The whole Horatio Alger, rags-to-riches, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps story about hard-working folks who crack into the elite is either greatly exaggerated, or utter bunk.

I mean, sure, the scions of poor families do sometimes climb their way up the income ladder, just as rich ones sometimes fall to the bottom. But while these success stories are heralded as the quintessential American experience, and both political parties trumpet these anecdotes as the end their policies achieve, they are actually the exceptions.

If you’re thinking, “That’s just because we haven’t done enough to shake up the entrenched class structure with equalizing acts like busing,” you might want to think again. Even herculean efforts to reshape the social order have proved ineffectual.