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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Rise above US class conflict

    Money is a pertinent issue, yet a topic of conversation to avoid at all costs. It is the root of both America’s most recognized class conflict and its rising socioeconomic prejudice.

    The Pew Research Center released new survey results last week revealing 66 percent of Americans see the rich and the poor as the most severe social conflict within the United States — a 19 percent increase since 2009, when a similar poll was conducted.

    The study’s participants viewed the disparities surrounding the two classes as more significant than the ones involving race, ethnicity and age.

    Since 2009, the race category has been the only one of the four social conflicts to actually decrease. As a country, should we rejoice in the fact that racism and similar injustices have lessened, or should we be ashamed of ourselves for replacing them with a new issue?

    This new preoccupation with socioeconomic disparities isn’t unreasonable.

    Consider the vast financial gap, the pitiful unemployment rate, the meager job opportunities and the presidential candidates who have more money than most American citizens will make in a lifetime.

    The social conflict between the rich and the poor was brought to national attention through the Occupy Wall Street movement, a nationwide protest to incite change within the economy for the 99 percent who are the most financially disenfranchised. Despite having degrees and skills to contribute to this broken country, people are still jobless.

    When it comes to the job market, many students are on the outside looking in. We’re gearing up to enter the world we once thought was bountiful with employment opportunities and open doors. The story of a student going to college, getting a degree and then receiving a desirable job, is becoming a fable.

    The Pew Research Center also asked participants how they thought the rich became rich, and 46 percent assumed it was because of connections or family wealth. As students, does this mean our financial fates are predetermined? Are our educations worthless if we don’t know the right people or are not heirs to a family fortune?

    If this holds true, it’s unfair and discouraging. You can get mad, get outraged and start hating all rich people, but it won’t do you or this country any good. It’s dangerously easy to take all of those feelings and unknowingly ignite a dangerous conflict.

    Take the feelings of disillusionment and anger and, instead of allowing them to consume you with hatred for the wealthy and the fortunate, use them to fuel a passion for change and progress.

    To imagine a nation void of greed and resentment is fairy-tale talk, but as a group of educated young adults we can curtail the alienating effects of this prejudice before it becomes insurmountable.

    — Kelly Hultgren is a junior studying journalism and communication. She can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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