The Atlantic

The Conversation

Readers respond to our June 2018 cover story and more.

The Birth of a New American Aristocracy

In June, Matthew Stewart wrote about the gilded future of the top 10 percent—and the end of opportunity for everyone else.

I am moved to write simply because I find Mr. Stewart’s cover story one of the best-written, best-reasoned, and most important pieces of journalism I have read in many years. As a longtime citizen of the author’s hometown, I have sometimes prided myself on not being a member of the 9.9 percent, unlike many of my neighbors. However, having lived, worked, and been educated among them, I have enjoyed the same lifelong perks and privileges as the new aristocracy.

Over the years a certain gnawing, insistent voice has whispered to me that I, too, have gamed the system to the exclusion of many I knew when I was young. Now there can be no doubt about my complicity with the 0.1 percent.

Paul R. Constantino

I think the lack of a military draft since 1973 has contributed to the acceleration of class separation in American society. Remember the days when the likes of John F. Kennedy could serve alongside and develop relationships with people from various socioeconomic levels? Americans have not had that kind of class intermingling for decades.

I don’t understand why the idea of mandatory national service does not get more consideration. National service could take many forms and be used as an avenue to education, while giving young people a chance to see how the other half lives.

James Mason

Quote of the Month

“[A] thought-provoking analysis ... about how economic inequality in America isn’t just growing, but self-reinforcing—and what that means for education, health, happiness, even the strength

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic3 min readSociety
Read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Testimony on Reparations
“The question really is not whether we’ll be tied to the somethings of our past, but whether we are courageous enough to be tied to the whole of them.”
The Atlantic4 min readPsychology
Legal Abortion Isn’t the Problem to Be Solved
The real problem is that families are primed to see a fetal anomaly as a catastrophe in waiting.
The Atlantic16 min read
The Tree With Matchmaking Powers
For nearly a century, an oak in a German forest has helped lonely people find love—including the mailman who delivers its letters.