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Issue of Opportunities Inequality in the US

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Although the “American Dream” with equal opportunity has always been an ideal cherished by Americans, a simple understanding of the situation in the United States reveals that the “American Dream”, at least for now, is still an ideal myth: “America has become the advanced country not only with the highest level of inequality but is among those with the least equality of opportunity”, Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Joseph Stiglitz spoke on the topic of “Opportunity, Mobility, and Inequality in Today’s Economy”. The social phenomenon of unequal opportunity in the United States is a multi-dimensional social problem that affects people belonging to most socio-economic strata. It cannot be based on single data to describe all aspects of social inequality. However, I believe that income inequality is a very important issue of unequal opportunity in American society, as well as being one of the most obvious indicators. In the United States, more than one-fifth of all income is concentrated in the top 1% of the richest. According to an article by Christopher Ingraham, the nation’s bottom 90% has less wealth than the top 1%, and the richest 1% own 40% of the country’s wealth. And there is inequality even within the top 1 percent.

It can be seen that in the United States, which has formed a structure intrinsically class-divided, the fate of unequal opportunities is inevitable even for the nation’s top 1 percent of the population.

If we are to fundamentally address the social problems of income inequality, we need to analyze the underlying factors that support its existence. I believe that income inequality is not just a social situation caused by a single problem, but is caused by multi-dimensional potential factors, inevitably including unfair opportunities caused by racial differences, unfair educational opportunities, loopholes in the economic system, and multiple problems related to politics. Because economic and political systems are complex and intractable, racial and educational inequalities of opportunity are equally important. So I’m going to discuss and offer some ideas on how to address the underlying causes of income inequality — racial inequality of opportunity and educational inequality.

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First, the inequality of opportunities caused by racial discrimination is a common situation for many Americans. The representative problems of this inequality of opportunity are the inequality of income and employment opportunities caused by racial differences to some extent. An analysis of the Pew Research Center reveals that the average wealth of white families is 20 times that of black families and 18 times that of Spanish families.

The fact that the incomes of different “races” are extremely unequal seems to be a heavy fact hammering the American dream of longing for equal opportunities. I believe that income inequality caused by racial discrimination is inextricably linked to unequal employment opportunities in different races. And it is the racial inequality represented by these two inequalities of opportunity that breeds the macro phenomenon of income inequality in American society today. Due to historical reasons, it is much easier to make changes from objective factors than to try to change the concept of race in people’s minds. Tackling the loss of employment opportunities for racial reasons to improve income inequality in the United States is my starting point for solving this problem. Researchers have found from an experiment done in Chicago and Boston in 2001 and 2002 that the names with certain racial feature could cause unequal treatments, “ resumes with “white-sounding” names, whether male or female, were much more likely to result in callbacks for interviews than were those with “black-sounding” names (even though the resumes were otherwise identical)”.

Although it’s hard to say whether a candidate’s abilities are more relevant to the job than another candidate’s, the vast majority of hiring comes with little oversight. The experiment points to the conclusion that over the years there was little sign of progress in improving the fact that blacks are still disproportionately disadvantaged in hiring decisions relative to equally qualified whites. The prejudice against people of different racial backgrounds in American society has a substantial impact on people’s equal opportunities. Having a higher-quality resume is less helpful to African-Americans, as it seems that resumes that are otherwise almost identical don’t get people the same job offers. However, what accounts for the stubborn persistence of hiring inequality might not be that Americans are not concerned with diversity and inclusion, it’s the assessment of subtle forms of racial stereotypes and unconscious racial biases that unconsciously influence their decisions. Unconscious prejudice is hard to change, so I think changing objective factors is a more convenient and fair way. Therefore, my solution to the problem of job inequality influenced by racial reasons is to mask the racial characteristics of job applicants within a reasonable range, such as names with strong racial significance, in order to avoid prejudice biased by their ethnic background. It might be possible to set up a mechanism for reviewing resumes so that candidates’ names are not shown first, or that their experience and achievements are given priority over their names, so as to prevent reviewers from prejudging candidates based on ethnic stereotypes and affecting talent selection, but instead to focus on the candidate’s individual abilities and to examine well the candidate fits the position from an objective perspective. I want to alleviate the social inequality of work opportunities in the United States, and ultimately the broader social problem of income inequality, by leading people to focus more on individual strength than on ethnic background.

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The name is a person’s identity cognition and the first thing that others need to know. The potential objection to hiding the name on the resume is that the examiner may have difficulty creating trust in the job seeker, which will also affect the interview results of the interview to some extent. The suggestion for this problem is that after the examiner reads the resume of the job seeker and fully understands his or her strengths and abilities, if the examiner feels it is necessary, he can check the job seeker’s in-depth information. And this move will also be seen as an act of interest to the job seeker’s ability and recorded. In the subsequent interview or return visit, it may become a plus item for job seekers.

Secondly, inequality in educational opportunities can to some extent be seen as a social problem arising from the continuation of the above problem — inequality in employment opportunities caused by racial issues. When parents do not have a good educational background due to poverty of their original family, it is possible that the inequality caused by racial discrimination mentioned above is the cause, and children’s educational opportunities will be more or less negatively affected. I believe that unfair educational opportunities for children are also one of the inevitable factors affecting income inequality in American society today. While income is increasingly concentrated at the top, more people are in poverty at the bottom. A measurement by NCCP (National Center for Children in Poverty) shows that about 15 million children in the United States – 21% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold. Poverty prevents the American family from the bottom of the income inequality scale from offering a good education for children. When these children become adults, their level of education is not enough to help them reach the upper class, they naturally become a member of the victims of income inequality. And when they become parents, and the poverty problem that occurs in them will happen again to their offspring, which becomes a simplified version of the vicious circle. The final result is a phenomenon of income inequality in American society. Compared with other developed countries, the life prospects of young Americans are more dependent on their native family’s income and education. The high concentration of income makes the top 1% richer and richer and captures most of the social resources of the United States. At the same time, while the United States is wasting human resources, millions of people living in the bottom echelons of the income scale are self-sufficient in making money, although unable to realize their potential. If we want to find an exact solution, we first need to dig deeper into the causes of educational inequality to prove my logic. According to “A Rotting Apple: Education Redlining in New York City”, “the communities where most of the City’s poor, Black and Hispanic students live suffer from New York policies and practices that give their schools the fewest resources and their students the least experienced teachers… The best-funded schools have the highest percentage of the experienced administration are mostly located in economically advantaged neighborhoods.” From this, the poverty of the middle and lower classes caused by income inequality is to some extent “inherited” to the next generation tied with racial discrimination. Analyzing the policies mentioned in the article, we know that families with better economic conditions have better educational resources, while children of color have poorer educational resources. The unfair distribution of social resources caused by poverty results in unfair educational opportunities for children, which deserves people’s reflection and concern. The class gap in the United States seems to have been formed since the childhood of the American people. In the context of income inequality in the United States, it has become a convenient privilege for the wealthiest 1 percent of families to transfer the social resources that poor children should have access to the children of wealthy families. I think the best way to deal with educational inequity is to change the policy of unfair distribution of educational resources. We should first call on the local government to realize this unfair social situation and make them aware of the children’s need for help and fairness. Second, formulate clear strategies aimed at improving the way resources are allocated, narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor and alleviating the different educational experiences of children of different classes. Specifically, schools should hold all educational resources, such as classroom environments, teaching equipment and even teacher qualifications, to the same strict standards. None of this should be divided according to race or economic circumstances. Educational resources should be set to be distributed on demand, not on money or race. If the government attaches enough importance to this method and implements it successfully, it has a great chance to improve the unfair educational opportunities of children from different family backgrounds who are treated unequally in terms of education. The advantage of a fair and equal distribution of educational resources is that it provides at least a common platform for all children to bridge the economic gap in childhood.

However, potential objections also exist. For example, because children are assigned to government-run schools based on their zip codes, the majority of the children who go to school in poor areas are also from lower-priced households. It is worrying that poor communities seem to be isolated from a conditionally superior environment. The lifestyle of children in wealthy families cannot be touched and studied, and children from the same low income family background may have negative effects on each other. These are variables that the government not able to fully control. In addition, another potential objection is due to the fact that teachers are paid based on years of experience, not the actual quality level. Therefore, in the case of earning the same salary, the best teachers will go to schools with better student conditions and relatively easy education, rather than the worst school district. The government should not interfere with teachers choosing their own workplace.

One way to deal with these potential objections could be to offer financial rewards to high-quality teachers to appeal them to help schools that are disadvantaged groups. On the one hand, this method can retain teachers’ enthusiasm for teaching to some extent and can also keep a relatively higher quality of teacher resources for disadvantaged schools than before. In addition, if the school’s teaching resources can provide students with a good learning atmosphere and teach students the correct perception, this will reduce the negative impact that the original family may have on the child.

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