Adam's SourcesAdam Ruins Everything

Adam Ruins America

Adam Ruins America

In this episode, Adam lets his freedom flag fly by examining why America doesn't have higher rates of social mobility. He then uncovers the flaws within our constitution and examines our country's progression and regression.


"Right now, 43.1 million Americans are living in poverty.”

“What is the current poverty rate in the United States?” Center for Poverty Research. University of California, Davis, 2017.

“In a ranking of 24 countries, we were SIXTEENTH!”

Miles Corak. “Economic Mobility.” Pathways, 2016.

“From 1940 to 1980, the statistical odds of out-earning your parents PLUMMETED.”

Raj Chetty, David Grusky, Maximilian Hell, Nathaniel Hendren, Robert Manduca, and Jimmy Narang. “The Fading American Dream: Trends in Absolute Income Mobility Since 1940.” NBER Working Paper Series, National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper No. 22910, Dec 2016.

"Because being poor is actually INCREDIBLY expensive!"

“It’s expensive to be poor.” The Economist, 3 Sep 2015.

“Buying in bulk isn’t AFFORDABLE on a lower income.”

Emily Badger. “Why the poor pay more for toilet paper — and just about everything else.” The Washington Post, 8 Mar 2016.

“Up to 70% of the Average American’s income goes to food, housing, and transportation.”

Derek Thompson. “Very Sad Graph: How Much Americans Have Left to Spend After Essentials, Today.” The Atlantic, 1 Aug 2012

“Financial institutions require that you HAVE money and good credit in the FIRST place!”

Aaron Klein. “America's poor subsidize wealthier consumers in a vicious income inequality cycle.” NBC News, 6 Feb 2018.

“Right now, 46% of Americans say they wouldn’t have enough money to cover a surprise $400 bill.”

Ylan Q. Mui. “The shocking number of Americans who can’t cover a $400 expense.” The Washington Post, 25 May 2016.

“A survey found 70% of Americans believe poor people can make it out of poverty on their own.”

Stefanie Stantcheva. “Prisoners of the American Dream.” Project Syndicate, 22 Feb 2018.

“The richest THREE Americans have more wealth than the poorest 160 million COMBINED!”

Chuck Collins and Josh Hoxie. “Billionaire Bonanza, The Forbes 500 and the Rest of Us.” Institute for Policy Studies, Nov 2017.

" free public colleges."

Emily Tate. “Uneven Access, Equal Success.” Inside Higher Ed, 19 Jan 2017.

"Ah, yes, Americans treat the Constitution like it’s an almost RELIGIOUS moral authority, guiding our nation."

Sanford Levinson. “The Constitution" in American Civil Religion” The Supreme Court Review (1979).

“ the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched!”

Thomas Jefferson. Letter to Samuel Kercheval, 12 Jul 1816.

“...unilaterally discard the entire system of government”

Sanford Levinson. Constitutional Faith. Princeton University Press, 2011.

“They added the SENATE, where each state is guaranteed TWO Senators -- no matter its size!”

Hendrik Hertzberg. “Framed Up.” The New Yorker, 29 Jul 2002.

“The Founding Fathers deliberately gave slave states EXTRA political power, and PROTECTED the institution of slavery”

Paul Finkelman. “The Union Wasn’t Worth the Three-Fifths Compromise on Slavery.” The New York Times, 27 Feb 2013.

“...except our Constitution is the hardest to amend in the WORLD.”

Louis Michael Seidman. On Constitutional Disobedience. Oxford University Press, 2013.

“That means it’s possible for less than 5% of the country to thwart the will of the entire NATION!”

United States Census Bureau.State Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010-2017.” 2018.

“Maybe that’s why we haven’t been able to ratify an amendment in the last QUARTER CENTURY!”

Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives. “The 27th Amendment.” History, Art & Archives, United States House of Representatives.

“France changes their Constitution every two years, Germany does it every YEAR”

Eric Posner. “The U.S. Constitution Is Impossible to Amend.” Slate, 5 May 2014.

“Georgia has COMPLETELY REWRITTEN their state constitution TEN TIMES.”

Bethany McDaniel. “The 12th Time’s the Charm.” GeorgiaGov, 16 Sep 2014.

“Thomas Jefferson thought the Louisiana Purchase was unconstitutional.”

Louis Michael Seidman. “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution.” The New York Times, 30 Dec 2012.

“Just years before, the entire economy was built on the backs of four million people enslaved as property.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates. “Slavery Made America.” The Atlantic, 24 Jun 2014.

“In 1857, the Supreme Court ruled that no black person, even if free, could become a US citizen.”

National Constitution Center. “Dred Scott decision still resonates today.” Constitution Daily, 6 Mar 2018.

“The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were ratified, freeing the slaves and promising new rights.”

National Constitution Center, “The Reconstruction Amendments.”

“...and THOUSANDS became politicians.”

Eric Foner. “Eric Foner: The Significance of Reconstruction in American History.” Swarthmore College, 28 Oct 2013.

“By 1875, there were even eight Black Americans in CONGRESS.”

Ida Brudnick and Jennifer Manning, Congressional Research Service. African American Members of the United States Congress: 1870-2018. 26 Apr 2018.

“...and MASSACRED more American citizens than Al Qaeda and ISIS COMBINED.”

Eric Foner. “Eric Foner: The Significance of Reconstruction in American History.” Swarthmore College, 28 Oct 2013.

“In 1871, nine counties in South Carolina were even placed under MARTIAL LAW.”

Calvin Schermerhorn. “Civil-Rights Laws Don't Always Stop Racism.” The Atlantic, 8 May 2016.

“So in 1877, the troops were withdrawn.”

Eugene Robinson. “It’s no surprise we’re refighting the Civil War — it never really ended.”The Washington Post, 24 Aug 2017.

“...passing racist statutes like “vagrancy laws” that made it ILLEGAL not to work.”

PBS. “Black Codes and Pig Laws.” Slavery by Another Name, 13 Feb 2012.

“...out of all relation to their intelligence or property.”

William Dunning. “The Undoing of Reconstruction.” The Atlantic, Oct 1901.

“...uncouth Black men taking power in Southern States during Reconstruction.”

Annette Gordon-Reed. “What If Reconstruction Hadn’t Failed?” The Atlantic, Oct 26 2015.

“...and Reconstruction was a DISASTER.”

Molly Haskell. “‘Frankly, My Dear.’”The New York Times, 23 Apr 2009.

“2013 Supreme Court decision to GUT the Voting Rights Act all make it easier for state and local government to SUPPRESS the voting rights of Americans of color.”

Dana Liebelson. “The Supreme Court Gutted the Voting Rights Act. What Happened Next in These 8 States Will Not Shock You.” Mother Jones, 8 Apr 2014.

For More on These Topics

This viral essay on living in poverty in 2013 gives a first-hand account of many of the dynamics outlined in Act I.

This op-ed by our Act II expert outlines his argument for dumping the Constitution, not worshipping it.

Reconstruction by Eric Foner is one of the major books that inspired scholars to reconsider how we think about that horribly misconstrued era.