Being Smart Isn’t Always Enough to Make it in America


Via James Pethokoukis, here’s an interesting tidbit of income mobility data from a new Brookings report. The chart below is a little tricky to read, but basically it shows how likely you are to make more money than your parents. You’d naturally expect smart kids to do better than dimmer kids, so it tracks that too.

Take a look at the green column on the far left. It’s for kids who grow up in the very poorest families. If you have high cognitive ability, you have a 24 percent chance of becoming a high earner as an adult. That’s not too bad.

But if you come from a high-income family, you have a 45 percent chance of becoming a high earner as an adult. Same smarts, different outcome.

No society will ever get this perfect. Still, there’s a huge difference between 24 percent and 45 percent. Better schools, more extracurricular opportunities, different skin color, bigger networks of connected friends, higher odds of going to college, and the simple ability to get in the door all give richer kids a huge leg up that poor kids don’t have. We obviously have a ways to go before everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed in America.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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