Op-ed missed the mark on hardship
I took issue with Eric Miller’s article, “Solving inequality requires education reforms.”
First, the title is misleading. Miller spends the majority of the article dispelling what he perceives to be the myth of inequality in America, not arguing for education reforms, a point that he does not touch upon until the last paragraph. Even then, he leaves his claim that “reform in our education policies are the only chance for a meaningful change” unsupported.
Second, I felt the author’s focus on material indicators of relative wealth was too narrow and his attention to the “utility” of goods distorts the reality of inequalities in income. What about quality of life?
Although more difficult to measure numerically, it is a much more important consideration in assessing the state of America’s rich and poor.
While the average individual with less than a high school diploma works only 25 more minutes per day than his college educated counterpart, one must keep in mind many other details of their lives to get an accurate picture of their relative well-being.
Low-income housing is often located on the outskirts of cities. Our less than a high school diploma friend may face an hour-long commute on public transportation to and from work.
While he wastes two hours sitting on a bus, he is exposed to numerous contagions and may find himself sick and unable to make it to work much more frequently than the individual with the bachelor’s degree who lives a short 15 minute drive from his workplace in his car.
Less time at work means less income, and the fact that the individual with less than a high school diploma cannot afford health insurance goes without saying.
This bleak picture is poorly reflected by Miller’s statistics of the percentage of Americans with color TVs.
Class of 2007