For this Question Everything Friday I want to bring you another dangerous myth that is ingrained into our country. That is that we are so exceptional that you can't be compared to any other country.  Here is my quote for the day about that.

We can’t compare America to any other country! Especially not strange, dangerous countries like Scandinavia or France! We can’t? Why not? How else do you suppose that nations make progress — if not by learning from one another? Americans have been told that other places are “homogeneous”, so America can’t be compared to them — but “homogeneity” is not the reason they are successful societies. There are many more “homogeneous” societies which are failures than successes, just look at Asia and Africa — so homogeneity can’t be why some societies succeed, self-evidently. This myth is exceptionalism, only in a negative form — no comparison is possible. But it is a comparative analysis which teaches us the most when it comes to political economy. Have you ever wondered why you don’t know (probably) how exactly the French retirement system works? How the British healthcare system works? How the Swiss government works? Americans still haven’t learned this stuff because no one teaches it to them — and no one teaches it to them because the myth of exceptionalism says there’s no reason to learn it. 
via Eight Myths Americans Need to Unlearn About America

The way I personally learn almost everything is to see how others are doing it better them me and to try at one level or another to emulate them. If you have been around for a while you have probably noticed that the general format and look of RJsCorner seems to frequently change. I do that because I am constantly looking for ways to make the site more pleasant to visit and to give you my view of the world in more concise stories. If I didn't have something to compare this site to improvements would be far less frequent.

In that same vein, we as a country need to constantly look at others who do things better than we do. Our reluctance to do that greatly hampers us from creating better and better processes. It has allowed other countries to leapfrog around us when it comes to healthcare, retirement systems and such. It was almost an epiphany to understand we are never taught to look outside our country for ways to do things better.  That is a lesson we MUST learn...

Shane Claiborne is one of my favorite Christian authors. He definitely lives the words of Jesus and he is not bashful when it comes to telling others that Talk is cheap and actions are where you demonstrate your beliefs.

At one point Gandhi was asked if he was a Christian, and he said, essentially, "I sure love Jesus, but the Christians seem so unlike their Christ." A recent study showed that the top three perceptions of Christians in the U. S. among young non-Christians are that Christians are 1) antigay, 2) judgmental, and 3) hypocritical. So what we have here is a bit of an image crisis, and much of that reputation is well deserved. That's the ugly stuff. And that's why I begin by saying that I'm sorry.
via Shane Claiborne - Letter to Non-Believers by Shane Claiborne

Sadly for many, the Bible Belt Trumpsters now represent Jesus' church. They very much confirm what the non-Christians see as hypocrites and very narrow-minded people. Maybe that is one of the reasons I no longer say I am a Christian, I am just tired of apologizing for these people.

I realize that many if not the majority of Christian churches try at one level or another to be good followers of their founder Jesus.  They read some texts in their Bible and vow, at least vocally, to follow his words.  But there are too many other words that they blatantly ignore. Maybe they see them as too hard so they just pretend they don't exist?

Maybe they have been told for too long that Christianity has nothing to do with how you act, the only thing that matters is what you believe, so why bother with the hard stuff? I just wish those folks would open their Bibles and read some of the stuff they have not evidently discovered yet.

In conclusion, the sad part of all this "hypocrite" views of the non-religious is that those who do see others as their neighbors in need and do good works in His name are so silent when it comes calling out the real hypocrites. The rest of us need to quit apologizing for these type people and proudly stand up for Jesus' actual words

Let's face it, we can't simply ignore the problems and hope they go away. That seems to have worked for a long time but in reality, it has just allowed the problems to fester and get worse.  America is collapsing and if we don't do something about it soon, it just may be too late. Just because we have gone-to-the-edge before and survived doesn't mean it will happen again. Here is the myth for today that we need to unlearn:

Myth:    America isn’t collapsing!!!

Life expectancy is falling, the vast majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, they can’t raise $1000 for an emergency, mass shootings are a regular event of daily life, people have to crowdfund basic medicine, suicides are skyrocketing. I could go on. If your bar for collapse is Mad Max meets the Strain, then, sure, America hasn’t collapsed yet…to that point.

But it has collapsed in three key ways, which are the real, genuine and true kinds — not the stuff of science fiction end times.

◉  As a rich society — most Americans don’t live in one anymore.

◉  As a democracy — it doesn’t really represent people accurately anymore.

◉  As a society — Americans have no social contract, really, that unites them, as we’ve discussed — because virtue has not culminated in the public good .

In those three ways, collapse is as real and lethal as climate change. You can disagree with me, sure — but reality doesn’t care about what I think, or you think. It laughs at we “think”, and goes on being what it is.

Source: https://eand.co/eight-myths-americans-need-to-unlearn-about-america-560fa10ddba6

I wonder if Rome ever recognized that they were in decline? How about the Great British Empire, do superpowers ever know it when it happens? What was originally known as the Middle Class has evaporated from our country.  Yes, there are 10% of us who are doing pretty well. We went to college or trade school and obtained skills needed in the 21st century. We are doing OK.

But there is the almost 60% of us who now stuck in low paying, soon to be automated,  jobs that pay low wages.  Many continue to dream that somehow they will find their golden egg and get rich but in reality that is also a myth.

They have gerrymandered and restricted the vote so much in recent years to pretty much guarantee they cling to power even if they can't manage to get the majority vote. 

Maybe the worst thing is our social fabric is disintegrating. We are locked into our clans and will simply not listen to anything else.  If that is not a fundamental threat to our democracy I can't imagine what is.

I pray that it isn't too late yet , but somehow something needs to happen... and soon.

2018-11-12_13-01-20.pngWe in America have a pretty inflated belief that we are the best in the world at everything we do. Why else would we stick our noses into so many other countries' affairs? We have military bases in over 50 countries in the world. How many other countries' bases are in the US? We think and maybe at one time we actually did have the best technology, the best engineering and the best software talent in the world.  Part of the reason for that is that we recruited talent from the rest of the world. But, as we close our borders that talent will be siphoned off elsewhere. 2018-11-01_15-07-30.png Source: Eight Myths Americans Need to Unlearn About America You must admit that at least for the last couple of years we haven't done much right as a country. Too many of us proudly proclaim that anything our current leader doesn't like is fake news. Global warming can't be true because he doesn't have a gut feeling about it. How far behind are we getting by that ignorance? He said while he was campaigning that he would be the "infrastructure" president but he seems to have lost interest in that topic also. One of the most egotistical things about us Americans is that so many believe that we can't learn anything from the rest of the world.  I have long known that as "Not Invented Here". If we didn't invent it then it is not worth having. Simply speaking we need to get over this idea, especially now. As an example, EU countries have much better public healthcare than we do and they do it for less than half our cost per citizen. Too many of us are still battling against any form of a single-payer system when others in the world long ago found it to be the best and most affordable solution. We need to get off our high-horse with the idea that we excel at everything...

Umair Haque over at Medium.com certainly gives me much to think about lately. His recent blog post about the myths Americans need to unlearn will be the centerpiece in coming posts here are RJsCorner. I want to start out this series with the end of his post.

2018-10-26_10-33-23.png Source:  Eight Myths Americans Need to Unlearn About America I certainly get my share of those screamers who call me names and tell me if I don't love this country then I should GET OUT!!! Some think I am a bleeding heart liberal and others, believe it or not, think I am a Trumpster? They evidently feel so threatened by what I have to say to get them to attack me for one reason or another. I, like Umair, want to pronounce here that I am no threat to them. I am just an old guy who is primarily an observer of life with no power whatsoever to change what I am observing other than my single vote at the ballot box. Yeah, I have some loyal readers who might be swayed to a very small degree but that is about it.  You don't need to feel that I am threatening to you. Now on to the topic at hand. 2018-10-28_11-02-50.png"We don't need to listen to people who are critical of America! They'll never help us!!" Some people consider progress and particularly the change almost always associated with it to be a bad thing. I do believe that the last couple of years are the most tumultuous of my life as far as social things are concerned.  We seem to have lost our ability to tolerate anyone with different views than ours.  The second most agonizing period that I have lived through was the 1960s but I was much younger then so I could tolerate it better than I do now. More than 50,000 of my generation lost their lives in a seemingly meaningless war.  There were riots in many major cities, soldiers killing kids on a college campus, African-Americans being attacked by police dogs and high power fire hoses. Some were dragged through the streets by white supremacists all because they were demanding their civil rights.  If ever there were a period where people were critical of America, it was during those years. But look what came out of that same period and see many great accomplishments.  More on that in a near future post.
The two major things that drive the US economy are personal consumption and military spending. With this post, I will try to convince you that is a basic problem for us as a country. It thwarts happiness and is a wasteful way to live a life. But the biggest problem is that for too many of us it is the ONLY thing driving our lives. More money, more stuff. 2018-09-30_16-18-17 Ironically this is true throughout the economic ladder from the richest of us to the poorest. We think that if we can just get a few more dollars to buy more stuff everything will be better. Most of us have been thoroughly indoctrinated into consumer driving capitalism. For many of us, contrary to what the philosophers say, money can buy happiness, at least temporarily. Or so we believe... For those on the lower end of the economic spectrum it is another flat screen TV; for those on the upper end, it is a new $50,000 car to replace the two-year-old one we currently have. Believe it or not, there are other parts of the world that take a very different approach to capitalism. They don't depend on all of their citizens spending more and more year after year. Instead, much of the profits of their version of capitalism is used for the overall good of the country and its citizens. Those countries have an infinitely better infrastructure.  Potholes and failing bridges are not the norms for them.  Even more importantly they provide health care for all their citizens and security for their senior citizens.  Every statistic taken shows that they are much happier than we are even if they don't have multiple storage lockers filled with junk. How do we as a country get out of the "more and more" mentality and into something that makes us happier?  That is the question of the day for me.  
2018-09-30_16-29-26.png I am doing something a little different today; I am leading off with the words that inspired this post.  I can't say it better so why not just show it to you up front. In the mid-1980s when the capitalist decided to change the rules of the game hardly any of us noticed it.  Up until that point, American capitalism was generally deemed a three-legged-stool. It was driven by the customer buying the product or service, those holding stock in the company, and finally the people creating the product or service. As long as the three legs were pretty much the same length our economy prospered. Then came the MBA's (Masters of Business Administration) which was a new degree in the business world.  When those new graduates started entering the business world the three-legged stool was discarded in favor of a total focus on the capitalists. Employees went from being an asset in the company to a liability.  Given our consumer-driven economy, they decided the customer would be there regardless of how they were treated. Corporate R&D organizations like Bell Labs were tossed aside as being unnecessary. 2018-09-30_18-25-05.png As long as the capitalists could convince the rest of us (workers/customers) that when the stock markets went up everything was fine.  With this strategy, the stock market went from 800 to 26,000 over the resulting 38 years. That's about a 33 times increase. The wage increase over the same period of time rose 3.5 times which was about the same as the cost of living increases.  In other words, the capitalists have taken home ALL the increase in prosperity! I know the argument goes that more people own stocks now than in 1980 so that prosperity is shared by more of us.  In reality, now that pensions are pretty much a thing of the past, the percentage of families with stock ownership has barely budged in the same time period. The fact is that the top 10% of American households hold about 85% of the total stocks and almost 50% of everyone else don't own any stock at all. How long will it take for us to understand that we have been fed a line by the capitalists? That is the question to end this post.
I have to give you a quote from one of my most recent regular reads in the blogsphere. It is from John Pavlovitz.  He is a North Carolina pastor who speaks to my heart.  Here is the snippet for discussion in Today's post. It is about a Trumpster who tried to insult him by calling him a beta-male (as opposed to an alpha-male I suppose): 2018-10-04_15-36-21.png 2018-10-04_15-33-03.png Source: Confessions of a Proud Beta Male Evidentally #CO3 has been using this term in his rallies/self-adoration sessions. He intends it to be an insult/putdown but it seems that many are now proudly taking up that mantle.  I am one of them, I now call myself a Beta-Male. I guess to him and his base it means that you are not an alpha-male:
  • You are not a take-charge guy who has to dominate every situation.
  • You are not a  guy who proudly boasts of his conquest over others, especially females, and proudly proclaim the things you can do to them with complete immunity.
  • You are not a guy who strikes back in anger when you feel even a slight bit challenged.
  • You are not a guy thumping your chest and proclaiming yourself superior and vastly more intelligent than others.
  • You are not a guy who berates and mocks those you have decided are your enemies.
  • You are not a guy who primarily makes decisions with gut feelings as opposed to studying the situation to make an informed choice.
I, like Pastor Pavlovitz, proudly proclaim that I am a beta-male. Thank you #CO3 for painting me as very different from you and so many of your base.  I will proudly wear the mantle you perceive as a smear.

I am a proud beta-male

Cackle Footer Banner #CO3 = Current Oval Office Occupant    
This post is going to be about vanity and how we all think we are more important to others than we are. Thanks to my online friend Barbara Torris for the idea. Here is her quote that brought on this post.
I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt that said, "Don't worry about what others think of you because they don't." It is good to remember that...the world is not looking at us most of the time.
Source: http://www.retireinstyleblog.com/2018/09/aging-when-is-rose-rose.html Sometime in my self-illusions, I see RJsCorner solving the world's problems. Well, not quite that extreme, but I do think I have some pretty serious views that will result in people storming the door of my corner to hear. In reality, I do have a couple hundred serious repeat viewers but I'm pretty sure they have no more influence in the scheme of things than I do.  RJsCorner could shut down tomorrow and the world would go on just the same without it. Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a small dose of vanity. It is a serious part of our dreams and everyone should have dreams even if they do for the most part go unrealized. It's taking our vanity too seriously is what gets us gets in trouble. The perfect example of that is #CO3. I can't let this topic go by without mentioning one of my favorite female composers and singers of the 1970s and that is Carly Simon.  Her 1972 song "You're So Vain" immediately came to mind when I started thinking about his topic.  Let's close with a verse from that song: 2018-09-25_16-04-26.png Cackle Footer Banner   #CO3 = Current Oval Office Occupant
2018-09-16_21-28-06.pngI often wonder how the rest of the world see those of us who are born in the US? Thanks to my new friend over at Eudaimonia and Co I am beginning to get a clearer view of that.
  • I know the rest of the world pretty much thinks all of us are obsessed with our guns to the point of being willing to sacrifice our kids in order to keep them.
  • I have known for a long time that most Europeans are fascinated by the junk and inferior products we Americans are willing to accept.
  • I know that during my visits to Canada they just can't understand why we put up with our grossly high-cost medical system and then deny people even that!
The words below put my thoughts on another level of the basic difference between our consumer-driven capitalism and the socialist models of it found in Europe and Scandinavia.
Americans don’t seem capable of processing, integrating, or accepting basic everyday realities about the world anymore. Not the ones from Harvard and Yale. Nor the ones from Kansas and Nebraska. Now, both of these tribes loathe one another. But whom does that leave, precisely? Go ahead and look around. What do you see. “The economy’s booming!” Wait — life expectancy’s falling. “Socialism’s too expensive!!” Uh, have you seen American healthcare prices?... Do you see what I see? A psychology that is totally, fatally, shatteringly disconnected from reality. Americans seem to need to take refuge in fabulous and grandiose myths, of how wonderful and special they are...
Source: Can Americans Process Reality? – Eudaimonia and Co Cackle Footer Banner

America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.  --  Alexis de Tocqueville

2018-08-15_09-19-32.pngIt has been a while since I last read "Democracy in America by de Tocqueville. I think his book written almost two centuries ago is as important in learning where we in America have been and where we are going as any on my bookshelf. I put a small bio here for those who don't know about him. I have read this book at least a half dozen times. The quote above was written in the early 1800s but at least until recently we have for the most part been "good". Have we been perfect? Of course not, but at least we have strived to be good. I hope that after the current period plays out we can return to a degree of civility, truthfulness, and empathy as a country.  But, will we ever be deemed "great" again? That is the question of the day. While our present government has shunned its responsibility to lead the way, much of the rest of the world continues without us. It is becoming more obvious as each year passes that global warming is a fact of life. Those who argue otherwise must be part of the flat-earth society. :) Sadly, with #CO3 in office, we have lost our leadership role in fighting climate change.  He says coal is the answer!  How archaic... and ignorant. But not to worry Europe and pretty much the rest of the world is jumping at the chance to become the new world leaders in this and many other areas.  Does it matter that the US is losing its dominant role in the world?  I kinda think there might be some good even come out of that fact. Cackle Footer Banner #CO3 = Current Oval Office Occupant  
2018-08-24_09-44-00.pngThis post is about the question "Is America's form of capitalism being pushed aside?" Is the world moving beyond the American definition?  Some might say the Capitalism as it exists in America is "The rich get richer,  and nothing else matters...
"What happens when a society reinvests the gains from industrialization into things like healthcare, education, and so forth? Well, it’s economy changes — radically. You see, the American economy is still 75% consumption — McMansions, SUVs, designer jeans, and so forth. The problem is that 80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. They can’t afford those things anymore. But if America had invested in public goods, then the economy would be made less of consumption, and more of investment. Source: How to Think About the World After Capitalism – Eudaimonia and Co
I like to blame all of our problems on #CO3 but I recognize that our "consumption" problems are ingrained in our capitalist system. The "rich get richer" and "survival of the fittest" is a dominant part of our version. Our version of capitalism will likely change in the coming years. One path will be divorcing ourselves from the rest of the world. Going it alone. Another path is that our capitalist system may morph into the version practiced by  Western Europe, Scandinavia, and Canada as cited in the source article. So, what is the basic difference? These countries practice what some may call social democracy.  They give all their citizens what they see as inalienable rights.  They include healthcare, education, transportation, and retirement. Because these rights are endemic in their version of capitalism they divorce themselves from the "survival of the fittest mentality". I think we have some things to learn from them in that and many other regards. Cackle Footer Banner #CO3 = Current Oval Office occupant
It is a well-publicised fact that 81% of white evangelicals voted to put the current occupant in the Oval Office. On that subject, I ran across this interesting book entitled Believe Me. It is written by one of the 19% who voted the other way.  Here is a small segment of an interview with the author:
2018-07-05_18-44-44.pngFinally, you dedicate your book to the 19 percent of white evangelicals who did not vote for Trump. What do you want to say to them with this book? I dedicate the book to the 19 percent not because they’re my primary audience, but because they seem to have seen through Trump. They’ve made a decision that Trump is not good — not just for the nation, but also for the church. So I hope the book might provide some history and arguments that the 19 percent can offer to their evangelical friends who did vote for Donald Trump and are having second thoughts, or are at least open to further evidence and dialogue. But my main audience, I think, is those evangelicals who voted for Trump who are open to reason and evidence and historical arguments that may suggest electing Trump was a bad idea.
via Why White Evangelicals Voted for Trump: Fear, Power, and Nostalgia – Red Letter Christians My basic premise here at RJsCorner that those who put #CO3 in office primarily did so because of fear of the unknown. While I was a member of an evangelical church not that long ago, I certainly saw that fear in a number of eyes. They are afraid of what is happening to their beloved country club. Due to pride and vanity, I doubt if they will ever admit the error of putting, at best, a totally unqualified person in the highest office in the land. It seems that they would rather go down in flames instead. Cackle Footer Banner
I have said here many times that #CO3 is driven totally by his self-image. Being an extreme narcissist everything simply has to be about him. Keeping that in mind read below what Politico says about some of his latest insanities.
President Donald Trump reliably tells the truth on one thing: He likes the way dictators do business. “He speaks, and his people sit up at attention,” Trump said on Friday morning of North Korean despot Kim Jong Un in an interview with Fox News — a network where he receives no shortage of praise. “I want my people to do the same.”... Vladimir Putin’s also a tough guy whom Trump praises for running his country well. So is Rodrigo Duterte, whose executions of drug dealers without trial in the Philippines is something Trump has said he’s looking into.
Source: Donald dreams of dictators - POLITICO As I see it he is becoming a very dangerous person if no one will stand up to him.  His own party, well at least is adopted party for convenience, seems to be totally afraid to call him to task on any of his many abusive blunders. When our government of three separate branches ceases to function, our democracy could be in serious trouble. It appears that #CO3 is starting to get comfortable in his new job and kinda thinks he wants to make it permanent.  Will the other two branches continue to cower under his insanity or not?  We can only pray that they somehow find the fortitude to make him eventually accountable for his actions and constant lies. It is very troubling how he praises the world's dictators and accosts our allies with his usual stinging words.  I pray the mid-term elections will cause some level of balance to be restored in our three branch system. Cackle Footer Banner #CO3 =  Current Oval Office Occupant  

2014-08-15_08-28-25 Aug. 14, 1935: President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, which guaranteed an income for the unemployed and retirees. Social Security was initially created to combat unemployment, but now functions as a safety net for retirees and the disabled. It has remained relatively unchanged for 75 years. Social Security is funded mostly through payroll taxes called Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax FICA.When FDR launched Social Security, the United States was mired in the Great Depression, and poverty rates among senior citizens were estimated to be over 50 percent. Social Security was attacked by FDR's critics, who called it "socialism."SOURCE: Today in history: The birth of Social Security - The Week.

2014-08-06_08-11-34 Aug. 5, 1861: Needing cash to finance the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Revenue Act — imposing the first federal income tax. Lincoln and Congress agreed that all incomes over $800 would be taxed at a 3 percent rate. Lincoln knew that taxes would be unpopular. But he recognized that America needed to pay for its wars. SOURCE: Today in history: The federal income tax is born - The Week.

"The Week" which I believe is British in origin is becoming a daily read for me. Here is a quick quote from them.

Mother Teresa was once asked in an interview, "What do you say when you pray?" She replied, "Nothing, I just listen." So then the reporter asked, "Well then, what does God say to you?" Her answer: "Nothing much, He just listens." 

-- Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals (Shane Claiborne;Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove)

 
Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders. -- Ronald Reagan April 28, 1966
If ever there was one quote that distinguishes the present difference between the two political parties in Washington this is probably it. Nothing else needs to be said....
2013-12-16_15-25-17   Thank you Pope Francis for saying things that others just don't have to courage to say....
2013-12-06_16-37-27 "What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead." Go in peace, Nelson Mandela

What Jesus calls us to do as followers is to create a world in which family is not a matter of blood, but of spirit. This more expansive view of family sounds lovely in theory, but is absolutely radical in practice. 

SOURCE:  The Underground Church: Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus (Meyers, Robin)

An apocryphal story is told of Fosdick meeting a young man for a walk in Central Park. “I’m jealous of your faith,” said the young man. “I’m afraid to ask questions, because I was raised in a faith that provided all the answers and to ask questions was to show unfaithfulness.” Coming upon a reflecting pool, Fosdick mused, “Son, your faith is like this pool: calm, bordered, shallow—you always know what it’s going to look like and what the boundaries are. But it’s not a “living” faith. It’s not going anywhere. Vital faith is like a stream bubbling up from a well deep within the earth. As it makes its way, it twists and turns, sometimes changes course, is deep and slow in some places and fast and turbulent in others, responding to the geographical reality. It’s joined by the waters of other streams and together they make their way back to their source.” Stagnation, not change, is Christianity’s deadliest enemy. Vital faith has always been dynamic, flowing, and moving. So one of the biggest challenges for thinking Christians today is facing those who conceive of “true” Christianity as something that never changes. While many faith communities have invested untold energy arguing over changing the style of liturgy and music used in worship, what really need to be addressed are many of the basic theological tenets espoused by that liturgy and music. Take, for example, a contemporary worship song in which God is praised for knowing where every bolt of lightning strikes. This might be comforting for those who want to believe God controls the world like a puppet master. It is, perhaps, less comforting for those who have been struck by lightning. For many religious people, it takes some serious readjustment to change those theological underpinnings and recast Christianity as something fluid. Some are too controlled by fear—of change, of uncertainty, of being called heretical—to make the shift. They keep trying, desperately, to hold on to old conceptions as if their eternal life depended on it. But there are alternatives. Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity (Felten, David;Procter-Murphy, Jeff)
2013-11-09_20-46-11One thing most New Testament scholars agree on—and they don’t agree on much—is that Jesus’s main aim was the kingdom of God—not some saccharine vision of a future in heaven, but a clear political statement about the here and now.

From the Book: Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity (Felten, David;Procter-Murphy, Jeff)

GiftsOur political system has increasingly been working in ways that increase the inequality of outcomes and reduce equality of opportunity. This should not come as a surprise: we have a political system that gives inordinate power to those at the top, and they have used that power not only to limit the extent of redistribution but also to shape the rules of the game in their favor, and to extract from the public what can only be called large “gifts.”

--  The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future (Stiglitz, Joseph E.) --