Lording It Over America

So you thought Britain had class and American gave you equality? To this I reply: Ha, ha, ha!

According to an article in today’s New York Times which looks at recent census data, a strong majority of affluent Americans in all major cities send their kids to private schools, many riding in chauffeur-driven limousines, where they are completely isolated from the scions of less fortunate compatriots. In other words: They grow up in a world of their own like so many Little Lord Fauntleroys.

The numbers speak for themselves. 72 percent of New York households with a total income of more than $200,000 send their kids to private schools.

Interestingly, the same article states that foreign-born parents, both wealthy immigrants and those living temporarily in New York, generally tend to enroll their children in public schools. New York has about 15,000 households with an annual income of more than $150,000 in which both parents were born abroad. 61 percent send their kids to public schools – double the rate of American-born parents. Foreign-born New Yorkers are apparently swayed by the greater ethnic and economic diversity of the public schools, the article maintains. In an interview, Lyn Bollen, a Brit from working-class Birmingham, is quoted as as saying: “When they go to public school, they’re in a whole new world, a world of different people and different values, which is what the world is like.”

Except not in the U.S. And we used to call this country the “melting pot”! Americans of my generation were acctually proud because where we came from merit was worth more than pedigree.

So what happened? Seems somewhere Americans lost their Dream.

In fact, inequality has become much more ingrained into the social structure of America than elsewhere in countries we Americans like to look down our noses on as “stratified” and “class-ridden”. Take Great Britain, a class society if there ever was one. According to a study conducted by Markus Jantti at Finland’s Abo Akademi University, 42 percent of American males born into the bottom third of the income pyramid will stay there all their lives; in the UK, only 30 percent are condemned to poverty, in Denmark only 25.

“Upward mobility” used to be the hallmark of American society; alas, no more.

We all know what this portents. Kids graduate from private grade school to attend private boarding schools, from which they move on to Ivy League universities and thence to highly-paid jobs where they are surrounded by people like themselves, with whom they tend to intermarry, producing children that are sent to the very same private schools, and so on ad infinitum.

Of course, there is an obvious solution here: nobility! Let’s give the rich Americans classy-sounding titles, complete with coats of arms and the right to sit in the upper chamber of parliament. Most senators are in for life already, so why hold costly elections every four years? Come to think of it, why not give Obama a crown and scepter and call him “Your Royal Highness”?

If we are going to be a class society, at least let’s do it right.

As for those who persist in calling for equal rights, I say: “Off with their heads!”

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