Pundits and Occupiers talk about the rich or the “super rich” as if they were a closed caste. They seem to think that the wealthy in America are the product of generation after generation of rich families. It is true that some of the wealthy members of American society can trace their wealthy ancestors to the 19th century, but this is actually really rare.
In a recent op-Ed Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute pointed out that 80% of America’s millionaires come from families that are not rich.
So the vast majority of the wealthiest came about their wealth by moving up the income scale. I would also point out that it is not uncommon for the children of millionaires to lose all their parent’s money after inheriting.
What we have here is a society where people are rising and falling to the top of the economic/social scale as fortune and skill dictates. This is incredibly rare in the history of humanity and it should be celebrated more.