Not all Bootstraps are Equal

Americans pride themselves on being able to “lift yourself up by your own bootstraps,” and to succeed based on “your own efforts, will, wits, and determination.”

But this is a phantom. An illusion. A fairy tale.

Consider inheritance.

The fact that inheritance is a legal “of course,” based on nearest kin, and that people take inheritance so seriously and argue over it establishes that Americans feel strongly about money staying “in the family.”

Find someone arguing that people shouldn’t be given “handouts” and that people should “work their way up” and suggest to these folks eliminating inheritance and watch how quickly they change direction.

Consider “free” education.

On the surface, who could possibly object to a social structure that allows to to reach any level of education you like? The idea of everyone pitching in a little to let everyone reach their heights seems like a win-win.

Who could possibly object?

The group of folks I’ve seen object the most are people who need education (and the attendant social mobility) to remain income-based…

…which is basically the same group of people who benefit from inheritance.

And also the same group of people who insist we “lift ourselves by our bootstraps.”

All three groups have strong overlap.

Statistically speaking, members of these groups do not have anyone’s best interests at heart except their own.