A Never Ending Rat Race of Despair
If you read last week’s cover story in the BusinessWeek, you probably felt sick to your stomach over the exploitation of the poor.
Growing up in Mexico, I routinely came across devastating examples of poverty. I witnessed a scary and growing divide between those with money and those without. There was hardly a middle class. If you didn’t have money you were stuck without any way up.
When I arrived to the United States I quickly recognized that the middle class is why the US is the land of opportunity. It didn’t matter where in life you were, with a little hard work one could join the middle class…and from there it was only a little more work to reach the upper class. There was always something to strive for.
The tables have turned.
Mexico now has a huge and emerging middle class, developments are booming, and there is a new sense of hope and possibility.
The US meanwhile is in the process of eliminating their middle class. In the age of unprecedented wealth, we are seeing the continued expansion of the wealth gap.
In the building of Emerging Demographics, I have had firsthand experience with thousands of jobseekers at the edge of despair. I can tell you that life is not fair. These are hard working and very smart people who have never had a chance in life. They want to do what they can to help themselves, but at every turn they are taken advantage of. Whether it is the money they have to borrow at 25% a year, or the check cashing store that takes 10% of their money, or even Western Union that charges about 15% to send a payment. It just isn’t fair.
But the worst of it are the companies that sell promises of a brighter future while raping the victims they claim to help. Institutions like University of Phoenix that charge thousands and thousands of dollars for half-backed courses that do little or nothing to advance the careers of the people taking them. I recently spoke to a single mother of two who was taking some of these courses. She was working a full-time job and raising her children. She was exhausted and she kept going because she felt this was her way out of poverty…but in the end the 15 or 20 thousand dollars in debt she will find herself after graduation will probably only dig her deeper into the never ending rat race of despair.
This can still be the land of opportunity, but we need to make education – real education – more accessible and less expensive.
Entry filed under: Start-up.