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Hoarding The American Dream

Who's hoarding the American dream? (500photos.com via Pexels)
Who's hoarding the American dream? (500photos.com via Pexels)

The top 20 percent of this country, not just the top one percenters, is leaving everyone else behind. We’ll talk with the author of “Dream Hoarders.”

We all know about the one percent — America’s ultra-wealthy whose wealth has exploded in recent years to towering heights. What we don’t talk about so much is the twenty percent — America’s upper middle class, who have also done very well, thank you, while the 80 percent has flat-lined. The twenty percent, says my guest today, sees itself as deserving, meritocratic winners, but they are buttressing their status — and their childrens’ — with old-fashioned class barriers. This hour On Point: the hold of the 20 percent. — Tom Ashbrook


Richard Reeves, author of, “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.” Senior fellow in economic studies and co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institute. (@RichardvReeves)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Atlantic:The Hoarding of the American Dream — “In all of these viral posts, denizens of the upper-middle class were attempting to make the case for their middle class-ness. Taxes are expensive. Cities are expensive. Tuition is expensive. Children are expensive. Travel is expensive. Tens of thousands of dollars a month evaporate like cold champagne spilled on a hot lanai, they argue. And the 20 percent are not the one percent.”

New York Times: Stop Pretending You’re Not Rich — “So imagine my horror at discovering that the United States is more calcified by class than Britain, especially toward the top. The big difference is that most of the people on the highest rung in America are in denial about their privilege. The American myth of meritocracy allows them to attribute their position to their brilliance and diligence, rather than to luck or a rigged system. At least posh people in England have the decency to feel guilty.”

Washington Post: Check your privilege, upper middle class — “This idea and ideal of a middle-class society makes sense when incomes are reasonably equal. Some people may be better off than others, but if most are broadly in the same economic boat, it makes sense for that boat to be the USS Middle Class. But growing income inequality has stretched the definition of middle class to the breaking point, especially toward the top.”

Are You A Dream Hoarder?

Created by Jessica Pavone and Yohann Paris for the Brookings Institution. Music by Gastón Reboredo. Inspired by “The Voter Suppression Trail.”

Read An Excerpt From “Dream Hoarders”

Reprinted with permission from “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, Brookings Institution Press 2017.

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