Here's one for the economic libertarians that read this blog.Â These charts on wealth and income inequality in America are quite depressing. But the one that really got my attention was this one, focusing on the chances of rising from low income status into the upper middle class. I think you could make a good argument that in America we make an intentional trade-off against providing a high level of security for everybody. In exchange for less security–fewer handouts, if you will–we allow people the opportunity to get rich, and that incentive is what makes the American economy so dynamic and productive. Obviously, in assessing this argument it makes a difference what the odds of getting rich are. Not everybody is going to (or deserves to) get rich. But at the other extreme it shouldn't be like winning the lottery. At some point that would just become a pipe dream that serves to entertain the masses and suppress their discontent at inequality. What is a fair, but not common, shot at the American dream? Should it be a one-in-five chance? A one-in-10 chance? That's roughly what it was during the 40's. For the last 20 years it's been steady at below 4%. Is that enough to justify this level of inequality?