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Janet Currie

To Fight Inequality, Give Kids a Chance

President Barack Obama has made reducing economic inequality a central goal of his last term in office. A good start would be to maintain and expand efforts to ensure children aren’t at a disadvantage before they even get to grade school.

In his State of the Union address, Obama laid out his vision of an America “where prosperity is widely shared and opportunity for all lets us go as far as our dreams and toil will take us.” In her response, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers emphasized the widely held view that income disparities might not be a problem if everyone has an equal shot at ending up in the top 1 percent. Horatio Alger’s story of the poor boy who succeeds through a combination of pluck and personal merit remains deeply ingrained in American culture. Commentators as far back as Alexis de Tocqueville were struck by the New World’s radical equality of opportunity.