As the 2016 election approaches, the debate among the intelligentsia appears like it will center around the question of inequality. While income is distributed unequally in the country, what few people know is how much more unequally wealth, financial assets and inheritances are distributed. As the chart below shows, income is only part of the problem.
The myth of fluid upward mobility blinds us to how stacked our system has become against the aspirations of the less well-off, thereby enabling an elite to capture every larger shares of income, wealth, privilege, and control over government while those below receive relatively smaller shares, face fewer opportunities, and command increasingly less control.
Social mobility in the United States is at or near its lowest point in modern history. A nation that prides itself on the "only in America" myth has fallen far behind other countries in this, the primary measurement of an equal-opportunity society. In the midst of this class ossification, higher education remains a powerful tool for social mobility.