Despite the fact that the richest one-one-thousandth of Americans has now accumulated almost as much wealth as the entire bottom 90% of Americans, almost two thirds of the people in this country still believe in some version of the American Dream. Optimism lives!
A New York Times poll out today finds that 64% of Americans agree that "it is possible to start out poor in this country, work hard and become rich." Let me stop right here and fault the inexcusably pro-American phrasing of this question. Yes, even the most clear-eyed doomsayers among us must agree that it is possible to start out poor in this country, work hard and become rich. It is also possible to be struck by lightning while being bit by a shark. Neither, however, are probable. In fact, "Seventy per cent of people born into the bottom quintile of income distribution never make it into the middle class, and fewer than ten per cent get into the top quintile."
(Even so, 64% in this poll is "the lowest result in roughly two decades.")
Another, more revealing American Dream poll last year, that asked whether America "offers everyone an equal chance to get ahead," found the reverse: almost two-thirds of American did not believe in the American Dream, in that formulation.
Damn... the people can't even get a good poll question in America these days. Burn it down.