I never bought the idea that the U.S. is a classless society-but until recently, I don’t think it’s been a seething cauldron of class hatred. We always had the notion, true I think, that people could rise or fall depending on their efforts.

Today appeals to class resentment are so common that Telegraph columnist Janet Daley says we’ve caught “the English disease.” From the Peasants Revolt to the “angry young men,” England has always drunk deeply from the well of class envy. Daley writes:

The president’s determination to transform the US into a social democracy, complete with a centrally run healthcare program and a redistributive tax system, has collided rather magnificently with America’s history as a nation of displaced people who were prepared to risk their futures on a bid to be free from the power of the state.

They are talking a lot about this in the US now. Suddenly the phenomenon of class resentment is a live political issue.

Part of this, in my opinion, comes from the notion that instead of working to change one’s place, to provide through one’s efforts, we want to simply divide up what wealth exists. This views wealth as static-something you have or don’t have, through luck alone, effort being seen as irrelevant in a harsh system-rather than something that is created. It is a profound change in the way the U.S. operates.  Daley comments:

 There was a warning of what was to come during the election campaign with Joe the Plumber, to whom Mr Obama unwisely confided his intention to “spread the wealth around”. Americans who have risen from poverty to become qualified tradesmen or entrepreneurs generally believe that they have a right to put what wealth they produce back into their own businesses, rather than trusting governments to spread it around among those judged to be deserving.