The D-Day commemorations this past week put me in mind of my father, who got a very raw deal in the Depression and World War II, whose son got the opportunities that his generation strived for, and whose great-grandchildren are at risk of being the stunted generation.
Alongside the everyday low prices, Walmart shoppers in Landover Hills, Maryland, might encounter Gail Todd. A mother of three who works there as a sales associate, Gail would like to work full time but has recently seen her schedule cut to as few as 12 hours a week. She has no idea how much she’ll end up making this year; even when she was working closer to full time, she expected to bring home just $17,000. Currently she and her family depend on D.C.’s public health care system, food stamps and low-income housing to stay afloat.
There is a tendency among elite opinion makers to believe that debt accrued while gaining a college degree is “good debt” that isn’t problematic because, as the thought goes, those with college degrees tend to make enough money to recoup their debt over a lifetime. Student debt is supposedly an equalizer—a way for students to gain access to credit in order to get a degree that will give them an equal chance to enter the middle class and achieve the American Dream.
The unrelenting drumbeat of cynicism about public service seems permanent. Call it "dysfunction," or a "culture of corruption"; it's a widely held view of Albany. It's not true. There is corruption and there is ineptitude and there is manipulation. But the statewide electeds, and the Legislature, are by and large peopled who honestly try to do their best.
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, East Egg represents inherited wealth and privilege, while West Egg represents wealth earned through innovation and hard work, a distinction at the core of the American ideal. We have always embraced a dynamic capitalism, marked not by stasis but rather “creative destruction,” lionizing trust-busters as heroes of competition.
I've joined the widening group of those fascinated with the scandal surrounding New York Yankee pitcher Miguel Pineda's use of pine tar to get a grip on things. I'm not sure why; it's a demonstrably trivial incident. But I suspect it's an insight into how we treat important things as well, and it certainly has captured public attention.