I’m fairly sure my dad worked hard, and took risks, because he was tired of being poor. He worked onion fields in the late summer to pay for his own school clothes and he remembered meager breakfasts of cracked wheat cereal in the Great Depression. He delivered papers on horseback in the winter and he still shivered, 50 years later, as he told us about trying to warm his face against the horse’s neck. It was a dark mean life he never wanted to see again.
From time to time, I’ll see some spark in a teenager who — looking at his free spirit, financially strapped parents — decides that he’s going to buckle down and study his way into prosperity. He’s tired of not being able to buy what he wants. He’s tired of making do, and worrying, and not being able to pay for gas. He might not say so, but he’s tired of the guy with the car getting the girl.
Our culture is immeasurably enriched by this hunger that inequality breeds in us. Someone writes a song and makes a million dollars, and you buy a second hand guitar on Ebay. You may or may not make the money, but a few years later, your children beg you to play. The struggle, the competition, the hunger got you there.
The devil wants you on a flat, gray plain — in a cubicle just like everyone else’s. God made deserts and jungles, fearfully high mountains and dry gulches. If anyone promises you more than an equal chance, it’s coming from the dark side.