Please show me, in the US, a person who legitimately has NO opportunity, other than possibly a mentally or severely physically handicapped person.
I maintain that these people essentially do not exist. Many REJECT the opportunity, but that is not the same thing as having NO opportunity.
I was a little harsh in what I said to Roger, but I will defend what I said in general.
Yeah, this is the land of opportunity, but it is by no means equal opportunity. And by that I don't mean anyone is being oppressed or anything like that (that is a totally different conversation). What I mean is that ANYONE can find themselves in a situation where their obligations outweigh their potential income.
Let's take the very common example of a single mother of two, dad is out of the picture or in jail or whatever, little to no family to help out. They lived within their means and did not receive any assistance until dad left or got arrested. Even with a high school diploma, what sort of job opportunities will she have? How can she ever hope to pay $10k+ for day care for 2 kids, plus a few thousand for food, a few more thousand to pay the bills, a few more thousand for rent, a few thousand more for gas. We are already around $20k/year on the very low end, and they don't even have insurance. She might be able to handle it IF she could get a job making $12/hr. She can't really get a second job because it wouldn't be worth paying additional child care. Every single dollar that comes in is spent on the bare necessities, and if ANYTHING unexpected happens she is done for. Kid has to go to the hospital, car breaks down, anything. That is one very hard-working woman doing all that she can to provide for her children. When dad was around, he had a decent job that made enough for them to live on, and the financially prudent decision to make at the time was for the mother to stay home to care for the kids. Should she instead have made the decision to get a job (even though doing so was not logical because the additional costs of child care, gas, etc. put the family budget in the red), and get the experience and training necessary to survive on her own in case the unforeseen scenario of the father being gone ever came to pass? That is assuming any sort of training would increase her earning potential at all at a time when many people can't even find a minimum-wage job.
Go ahead everyone, brush off that example as a fabricated story, or not realistic, or what have you. The fact is, some people have to do what they have to do to survive, and often those obligations throw any chance of getting a degree or forming business relationships or doing anything that might make for a better future out of the window. If making yourself believe that everyone, if they work hard and make all the "right" decisions, has an opportunity to survive without any sort of financial assistance helps you to sleep better at night for wanting a few more dollars in your pocket, then nothing I can say will change your mind.
shite happens, and I, for one, don't have a problem with the government taking my money to help people out when it does. Moochers and leaches are an unfortunate, and possibly inevitable, side-effect of any sort of welfare system. I see the glaring problems, but I can still see the necessity of the system itself.
TL;DR: The only reason you may be somewhat right in your belief that everyone has an opportunity is because safety net programs exist. It may also be true that any able-bodied person can make it without assistance if they have no dependents. Children change that situation entirely.