Post # 348  FREEDOM OF OPPORTUNITY (a mini essay)

At the very moment our Founding Fathers issued the declaration, applicable to the new Nation, “All men are created equal,” the death knell was sounded for the ages-old, European system of privileged birth and of privileged classes.

Such radical, 18th Century determination, ultimately, led our new Nation to unprecedented, and universally recognized success, wealth and power; albeit, it has taken decades of personal sacrifice and hard work, for the ideal of equality to be universally applied to all, regardless of race or gender. Yet it may truly be said that great progress toward the full attainment of universal equality has been made.

Liberty of action resulted in the development and encouragement of entrepreneurship, and with it, the unrestrained opportunity, by many enterprising Americans, to succeed in the acquisition of wealth, social standing and influence.  This laissez -faire system also resulted in a far greater number of citizens, of various degrees of financial success, including a lower economic, but self-supporting Middle Class, and a less fortunate economic class, referred to as the “Lower Class,”; the latter, with, manifestly, inadequate resources for its subsistence. The phenomenon of “class difference,” it appears, now morphed into relative considerations of temporal wealth, as opposed to the European, accident of birth.

In the early 20th Century, starting with the Presidential Administration of Franklin D Roosevelt, new,  empathic programs of governmental assistance to the Nation’s needy, (folks who apparently, fell into the cracks of the free enterprise universe) were enacted, for the purpose of granting needed assistance. Relief in many areas, including, social security and survivor’s insurance, unemployment and disability benefits, reforms relating to wages and working hours, sick leave and labor conditions, in general, were enacted. The governmental expression of empathy and concern for the working, and lower class, in general, developed into the salutary system we now call, “compassionate capitalism.”

An equitably essential concomitant, to the declaration that “all men are born equal,” is the officially declared, foundational principle of, “Freedom of Opportunity.” No longer would it be the case that the son of a tradesman or a blacksmith’s son be socially constrained to seek an apprenticeship with his father, or some other craftsman, and follow his trade or calling. As society progressed, the principle meant that, young men (and much later, women) could better their lives, economically or otherwise, if capable, by seeking to follow another life path such as in medicine, law, the church, apothecary, finance or other calling or profession.

Time tested experience, inarguably, demonstrated that the most successful route, to an improved life, economically and otherwise, was by the initial pursuit of a higher education, by matriculation into higher institutions of learning, Colleges and Universities, and graduating with a recognized degree; such graduates, demonstrably, have better jobs and earn far more, than non-graduates. The foundational assurance of equal opportunity for all, has motivated a great many young people to improve their lives and economic status by means of this propitious route. An unfortunate problem is the very high cost of college tuition, forcing many students, who cannot get a scholarship, or attain entrance to a City University, to borrow, and undertake significant long term debt, in order to obtain their necessary diploma. This, however, has been empirically demonstrated to be the most successful route to a better and more fulfilling life, and the effectuation of the phrase, “Freedom of Opportunity.

There would appear to be a hierarchy of purported “better colleges” which, have been adjudged, somehow, to be “superior.” Among the latter are the so-called, “ivy league” colleges and universities, for example, Stamford, Harvard, Yale and Columbia, among others.  The public perception, whether accurate or not, is that these “better” schools attract the best, and most desirable students, and furnish a distinctly superior education. Such reputations may, or may not be deserved, however, highly motivated, success-oriented students (and unfortunately, many economically privileged and ego-driven parents) actively compete for entrance to these “elite” success factories.

At this point in this “mini-essay,” we would observe that, based upon considerable personal experience, it may, creditably, be said that any motivated and capable student, can obtain a prime education from any decently accredited college or university, and be a desirable candidate for employment, or further study, anywhere. Any student seeking a sound college education, need not be concerned, regarding his future, with the public relations statements promoting any so- called “elite” college. His success in obtaining a good education and his consequent self- advancement is more dependent upon his character and accumulation of wisdom.

It is disappointing, even egregious, to note that despite the solemn promises of our great country, greed and the neurotic aspiration for publicly acclaimed success, unabashedly and shamelessly fly in the face of our historic proclamations and dedicated purpose. Two wealthy and successful mothers of would-be candidates for admission to the “elite” school, Harvard University, have been charged with the crime of bribery, the motivation for which was the purchase of Harvard’s consent to their admission to the school. We are of the depressing opinion that there may be minions of such ambitiously dedicated mothers, anxious to crow to their elite entourage. about their brilliant child’s meritorious admission to Harvard. From the student’s point of view, unless he is inclined also to be crass, he will, in any event, always remember that his seat was paid for, and not earned on the merits.

These selfish, miscreant, women are shamefully guilty of criminal behavior, but also obnoxiously, of a neurotic sense of personal entitlement. They should, certainly, be punished, but also pointedly reminded of having, acted in derogation of our Nation’s solemn promise, of equality of opportunity.

Harvard, itself is no less a disgraceful offender. The institution, originally created to teach the Christian faith to potential ministers, has an ages long, programmatic history of immorally and intentionally playing favorites, for “legacy” families, for substantial donors to it, of money and for other policies of favoritism, contrary to our Nation’s historically established promise. We do not consider such an intentional and consistent offender “elite,” in any sense of the word.

It might be well to remember the insightful statement of Socrates, who said. “It is not the equalization of property, but the moral improvement of man.”


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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