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America: A Class Divided Essay

3484 words - 14 pages

On Christmas Eve in 2010, my grandmother received a gift from a hospice nurse who was assisting with my grandfather’s deteriorating health. Initially both surprised and embarrassed by the gesture, her emotions quickly changed once she removed the wrapping. A single package of Ramen Noodles was revealed. Embarrassment changed to confusion as she attempted to wrap her mind around what she had received. The hospice worker drove a 1997 Plymouth Voyager that she regularly complained about not being able to run properly for more than a week. She wore old worn out clothing and my grandmother claims she had never seen the woman wear jewelry before. It was evident that she was not wealthy. Although she could not afford a gift, the nurse in her benevolence, did not want to show up empty handed on Christmas Eve. I recognized the societal inequality and couldn’t help but feel that something was wrong. This altruistic nurse, who was sacrificing her Christmas Eve to tend to an elderly man whom before she had not known, could not even afford to fix her car. Although she worked harder than anyone who I had ever met, almost 60 hours a week, it was she who was struggling to pay the bills.
This is not our ancestors’ America. Over the last 100 years American has been beseeched by a seemingly benign transformation that has led us astray from our national values and has led us to ignore our individual senses of right and wrong. The United States was founded upon the idea that if you are willing to work hard you should be able to get ahead. For some this means achieving financial stability, to others it means becoming financially better off than their parents were, but nonetheless it means that working hard today should pay dividends in the future. Unfortunately, achieving the American dream has become increasingly difficult. For the first time in our nation’s history, the current generation of children is projected to live shorter lives than their parents (Belluck). It is also forecast that the current generation of children will be “materially less well off in adulthood than their parents” (Boffey).
The United Sates, whose national dogma emphasizes equity and stresses that hard work leads to success, has one of the poorest social mobility ratings in the developed world (Deparle). This means that if you were born towards the bottom of the socioeconomic spectrum, you would have a better chance of ascending to a higher class if you were born in several Western European countries as oppose to if you were born in the United States. As Richard Wilkonson bluntly put it in his TED Talk, “If Americans want to live the American dream, they should go to Denmark” (Wilkonson). How did we arrive at a point where the difference between being rich and poor is so drastic and where social mobility is so difficult? Educational inequalities, failure of government policy and a social separation between the classes has resulted in an unjust system that prevents the nation from...

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