While several nations a faced with far reaching problems resulting from battling ethnicities, America is faced with the problem of racial discrimination. In a similar manner, there are classes in America with semantically the same effects to the effects of racial discrimination. The classes influence the way members of the society think and carry out their day to day activities even though there are several strategies that can be employed to dissolve the classes. Again, the American government maintains that there are supposedly NO caste systems and yet there are always so many differences in how people have opportunities and are treated in each class.
A caste system is a fundamentally a social structure in which people are stratified in the society based on ones familial status. A caste system is normally characterized by the existence of endogamy in which the custom of marrying only within the limits of a clan or tribe prevails. This is perhaps one of the major manifestations of the existence of a caste system owing to the fact the social structure in such a system do not favor one to change his or her status; when one is born to a laborer, it is exceedingly hard for this person to change his or her status to a scholar (Gilbert 5).
Many people recognize Indian caste system that can be traced to the Hindus spiritual scriptures even though several people have come out to allege that the system was borrowed from the Portuguese. To the Hindus, the caste system was pertinent in helping the society not to be engulfed in chaos because each society member belonged somewhere; being ruler, a warrior or a merchant dependent on the categories of one’s community in the caste system. Recently, the U.S. president denied the existence of a caste system in America and ironically stated that the country was yet to achieve a caste system. The most probable reason for the perception of the existence of a caste system in America is the incessantly widening gap between the rich and the poor.
Shrinking Middle Class
Lareau and Conley define a class as a group of people who earn relatively the same amount of money, through the same means hand spend it in relatively the same manner (26). Most communities are stratified into a three-class system conventionally known as the low class, middle class and the upper class. However, ever since the 1980s, the U.S middle class has been constantly shrinking. America (and the world at large) is experiencing great financial constraints. With the changing times, most people who belonged to the middle class have either climbed to the top class (upper class) with some sliding back to the lower class. Collado notes that the reason for such transitions are rather financial related than political or social related (1) hence the understanding of the causes of the shrinkage of the middle class requires a discernment of the present economic crisis.
The cost of living is ever on an upward trend while the earnings of citizens have remained relatively on the same spot. Currently both parents in most household families have had to work as one of the means sailing through the hard financial times. Unfortunately, it can be asserted that the situation is by all means so pronounced, and the middle class is under so much pressure; one has to climb the ladder or climb down the ladder as staying in the middle class is no longer an option. Ideally, income and class mobility in America is currently closed hence one cannot easily move from one class to another. Gilbert theorizes that in America, today, there is darned little chance of mobility in terms of income (and class) (24).
Differences between America’s prevailing two classes (the rich and the poor)
A critical look at America in its current state, it is easy for one notice that there are two Americas in existence today. One of the Americas appears not to have been affected by the economic recession hence is characterized by remarkably successful banks, exceptionally thriving stock markets and people having outstandingly good houses. The second America, on the other hand, is characterized by an increasing number of homeless people, soaring rates of unemployment marked with an ever increasing poverty levels. The struggles of people in this America is evinced in the increasing number of couples taking up more than one (job just to sail through their ostensibly many bills), increased number of foreclosures and vehicles being towed away because of peoples inability to pay their auto loans. For the rich, who are the prominent players in the stock market, they benefit from the flourishing stock market with the number of people under the poverty line keep on souring. The situation is further worsened by the fact that policy makers in America are the few one 10% (or fewer) rich people hence always purse policies that are by all means, not in the interest of the people. It always theorized that the few rich people (about 10%) own more that 90% percent on the U.S economy while the remaining 90% of being let to scramble for the remaining disconsolate 10%.
There is a significant difference in how the rich and poor get treated. One such difference in exhibited in the diploma gap that exists between the rich and the poor. In a society in which education was perceived to be the most viable equalizer, education has ultimately turned out to be an element of inequality. The leveling effect that education was perceived to have has been profoundly affected by the broadening gap between the rich and the poor. Initially education was thought to have the ability to lift the lives of the disadvantaged Americans besides improving the chances of one succeeding in life. Currently, there is a huge achievement difference between the poor and the rich (Thomas and Stockton 3). Hailing from a moneyed family appears to be a determining factor in the success rates of students in various learning institutions (Thomas and Stockton 3).
Children from wealthy families perform better in school than children from poor backgrounds with the most logical explanation for this being that the wealthy parents are willing to spend in educating their children- poor families, most commonly headed by single parents, are in no position to invest decently in educating their children (Gilbert 19). While the children from wealthy families are having private tutors and going to expensive schools with the best teachers and facilities, children from poor backgrounds are cannot afford to have remedial teaching session and are always left to attend schools a with no adequately trained teachers and facilities (Gilbert 20). Research studies have shown that by the time an affluent child start schooling, he or she has spent more than time involved in literary activities compared to a child from a poor family. In conventional terms, it is affirmable that the rich buy the achievements of their children.
The difference in the apparent U.S. classes in also evinced in the size of families of the rich and poor people. It has always been argued that poor people are poor because they want to be poor. This is true to some extent if at all Kirst-Ashman’s assertion that poor families tend to be large compared to rich families (242) is true. There are multiple effects of having large families especially because the little resources that the family has is supposed to be distributed to many of people. In the current America, intelligence and hard work might be no longer synonymous to success; success in life, which in most cases in measured by the amount of worth of riches that one has, is currently determine why the family in which one is born.
In addition, while millions of Americans cannot manage to repay their auto loans, there are several rich American who perceive automobiles are pieces of art rather than means of transport (Gilbert 1). In his book, Gilbert points out the Bugatti Veyron manufactured by Volkswagen that has since been bought by a plethora of wealthy Americans who do not see it as a normal automobile for transport but an art (Gilbert). To further bring his point home, Gilbert avers that the rich in America take liquors worth hundreds of dollars while their poor counterparts cannot even afford a single meal in a day (1).
Possible solutions to reduce the gap
Several writers have attempted to offer exhaustive analyses of the various methods through which the classes can be dissolved. Gilbert, while offering suggestions on how the gap between poor and the rich can be reduced hence and looking at the problems that are caused by the classes in America points out several policies, for instance the New Deal Program the was pioneered during F. D. Roosevelt presidency as well as the tax policies enacted in an attempt to curb the widening gap during L. B Jonson’s presidency (27). Ideally, as Gilbert maintains, the main solution to this problem is the enactment of sound tax policies, particularly, policies that can lessen the tax burden on the poor Americans.
Concisely, it is indubitable that there is a caste system in America conventionally known as the rich and poor. In its basic form, a caste system social structure in which people are stratified in the society based on ones familial status. The familial status is supposed to hold forever as the chances of one moving up the status are next to zero. India is a typic country with a caste system that van traced to Indians religious writings. It is notable that America’s middle class is fast shrinking hence leaving only the two classes (the rich and the poor). It is a fact that there are considerable differences in between the people of the two classes. For instance, one prominent difference is evinced in education in which children hailing from rich backgrounds have been seen to perform better academically than their counterparts from the poor families. Again, while rich people look at vehicles as pieces of art, several Americans are having their vehicles get repossessed as they are unable to repay their auto loans. In the same light while the rich relax with expensive alcoholic drinks, several poor Americans cannot afford a decent meal in a day.
Collado, Emanuel. The Shrinking Middle Class: Why America Is Becoming a Two-Class Society. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, Inc, 2010. Print.
Gilbert, Geoffrey. Rich and Poor in America: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2008. Print.
Kirst-Ashman, Karen K. Introduction to Social Work & Social Welfare: Critical Thinking Perspectives. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.
Lareau, Annette, and Dalton Conley. Social Class: How Does It Work?New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2008. Print.
Thomas, June, and Cathy Stockton. "Socioeconomic Status, Race, Gender, & Retention: Impact on Student Achievement." University of South Carolina Aiken 0 (0): 1-16. University of South Carolina Aiken. Web. 26 Mar. 2013.