WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS about the statement “The world in which we live equally distributes talent, but does not equally distribute opportunity. Paths are not always the same.” The emphasis was on the first part.

You may have seen or heard a television commercial recently in which Paul LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), said these words during a graduation ceremony. Is the message profound or philosophically significant?

I had never heard of SNHU, but the ad caught my attention because of LeBlanc’s impressive voice. I now know SNHU services 80,000 students online and about 3,000 students on campus.

LeBlanc asked various demographic groups to stand. He called upon those who were the first in their family to go to college, single parents, military members and others who might have had to overcome difficulty in their personal lives to get a degree.

The point being it’s inspiring to see people who had other obligations in their life that might have made it difficult for them to attend college much less get a degree, achieve their goal.

Back to the original statement. Is it true? It’s certainly a complex observation. Doesn’t it raise the question of “Doesn’t it depend on what is meant by talent?” There has been a lot of discussion about the assertion.

Some people might conclude that our world does not equally distribute talent. Any sample group of 1,000 people may possess a load of talent, but it is unlikely to be the same talent as another random group of 1,000. There are many factors and variables that come into play.

Some people have a talent for mathematics, engineering, science, public speaking, solving medical mysteries or they have extraordinary athletic ability. Some people have a God-given ear for music. Another person may have a talent for mechanical problem solving.

People living in a developing nation may have talent, but it will be different than the talent found elsewhere. The talent may be connected to their environment. Kenyans seem to have a gift for long-distance running. Jamaicans excel at speed events.

America distributes opportunity more equally than any other country. People in developing nations do not have the same opportunities to attend college, gain access to adequate health care, gain access to adequate sanitary facilities or nutrition as people in America, Germany or England.

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ABOUT A MONTH ago, MSN posted a Snapshot question. How do you assess the U.S. Supreme Court? Of the 200,000 responses, 34% said too conservative, 33% said too liberal and 23% said it is well balanced. That says volumes.

In today’s fractured political environment, ask 20 random people how they define inequality and you’re likely to get 20 different answers. If we want real progress, we need to agree on what equality looks like and how to achieve it.

We’re tribal. People are divided 50-50 on many issues and we are set on our beliefs. Folks are being told all the world’s problems will be solved and everything will be normal again once President Donald Trump is evicted from the White House. The truth is, the Washington Beltway discourse won’t change. Politics is rotten.

Keep in mind, inequality didn’t just happen. Health-care costs didn’t just skyrocket. They are unlikely to come down and the crisis won’t suddenly be fixed.

Climate change will be a concern for decades. Cyber crime will torment us for decades. Artificial intelligence will change the landscape for years. Illegal immigration will haunt many administrations.

The national debt is now $22 trillion. It will only get worse. Economists say it is not if there will be another recession, but when. Racial tensions will continue to fester and the rich will get richer. Don’t obsess about it.

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DOES AMERICA’s declining birth rate open the border gates for a flood of immigrants to supply our growing workforce while foretelling dramatic social changes?

The National Center for Health Statistics recently reported that the number of babies born in the United States in 2018 fell to a 32-year low. The general fertility rate is defined as the number of births per 1,000 women age 15 to 44.

The figures say there has been a dramatic decline in unwanted and teen pregnancies. Meanwhile, the birth rate among older women, age 35 to 44, actually increased last year.

The U.S. birth rate has fallen in 10 of the past 11 years. It was noted in the report that the number of births started dropping in 2007, at the same time the Great Recession began.

From the number of young children coming to the southern border from Central America, it is apparent the birth rate there has not decreased. It’s noteworthy. Tough economic conditions don’t seem to affect birth rates in poor countries.

As the U.S. economy expands, the demand for workers will continue to grow despite the disruption caused by the use of robots and other forms of automation. Many young families are having fewer children and waiting later to have them.

This situation portends social changes. What will it mean for our school systems? Our entitlement programs are built on having a new generation of workers to fund the promises made to past generations.