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The discussion on the politics of class in the US has been one that has stayed with us for the longest time now. One of the questions that Americans have been so very skeptical of answering is whether class differences really do exist within our midst, and if it does, whether it really does have an impact on the lives of Americans. There is need to address issues that amount from the class debate, as has been put into perspective by Gregory Mantsios, in his journal entitled: Rewards and Opportunities: The Politics and Economics of Class in the U.S.
Mantsios points out various critical issues vital in life, whose effects, he attributes to the existence of class barriers in the American society, (Mantsios, 1990). Some of the highlights of the important aspects pertinent to our society that are attributed to the “politics of class” by Mantsios include: the extent of poverty in the U.S, the plight of the middle class, the rewards of money in the American society, differences in opportunity for the citizens and the spheres of power and oppression. Mantsios goes ahead to highlight various issues in the American society that he deems fully qualify the U.S to be an exemplary icon of a society that suffers from aspects of class discrimination and domination, yet the citizens continue to bury their heads in the sand as assuming all is well, (Mantsios, 1990). This paper conducts a dichotomy of the issues expressed by Mantsios, and puts them into perspective with regard to the current situation, and gives an independent opinion as well.
The Politics of Class in the U.S as Seen Through the Eyes of Gregory Mantsion.
Mantsios views the U.S to be a society that suffers from issues that do arise from class difference, and blames the American citizens for denying the existence of class. It loathes him that many Americans would not wish to speak on the issue of class, pretend like class differences do not really matter, as they continue to make statements denoting their egalitarian values. The extent of poverty in the U.S is the first item on the agenda of Mantsion that is linked to the perennial aspect of class in the country. He points out to the poverty statistics conducted by different organizations such as the “Physicians Task Force” which conducted a research in the rural area of Mississippi titled: “from Hunger in America: The Growing Epidemic.”, (Mantsios, 1990). The results of the research were appalling and brought very disturbing insights into the suffering state of many Americans in the region.
Mantsion goes ahead to point to the large disparities in terms of wealth between the rich and the poor in the country. He bases his remarks and conclusions on a survey previously conducted by economist Robert Reich in 1990, which revealed that the top fifth of the population took home more money than the other four-fifths put together. As if not all, he highlights the plight of the middle class in the country whom he claims their levels of income have been dwindling steadily over time.
Differences in opportunity is another aspect not to be forgotten by Mantsion. He notes and acknowledges the fact that social and economic success, rooted on the foundation of education and jobs, as the hallmarks of the American dream. However, he feels that the country no longer provides unprecedented education opportunities to its citizens as should be the case, and condemns the low transition numbers from high school to college. He terms the colleges in ‘poorer’ states as having been converted into ‘community centers,’ while those in lavish states as being the only ones that now offer quality training.
Finally, he points out the ‘spheres of power’ prevalent in the US that seem to be holding back the people from realizing their potential as healthy, creative, and productive individuals. Class domination through institutional oppression that are beyond the control of the individuals tops his list. He also mentions capitalism and gender and racial discrimination and domination to be the other factors. He then concludes by terming the American dream a ‘false’ one.
The Politics of Class in the U.S: Still a Case of Class or Egalitarianism?
Having put all the aspects raised above into perspective, I would strongly agree with the sentiments by Gregory Mantsion on the politics of class in the US. The time of publication of the journal notwithstanding, I believe that most of the issues raised are still pertinent to the American society to this day and age. Not much has changed in the education and health sectors, the sharing of opportunities amongst citizens of different social classes, the power of money in the country and what money can do, the plight of the middle class among other issues mentioned. My hope is that Americans would stop consuming information from the media and the few elements who find themselves in elevated positions of political leadership, with regard to the class discussion in the country. The citizens still prefer to wear a tough skin and decide to talk of how an egalitarian a society the US is, whilst class rules almost every sphere of life in the country.
Conditions are still deplorable in Mississippi, with more than 15% of the population in need of food stamps, the sons and daughters of the poor are still the highest victims of incarceration occasioned by the need to make their lives better, the conditions of the middle class are yet to start improving, opportunities are still not distributed on grounds of meritocracy but rather by how high one ranks in society, standards of education are still dwindling and deplorable in purported poor states despite high enrollment rates, among others, (Stiglitz, 2012). Putting all these aspects into focus, I feel like it is a complete paradigm shift from being debate of class and egalitarianism to an outright fact of class discrimination and domination.
There is need to normalize the costs of living in the country so that the more than 2 million Americans who work on full time basis but remain poor can salvage something for their savings and better their lives. Financial institutions ought to come up mechanisms through which the low income earners can secure mortgages to better the statistics of home owners in the country. It is about time class was quantified through the wealth accrued by persons, and not their income, for this is a fallacy that brings confusion between egalitarianism and class. This is a matter that is greatly dependent upon the good will from players in the political domain who’d formulate and enforce proper legislation that will guarantee egalitarianism to all Americans, regardless of their social status and rankings, and make America great again.
Mantsios, Gregory. "Rewards And Opportunities: The Politics And Economics Of Class In The US". 1990, pp. 59-67., Accessed 5 Dec 2018.
Stiglitz, Joseph. "Inequality And Economic Growth". Www8.Gsb.Columbia.Edu, 2012, https://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/jstiglitz/sites/jstiglitz/files/Inequality%20and%20Economic%20Growth.pdf. Accessed 5 Dec 2018.
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