Education is supposed to be the great equalizer, in the sense poor people who study and get a good or quality education improve their chances of moving ahead and climb up the economic ladder, in what economists call as the upward mobility. However, education alone is not the sole determinant although it is the most important among the four variables cited. It is a fact people with college degrees tend to do better if compared to those without (Krugman, 2007) but as he also said based on his research, politics has a lot to do with it. This is because the great American Dream of joining the middle class had been attained before through strong actions by the government by using equalization measures such as high tax rates for the rich and the big corporations, social programs like Social Security, minimum wage laws, pensions for the retired, and so many others like unemployment compensation, to tide things over.
The level of educational attainment determines to a large extent a person’s eventual occupation because that is where his skill sets will be most useful. occupation determines the income of that person, and hence, based on his earned income, the amount of wealth he has. The cumulative effects of all these four factors then determine the class where a person belongs in American society. However, other factors and trends are also at work to deny the people their versions of the American Dream primarily that of the new political movement of conservatism, which sought to reverse the benefits of the New Deal programs of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This movement tries to eliminate progressive taxation, roll back social programs, and eliminate the vestiges of a welfare state with the aim of increasing inequality. It means education alone is not sufficient to lift a person out of poverty or out of his social class but also politics, such as the strong anti-union movement during the time of President Reagan. A small narrow class of elites wants to retain and protect its privileged status in society and so used politics to gain an unfair undemocratic advantage to further cement its gains. This social divide is most evident in large American cities, where the culture and civilization of a major city can be seen quite clearly in its economic divide based on poor sections and rich enclaves. The apparent decline and impending demise of the American middle class are increasing the gaps between the rich and the poor due to these class barriers (Scott & Leonhardt, para. 3). All poor people get adversely affected, such as reduced access to health care and also education.