Questions about America’s class system—and its strain on the country’s social fabric—have entered the national conversation in a way unlike any time in recent memory. Occupy Wall Street grew popular in good part by contrasting the “99 percent” of Americans who’ve suffered over these lean years to the “1 percent” who seemed to be growing richer even in the midst of a deep recession. This inspired liberals to voice their worries about the widening wealth gap and falling rates of economic mobility more stridently than they’d dared to in decades.
It’s high time for Americans to have an open conversation about the reality of their own class divisions. For too long, excessive pride in the notion of a “land of opportunity” has masked the fact that too few tickets to the top are getting punched—and that the lives of those who are left behind are getting tougher.