Prosperity by Opportunity: Constructive Cooperation Versus Degenerative Interdependency
Opportunities turn into prosperity when there are needs to be fulfilled and when enterprising individuals with ideas, skills, and ambition have access to the proper resources. The world is lush with need, yet there is also the human resources and intellectual capital needed to address that need. Unfortunately, countless opportunities to solve problems and foster prosperity for those trapped in poverty and other dire situations are lost, because those with the insights needed to solve those issues are blocked from seizing opportunities and harnessing their full potential.
In other words, the right people are not in the right position to solve problems due to a lack of influence, mentorship, career choices, capital, and other material resources needed to cultivate their potential. A great deal of the reason communities and businesses foster a scarcity of opportunities, instead of cultivating the potential to achieve prosperity, starts with the way in which socioeconomic factors keep the right people from coming together and working to ensure prosperity for all.
Although poor hiring and payroll practices alone can starve businesses and industries of high-valued labor and intellectual capital, i.e. well-trained, innovative professionals, in the long-term, relationships play a major role in all successes and failures. It is the relationships and the ability to network that helps bring talented people to capitalize on their potential. This is particularly apparent when contrasting the constructive cooperation of more affluent families with the degenerative interdependency of poor families.
Crony capitalism, as well as crony socialism, is the negative extreme of constructive cooperation where the usage of familial and other relationships to secure one’s position by enriching and empowering associates becomes detrimental. It is harmful, because it blocks talented, enterprising individuals from achieving the success they can, and have, earned while starving the economy of much-needed talent. There is, however, a positive role family ties and business connections can play in the economy. This self-evident when it comes to affluent families where a legacy of prosperity has been a top priority for generations.
No man is an island: successful businesses and other endeavors are built on the cooperation of many individuals over years. Middle Class and wealthy families push their children to succeed. When more affluent parents help their kids study to ensure they do well in school and use their personal assets to help pay for their children’s college, parents are engaging in constructive cooperation. When more affluent parents help their children start a new business, place them in a management role at their own company, or help them find a good job, they are giving them access to opportunities others their age cannot access alone, thus they are engaging in constructive cooperation.
In essence, middle class and wealthy parents are leveraging their success to help their children succeed. This writer lives in an area where several small communities are dominated by businesses owned by the same families, because the family members have helped the others succeed, i.e. they have engaged in constructive cooperation. For those who do not enjoy the benefits of a family willing and/or able to engage in constructive cooperation, the burden of success is solely on their own shoulders.
Few full-time college students have jobs that allow them to solely focus on their studies, thus they must take on the full burden of financing college and a minimal standard of living, which is distracting. Where those who come from Middle Class families can count on their parents to pay for things like clothing, supplies, car insurance, and other necessities, those who come from poor families face a near total lack of financial support. In fact, poor children may need to use their limited income, for example, to pay the past due utility bills of their parents or buy their siblings clothing in order to avoid a total collapse of their support network.
In other words, the poor face degenerative interdependency. Where middle class and wealthy families pool, or invest, their assets to help the next generation prosper, the poor tend to cannibalize off the extremely limited assets of each other. Instead of utilizing familial and community assets to develop new assets, poor families and communities simply consume their assets. This is largely due to the reality that their available assets are generally insufficient to cover even their basic needs. It is, however, also due to a lack of access to viable opportunities, i.e. their underdeveloped potential.
A child from a poor family with middle class friends will have access more opportunities than two children from two poor families, but two children from two middle class families will have access to a greater number of opportunities. Poor families tend to engage in fewer structured social activities due to the constraints of their budgets; whereas, middle class and wealthy families expect their children to engage in a variety of activates that will bolster their social standing and hone their talents. Not only do middle class and affluent parents provide access to such opportunities, their grandparents, relatives, and the parents of their friends do so as well.
Later in life, the constructive cooperation within middle class and wealth social circles helps children from more affluent families access far more, far better opportunities. Children from poor families, who have access to those social circles, can also benefit from such constructive cooperation. Those children from poor families, who are reliant on social circles consisting of the poor, will have very few, very low quality opportunities available to them. Ultimately, those who lack resources and connections can succeed, but they are less likely to succeed, especially when competing against those who have such an advantage. It will also take them much longer to succeed, which means they are unlikely to reach their full potential. In terms of their impact on society, the innovative poor will not be positioned to solve problems.
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