There is obviously much truth to the title of this post. Just allow me to further substantiate it with my thoughts.
First, let me say something about my advice to smart students. The advice still stands, but the whole truth is that if you are smart but poor, it’s so much harder to reach that goal than if you are smart and rich, with all other things equal.
By growing their wealth, the rich get richer. Even if we grant that the poor can grow their wealth at the same rate as the rich, say at 20% per year, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize who will be richer in the end.
Now, with equal education opportunities in Singapore (credit should go to our government), the rich-poor divide should theoretically narrow in 1 or 2 generations.
However, the rich can do more for their children, like sending them to the top universities in the world. If their kids are smart, it’s not hard for them to get into MIT, Stanford, or the Ivy League universities, then work for a couple of years, and then get an MBA from Chicago GSB or Wharton. The poor can’t do this because getting an education at these universities costs an arm and a leg or two.
The rich kid will go on to land a job with a top investment bank and be a millionaire by his mid-thirties. Had the kid been born to a poor or middle-class family, he would have to work much harder and be much luckier to end up as rich. Most likely, he wouldn’t.
Rumour has it that most investment bankers come from rich families. Not surprising.
The day we see truly equal opportunities in education is the day we truly start to close the rich-poor gap. And I don’t think it’s easy to get there.