USA is known to be the land of opportunity. A nation in which it does not matter if you are born in a rich or poor family or which skin color you have. If just you work hard enough you should be able to climp the social ladder. Turns out this is not the truth. People in the bottom of the society tends to stay there. They cannot effort high educations. There is no free health care and they are forced to work hard just to get their food on the table - if they have one. Even through hard work is is almost impossible to get out of the poor life. It requires an amount of luck too. This contradict the idea of prosperity through hard work. This is the reality.
I'm not supporting the US in any way, but it was never known to the americans as the Land of Opportunity. It was known as that name to the rest of the world. It is still. Whenever a person is asked of where he plans to do his higher education, he almost always says the US of A. It is always the dream of many people to atleast visit the country. Now on the topic of opportunities, there is still a lot of promise for lower classes. Yes, some people get discriminated. But, most people still see it as a land of opportunity. The earning of black and hispanic people has increased a lot since the 1960s or 1980s Asians are earning a lot more and foreign people seem content with Obama, I think, even though the local population isn't. So overall you cannot make a sweeping statement that USA is no longer a land of opportunity. Now there are a lot more countries that have also become a land of opportunity. But USA is still a very big land of opportunity.
According to several investigations made over the last few years the social mobility in USA is not remarkable. Study shows that a person born in the lower class has a small chance of reaching upper middle class or higher throughout his or her life. The whole idea of social mobility or The American Dream is that the economic destiny of a person should not be determined by the class which the individual is born into or the skin color, gender, etc. No matter if that person is born in the middle class or the lowest class he or she should be able to reach the upper class throughout hard work. It may not be easy, however, it should be a reachable possibility. Study shows that this is not the case. Only a fraction of the people born in lower classes reaches the upper classes. Nowadays, discrimination does not play as big a role as it did earlier. The biggest challenge is education. Education plays an important role in social mobility. Despite the importance of education the lowest classes have a very poor acces to this and thus an inferior change to climb the social latter. The income of a full time working lower class person is just enough to feet the family and to own a small house. There is no way the person can effort a high level education like a bachelor. Especially this problem with bad accessibility to education plays a significant role in the lowly social mobility.
I don't think its important what surveys say. Yes, even I have seen the surveys, and yes , a person born in a lower class has a small chance of making it to upper middle class. But that rate is still higher than that of other countries. For example, whenever you asked a literate Indian or African that which country would you consider as the land with the most opportunities for leading a good life and their answer almost every time will be America. I don't think anybody ever said that you won't find any discrimination in America, discrimination has been the foundation of the new America. Eg. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks etc. So, we shouldn't be really that surprised that there's still that much discrimination going on. But still America is still considered as THE land of opportunity. You can say that they might not have heard of these surveys, but America came to be known as the land of opportunity by the general public opinion without the information on the discrimination statistics or levels.
It is right what you say that America is not the worst case scenario when it comes to opportunities. Many people have traveled to America to get a new life. The reason for that is of course that they think this is a land of opportunity. Regardless, USA is still not THE land of opportunity. Compared to Less Developed Countries (LDC's) America is far better, but in the category of developed countries USA is not near the best. Several studies on the subject shows that USA compared to other developed countries actually lies in the bottom - with worse social mobilty than the others. (In the bottom of this argument there is a graf comparing USA to other developed countries.) The graf is made by the research called "Do Poor Children Become Poor Adults?". It is hard to use specifik numbers to show the mobility in a country. They have studied the amount of poor people that, when they are grown up, still are poor. Turns out that 47% of the poor-born Americans have not moved up on the social latter throughout their life while it is only 19% in Canada and 15% in Denmark - which have the highest social mobility. USA is the second worse between these nine countries only better than UK. It would actually be a far better choice to move to Scandinavia or Canada to life The American Dream. This means that USA is not THE land of opportunity. Still, it is a land with high social mobility if compared to nations like China or Nigeria.
I guess this round, for me is to contradict your statement. You are right to say that America's social mobility has come down, and the source or whatever you call it has shown that UK has a better social economic mobility, but if you see its population, UK's is 61.9 million and USA's is 307 million. Social mobility is not just based on a single factor. There are many which determines a country's socio economic mobility, such as climate, natural disasters, country's economy etc. Now every now and then a cyclone hits the US, but you never hear any disaster that hits the UK. And whenever a disaster strikes, it hits the poor or middle class population. The richer classes are more or less unaffected by them. And going back to the population, every country that has a high socio economic mobility, has a relatively low population compared to the US. How many job opportunities can you get Canada or Norway? And both of them are freezing countries. People go to the US so that they have a better chance of getting a job and that it has a relatively milder climate than that of Finland or Norway or Denmark. So taking in all the factors, USA is still pretty much a land of opportunity. The African-American section of the population HAS experienced an increase in poverty and a decrease in their income, but that is probably because this economy is built on stilts. Even the white section have also experienced losses in the income sector. So its pretty much even-stevens . So, if I had to tie this up with a bow or whatever, I would say that US' mobility has started or has been on the decline, but its not such an extent where it can be called no longer as the "Land Of Opportunity".