Native-born Americans and many immigrants are socialized by the myth of a meritocratic society, and that belief has some undeniable impact on their perceptions. But a cursory look at the dismal statistics regarding social mobility would show this to be pure fiction. Among the major developed countries, only in Italy and the United Kingdom is there less economic mobility. So, too, the much-scrutinized evidence about the yawning income gap opened up by the infamous 1% have lent credence to the more sober reality that the U.S. is a functional creditocracy, whose elites increasingly form an oligarchic creditor class, enriched by unearned income from economic rents.

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