The rise of the overclass – Telegraph
This sharp division of wealth has been accompanied by an even more troubling phenomenon: the ideals of the founding fathers have been shattered as class divisions in the US have widened beyond anything seen in Victorian Britain. Social mobility is in the process of grinding to a halt, as the American sociologist Charles Murray has exposed in a brilliant new book, Coming Apart.
Murray exposes how the new United States upper class, which he labels a “cognitive elite”, has developed an hereditary stranglehold over the top professions and management positions. The brightest people tend to marry each other, then ensure that their offspring get to the best schools and universities, with the result that, to quote Murray: “The parents of the upper-middle class now produce a disproportionate number of the smartest children.”
These gilded families then inter-marry and socialise together, living in the same areas, creating a phenomenon which Murray labels “super zips” – the 800-plus richest and most desirable postal codes in the United States, where the cleverest and richest congregate. What Versailles was to 18th-century France, these smart postcodes are to 21st-century America – a sure sign of a sclerotic social system and long-term decline.