nimh wrote:Hmmm ... well, it's not so much my attempt at debunking the myth, but Gary Younge's that I picked up on. So what about his other piece of evidence: the research comparing the social mobility of parents / children in the seventies and nineties, that apparently shows an actual decrease in social mobility? [..]
Quite right.. Younge's idea.. ok.
Deciding what the "other piece of evidence" means is a bit of looking through a crystal ball. Without looking at the specific study and seeing exactly what was counted and how, it's impossible to determine what it actually measured. He doesn't bother to give a reference to what study he's talking about. In the article he mentions a quote from a Robert Perrucci. Perrucci has done several studies (this is his area of speciality..) but the numbers don't match anything Perrucci has published.
Angela Whitiker's Climb
By ISABEL WILKERSON
Published: June 12, 2005
CHICAGO, June 10 - Angela Whitiker arrived early and rain-soaked at a suburban school building with a carton of sugar water in her purse and a squall in her stomach. It was the small hours of the morning, when the parking lot was empty and the street lights were still on. There she was alone in the darkness for the biggest test of her life.
If she passed, she could shed the last layer of her former self - the teenage girl who grew up too fast, dropped out in the 10th grade, and landed aimless and on public assistance with five children by nearly as many men.
She would finally be the registered nurse she had been striving toward for years. She could get a car that wouldn't break down in the middle of the Dan Ryan Expressway. She could get an A.T.M. card and balance her checkbook and start paying down her bills and save up for that two-story colonial on Greenwood that was already hers in her dreams.
She would never again have to live in that gang-run nightmare of a place, the Robert Taylor housing projects - where she packed a .38 for protection - or in Section 8 housing or in any government-subsidized anything. Her children could be proud of her and go on to make something of themselves too, once she proved it could be done.
But if she didn't pass. ...
Read on ...
What do you think?
America's great sorting out
The missing rungs in the ladder
Jul 14th 2005
From The Economist print edition
[..] This dynamism helps explain why America has been growing so much faster than Europe. The difference now is that the process is becoming slightly more clumpy: successful Americans are sticking together more than they used to. Once again, this is not a question of "two Americas" leaping off the map: there are plenty of boom-towns and, especially, boom-burbs in every state. And, no, there is not an obvious racial dimension either: many blacks are still doing badly, but Latinos, who will account for one in five Americans by 2030, seem to be being assimilated just fine. But it does reinforce a fear: is America beginning to develop more of a class system?
If the American dream is based on anything, it is on the idea that anybody can make it to the top. Does that square with the past two elections, where George Bush (Andover and Yale) has seen off Al Gore (St Albans and Harvard) and then his fellow Skull and Bonesman John Kerry (St Paul's and Yale)? The 2008 race might even be another dynastic contest between Mr Bush's brother and his predecessor's wife. More worryingly, there has been a flood of statistics suggesting that income inequality is now reaching levels not seen since the Gilded Age in the late 19th century.
In 1979-2000, the real income of the poorest fifth of American households rose by 6.4%, while that of the top fifth rose by 70% (and of the top 1% by 184%). As of 2001, that top 1% nabbed a fifth of America's personal income and controlled a third of its net worth. Again, this would not necessarily be a cause for worry, as long as it was possible for people to work their way up and down the ladder. Yet various studies also indicate that social mobility has weakened; indeed by some measures it may be worse than it is in crusty old Europe.