DP: A few problems. First is that income mobility isn’t as great as you seem to imply: many of the middle class are middle class because they’re the children of middle-class parents, not due to any intrinsic superiority. It’s much easier for them to get better education, they can make better connections for later employment or job advancement, their parents are more likely to have contacts in the field that their children are interested in, etc. The claims that there is so much job mobility are often based on a flawed understanding of statistics. Many of those that we call “the poor” don’t even qualify as such: they’re merely people having a bad year (or whatever) and who will come out of it when times improve. This isn’t “the poor climbing out of poverty”… such things are much rarer than those who misunderstand or misrepresent regression towards the mean would have you believe.
Second problem is that, yes, high school is tougher than work. Can anybody who’s gone through hell in high school even possibly deny this? You have a horde of people crammed together, largely against their will, who are flooded with hormones and engaged in a rather darwinian exercise of social education and hierarchy establishment. At least you can choose where you go to work and what you want to do; the only choice with high school is either to go, or to leave. For many, high school is hell. The success of Buffy as an allegory was built entirely upon this undeniable truth.
Again, this is barring the existence of alternate schools. One of my best friends couldn’t function in a regular high school, but excelled in an alternate school and is one of the most valuable people at the office at which he works.
Third, not everybody chooses to have children. That’s a huge debate and I don’t want to get into it, but regardless of the circumstances and morality, not everybody chooses to have children. Again, an argument for alternate schools, but not demonizing the poor.
And that’s what this is about, isn’t it? If you can blame the poor for their own misfortune, all of them, then you don’t have to feel responsible. You don’t have to do anything, and can feel smug in your own superiority. Even if there’s a small minority that fit this qualification, too many times people will fixate on them and say “see! see!” in the hopes that nobody will notice the economic forces and aspects of pure luck that often contribute to chronic poverty. It’s so much easier to blame them, and it lets you feel so much better. I can understand the impulse, even if it’s nonsense. It must feel so satisfying.