I suspect that a lot of commentary about the “breaking” of American Dream suffers from our proclivity to see past through rose-colored lenses. On close inspection American dream in past years wasn’t that much easier to achieve than it is today. The ingredients of success might have changed (first it was the daredevil sprit to “go west young man”, then hard work and fitting in as Company Man and now it is education and entreprenuerial spirit) but the chances of making it probably remain about the same. Most point out to the 50s and 60s as an example of “golden era” of American dream when making it into middle class was eminently achievable for average educated man —it was a pretty unique period but let’s not forget that at the time it was not the case for women or minorities. We can look at the upper classes of society and can easily see long periods when there was very little movement on the top (definitely less than today) — when Astors, Vanderbilts or Rockefellers kept going like aristocracy in Europe, when you needed to be a WASP ideally from Mayflower to make it, etc etc. It was always challenging but it was always a possibility which isn’t something that happens in many places.