Has the ethos of the American Dream become hollow? Is the rhetoric true that if you work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to rise as far as your talents take you? Michael Sandel, professor of political philosophy at Harvard and author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good, doesn’t think so. “One of the deepest failures of governing elites of the center right and center left [over the last 40 years], is that inequalities have deepened almost all of the income growth,” he says. “Not only is the inequality deeper, but upward mobility is stalled.” The current pandemic — laying bare deep disparities in educational opportunity, wages for essential workers, access to healthcare, and racial injustice — further exposes the failure of meritocracy.