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May 11, 2014

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Leigh H

I have read it. And, the New York Times article. And, a number of perspectives in Slate and the Atlantic and others about Thomas Piketty that seem to be very much connected. (I didn't read the 600-odd page book. I only read that long for David Foster Wallace)

If I were to share my most honest opinion, it's this: Fortgang's take on his privilege vs. my take on mine are the clearest difference I know between adults who consider themselves Republicans and those who consider themselves Democrats. (I'll note that I don't know if anyone in the world agrees with me on this - it's just what's in my heart about the issue). People like Fortgang believe they're exceptional (because they worked harder or believed more or exerted whatever greater effort). People like me believe we're exceptionally lucky. We won the birth lottery. We walked into open doors when people smarter and more gifted than us walked by closed ones.

I grew up lower middle class in the rust belt of middle America. Worked since I was 15. And was born armed to the teeth with privilege most of the world will never know. My father read to me. Almost every night. He showed up to an untold number of Saturday morning high school debate competitions (because I couldn't have gone if he didn't play judge). He challenged me to raise more money than him to change other people's lives. And generally encouraged me to excel.

I didn't work harder. I should have. I didn't. But good parenting led to lucky encounters which led to chance meetings which led to a life I'm grateful to have, but in no way deserve. When I hear "check your privilege" I try to hear it as, please, remember, you're not at all normal. Be more empathetic to other real lives.

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