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Michael Schiraldi

10 April 2014

Saving Your American Dream: Todays Socioeconomical Barriers

As a kid growing up in Massapequa, Long Island I have faced many situations where the
gap between rich and poor had a significant impact. Massapequa is a very expensive place to live
I soon learned as I grew up and is filled with many spoiled children. We are certainly not poor,
but we arent billionaires. My dad worked his butt off his whole life to provide for his family and
I think it is safe to say that he has provided me with everything Ive needed and a lot of things I
have wanted over the years. When I was little, everyone and their mothers had those north face
jackets, so I asked my parents for one. They bought me one that looked exactly like it, but it
wasnt the brand of north face, as a little kid I didnt care at all it was still a nice jacket to me.
My mom used to joke around and call it a north fake jacket and I thought it was funny. One day I
was wearing the jacket and some kid made fun of me for not having the right brand. That day I
realized growing up in todays world was going to be rough. Everyone conforms to societys
norms without blinking an eye to prevent themselves from being criticized.
The gap between the rich and the poor is huge and with todays society, there is no doubt
in my mind that the gap will widen. Standards of living in America have increased greatly over
time. Even 100 years ago our standard of living was a lot higher than many other less fortunate
countries. I think the gap is so big and becoming bigger is due to the type of economic system we
live in. Free market capitalism has created these socioeconomic barriers between classes that is
making it hard for interaction between one another. In todays world everyone wants to be the
best. Everyone wants to have the nicest car, house, clothes etc. With these norms, anybody who
is less than the best gets ridiculed. What kind of society is this where kids get alienated for not
having certain words on their clothes?
In doing my research I found an article on the internet about class walls. Back in 1926
in Alexandra Crescent, UK, there was a wall put up to keep people in nearby Downham out. A
former journalist, Michael Nelson, recalls back to his child hood where he saw these walls get
put up and continued to say, the application was the result of pressure exerted by residents on
Framptons estate, who objected to vulgar people using their road as a short cut to Bromley
town centre. The wall was put up solely to keep vulgar people or the lower class workers
from using their path to get into town. He then explains around the same time how not
necessarily class walls were put up, but he started to see the spread of gated communities.
They are different things, but were pretty much created for the same reason, to keep less
fortunate people who dont live there, out. I believe these kinds of things increase relevance of
class division.
In another article I found doing my research relating to this topic, Stephen J.
McNamee and Robert K. Miller, Jr. explain how intelligence measured by IQ tests actually show
ones intellectual capacity and influences that your surroundings have on you. Both authors of the
article question, What exactly do we mean by hard work? Does it mean the number of hours
expended in the effort to achieve a goal? Does it mean the amount of energy or sheer physical
exertion expended in the completion of tasks? I agree with their statements throughout the
article because these types of hard work are not nearly related to ones success economically. Its
ironic because those who actually do the most demanding work and work the most hours are
usually the least paid who are fighting to provide for their family from paycheck to paycheck.
All the real big money comes from owning, not working, which is the opposite of hard work.
Owning takes little to no effort in supervising the workers, unlike them who must break their
backs every day for a small paycheck.
A lot of people believe that people are usually poor because of the wrong values that are
then passed on from generations, creating a brutal cycle. They dont realize that poor people in
fact have the same values of work, family, school, and goals as much as others. Instead of
having the wrong values, poor people are faced with having to make their goals and initiatives
more relevant to their restricted life opportunities. If you are badly poor dont you think you may
be obligatory to have your head in the present and worrying about right now? Having no idea
where your next meal is coming from really forces you to be worrying about instant needs. The
upper classes can afford to be more hung over on worrying about their futures since their
present-day needs are safe and sound.
You can't have an equal society with capitalism. When the capitalist class owns the
means of production the workers are forced to sell their labor, the product of their labor becomes
profit for the capitalist. The capitalist pays his workers less than the value their labor has added
to the goods, which creates surplus value and to make a profit, the capitalist takes this surplus
value. Any gains made by the worker in this system are losses incurred by the capitalist. The
capitalist just wants to allow the workers just enough to continue working and creating profit for
him, but not enough that it takes away from the capitalists profits. This is why wages and
benefits have decreased while productivity has increased and which is why inequality seems
natural to us, because we have lived with it all our lives.
The gap between the rich and the poor is huge and with todays society, there is no doubt
in my mind that the gap will widen. Standards of living in America have increased greatly over
time. I think the gap is so big and becoming bigger is due to the type of economic system we live
in. Free market capitalism has created these socioeconomic barriers between classes that is
making it hard for interaction between one another.
Works Cited

Barrie, Joshua. "Bromley's 'class Wall': A 7ft Barrier between Rich and Poor Stood Here Less
than 100 Years Ago." News Shopper. N.p., 13 Feb. 2014. Web. 12 Apr. 2014.

McNamee, Stephen J., and Robert K. Miller, Jr. "The Meritocracy Myth." The Meritocracy
Myth. N.p., Spring 2004. Web. 12 Apr. 2014.