What Bootstraps?

Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is an expression that has a profound resonance for Americans. We like to think of this country as a “land of opportunity,” where anyone can “get ahead” by dint of hard work.

The historical record does not always confirm the truth of those sentiments. Cooperation and communal effort, as much as individual achievement, have just as often been the engines of upward mobility. Prejudice and...

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