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Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do about It by Richard V. Reeves

Dream Hoarders – America is becoming a class-based society.

Dream Hoarders ebook epub/pdf/prc/mobi/azw3

Dream Hoarders ebook epub/pdf/prc/mobi/azw3

It is now conventional wisdom to focus on the wealth of the top 1 percent—especially the top 0.01 percent—and how the ultra-rich are concentrating income and prosperity while incomes for most other Americans are stagnant. But the most important, consequential, and widening gap in American society is between the upper middle class and everyone else.

Reeves defines the upper middle class as those whose incomes are in the top 20 percent of American society. Income is not the only way to measure a society, but in a market economy it is crucial because access to money generally determines who gets the best quality education, housing, health care, and other necessary goods and services.

As Reeves shows, the growing separation between the upper middle class and everyone else can be seen in family structure, neighborhoods, attitudes, and lifestyle. Those at the top of the income ladder are becoming more effective at passing on their status to their children, reducing overall social mobility. The result is not just an economic divide but a fracturing of American society along class lines. Upper-middle-class children become upper-middle-class adults.

These trends matter because the separation and perpetuation of the upper middle class corrode prospects for more progressive approaches to policy. Various forms of “opportunity hoarding” among the upper middle class make it harder for others to rise up to the top rung. Examples include zoning laws and schooling, occupational licensing, college application procedures, and the allocation of internships. Upper-middle-class opportunity hoarding, Reeves argues, results in a less competitive economy as well as a less open society.

Inequality is inevitable and can even be good, within limits. But Reeves argues that society can take effective action to reduce opportunity hoarding and thus promote broader opportunity. This fascinating book shows how American society has become the very class-defined society that earlier Americans rebelled against—and what can be done to restore a more equitable society.

Dream Hoarders How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust Why That Is a Problem and What to Do about

Dream Hoarders – Editorial Reviews

“Bracing, head-clearing and ultimately inspiring. With rigor and wit [this] book show how millions of successful, hard-working Americans, often with the best of intentions, have helped build a society where birth matters more than brilliance. Impassioned, data-driven and focused on practical solutions, “Dream Hoarders” is a fine cure for an age of stale, cynical politics.”
– David Rennie, US Bureau Chief, The Economist

“Dream Hoarders is a slim and engaging book which can be read in an afternoon, but whose message lingers for longer.” The Economist

“Recently, scholars and social activists have set off alarm bells about the rising concentration of income among the top one percent. Richard Reeves urges us to turn our attention to a wider slice of affluent Americans – the top fifth – and the result is a devastating empirical portrait of damage done to “the bottom eighty”…This captivating and stirring book is likely to make many of its readers uncomfortable.”
– Janet C. Gornick, Professor of Political Science and Sociology, CUNY

“Richard Reeves is has long been one of the most authoritative, insightful and sage voices on the big questions gripping modern societies. Here he tackles one of the most urgent – inequality and how to solve it – and comes up with serious answers.”
– Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian

“We have met the enemy, and he is us: we who were smart enough to pick the right parents and now occupy the high ground in post-industrial America. Richard Reeves makes his case brilliantly and–a tough act to pull off–engagingly.”
– Charles Murray, AEI, author of Coming Apart
“Warning: Reeves’ book will challenge some of your assumptions, no matter what your views are…Dream Hoarders will shake you up, teach you a lot and make you think much harder.”
– E.J. Dionne Jr., Author of Why the Right Went Wrong

Reading Richard Reeves on social mobility is like going for a good walk: he is bracing, head clearing, and ultimately inspiring. With rigor and wit, his new book shows how millions of successful, hardworking Americans, often with the best of intentions, have helped build a society where birth matters more than brilliance. Impassioned, data-driven, and focused on practical solutions, Dream Hoarders is a fine cure for an age of stale, cynical politics.―David Rennie, The Economist

Richard Reeves has long been one of the most authoritative, insightful, and sage voices on the big questions gripping modern societies. Here he tackles one of the most urgent―inequality and how to solve it―and comes up with serious answers. ―Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian

Recently, scholars and social activists have set off alarm bells about the rising concentration of income among the top 1 percent. Richard Reeves urges us to turn our attention to a wider slice of affluent Americans―the top fifth―and the result is a devastating empirical portrait of damage done to “the bottom eighty.” This captivating and stirring book is likely to make many of its readers

uncomfortable.―Janet C. Gornick, Professor of Political Science and Sociology, Graduate Center, City University of New York, and Director, Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality

Warning: Reeves’s book will challenge some of your assumptions, no matter what your views are. And he shows how innocent or even admirable actions in particular spheres can reinforce existing hierarchies. Dream Hoarders will shake you up, teach you a lot, and make you think much

harder.―E.J. Dionne Jr., Author of Why the Right Went Wrong and Our Divided Political Heart

An important new perspective on equality and mobility from one of America’s best-informed and most articulate commentators on that topic. Reeves provocatively turns the current policy debate upside down―not “how do we increase upward mobility?” but “how do we increase downward mobility?”

Certain to enliven dinner party conversations among America’s upper-middle class elite―so if you are in that group, this book is a must-read.―Robert D. Putnam, Harvard University, author of Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis

We have met the enemy, and he is us: we who were smart enough to pick the right parents and now occupy the high ground in post-industrial America. Richard Reeves and I differ on specifics, but Dream Hoarders rightly gets to the heart of things: if we treasure America’s traditional civic culture and want to see it preserved for future generations, the upper middle class has to recognize how much responsibility it bears for the culture’s plight and act accordingly. He makes that case brilliantly.―Charles Murray, American Enterprise Institute

From the Inside Flap

America is becoming a class-based society America prides itself on being a classless society, where hard work and talent get you ahead. A place where status is earned, not inherited. At least, that’s the idea. In fact, the United States is marked by a deepening class divide. Debates about inequality focus on the wealth of “super-rich,” or the top 1 percent. But as Richard Reeves shows, the most important and consequential gap in American society is the one between the upper middle class―broadly, the top fifth―and everyone else. The separation of the upper middle class can be seen in the income distribution, but also in family structure, neighborhoods, attitudes, and lifestyle. This is not just an economic divide but a fracturing of American society along class lines. Reeves shows how high-income parents are now passing on their class status to their children, threatening American ideals of equal opportunity and social mobility. Upper-middle-class children become upper-middle-class adults; class separation becomes class perpetuation. “For Americans,” Reeves writes, “this should set alarm bells ringing.” The upper middle class succeeds by accumulating skills and qualifications, but also by engaging in various forms of “ opportunity hoarding,” which make it harder for others to rise up to the top. These unfair mechanisms include zoning laws, college admissions procedures, and the allocation of internships. The result is a less competitive economy, Reeves argues, as well as a less open society. Inequality is natural, even desirable, when it results from fair competition. Class gaps that result from unfair advantage, however, generate legitimate resentment from those who are excluded. It is not too late to close the gap, however. Reeves outlines practical steps toward restoring opportunity and weakening class distinctions. This fascinating book shows how American society has become the very class-defined society that earlier Americans rebelled against―and what can be done to restore a more equitable social order.

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Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do about It
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