Social Class in America

Here’s a film short from 1957 on America’s class structure:

I’m stunned. I thought this would be one of those, “Doesn’t matter what your background is, with hard work and determination, you can achieve greatness.”

Isn’t that the message that’s constantly pounded into our heads? No?!

Back in 1957, the reality was, “doesn’t matter what you do, you were born into a certain class, and you’re always going to stay there.”

That’s totally depressing.

Even more depressing: There are no minorities anywhere in this video. Back then, that meant they didn’t even count and weren’t worth discussing. Oh, yeah. And from what I could see here, women didn’t count either.

I’ve got no love for nostalgia. I don’t think anything in the past was better than things are now. But I do believe in social mobility.

I know plenty of people who’ve come from absolutely nothing and completely tore through class distinctions. In my lifetime, we’ve had at least four U.S. presidents who’ve risen from the bottom of the economic ladder. I can rattle off the names of poor and middle class kids who became successful and are now billionaires.

But there are people who want to go back to the simplicity 1950s. People who want others to stay in their place and not complain. And class divisions are widening now at a faster pace than any other time in my life.

Look at the charts of income distribution. The social structure of ’50s nostalgia is running rampant.

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