Since the days of Horatio Alger, Americans have been (literally) buying the story of how, through hard work and persistence, we’ll all get to live a comfortable life in a respectable neighborhood, and raise our kids to do even better.
This story gets part of its truthiness from the fact that we all know someone, or can point to an American we admire, who really did pull themselves up by their bootstraps through ingenuity and elbow grease and pep. The belief also serves a useful purpose: Thinking you can better your situation through sticktoitiveness and moxie is a great motivator. It’s part of why Americans work lots of hours compared to those in other industrialized nations, and why we have the most productive workers in the world.
Unfortunately, for lots of people, it’s just not true.
(Click to continue reading…)