New Study of Studies / Male to Female Ratio ASD

JAACAPJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

What Is the Male-to-Female Ratio in Autism Spectrum Disorder? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

University College, London UK



To derive the first systematically calculated estimate of the relative proportion of boys and girls with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) through a meta-analysis of prevalence studies conducted since the introduction of the DSM-IV and the –International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision. (Thus – conclusions can only be as “accurate” as the data in the original studies) (Since DSM-V did away with Asperger’s as a diagnosis, how does this “deletion” affect this study?)


Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were followed. The Medline, Embase, and PsycINFO databases were searched, and study quality was rated using a risk-of-bias tool. Random-effects meta-analysis was used. The pooled outcome measurement was the male-to-female odds ratio (MFOR), namely the odds of being male in the group with ASD compared with the non-ASD group. In effect, this is the ASD male-to-female ratio, controlling for the male-to-female ratio among participants without ASD.


Fifty-four studies were analyzed, with 13,784,284 participants, of whom 53,712 had ASD (43,972 boys and 9,740 girls). The overall pooled MFOR was 4.20 (95% CI 3.84–4.60), but there was very substantial between-study variability (I2 = 90.9%). High-quality studies had a lower MFOR (3.32; 95% CI 2.88–3.84). Studies that screened the general population to identify participants regardless of whether they already had an ASD diagnosis showed a lower MFOR (3.25; 95% CI 2.93–3.62) than studies that only ascertained participants with a pre-existing ASD diagnosis (MFOR 4.56; 95% CI 4.10–5.07).


Of children meeting criteria for ASD, the true male-to-female ratio is not 4:1, as is often assumed; rather, it is closer to 3:1. There appears to be a diagnostic gender bias, meaning that girls who meet criteria for ASD are at disproportionate risk of not receiving a clinical diagnosis.

Hate to be snippy – but with the all the manipulation going on, is the “new” ratio of male / female ASD any more informative than a “good guess”? At least this group acknowledges the bias against clinical diagnoses of ASD in girls.


…And we are still expected to join the other inmates in the pink and purple social prison that confines female H. sapiens to low status.


American Criminal Hypocrisy / E-Waste, Prison Labor, Modern Slavery

Uh-oh! Warning! Asperger defect! 

This Asperger’s insistence on using the same old PC, year in, year out, because it works just fine, is “proof” of the ridged habits and fear of change for which people like me are slammed by psychologists and the Autism Industry. Refusing to “try out” every new gizmo, in pink, purple, and red; overpriced designer toys intended to be “socially obsolete” in a few weeks is a “developmental defect” of profound “social” importance. High-tech innovation is disguised as neotenic novelties, just like designer handbags and faddish foods, and is meant to be discarded – and inevitably to pollute the cities of the world. Products are dumped out-of-sight “overseas” to be “recycled” by children; primitive “disposal” that poisons air, land and water and the brains and bodies of scavenging humans. To refuse to participate in these superior social behaviors is an “official” NO-NO!

How defective can a subhuman Asperger “weirdo” get?

Yes. Asperger’s are “weird”. We are likely to use products that satisfy a need, but have no “status” attached, and prefer function over fashion. My lifelong policy of purchasing good, used objects at thrift stores and yard sales is sure proof of subhuman behavior. How dare an individual threaten the careless and wasteful socio-economic order!

From Electronics Take Back Coalition

E-Waste Problem Overview

The Problem with Electronics and E-Waste

Products Are Quickly Obsolete and Discarded

In the US, we scrap about 400 million units per year of consumer electronics, according to recycling industry experts. Rapid advances in technology mean that electronic products are becoming obsolete more quickly. (Wow! How irrational, irresponsible and environmentally destructive can “smart” industry get?) This, coupled with explosive sales in consumer electronics, means that more products are being disposed, even if they still work. (It’s the “throw out your shoes and buy a new pair because the shoe laces are out of style” effect.) More on how products become quickly obsolete

Electronics are Difficult To Recycle

Recycling electronics isn’t like recycling cardboard. These products are not easy to recycle. Proper and safe recycling often costs more money than the materials are worth. Why?

Electronics are not designed for recycling

Materials used and physical designs make recycling challenging. While companies claim to offer “green electronics,” we are a far way from truly green products. More on not designed for recycling.

Electronics contain many toxic materials

Monitors and televisions made with tubes (not flat panels) have between 4 and 8 pounds of lead in them. Most of the flat panel monitors and TV’s being recycled now contain less lead, but more mercury, from their mercury lamps. About 40% of the heavy metals, including lead, mercury and cadmium, in landfills come from electronic equipment discards. More on toxics in electronics.

Discarded Electronics Are Managed Badly

Most e-waste still goes in the landfill. The EPA estimates that in 2011, the US generated nearly 3.4 million TONS of e-waste. But only about 25% of that was collected for recycling. The other 75% went to landfills and incinerators, despite the fact that hazardous chemicals in them can leach out of landfills into groundwater and streams, or that burning the plastics in electronics can emit dioxin.  More on e-waste in the landfill.

Most Recyclers Don’t Recycle, They Export

And what about the 25% that is supposedly recycled? Most recycling firms take the low road, exporting instead of recycling.  A large amount of e-waste that is collected for recycling is shipped overseas for dismantling under horrific conditions, poisoning the people, land, air, and water in China, other Asian nations and to Ghana and Nigeria in western Africa.  More info on global e-waste dumping.

Prison Recycling: High Tech Chain Gang

Electronic recycling operations are increasingly active within America’s prison systems. Inmate laborers are not automatically afforded the same degree of worker health and safety protections as are people employed on the outside, nor are they paid comparable wages. Moreover, reliance on high tech chain gangs may frustrate development of the free market infrastructure necessary to safely manage our mountains of e-waste.  More on prison recycling

For list of corporations that exploit prison inmate labor and how they do it: How Prison Labor is the New American Slavery and Most of Us Unknowingly Support it

“If you buy products or services from any of the 50 companies listed below (and you likely do), you are supporting modern American slavery”
Video link: 13th Amenment abolished slavery EXCEPT AS A PUNISHMENT FOR CRIME. How U.S. Prisons “sell” inmate labor to corporations.

Any question as to why DRUGS remain illegal? Non-violent “drug possession laws” keep the prison population at all-time highs, and provide “cheap labor” to Corporate America.







Success Story / Asperger Females Disguised as Neurotypicals

From the Daily Mail:

They are successful career women in loving relationships – and they all live with an affliction that will surprise you!

by Jill Foster for the Daily Mail, August 2012 Check out a slew of “articles” directed at female readers!

Looking Back on Bipolar / Seasonal Transitions and Disruptions

See also related Circadian Rhythm posts –

I used to be bipolar; diagnosed long ago, before Asperger’s was a recognized “thing” (1994) and not considered applicable to females. Looking back, I think this was a mistake – the “bipolar” symptoms I experienced can logically be seen as evidence for “Asperger-ness” as a brain type that processes the environment in a distinct and even radically different way than the overwhelming majority of Modern Social Humans – neurotypicals. One notable problem for me, was and is, a response to seasonal change; lack of sunlight and outdoor activity in winter produce a direct physical effect: extreme restlessness (anxiety) and a longing for the world to “come back” – to revive, to be washed in sunlight and present a landscape wide open to movement. This is not an uncommon condition for many people! The experience can be grossly represented as  claustrophobia. Winter is a time, that once adjusted to, can be very productive; a time of internal focus, mental activity and concentration.

The transition into summer, while eagerly embraced, can be disruptive, unsettling, and “mind-blowing” – Where I live, it’s a long process; inter-leaving of days of increasing sunlight that fool fragile plant life into attempts to emerge, but which are discouraged by snow storms and overnight freezes. The energy gained by extended sunlight at high altitude (6,000-7,000 feet) hits a certain point – and suddenly, our tan and brown,  heavily dissected desert is GREEN. It’s “shocking” to the eye; strange and brief. The sagebrush steppe is covered in prickly shrubs and myriad bunch grasses, which  must reproduce in the short window of mid May through June, and then pack away their chlorophyll for another year, leaving only yellow leaves and seeds to be dispersed by the famous Wyoming wind.  A palette of rich yellows, pale earth, and dusty gray green returns; a much more interesting landscape for sunlight to change in appearance, from moment to moment, throughout the day and evening. A “light show” transforms our two-part landscape of land and sky – a daily cycle of color and shadow that passes into cool night.

I don’t know if this experience of reality is common to Asperger individuals; that is  – the direct influence of the environment on mood, emotion and energy. This responsiveness to the land is not exclusive to Asperger’s types.

This desert has no “social” uses; agriculture is futile. Few people can live here, and without resource extraction for “dollars” and importation of food, even fewer could, or would stay. There is something extremely luxurious about a landscape that can’t be “socialized” – unitized, divided, owned and exploited by human agriculture, trade, commerce – made useful or productive. There’s something extremely luxurious about a life that grows to fit this type of land. I was made for this place: finding it meant “letting go of things not meant for me.” The Bhudda.


Original post about transitioning from summer into winter:

This is my 65th transition from summer into fall. Of course I don’t remember most of these changes. Fall is a bit of a drive-through season; the way we get to winter. It says so on the calendar: First Day of Fall, but for me it’s a long drawn out state of confusion, instability, moodiness: doom. What has disrupted my normal, careful, mostly peaceful days? Normal for me: my “writer’s routine” of coffee, computer and coming awake. Sometimes writing is easier while I’m still a bit stupefied by sleep.

Anticipation: that’s my experience of Fall, as if something momentous is about to happen, but it never does. One morning the garden plants have frozen, cells bursting; really physically dead; mush with frost rimming the remains. Light snow that melts quickly, the rocks damp and shiny, their colors deep and revealing.

It’s not that I don’t like winter, but some innocent intuitive organ believes that the earth is dying, and me with it. These experiences are so strong and consistent year after year, that I’m sure that being bipolar has something to do with ancient humans -tropical creatures who pushed too far north for their mental health. People whose brains and bodies were extensions of the seasons: work like mad in Spring and Summer and semi-hibernate in winter. Expend the least energy possible obtaining food and water; curl up like most of nature and sleep and dream an alternate existence filled with giants, heroes and mortal powers.




How much talent is wasted because society doesn’t like the package it comes in?


In the day-to-day experience of an Asperger child, moments of peace are rare. Whatever you are thinking or doing, someone, either a parent or teacher, or maybe another child, will interrupt you, to ask that you participate in another activity, such as playing a game with a group of children. If you don’t respond, or you resist their prodding, or if you state clear and repeated rejections, sweet tones of persuasion turn to harsh words and insults. An adult will express personal disappointment in your reluctance to obey and will continue to pressure you, as if whatever you are occupied with is not only unimportant, but that preferring to be alone means that you are depressed or unhappy, and that joining the group will cheer you up, which isn’t true. If you persist in thinking that what you are reading, or drawing or building is more interesting than what the other children are doing, you are apt to be yelled at and physically relocated like a disobedient dog. When this happens, the waves of anger that were hidden beneath the adult’s nice words hit like a shock wave. The effect is visceral and devastating.

It is said that Asperger children can’t infer what is going on in another person’s mind, but the message is clear: people, especially adults, will only like you if you agree with their statements, however false or petty, and obey their instructions, and not when you get around to it, but now! Your willingness to conform must be expressed in signs made by body, face and words. It’s not enough that you act promptly as they wish, but a child or grown person must show his or her deference to a person of superior status. It soon becomes evident that no social interaction is neutral: this ‘status thing’ is the point of social interaction. What is often referred to as ‘busy work’ takes place in schools and workplaces day in and day out, simply to prove that a certain category of human is The Boss. Obedience is a social necessity because it demonstrates that a child or adult will subordinate its happiness and well-being to the group. Rules and instructions are often designed to insult and confuse people, to challenge their morality or sense of fair play and for no other purpose than to test their willingness to shed their individual humanity and to become a tool in the construction and maintenance of the Social Pyramid – to blindly believe that The Boss Knows Best.

The Asperger brain simply doesn’t understand this social compulsion, not because we are dumb, defective, dangerous or disabled, but because inequality of status is alien to our instinct for fair play, justice and reason. For us the world is integrated, coherent, and dynamic and is a continuous expression of Nature’s truths: the universe as described by social concepts is a sad and dreary spectacle of human arrogance and ignorance; a childish place maintained by violence, lies and deprivation; established by the denial of human worth and by denial of basic needs: water, food, shelter to those who “don’t count”. Those who are on top must imprison millions of human beings on the low levels of the Social Pyramid in order to feel good.

The Asperger outlook on people is nearly the opposite: people are just people. Instead of a steep pyramid on which millions of human beings struggle for dominance, we have a visual landscape of reality in our minds. Each human, animal, plant, and object in the landscape is distinct and “counts” because our perception of the environment is concrete: humans live with their feet on the ground, not above or below, but as equal agents of Nature. Cooperation, not competition for status, makes sense to us. Let each human fulfill his or her gifts; don’t waste resources. How much talent is wasted because Society doesn’t like the package it comes in?

The Lunch Theory of Human Social Cognition

You are a “student” of human evolutionary development; you are curious about how “humans” came to be Who we are today – Masters of the Universe. You come to this quest with certain assumptions in mind, which you probably are not “consciously” using, but which form a “filter system” that will not only prejudice the “evidence” you “discover” but which pre-classifies what “evidence” is. This is the way it is, for Homo sapiens.

It is obvious to you that “you” (your thoughts, habit, lifestyle, beliefs) are the culmination of “human” excellence; “you” are where evolution was headed all along. “You” includes all the wonders of Western Civilization, which “you” take to be evidence of “your” intelligence, inventiveness, superior intellect, diligence, eagle-eyed observation and analysis, literacy, artist accomplishment, etc. because “you” studied these things in school and look a lot like all the “big-brained males” (this includes female students today) who have “built” Western Civilization (U.S. version) and proven that, well frankly, It’s the best damn civilization EVER!

1. Homo sapiens (males) have big-brains; size is everything. Therefore, any and all evidence” for “evolutionary progress” depends on signs and omens of “cognitive abilities” in those “fossil species” that LED to US. “Dumb” species, de facto, cannot be our ancestors.

fig. 1 The Supreme Species. If wealthy, individuals from subspecies of various skin color may be included.

Fig. 1 The “supreme” species and attendant females and offspring. The prime evolutionary question is, “How did this glorious species come to be?” It used to be simple enough: A Supreme Male created everything in the universe, including Man, to whom he handed over all of Creation, with “Man” as the master of all Nature. But the invention of Science threw a monkey-wrench into the plot: it seems “man” was not really the center of the Universe, after all… unless… of course, all 3.5 billion years of life on earth could be directed into producing “The Last Ape Standing” What a coup – even better than “special creation” by a supreme male God! We’ll prove that all the forces and processes at work in the universe were necessary to produce “US”.

2. Let’s get to work establishing our superiority to all other species. We can automatically dismiss any life form previous to “humanoids” as unimportant, and fossil humanoids “that count” as ancestors can be identified by “signs”  which point in our direction. We can easily define “humanoid” by the categorizing “things we eat”. (Cannibalism is a no-no. You can’t eat the Supreme Species, like it was just another food source)

Fig 2. Lunch. This organized, processed and prepared “nutrition” demonstrates “cognitive abilities” found in no other life form. The sheer amount of brain-power needed to exploit natural resources (fossil fuels) to design, manufacture and transport “plastic” containers, with uniform subdivisions, that create the illusion that $1.50 worth of “food items” is worth $39.95″ is genius! And what about decorating two sacrificial crab claws elevated on a slice of bread with wildflowers sourced from a meadow in Mongolia? Just $49.95. Brilliant.

Let’s see what “the rest of” American humanoids are having for lunch.

Another sign of superior intelligence: The American food industry is paid billions $$ to transform “surplus storage” food into meals for children; and it’s free. How much more compassionate can a supreme species become? Why waste “good brain food” (and good education) on “lesser beings” who will never be intelligent anyway? In fact, we can guarantee impaired cognitive function and stunted development using this brilliant strategy. Note the wonderful array of fossil fuel containers provided, which can be used once and disposed of immediately into landfills. More profit! More socially savvy behavior that creates environmental destruction and millions of defective, low status humanoids. No Neanderthal could accomplish that. Thank God and evolution that we exterminated them just in time!

3. Evidence that Neanderthal didn’t stand a chance of being intelligent enough to compete with us. When the supreme species “goes wild” they do it with superior social cognition. Who needs survival skills when amazing fossil fuel-based non-recyclable immortal plastic products can be purchased at a “wilderness” adventure store? Stupid Neanderthals!

fig. 3a AMH “outsmarting” Neanderthals using superior social skills: “You bring the hot dogs and Gatorade, we’ll bring the tent” social strategy.

Fig. 3a, 3b Lunch ca. 40,000 y.a. Anatomically Modern Humans (just like Modern Social Humans in every way) take over Eurasia from the Neanderthals with superior social networking.

fig 4b No evidence has been found for AMH having developed smart phones, but the “conceptual” ability to communicate effectively was just like that of modern humans.

Neanderthals: too dumb to make Margaritas for brunch guests. Lack of social cognition led to extinction. (BTW – Thanks for the casual sex!)

4. Social behavior explains why AMC became Masters of the Universe: Neanderthals had open “caves” while highly social AMH had open “concept” floor plans with kitchen islands and granite counter tops that facilitated the acquisition of social status. How could Neanderthals have competed with such advanced innovation, which clearly depends on social networking, direct eye contact, empathy, “mind-reading” and high-end finishes?

fig. 4a Neanderthal “open” cave. Primitive housing = primitive brain.

fig. 4b “Primitive” Neanderthal cave under renovation with advanced AMH upgrades: Open concept floor plain for “flow” when entertaining, and high-end finishes; granite countertops and slate flooring.

WOW! “Scientific” proof that not even GOD could create a species that’s as intelligent as modern social humans.

File this video under, “What Asperger’s mean when we say that neurotypicals are stooopid.”


Graphic Novels for Visual Thinkers / Educating Aspergers

Support a new Middle School project in New York! (from a site offering funding for teacher proposals)

Graphic Novels Motivate Readers With Asperger Syndrome

My students need a library of graphic novels to motivate readers because these books provide the visual cues kids with Asperger and autism need to truly understand characters.


My ten students are middle-schoolers who have Asperger Syndrome.

Students in my classroom have difficulty understanding people, so it’s not surprising that they also struggle to infer characters’ motives and purpose in books. Nonfiction, full of facts? No problem! But fiction? The majority of my students with Asperger Syndrome could leave it completely.

Vintage “graphic novels” were aimed at boys who didn’t like to read.

They like to follow rules – but they make a lot of their own. They like to be right, so they hate to admit when they don’t know something, and they avoid things that are difficult. Tough concepts, like characterization, theme and tone in a novel, make them feel uncomfortable – so they’d rather not read fiction. And, as educators know, the only thing that really improves reading once the school day ends, is more reading. Then I found the novel, The Inventions of Hugo Cabret. We only have one copy – I borrowed it from our library, and they want it back! But the students were riveted. Not only were they fascinated by the format of the book – half graphic novel, half traditional – but they understood Hugo’s emotions, portrayed as they were with matching drawings, moving incrementally forward! Experiments with other graphic novels are also proving successful, but we don’t have a lot of them to go around.

I am requesting class sets of popular graphic novels for my self-contained English class of students with Asperger Syndrome (and High-Functioning Autism.) The novels I request will be taught in the same manner as traditional literature, and I will compare each work with a traditional novel, which we will also read. This will help my students be on equal footing with their peers, because they will have more insight into concepts about characterization (as well as plot, theme, tone, etc.) when they rejoin their peers in high school reading more traditional works. I hope that, ultimately, these graphic novels lead them to enjoy literature in a way that many people without autism do – for the love of the story and the characters we would otherwise not know.

I was a MAD Magazine addict and a sucker for cats and rabbits dressed in charming clothing.

Please help me bridge the “understanding gap” for my students, who are so smart and fun and have so much potential. Help them understand literature by opening the door, using pictures with the text, and engendering a level of understanding that their disability would otherwise prevents them from obtaining. Thank you so much for reading my proposal.

Remember when all childhood schoolbooks had plenty of beautiful illustrations – stylized but realistic (not infantilized and deformed neotenic blobs) FOR ALL CHILDREN? Maybe our “old-fashioned” predecessors in publishing and education knew a lot more than we do about visual thinking being basic to the human ability to learn…

What “The World” Sounds like to (Many) Asperger People

The woman who made this audio track is correct! I could not bear to listen longer than a few seconds. If you can listen to this COMFORTABLY, you will likely not be able to understand what an Asperger person goes through daily, when trapped in social typical environments.

One particular point: It’s nearly impossible to pay attention to and to understand what a person is saying when “background noise” is not in the background! It’s competing with the person speaking; the impulse is to get away from the discordant “sounds” – the effect is like being tortured. Truly!


Misdiagnosis of Gifted Children as Asperger and Mentally Ill

  When intensity and sensitivity are combined with idealism, as so often happens with bright children and adults, good things can happen because they can keenly see how things might be. But this can also lead to frustration, disillusionment, and unhappiness. Sometimes this prompts perfectionism; other times it results in existential depression. Through our relationships, we must provide understanding and nurturance so that they do not feel alone and helpless in a world that seems so paradoxical, arbitrary, and even absurd. We can help nurture their idealism, and indeed we must if the world is to become a better place.

The Elites Complain about the Inequality they Create!

The New York Times The Great Divide / a series about inequality

Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth

February 16, 2013

By: Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, a professor at Columbia and a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and chief economist for the World Bank, is the author of “The Price of Inequality.”

Here goes the Blah, Blah, Blah!

President Obama’s second Inaugural Address used soaring language to reaffirm America’s commitment to the dream of equality of opportunity: “We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.” (WOW! I agree. What a whopper of a lie!)

The gap between aspiration and reality could hardly be wider. Today, the United States has less equality of opportunity than almost any other advanced industrial country. Study after study has exposed the myth that America is a land of opportunity. This is especially tragic: While Americans may differ on the desirability of equality of outcomes, there is near-universal consensus that inequality of opportunity is indefensible. The Pew Research Center has found that some 90 percent of Americans believe that the government should do everything it can to ensure equality of opportunity.

Perhaps a hundred years ago, America might have rightly claimed to have been the land of opportunity, or at least a land where there was more opportunity than elsewhere. (We must remember how inhuman and devastating conditions were for poor people in Europe and other parts of the world, which caused mass emmigration to occur) But not for at least a quarter of a century. Horatio Alger-style rags-to-riches stories were not a deliberate hoax, but given how they’ve lulled us into a sense of complacency, they might as well have been.

It’s not that social mobility is impossible, but that the upwardly mobile American is becoming a statistical oddity. According to research from the Brookings Institution, only 58 percent of Americans born into the bottom fifth of income earners move out of that category, and just 6 percent born into the bottom fifth move into the top. Economic mobility in the United States is lower than in most of Europe and lower than in all of Scandinavia.

Another way of looking at equality of opportunity is to ask to what extent the life chances of a child are dependent on the education and income of his parents. Is it just as likely that a child of poor or poorly educated parents gets a good education and rises to the middle class as someone born to middle-class parents with college degrees? Even in a more egalitarian society, the answer would be no. But the life prospects of an American are more dependent on the income and education of his parents than in almost any other advanced country for which there is data.

How do we explain this? Some of it has to do with persistent discrimination. Latinos and African-Americans still get paid less than whites, and women still get paid less than men, even though they recently surpassed men in the number of advanced degrees they obtain. Though gender disparities in the workplace are less than they once were, there is still a glass ceiling: women are sorely underrepresented in top corporate positions and constitute a minuscule fraction of C.E.O.’s.

Discrimination, however, is only a small part of the picture. Probably the most important reason for lack of equality of opportunity is education: both its quantity and quality. After World War II, Europe made a major effort to democratize its education systems. We did, too, with the G.I. Bill, which extended higher education to Americans across the economic spectrum.

But then we changed, in several ways. While racial segregation decreased, economic segregation increased. After 1980, the poor grew poorer, the middle stagnated, and the top did better and better. Disparities widened between those living in poor localities and those living in rich suburbs — or rich enough to send their kids to private schools. A result was a widening gap in educational performance — the achievement gap between rich and poor kids born in 2001 was 30 to 40 percent larger than it was for those born 25 years earlier, the Stanford sociologist Sean F. Reardon found.

Of course, there are other forces at play, some of which start even before birth. Children in affluent families get more exposure to reading and less exposure to environmental hazards. Their families can afford enriching experiences like music lessons and summer camp. They get better nutrition and health care, which enhance their learning, directly and indirectly.

Unless current trends in education are reversed, the situation is likely to get even worse. In some cases it seems as if policy has actually been designed to reduce opportunity: government support for many state schools has been steadily gutted over the last few decades — and especially in the last few years. Meanwhile, students are crushed by giant student loan debts that are almost impossible to discharge, even in bankruptcy. This is happening at the same time that a college education is more important than ever for getting a good job. (Isn’t it massively insulting for one of the ELITES to point out what “they” did to “us” as if it “just happened” somehow? )

Young people from families of modest means face a Catch-22: without a college education, they are condemned to a life of poor prospects; with a college education, they may be condemned to a lifetime of living at the brink. And increasingly even a college degree isn’t enough; one needs either a graduate degree or a series of (often unpaid) internships. Those at the top have the connections and social capital to get those opportunities. Those in the middle and bottom don’t. The point is that no one makes it on his or her own. And those at the top get more help from their families than do those lower down on the ladder. Government should help to level the playing field. (Wow! Since “the government” IS THE ELITES, why would they do something totally against their own supremacy?)

Americans are coming to realize that their cherished narrative of social and economic mobility is a myth. Grand deceptions of this magnitude are hard to maintain for long — and the country has already been through a couple of decades of self-deception. (To the contrary: self-deception and deception are social typical high accomplishments!)

Without substantial policy changes, (which will never occur) our self-image, and the image we project to the world, will diminish — and so will our economic standing and stability. Inequality of outcomes and inequality of opportunity reinforce each other — and contribute to economic weakness, as Alan B. Krueger, a Princeton economist and the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, has emphasized. We have an economic, and not only moral, interest in saving the American dream.

Policies that promote equality of opportunity must target the youngest Americans. First, we have to make sure that mothers are not exposed to environmental hazards and get adequate prenatal health care. Then, we have to reverse the damaging cutbacks to preschool education, a theme Mr. Obama emphasized on Tuesday. We have to make sure that all children have adequate nutrition and health care — not only do we have to provide the resources, but if necessary, we have to incentivize parents, by coaching or training them or even rewarding them for being good caregivers. The right says that money isn’t the solution. They’ve chased reforms like charter schools and private-school vouchers, but most of these efforts have shown ambiguous results at best. Giving more money to poor schools would help. So would summer and extracurricular programs that enrich low-income students’ skills.

Finally, it is unconscionable that a rich country like the United States has made access to higher education so difficult for those at the bottom and middle. (Actually, predatory student loans have made it EASY for students to “go to college” but not to get a valuable education; most degrees at this point are “remedial” high school diplomas. Too few students complete degrees, but leave with enormous debt, and no  job skills.) There are many alternative ways of providing universal access to higher education, from Australia’s income-contingent loan program to the near-free system of universities in Europe. A more educated population yields greater innovation, a robust economy and higher incomes — which mean a higher tax base. Those benefits are, of course, why we’ve long been committed to free public education through 12th grade. But while a 12th-grade education might have sufficed a century ago, it doesn’t today. Yet we haven’t adjusted our system to contemporary realities. (The “contemporary reality” is traditional reality: profit and greed are important; human well-being is not.)

The steps I’ve outlined are not just affordable but imperative. Even more important, though, is that we cannot afford to let our country drift farther from ideals that the vast majority of Americans share. We will never fully succeed in achieving Mr. Obama’s vision of a poor girl’s having exactly the same opportunities as a wealthy girl. But we could do much, much better, and must not rest until we do.

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