Week 26, 2017
Enjoyed fresh air cycling twice this week, getting out to Prospect Park for a few laps and up to Henry Hudson Drive for some vertical meters. Combined with more time reading, my mind is feeling much clearer at the moment.
I am reading Dream Hoarders. Reeves is pointed. He knows his audience are households likely earning in the top quintile, the ‘upper middle class’, as is he, and takes aim.
… that downward mobility is not popular is an understatement. We would likely be more relaxed if society were more equal, since the fall would not be so great. Likewise, if everyone was getting better off, slipping a quintile or two might not seem like the end of the world. But whatever we do, an inconvenient truth will remain. If more kids from lower-income quintiles are to move, more of those from higher up must fall.
The case made is that although the top 0.01% and top 1% have pulled away significantly, the divide between the top 20% and the bottom 80% is growing significantly. Most problematic is that relative mobility, the ability to move from one quintile to another, of the lower quintiles to reach the top quintile is decreasing. Reeves writing on opportunity hoarding and the construction of a glass floor to protect the next generation of the upper middle class is unsettling.
Undoubtedly this book focusses on the American context, but the broader questions it raises about how one thinks of merit and equality are broadly applicable. I’m interested to read any related writing from an Australian perspective.