With most Americans defining themselves as middle class, the level
of denial about the existence of class in the US is breathtaking.
President George Bush, son of former President George Bush; Teamsters leader Jimmy
Hoffa, son of former Teamster's leader Jimmy Hoffa; Southern Christian Leadership
Conference leader Martin Luther King III, son of former SCLC leader, Martin Luther
King Jr. Former Tennessee senator Al Gore, son of former Tennessee senator Al
Gore. Alaska Senator, Lisa Murkowski, daughter of former Alaska Senator Frank
Murkowski. From Jesse Jackson Jr to former FCC chairman Michael Powell the list
America's political class looks more like royalty by another means
than the product of a dynamic democratic system. From the Republican
party to the civil rights movement all too often leadership appears to be a
determined by genetics. If Hillary Clinton gets the nomination then we add marriage
to the list too. But if the most crucial issue here is not nepotism (although
that too is a problem) but class - the elephant in the room of American political
discourse. For if classlessness is central to America's self-image of meritocracy
and personal reinvention, class is increasingly central
to American reality.
studies reveal that parental income is a better predictor of whether you
will be rich or poor in the US than it is in Canada or much of Europe. Meanwhile
this week's Economist shows
that only 3% of students at top colleges come from the poorest quarter of the
population. Such class entrenchment was washed
up for all to see following hurricane Katrina last year.
And yet the level of denial at all levels of American society to the existence
of class is breathtaking. For all the various regional, racial and ethnic identities
to which Americans sign up to the economic identity of class is rarely one of
them. The overwhelming majority define themselves as middle class - expressing
the admirable aspiration that they are en route to better things. But it begs
the question, middle between what and what? Clearly, just because you don't
talk about it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
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to middle-class lockdown; now shut up and buy something
Markets Pricing Out Middle Class