We’ve all heard the phrase concerning how America was built on opportunity, giving anyone and everyone the chance to succeed; that people can rise from the slums and escape poverty with nothing more than an idea and a will. Media preys upon success stories such as these. For example, one may hear on the news how a homeless man started with only the shirt off his back worked his way to the top. Or maybe there’s a story in People Magazine on how a small business in a small town turned into a worldwide industry leader. But are all of these stories giving a false sense of reality?
Gregory Mantsios, a respected college director and editor, wrote an essay in 2006 titled Class in America, which separates fact from fiction when it comes to economic opportunity in the United States. He touches on four common misconceptions regarding social classes in the U.S., as well as providing evidence for seven realities otherwise. The author’s purpose is to bring to light a new look at how the economic spectrum really works in America.
The myths Mantsios describes come from false perceptions that the average citizen does not choose to challenge. These ideas are popular and hardly questioned. Social classes today are recognized as being somewhat old fashioned or a thing of the past. However, does this idea still hold true? Mantsios points out facts taken from studies that show the exact opposite. According to Mantsios, America has the largest distance in income level distribution compared to any other industrialized nation (308). He states, “Sixty percent of the American population holds less than 6 percent of the nation’s wealth” (308). He uses these two statistics, as well as many others, to make it difficult to argue that classes don’t exist.
Mantsios continues to flirt with the notion of nonexistent social classes, by questioning the statement regarding every American having the same opportunity to succeed at birth. Judging by the rules...