American Privilege

Limousine liberals are peddling the convoluted construct of “white privilege” to explain unequal achievement. This misguided notion fosters complacency and exacerbates inequality, preventing pursuit of something much more powerful – American privilege.

Maybe there are some remnants of white privilege, but it is subsumed by American privilege which entices the venturesome into our cavernous vaults of opportunity. There are no promissory notes inside guaranteeing equal outcomes, but the master key is available to all who work hard.

And most of us do. Consider the report “All Work, No Pay: The Impact of Forfeited Time Off” (pdf)  by Oxford Economics, which promulgates that “Americans are work martyrs.”  The report finds that U.S. workers annually forfeit 4.9 out of 21 days of paid vacation.” Other research corroborates these findings; indeed, a survey conducted by Harris Interactive for a career-oriented website presents even starker figures:  U.S. workers only use 51% of their eligible paid vacation and paid time off.   

American privilege is present, pervasive, and potent for all those workers. Even the poor amongst us can afford big screen TVs and fancy cell phones if they work hard. They also have unprecedented access to the Internet, which will dramatically increase with the Federal Communication Commission’s E-Rate program. The program helps schools and libraries access affordable telecommunications and information services. 

Tim-Berners Lee, who was instrumental in creating the World Wide Web, insists that Internet access is a human right. In that case, Americans, no matter their heritage, are not only imbued with privilege, but relish more Internet access than most, as vividly demarcated in this map.

American privilege ensures that even our poor probably live better than kings and queens of yesteryear, and certainly better than most of the world’s population today. One business columnist – who is definitely not immersed in white privilege -- put it this way:

“Even by modern standards, your life is “rich” compared to most of the world. With the global median household income estimated at less than $10,000 per year and 70% of the world population having less than $10,000 in net assets, the average American is very well off comparatively, even if it doesn’t always feel like it”

Choose whatever quality of life measure you will: lifespan, health, wealth, liberty… America is always privileged.  Those metrics are apparent, but in addition to lifespan and liberty, we also aspire to the pursuit of happiness. So here’s a less obvious map that ranks (under U.N. auspices) happiness by nation. Again, the U.S. ranks well above the median, trailing only smaller and more homogenous nations who lack our vivid patchwork of cultures. 

The United Nations Human Development Report ranks the world’s best places to live, and the U.S. is consistently in the top five -- noteworthy for such a vast and diverse country. No wonder so many immigrants aspire to the American Dream. They are not uprooting their lives and flocking to the U.S. because of white privilege.  

These are all compelling testaments to American privilege, but here’s something that will caress your conscience and eviscerate any lingering vestiges of invented guilt that American privilege is limited to whites.  It’s the Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI)  provided by the U.N. Development Program.  The index measures how “achievements are distributed among its population by ‘discounting’ each dimension’s average value according to its level of inequality.” If you fully comprehend that U.N. mumbo-jumbo then you’re smarter than me, but the main point is we are in the category “Very high human development.” Only a very few, far less populous nations are higher.

Pandering politicians who espouse government aggrandizement to effect wealth redistribution exaggerate outmoded notions of privilege from a bygone era.  African-Americans can also see the master key to our bursting vaults dangling within their reach. Recent calculations indicate that the GNP of black America would make it one of the richest “nations” in the world.  With buying power over $1 trillion annually, if African-Americans were a country, they’d rank 16th. (Ironically, inequality in the U.S. has increased under President Obama’s vision of grandiose government.)

A majority of Americans also believe that race relations are worse under Obama. The racial atmosphere on campus is no less than pathetic. For example, next year Notre Dame will offer a course called “White Privilege Seminar:  An Introduction to the Intersections of Privilege.” The course will help students become “more aware of injustices and be better equipped with tools to disrupt personal, institutional and worldwide systems of oppression.” That sounds more like community organizer-brainwashing than open-minded education.

The disruptive students may deride so-called white privilege, but I wonder how many took a spot on campus thanks to affirmative action. I suspect many are getting financial aid. Will they disrupt those institutions? And the tech gizmos that enhance their learning experience are affordable to the masses thanks to the great dedication, innovation and productivity of our lean corporations. You know, the ones that create wealth and jobs. Will they disrupt those systems? 

They should anticipate travel to dubious countries because their planned disruptions to institutional and worldwide oppression will be far more impactful beyond the shores of American privilege. When they get locked up without due process because there’s no right to protest or peaceably assemble, maybe they’ll reminisce fondly about America the Beautiful, whose privilege is as bountiful as her amber waves of grain.

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