WHEELING - In America, a strong work ethic still trumps any economic inequalities a person might have to overcome to succeed, according to conservative pundit Rich Lowry.
Lowry, a syndicated newspaper columnist and editor of the National Review whose work appears in The Intelligencer, visited Wheeling on Thursday and addressed the West Liberty University Economics Club luncheon at River City Ale Works.
"American opportunity is about the equality of opportunity, and not the equality of results," he said. "And the pursuit of happiness is about making the most of yourself ... making the most of your assets, and striving (for success)."
Lowry - author of the book "Lincoln Unbound" - said Abraham Lincoln as a youth found a farming-based economy to be limiting and believed a more diverse economy would offer more options to fit an individual's abilities.
As president, Lincoln supported the formation of a market economy, and the establishment of banks and industry.
"He thinks in a properly-function market economy, there should be no such thing as class conflict," Lowry said. "He opposes redistribution economics. ... Underneath all of this is a profound belief in the dignity of all labor, and the right of proceeds of your own labor. He believes, 'He who grows the corn should eat the corn.' So are these ideals relevant today? I think they should be more relevant than ever."
Lowry said while there is still opportunity for economic mobility and improving one's station in life in America, there is not enough.
The country should be focusing on improving the opportunities that permit Americans to succeed, rather than on the inequalities in their paychecks, he said.
"The upper-class just gets what it takes to make it in this country," Lowry said. "You get an education. You work hard. You get married before you have children, and you stay married. When you grow up in this environment, a lot of social advantages come to you. You hear more words. Your parents spend more time with you, and you have a stable environment. You have this social capital at the top that is being passed down to the next generation, and that's not happening at the lower end. Increasingly, it's not happening in the middle."