Guest Column by Ellie Kinnaird
The following is a letter former state Sen. Ellie Kinnaird sent to Kelly S. King, chairman and chief executive officer of Truist Bank in Charlotte.
Dear Mr. King:
I read with interest about your speech to the North Carolina Chamber and North Carolina Bankers Association. You warned that the rift between comfortable, well-off America, the economic elite, and from those who are struggling to maintain a decent life and adequate education could have dire consequences for our country.
Accompanying this letter is a book, The Free Market Family, How the Market Crushed the American Dream (Oxford Press) by Maxine Eichner along with her PowerPoint presentation. Ms. Eichner points out the difference in fee market-based family life in the United States and government-supported programs in every other major economically advanced democratic country in the world.
You announced that Truist Bank is going to release an app to teach elementary school children to read, which is commendable, as part of the answer and that could change some children’s success in school. However, all research shows that the child’s brain has its greatest growth from birth to three and if a child does not have adequate development opportunities, they will never catch up. Finland, which has the highest achieving students, has a system of assessing children starting at 8 months and then following with services the child needs socially, intellectually, emotionally through grade school. Finnish children do not even learn to read until seven years old and they never have home work, even in high school.
All other economically advanced and democratic countries provide services to all people starting with pre-natal care continuing throughout their lives. Socialism is a dirty word in the United States, but it is successful in every country that provides for their citizens.
We are captured in our country by the exaggerated fear of taxes which began in the Reagan presidency and has been litany for every politician, especially Republicans, since then. We do not take care of our families, especially our young, to the detriment of our country. We have too many children who are essentially thrown away, in poverty and in our incarceration system. With a universal child care policy that starts at birth, as does Finland’s, and other economically advanced country, we could have a universally productive population.
I also recommend reading “Evicted” by Matthew Desmond (or at least part of it as it is so painful) – a case study of the hopelessness of a whole class of people who never get ahead – just the people you referred to in your speech.
I thank you for raising this vital subject to those who are the economic leaders in our state. I hope you will see that there is a systemic change that needs to take place before we can become a great country that serves all its people.
Thank you for your attention.