Upward mobility in America is a myth.
People can’t get ahead because the “system” is keeping them down.
Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a syndicated newspaper columnist, shoots holes in those “facts,” in a March 2013 column. Despite those conclusions from academic studies, Sowell says that if you look at individuals, there are clear models of upward mobility in America today.
He cites Asian immigrants, who came to the U.S. with little money, little, if any, command of English, but who have persevered and succeeded. Their children often do very well in school.
Success does not have to be for the privileged, or highly educated, few. There are many ways out there to be successful, regardless of background, birth or circumstance. To take advantage of those many opportunities, one has to, first, look for them. Once he has found one that suits him, he has to be determined to work at it. Once he’s done that, he has to help others do the same.
One of the reasons for Asian immigrants’ success is that they initially get help from those who came before them. Their grit and determination is a shining example to follow.
Admittedly, some folks who have done just about everything right can encounter curve balls that throw off their meticulous life plans. People can lose jobs. People can be shown the door by their employers, and have their careers cut short, because they reach a certain age. People can get ill, and see everything they’d worked for eaten up with medical bills, many of which could be outrageously high.
And, everyone is different. Some people willingly take charge of their lives. Some have trouble doing that. But, the ability to move up the economic ladder is still very much present. It just may not exist in certain areas anymore, because of technology and productivity increases.
Perhaps that good-paying job you had has gone away, and is not coming back. That doesn’t mean the system is keeping people down. It means that individuals have to look elsewhere for opportunity.
It is easy to get frustrated looking for opportunity, and fall into a funk. Then, you start to believe mobility is a myth and the system is against you. Those folks would be advised to know that circumstances may not be their fault, but how you react to them is clearly under their control.
Opportunities of the past may have passed. One might think of a generation or two ago, when a person got hired by an employer, with good pay and benefits, and that person could stay for life if he wanted to. There are few of those opportunities left. Today’s employment situation is very fluid, and probably will become more so with time. One has to look at a job as temporary, with limited duration, and spend some time outside of work looking for those golden opportunities.
Then, if confronted with one such opportunity, one has to have the courage to go for it, knowing that there will be people around to help them, when they are unsure of themselves.
Take care with whom you trust. There will be people who will see THEIR opportunity in YOU, and show you little or no appreciation for it. If you are in such a situation, look at it as a way to support yourself until your own plan, takes shape.
To look at one golden opportunity, visit The value will be obvious. The opportunity will be strictly up to you.
Don’t let yourself be a victim. Don’t become a statistic that will help justify the conclusion that mobility is a myth, and the system keeps people down. There is a whole contingent of people who don’t believe that for a minute. You’d be taking a step toward your own success if you hung among them.


Traditionally, students went to school to see and listen to teachers.
They took what they learned home to practice – what we know as homework.
They brought it back to school the next day to see what they did right, and what they did wrong.
But what if it were reversed?
What if students heard and saw the teachers at home, and came to class to practice what they’d learned. Or, better yet, to see what they could do with what they’d learned?
In a two-day conference titled “Online Learning and the Future of Residential Education,” New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman asked himself the following question: why am I paying $50,000 a year for my kid to go to college, when he can learn all he wants for free from massive, open online courses?
Friedman’s friend, Michael Sandel, teaches the famous, Socratic “Justice” course at Harvard, which has 1,000 students. The class is launching March 12, 2013, as the first humanities offering on the MIT-Harvard edX online learning platform.
In the blended education model, Friedman says students at San Jose State watch MIT lectures on circuits and electronics, and do the exercises at home. Then they come to class, ask the SJSU professor questions about the lectures, then devote most of the class time to problem-solving and discussion.
At the college level, this model allows more students to learn from the best teachers in the world. It also could lower the cost of college, because so much is available online. But it also gives colleges the flexibility to add more to the college experience while lowering the cost. It gives students the chance not just to learn, but also to apply what they’ve learned in practical situations. Students will not just get a degree, but could come out of college with some working knowledge in a given area.
But at the high school or middle school level, it could really lower costs. Suppose a high school student heard lectures on history, math, English etc. on his computer at home. Then, he came to school to do his “homework,” and to take tests. What if he could e-mail his questions to the lecturer and get answers via e-mail? What if the student had to log in to hear a lecture? The school could monitor a student’s activities at home.
What if there were more time at school to be with friends, and have fun? Do you think that might increase attendance, and lower the dropout rate? What if schools were more like labs?
Education at all levels has to not just get better. It has to get cheaper. Friedman, in his March 2013 column, talking about the college level, said that the bottom line is that the residential college experience has huge value. But blending in more technology into education will enhance that experience, improve education and lower the cost of college.
At lower education levels, more students can learn from the best teachers through online classes. They can have more fun at school applying what they’ve learned. School systems can have greater flexibility in the number of buildings it needs, the number of teachers it needs etc. In short, they could do much better for less money.
If you are in the education field, know that your world is changing. How fast it will change is anyone’s guess. If you don’t like what you see coming, visit That will give you a possible Plan B, should your situation change for the worse. For students, however, better education is on its way. For taxpayers, that better education could come at a lower cost.


Medicare gets bad press as a big federal expense, but it is the hero of a recent expose on health care costs.
In fact, journalist and author Steven Brill, who investigated hospital costs nationwide, found huge markups on things you purchase as part of your hospital care.
Brill wrote the piece for Time magazine, and Time Managing Editor Richard Stengel cites the 10,000 percent markup hospitals put on acetaminophen as just one example.
In fact, Brill said on ABC’s This Week Sunday morning show Feb. 24, 2013, that if the introductory age for Medicare were lowered, not raised, health care costs would drop.
Unlike most businesses, hospitals charge you for everything you use, including the little paper cup you get with your acetaminophen in it. It probably costs the hospital pennies per cup to buy, but they might charge a few bucks for it.
And prices vary from place to place, as consumer adviser Clark Howard cited in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution column Feb. 28,2013.
What’s happening is that if you don’t have any insurance, you’ll get billed the marked-up price for your hospital care. Insurers, because they represent lots of people, can negotiate those prices down. And Medicare, the federal health insurance program for senior citizens, is only allowed to pay, by law, somewhere around the hospital’s cost for the item.
We can certainly debate whether hospitals would lose money if more people were on Medicare. Health care workers sing the blues over how little Medicare pays for things, and some providers won’t treat Medicare patients for that reason.
We also know that hospitals and other health care providers have to make up for those people whom they treat, but who can’t, or won’t, pay them. Hence, they mark up bills for paying patients to help recoup.
Brill also pointed out on This Week that Medicare processes claims for less than a dollar per claim, while private insurers pay about $20 to process each claim.
The point the Brill story makes is that insurance lowers medical costs. Medicare lowers them the best, but would a system in which everyone were on Medicare be sustainable? Would hospitals and other health care providers be able to survive on Medicare pricing?
Unlike other businesses, in which technological advantages and competition LOWER costs, technological innovation and competition can RAISE costs in the health care arena. Suppose Institution X get a CT scanner. Institution Y across town will want one, too, even though one scanner would probably service the whole area.
Institution Y doesn’t want to send its patients to Institution X for CT scans, out of fear that patients will elect to get all of their care at Institution X out of convenience. What if Institution Y LOWERED its prices because it doesn’t have the overhead to maintain the expensive CT scanner? If you cut your hand, would you want to pay the overhead for a CT scanner just to get a bandage?
The point is that people need to see, and care about, what things cost and how they are billed. Insurance makes people less concerned about that, but even though the patient may not be paying much of the cost, he still should negotiate bills. Don’t pay $5 for a paper medicine cup that you know costs the hospital a few cents. Or, better yet, have insurance for everyone and have the insurers negotiate prices down, Brill points out.
Health care is tricky, and there is plenty the average person doesn’t know, or care about. The Brill piece helped expose some of it, but it will be tough to get health care costs down considerably. Also, if we could reduce the costs considerably, how many health care providers can survive with the lower margins? Health care costs are high, in part, because we, as patients, don’t know where the money goes. If everyone were losing money, the system would have changed a long time ago. Someone, or some entities, benefit largely from this lack of knowledge. The money trail needs to be exposed, and the Brill piece goes a long way to do that.
If you don’t want to worry so much about costs, visit Not only will it help you save money on some medical care, it can help you earn enough money, perhaps, that you can easily pay for anything you need.



Are you hanging on, hanging tough or hanging it up?
Or, are you just hanging?
Whatever you feel your state is, it might have something to do with whom you are hanging around.
Sure, family and old friends are great to have. They are great to have fun with. But, are these people you love keeping you from something better?
Do you feel the need to find new people, perhaps who have been very successful, to see whether you can get better?
As most leadership experts say, success starts in the mind. If the people you are closest to are telling you that you can’t do something, or that something is not for you (because it’s not for THEM), do you feel that they might be wrong?
Sometimes, it takes a new set of people to give you perspective on what you can do. Sometimes, it means reading good books, listening to good CDs and finding new people to hang around with.
You might need people who will tell you that “hanging” is not an option. You have to work on yourself. You have to take action to get out of your hanging state. You have to find the people, the organization(s), the reading material that will change the way you look at life – and yourself.
Are you working JUST to earn a living? Do you hate what you are doing, but think you can’t leave because your family and friends told you how great your security is? Working for someone else means you are building someone else’s dream. It’s certainly OK to work for someone else, if you are also building your own dream.
Take the story of the company owner who interviews a prospective employee. He shows the prospective employee pictures of a big house, with a beautiful view and lots of fancy cars in the driveway. He tells the prospect that if he is hired and does a good job, “all this will be mine!”
That’s how it feels at many jobs. Careers can be rewarding, but in today’s world, careers are cut short by machines, foreign workers and the like. What your father did for 40 years may not last you 40 years, no matter your education.
You may not be able to hang on, or hang tough, until you can retire comfortably. Some 40 years ago, change came more slowly. Today, change is constant and instant. It’s not a matter of rolling with change, but those who are most comfortable adapting to change are going to be the most desirable and have the most longevity in the work force.
It’s also important to have a Plan B, in case your best-laid career plans go awry. For a look at one of those options, visit You can work full time at your job, and part time on your fortune. Perhaps, one day, YOU can tell your boss, to quote the Johnny PayCheck song, to “Take This Job & Shove It.”
Change is the operative word in any situation today. If you hang around long enough, you won’t recognize your workplace. If you hang tough, and deal with change as it comes, you may survive longer than most. If you can hang it up on YOUR terms, you will be one of the lucky ones.
If you don’t pay attention to change, even if you don’t like it, you could be hung out to dry. Fighting to stop or resist change could leave you hanging, eventually.
So don’t just hang. Improve. Take action. Find the right people to hang around with, lest you get hanged.