Residents of the real world most likely know the great American meritocracy is a lie.
And yet we are so heavily indoctrinated that even the most unsurprising revelations can feel shocking.
Case in point is the new book Dream Hoarders – which examines the growing gap between rich and poor.
The author – economics professor and Brookings Institution fellow Richard Reeves – notes that while the US has always had a class system – the upper middle class – which he defines as those earning $120,000 a year or more – is not only widening the gap between itself and everyone else but also hoarding opportunities in a way that makes it difficult for any outsiders to climb up to it.
(The 1% is getting richer even more quickly of course but there aren’t enough of them to hoard opportunities on a mass scale.)
While people like Donald Trump would like you to think the American economy is a magical font of money that will bless every last citizen who deserves it – the truth is it’s a zero-sum game; there are only so many good jobs – spots in elite colleges and tony area codes to go around.
And the top 20% have set things up to guarantee virtually all of those spoils go to their children as well as their children’s children – leaving the bottom 80% little to work with.
Society is growing increasingly segmented along class lines which intersects a great deal with race in a horrid Venn diagram of oppression.