Great article from the NYT Opinionator
“But moving up feels harder than it used to — or it does from where I sit (27F). We’re all going everywhere and nowhere at the same time. In his new book, “The Great Degeneration,” the historian Niall Ferguson confirms my intuition. His argument is that we’ve seen a precipitous decline in social mobility over the last 30 years: “Once the United States was famed as a land of opportunity, where a family could leap from ‘rags to riches’ in a generation.” Now it can’t even leap from economy to business. You can make some progress is small ways: the gold club members get to board before the silver club members. The passenger who earns a certain number of miles is rewarded with a complimentary drink. But those in the back of the plane can fight all they want over their status. They’re still not getting any more legroom.
On a Web site called Flyertalk, I learned from a blogger just how close we are to class warfare in the sky. Disgusted by the grubby conditions on his flight, this Robespierre of the unfriendly skies invokes the French Revolution and warns: If you annoy “the salt of the earth enough, the rank and file and what have you, sometimes you wind up beheaded.” Let them eat Pringles.
…[Catch Me If You Can] is set in the mid-’60s, the end of a high moment in American life, at least for the middle class. It was a time when public schools could still be counted on to provide a decent education; when it was possible for most families to live on one income — almost always Dad’s — buy a house in the suburbs and go on vacation twice a year…The country was prosperous; if you weren’t rich, you felt rich.
Anyway, it didn’t matter. There was no caste system. You could get on a plane and be shown your seat in coach without having to mill around at the gate waiting for your “group” to be called. You weren’t a “member” of Premier, Business, Gold Circle, Executive Platinum or some other designation that indicated how often you flew and how much you put on your credit card. You were just a passenger, on your way to spend a few days with the grandparents or take the kids to Disneyland.”