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Friday, April 18, 2014

The Price of Paradise: The Costs of Inequality and a Vision for a More Equitable America

You do not have to know me long to know how passionate I am regarding income inequality and how it effects the education of our children. So when I saw David Dante Troutt's The Price of Paradise: The Costs of Inequality and a Vision for a More Equitable America I practically begged for it.

When Rational Mom and Rational Dad make big-ticket decisions such as what neighborhood in which to live, which schools for their children to attend, and how to get the most for their middle class lifestyle, they often make decisions that they feel are in their personal and fiscal best interest. The problem with this comes in economic realities of creating opportunity for those who are "deserving" and denying it to those we view as not. The desire to segregate ourselves (in the most loose sense of the term, regardless of your in-group) from "others" has led to economic inequality as well as a willingness to overspend even when we don't think we are. Creating an "otherness" has moved us so far from the American Dream that it begs the question--does it even exist in present day USA?

I found myself overwhelmed with excitement by this book. Troutt has done a superb job in putting together a treatise that is readable for the every-man but still makes clear the economic ramifications we face as a nation by our unwillingness to share. I am not talking about Robin Hood here and sharing our money, and I am also not taking about raising taxes for provisions. Troutt's argument here is that by creating and perpetuating a divided America, a fractured state of what the American Dream really means, we have created a nation that is more divided economically and racially than ever, and the circumstances that come out of these divisions affect every one of us whether you see it or not.

I am of course glossing over many of his points, which you can read for yourself when you get the book, because it is meticulously researched and both clearly and logically argued. One section flows into the next, and the argument continues to build until it is fully formed and jaw-dropping in it's honest, rawness, and frankness. If you aren't called to action after finishing this book then I am not sure what will move you. This goes beyond just helping others "move up the ladder;" it's also about helping ourselves. A more equitable America will serve you and me as much as it will serve the millions we will never meet.

There are many things I have learned about the human brain, the most important being that we think we are rational and logical creatures (we want to think we are!), but the reality of us as human beings is that we are the most illogical, irrational, un-thought-out creatures we will ever meet. We are more likely to "rationalize" based on emotion than on logic yet we will call that emotion logic. All of this adds to Troutt's work that while we think we are being Rational Mom or Dad, we are often doing just the opposite--without even realizing it.
Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.

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