extracurricular/resume building activities, so they couldn't go to top notch universities. it's not that they were not hard working or intelligent, the scaffolding was not there in the same way it was on the west side.
i don't feel guilty. i didn't do anything to have privilege. i didn't hurt anyone, i didn't help anyone. i just happened to be born into it. people in this discussion often confuse guilt and responsibility. i don't feel guilty, but i do feel a responsibility to not be condescending or dismissive of peoples' struggles. and, not everyone has to do this, but for me- as a professional, as a psychologist, i feel a responsibility to do work that contributes to my community. sure i want to live a comfortable life, but one that is filled with knowing i've looked/worked outside of my privileged life.
Not that poverty isn't a factor for continued poverty but statistically immigrants (a self selected group of motivated people) do better than our natives even though they start off with greater disadvantages. To imply that those who success out of poverty only do so via luck is disingenuous, mindset matters more. Why only do a comparison of the start a poor person makes vs a wealthy person, why not do a comparison of two poor people - one who ends up successful and one who fails and also ask why. Two siblings with same circumstances and have wildly different outcomes, why is that? What you preach is fatalistic, that the system matters more than the individual.
Why do I know this, I'm an immigrant, my parents couldn't help with homework like your poor Paula because they didn't understand English but they had high standards. Bad grades are NOT acceptable. The school I went to was the same public school as natives. At our poorest our family of 4 lived out of a van while my sister was just an infant. My parents were taken advantage of and worked in a restaurant for two years without pay. Yet, despite disadvantages being poor doesn't mean you have lower standards and lower values. My siblings and I are now considered successful, we own property, we went to top universities. Don't demean our hardwork, dilligence and sacrifice by saying it was just luck. It would be much more productive to figure out the factors that lead the poor out of poverty.
Yeah, well, there's no equality neither in opportunity, nor in outcome. It's a hoax, carrot for the donkey, for those eager to believe in yet another "american dream". This is so old, old as time, and what this is now - it's capitalism.
My parents paid for my uni, so I had a chance to read Bertolt Brecht's
"Das Lied vom Klassenfeind":
1. Als ich klein war, ging ich zur Schule
und ich lernte, was mein und was dein.
Und als da alles gelernt war,
schien es mir nicht alles zu sein.
Und ich hatte kein Frühstück zu essen,
und andre, die hatten eins:
Und so lernte ich doch noch alles
vom Wesen des Klassenfeinds.
Und ich lernte, wieso und weswegen
da ein Riss ist durch die Welt?
Und der bleibt zwischen uns, weil der Regen
von oben nach unten fällt....
Isn't it all about empathy. If you refuse to educate yourself on the lives of your fellow citizen that's a lack of giving a damn.
goes to show that hardwork doesnt really payoff. some ppl are just born into wealth & priviledge while others are not. So theres really no point in working so hard like paula for example, if your fate isnt destined to be well off. just take life easy and relax. cuz no matter how hard you try, there are ppl who are destined to be your boss
Whats the solution to the problem?
for me, conservative and liberals are just another set of labels. so I go by what i feel i read in that comics...
I see Richard whose world is very different from Paula. Their paths was guided by their parents, though hers was chosen mostly by material borders.
We cannot judge Richard by what his parents set up, like blinders for horses. But same goes for Paula, for the world outside her purview. She had less choices. But if by chance, other people showed them what lies beyond the fence, then indeed, Richard might have a quite different attitude, and perhaps Paula would see, that there is a better life she can lead, albeit not an easy path to divert to...
It takes so little to show both what is the real entirety of the universe, the truth. But that is a decision for US to take...
We might choose to see each child as an individual, setting aside family influence in favor of the growth and eventual productivity and social usefulness of each.
Why would we want to lose the contribution of a child, simply because that child's parents were poor?
FYI, a major media firm in Korea just plagiarised your work. Some have already pointed it out in the comment, but thought that you should know : https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1359379117410525&id=1039675682714205
This is all over the internet, and it's great. I'd love to see the grammar fixed, though. I think it ruins the punchline when you read, "No one ever handed me anything on plate."
Yep, in a world where 3% (or near enough) own 90% (or so) of the worlds assets / wealth there must be equal opportunities. I fear the end for capitalism may be witnessed in our time. At the moment we (or rather the Americans) are trying to keep it afloat by printing trillions of dollars - which inevitably will be scooped up by the 3% mentioned above - so how is that going to solve the problem? And this is in the country where a handful of bankers corrupted and deflated the world economy with no consequences to their persons or estates. Is this the true American dream?
Money is such a poor measure of how we perform as humans, and in my experience the world rewards the devious rather than the good. (think Mother Theresa.) Yet we are so totally sold and caught up in its magic that we are willing to enslave ourselves to it for most of our lives.
We have frighteningly poor vision and imagination regarding what it really means to be a person living in this century - thus we keep on repeating the same model in different ways again and again. E.g. to this day we still adore royalty. For what, I ask you?
The people who really contributed to our lives; the artists, the farmers, the musicians, the scientist, the teachers, etcetera seem to be the unremarkable, yet world leaders that cause much misery (think Bush, Amin, Mugabe, Bashir, et. al) in countries all over enjoy boundless fruits and protection.
I often wonder what magnificence will be achieved by us, if everything was not throttled by money. We create it out of thin air, but we cannot solve hunger? Magic!
The young man is of course not completely responsible for success, which is true of all humanity. Very few individuals are able to achieve total self-sufficiency. The truth is that the young man was born into a culture that encourages the kinds of behaviors that lead to prosperity. The fact that he doesn't understand that doesn't mean that he did nothing to deserve his success. He adopted the moral imperatives of the society he enters as he grows up. These include high standards of performance. The moral of the story should be that if the poor family wishes their children to achieve prosperity then they need to have stable families, have books in the home, and have high expectations for their children. Many poor families do exactly this.
I know this to be true because I am an American hispanic woman, my sister who is the same married an African American man. We are prosperous and our children (African American and female) are following in our footsteps, not because we are white males, but because we had married parents, had books in the home, and were raised to work hard and have high expectations for our achievement.
Unfortunately I know all too well what the moral of the story appears to be for young people today (see other comments). It is, don't bother working hard, only white men get anything, and what they get, they don't deserve. The only way we will get ahead is to overthrow capitalism. That is, implement the motto, "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." But such a program will undermine prosperity along with capitalism.
Sorry but you missed the points. First of all, where did you get the idea that Paula's parents had not instilled a value for education and achievement? She was motivated to go to school and get a good job. And perhaps her parents made food and shelter rather than books their priority with their limited income.
This did not say to me, "Don't bother to work hard because only white people will succeed." It speaks to privilege and what it truly means. It asks those with privilege to appreciate what they have and not judge harshly those without the same privileges.
Perhaps I'm missing something. I do understand that today's society has class differences. In that, we are little different now than we have been for at least a couple of millennia. The big difference today is that those differences are not cast in stone as they once were, at least not in most of the industrialized world.
Take my situation. In a way, I am closer to Richard's beginnings than to Paula's, though Richard's parents were clearly better off than mine. I am the oldest of three sons. My parents came from poor families in Passaic, New Jersey and became solid middle class homeowners. Of their three sons, the youngest passed away last year, having gotten trapped between crack and heroin, succumbing to a heart infection likely acquired from sharing needles. I am just barely middle class, though by some definitions not even that. At 58 years old I own neither a home nor a car, both by choice. But, I have a job I love, I am not starving and can pretty well keep up with what bills I have. I am well aware that I "should" be "doing better". I could have gone to college, but instead chose to hitchhike around the country, have a good time, meet all kinds of different people and experience all kinds of weird, wonderful and often pretty dismal circumstances. Of the three sons, the middle one of us is doing the best according to the usual standards. He has a high-paying job, once owned two homes before his divorce. I do not envy him in the least. He spends far more time doing the bidding of others than I would care to.
One thingthat seems to be missing here is that when the lowest class in society has a basic income that allows for more participation in the economy, those who are in the middle class do better, and the highest classes benefit immensely.
For example, an adult who makes $20k a year (60 hours a week at a wage of 7.25) will typically not have enough income to participate in the economy outside of basic needs. If that person is able to earn an additional $9k a year (60 hours a week at a wage of 10.10, or about 29k total), they will use that money on goods, education, or pay off debt. Spent money will FLOW UP the economic spectrum, benefiting everyone in its path. Businesses make more sales because people have a larger amount of money to spend on extra stuff. This gives the owners more income and also generates more in sales tax. People are able to save money to apply for school, which allows them to increase their earning potential, and enlarges the tax base. Paying off debt increases stability, as well as freeing up income for other purchases. This is why the unemployment rate in Seattle dropped from 4.9% to 3.6% AFTER increasing the minimum wage to $15. A person making over 100k , would invest it in the stock market, which goes overseas or to large banks. Also, increasing wages decreases welfare since 2/3 of welfare recipients work. (see article)
At the end of the day this isn't about your life, or how your family struggled. As many have pointed out, life isn't fair. This is a matter of economic policy and security. A more stable Paula is a more stable country.
The guy from the "right" side of the tracks had best hope his good luck holds out because his whole life is a Hollywood front. If real diversity and hardship ever knocked on his door without Big Daddy watching his back, he would fold like a house of cards. He is not prepared. On the other hand, the girl from the "wrong" side of the tracks is better prepared for life and all its little adverse surprises. I would rather have her character and experience on my side any day of the week. I was the guy from the "right" side of the tracks with every advantage. Boy has life kicked the crap out of me. A bona fide riches to rags story. If anybody was to make it, it should have been me, but life has been one unmitigated disaster after another, usually NOT as a result of anything I had done good or bad. It is much easier to jump on the gravy train as it passes by as opposed to falling off and trying to get back on. I think the reason nobody can actually nail down the secret to success is because it does not exist. Life events are just too random to realize and cover all the points of weakness in any strategy and too short to do so even if you could. From where I sit, the sky is as apt to fall on you as it is to open up wide and blue no matter your upbringing or exposure to privilege. Life is a sword that cuts both ways and it does not discriminate in the butchering process.
This is so true, this is UK2015 David Cameron vs the common people, and every other Bigot out there!!
I am not a Republican by any means nor do I lean in that direction however there's another more likely scenario I see all the time. The rich kid hates his life, becomes complacent and skips college. The poor kid goes to Harvard on the government subsidy and becomes President.
Once ist nor all the time.
You seem to be leaning in "that direction," Woody.
When did scholarships become government subsidies? Or do you mean something else?
Obviously, you don't know much about the current U.S. President. (That was your dig, wasn't it?) He went to Harvard Law School after earning a degree from Columbia University. I know one can get government LOANS for law school -- but government subsidies???
I chose to be a slacker, but I did not wish to inflict my choices on my kids. They always had books, and they saw my wife an me reading all the time. They had adult library cards as soon as they were mature enough to not wreck the books. They are both scholarship college graduates, married, and have "real jobs." They chose to better themselves, and we made sure they had a chance to get their tickets punched for a good future.
checked my privilege, yep it's still there!
An excellent response to that right wing "I built that" lie. Pity Obama bungled that, and well, so much else.
That's why I like the Asian system, where the school one goes to depends almost entirely on his or her own merit, rather than the parents' economic and social status. Social inequality is inevitable, but equality of opportunity should be guaranteed to the largest extent.
What Asian system works this way? (Asked with a gasp of incredulity.)
What a load of crap - it's not about race it's about what the parents do and the only parents who can afford the advantages provided to that pudgy kid in the comic are parents who work for the government or elite media or Hollywood. The very people who are shoving common core down the throats of non-connected Americans - the very people who insist your children have no choice about what schools they attend make sure their kids attend private schools that teach actual appropriate topics like reading, writing and math. Guess what? There are plenty of kids of every hue and color who have parents in the permanent ruling/infotainment class. To think this is a white/non white issue is ludicrous - grow up and start thinking for yourself progressives. You're stupid bullshit is insulting to those of us out here in fly over country driving the economy despite the efforts of the federal government, not because of them.
"This knowledge, that our successes are not merely our own, can hopefully instill in us some empathy for people who didn't have similar opportunities, and maybe that empathy can inform our positions on certain social policies.”
You imply that "conservatives" in your view, already do not possess empathy. You imply that conservatives lie on the left column..."privileged". You assume that conservatives go to the best schools, enjoy the highest incomes, and have parents who can provide for them.
Not sure how this became about conservative ideology when this seems like a have and have-nots argument. There are too many assumptions and implications here. Conservatives should not have to abandon their core ideals to accept the fact that there is a disconnect between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. This is not disingenuous. If this empathy you are getting at implies that the haves should sacrifice something for the have-nots, then you have turned your back on capitalism...for better or for worse. Life is hard, it isn't fair, everyone struggles, and every decent individual has a measure of empathy for their fellow human kind. No excuse for more government services and the tyranny that comes along with it could ever be justified out of this fact.
"Many people are not so lucky in who they get as parents." Exactly. We conservatives get it, and we can't change your luck, sorry. Can we be more empathetic? Of course, but stop trying to level the playing field with coercive, iron-fisted government.
People would twist and turn the meaning of this story - usually depending on the situation they are in. For me it boils down to one question: Are we as humans supposed to help each other or just help our own families and accumulate wealth.
While parents of Paula obviously have no choice - they already work two jobs - parents of Richard do have a choice: they can pay bigger taxes and rise their son no to be another dumb and selfish rich. I'm glad I didn't have parents like this. Maybe that's why I still enjoy reading books - don't have to chase another million.
I translated comic to Polish - I hope the author doesn't mind. Thank you.
Parents work to give their kids a chance to do better than they did. I've seen kids with everything handed to them squander it away and I've seen other overcome long odds and obstacles to be successful. You can lament the system all you want. I believe in being prepared and ready for opportunities, putting yourself in a position to win. I'm not passing judgement on anyone I've caught some second chances myself and I give people the benefit of the doubt. Everyone gets a little help along the way. It's the attitude and performance that make people happy to help many times.
The social change that needs to happen is if you have a child, take the resposibility of raising that child to be a productive member of society. Instill the value of education and job skill training. Just feeding and housing that child is not enough. Guiding that child to a job that can support them should be the goal.
I think practicing gratitude in all things is a great life lesson. Where I divest myself of the "privilege movement" is when it (the movement) becomes less about teaching positive values like gratitude, and more about exacting some sort of social vengence.
The panel in this comic that loses me is the one where the privileged person is said to believe he "deserves" his position, and then of course at the end he's full-in an unthinking, unfeeling, self-absorbed "privileged" white guy. Why go there? Why not just show the differences, as the author observes them, between the two parties without ascribing some negative motivation or characteristic on the privileged person? Wouldn't that be more powerful and compelling?
The reason that's not done, I contend, is that this is less about informing people, or teaching gratitude, and more about a political ideology that is less interested in lifting the less fortunate up and more interesting in dragging the more fortunate down. Some people think the only way to make things "fair" is for anyone doing well to do less so. I don't believe you help anyone by taking someone doing well and penalizing them.
Other areas that are not considered or addressed are:
Untreated mental illness of parents in the home.
Exposure to Domestic Violence
Often, when these issues are present, children miss a lot of school, or perform way below their ability.
It worries me that this message is here at all..
But such a good story and a truism...
Things to take from it ?
What can we learn from it ?
How can I change my life path and learn from it.?
Who will teach it without letting their own predjudices continue.
Hope there is some good discussion on it...
There is already, of course !
I slept in a chicken pen as a kid, wore my sister's shoes to school when mine broke down, and worked in fruit picking from age seven. I later taught at university, was a Senior Official in a provincial government and had other successes, but even I am not a self made man. Many people, including friends and teachers, assisted me as did nearly free tuition at college. Many "self made: people are now bridge burners, wanting to deny others the opportunities that came so easily to them. For instance, senior education administrators, university staff included, will now facilitate indebtedness in millions of students while they increase their salaries at astounding rates. It is a subtle form of class war in a supposedly classless society.
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