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Re: Ch. 7 - The Land of Opportunity
Chapter 7 Discussion Questions
1.) Chapter 7 centres mostly around a couple of ideas, one of which is the meritocracy — the idea that working hard is what gets you ahead in life or a society. Is the meritocracy a myth in the US? What about other post-industrial countries? If it’s gone, do you think bringing it back would be economically feasible at this point?
2.)Recent federal tax law in the US removed the ability to deduct home mortgage interest on taxes collected by the IRS. Do you think this is a direct threat to the American Dream (i.e. the meritocratic ideal)? Why or why not? For the generation of people coming fully into the workforce now, i.e. The Millennials, does this put home ownership further out of reach? Do you think it’s desirable to disincentivise home ownership in this way? Why or why not?
3.) Loewen makes the claim that textbook publishers have become the pawns of those with political agendae who approve textbooks for publishing. Do you feel this is true? Does Texas now wield an inordinate amount of influence over about what and how high school students approach almost any given topic (given the Texas test of textbooks)? What could be done to alleviate this problem (if you believe one exists)?
4.) Loewen also makes the claim textbooks’ failure to properly inform working class students about how the system disproportionately negatively affects them prevents them from being as able to address the problem than they would be otherwise. In the present where class mobility seems to be shrinking, does being aware of such rigging provide any functional benefit? What is the benefit if it exists?
5.) Followup to question 4 above: what do you feel the effect of a growing working class and shrinking middle class is on an economy, society, and nation? Do you think inflation hides purchasing power from most members of an economy? Why does the US seem so blasé about essentially getting painted into an economic and financial corner while the upper class manages to continue to grow more wealthy? (Or do you agree that’s what’s happening?)
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