Every year, Forbes publishes a list of the 400 Richest Americans. In 2016, the entry criteria was a one-point-one-billion-dollar fortune. They also published a “self-made” grade, ranging from 1-10, indicating to what extent their wealth was inherited, earned, or simply maintained.
Oprah Winfrey, who grew up in poverty and overcame significant obstacles (including abuse) rates a 10 on the self-made scale. (Way to go, Oprah! Why can’t everyone be like you?!?)
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of facebook among other things, rates an 8, which is described as self-made who came from a middle or upper-middle-class background. (Kudos to you as well!)
Donald Trump gets a 5. (A five on the self-made scale?!?) He is not only self-made but also fact-making up as he goes along.
On June 17, 2016 US Senator Bernie Sanders said, “It is an outrage that in America today the top 1% makes 25 times more than the bottom 99%. That’s 20% of all income going to 1% of the people.”
Those are mind-bending, heart-breaking numbers.
I was told that if I worked hard and played by the rules, I would achieve the dream-come-true. And that was true for me. But when I look around, it seems everyone is working harder and most of them are playing by the rules, so where is the dream-come-true for them?
There is no such thing as a free lunch, but at Olathe North High School, 40% of kids qualify for free or reduced lunch. The average in Kansas is 43% on free or reduced lunch. Meanwhile, at Olathe Northwest, the percentage is 16%. Thus, Olathe Northwest is not average. For a family of 4 to qualify, your annual income must be below $44,000.
Why do we force people into poverty before we help them? Wouldn’t it be better if we prevented poverty instead of just maintaining it? Perhaps the battle against poverty could be won by a fair education for everyone, young and old and rich and poor. It seems we are fighting the wrong battle, making the investment too late in a person’s life.
This makes me think the Forbes 400 who got eight or less on the self-made scale don’t know shit about poverty. The nines are just barely acquainted with it. Did 40% of the 400 grow up on free or reduced lunch? It seems that Oprah is an exception… Why do we hold her up as an example? When really, she is a miracle.