Has it really come to this?
Our education, health, and employment being determined by games of chance?
Undercover Boss is a well-intentioned reality show that sends chief executives into the field. They spend time doing the ordinary jobs that power their businesses. Naturally, the bosses struggle to complete tasks they once regarded as simplistic.
The two episodes I’ve seen feature unappreciated workers who despite hard work, talent and dedication, have been denied access to promotions, company resources. Most of those workers are working class, poor or people of color: single moms, laborers struggling to give their children a better life. Many work more than one job. Several battle substance abuse and health concerns. This series is actually an expose of the working poor. Living doubled and tripled up, these folks are presented as the salt of the earth.
Their destinies are only changed because of the equivalent of a Queen for a Day intervention.
I realize that the ungrateful and unworthy are showcased on the program. But really, given the working conditions, lack of appreciation and strangled opportunities that these workers face, maybe being ungrateful or even angry are healthy responses.
The Lottery and Waiting for “Superman” are award-winning documentaries which chronicle the collapsed American public educational system. At the center of each film, a Greek tragedy. The education of children determined by lotteries.
In a country where 58% of African American 4th graders are functionally illiterate, [the documentary] The Lottery uncovers the failures of the traditional public school system and reveals that hundreds of thousands of parents attempt to flee the system every year. The Lottery follows four of these families from Harlem and the Bronx who have entered their children in a charter school lottery. Out of thousands of hopefuls, only a small minority will win the chance of a better future.
Waiting for “Superman”:
In some ways, the kids are merely embarking early on a lifelong journey of happenstance. Elderly workers already in retirement seeing their pensions snatched. Unemployed professionals searching for years for full-time employment.
Grim, devolving futures reduced to hoping for the Lotto, Oprah’s Big Give, or divine favor. Hoping for the main chance while betting against a pitiless house.
When states began legalizing lotteries and off track betting, maybe that was an oracle trying to get us ready.
Atlantic Magazine notes that:
[Gen] Xers may well be the first generation whose lifetime earnings will be less than their parents‘. … And circumstances are far worse for the roughly 67 percent of Xers aged twenty-five to thirty-four who don’t have a college degree. …
My future? Your future?