Yesterday, President Obama gave a stirring speech on income inequality and he declared war on it. The President is a rich man who was abandoned by his drunken immigrant father. He was brought up by his hippie mother. She had a doctorate. It took her twenty years to earn it. (I don’t mean to say that she was idle during most or any of these twenty years.)
I am an immigrant myself. I came to this country with no money (that’s NO money), no degree, no skill, nothing. (I was white, it’s true, still am.)
(By the way, about half the people with African blood in the US have zero American slave ancestry. Yes, like the president. They are descendants of immigrants like me, people who volunteered to come to this allegedly racist country.)
I have an American doctorate too. It did not take me twenty years.
Fifty years after reaching this country , I live modestly but with no serious wants. And I live in a very desirable place, even by world standards.
I bet you filled in the blank: “Poor guy, poor immigrant worked hard all his life, blah, blah…”
But I didn’t. Nearly every time I found myself at a crossroad, I chose the other path; I selected psychic income over money income; I wanted more free time rather than a bigger car, or a bigger house. Now, does President Obama mean that I should feel bitter toward the other guy in initially similar circumstances who chose the income, who put in fifty hours weeks, and who is now worth several times what I am worth?
Does the President mean that I should be bitter because so many men my age are richer than I am ? Men who live in Cleveland and such?
Does President Obama really mean that I should enlist the services of government to take that other old guy’s money by force to give it to me? And next, will they take from me, equally by force, my golden memories of the three months I spend spear-fishing on the Caribbean coast of Mexico?
That would be fair, or would it?
And do we prefer to live in a society that gives even a poor immigrant the kind of choices I had or in a society where nearly everyone gets about the same regardless of personal preferences?