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Is America Really A Classless Society?

1350 words - 5 pages

Is America really a classless society? In America it is a very common belief that the United States is fundamentally a classless society. Most of the citizens regard their country as a middle-class nation in which the public as a whole is steadily moving up the economic ladder. Everyone has an equal chance to succeed and that is why each generation automatically propels itself to greater economic well-being. In trying to examine the legitimacy of these beliefs, I would like to raise several important questions. Are there significant class differences among Americans? If these differences do exist, are they becoming larger or smaller and why? Finally, does everyone in the United States really have an equal opportunity to succeed? People in the United States don?t like to talk about class. They don?t speak about class privileges, class oppression, or the class nature of society. These terms are not part of their everyday vocabulary; they are rather considered communist propaganda from the cold war. Unlike people in most other parts of the world, they shrink from using words that classify along economic lines or that point to class distinctions. Phrases like ?working class,? ?upper class,? and ?ruling class? are rarely uttered by Americans.In my opinion the main reason for this American tendency is the strong capitalistic influence that has in fact existed from the very beginning of the foundation of the United States. Most of the European countries encountered severe class struggles which ultimately paved the way for a communist body of thought. Almost all Eastern European nations could not resist against the Russian influence which spread out the message of a proletarian revolution. Consequently they established communistic dictatorships which destroyed most of the countries. Western European nations like France, Germany, Italy, Spain, etc. chose the democratic way; however, even today there are socialistic and communistic strongholds in each of these countries which are reminiscent of the ideological battle between socialism and capitalism.By rejecting communistic voices so harshly, particularly in the cold war, Americans tend to ignore the fact that there are actually immense variations in economic well-being. According to Lawrence Mishel and Jared Bernstein in The State of Working America ?the wealthiest 20 percent of the American population holds 85 percent of the total household wealth in the country. In other words they own nearly seven-eights of all the consumer durables such as houses, cars, and stereos and financial assets such as stocks, bonds, property, and savings accounts? (245) Furthermore, ?approximately 100,000 Americans of 0.1 percent of the adult working population earn more than $1 million annually, with many of these individuals earning over $10 million and some earning over $100 million per year? (43).Affluence and prosperity are clearly alive and well in certain segments of the U.S. population. However, this abundance is in...

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