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The Dream of American Aristocracy

By Matthew Yglesias on August 22, 2008 at 5:26 pm

"The Dream of American Aristocracy"

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Malia and Cavuto

I was a little bit surprised to see Malia Lazu, a friend of mine who I haven’t seen in quite some time and who I didn’t think did this kind of work, on Fox News with Neil Cavuto earlier this afternoon. But there she was, responding to Cavuto’s charge that John McCain’s critics are “bashing the American dream” for pointing out that it’s a bit rich for a guy who can’t even keep track of how many houses he owns to be telling people that the economy is strong and really just in need of some tax cuts for the rich. But to add to what Faiz says about this let’s note that while getting rich is arguably an integral part of the American Dream, that’s traditionally been understood as the dream of getting rich through hard work.

McCain came by his houses by marrying his wife, Cindy, who came by her money from her dad. He made his money the old fashioned way — working for it. But Cindy inherited it, and John married into it. And research seems to indicate that over the past few decades there’s been a trend toward declining social mobility — to more and more rich people just being the kids of rich people. And McCain’s policies, from a failure to expand access to higher education to support for lower levels of taxation on estates and investment income, will tend to further exacerbate America’s transformation into a hierarchical class-bound society.

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