"Most ordinary men are reluctant to confront the everyday assaults on their dignity. Big boys don't cry, and they don't fight with women. The rare article or book decrying the average man's reduced condition is immediately attacked or cynically dismissed, usually with a snide reference to the visible privileges enjoyed by alpha males, privileges the average Joe will never obtain. In fact, since the early 1970s, the position of the working stiff in America has eroded persistently, at times dramatically.

Since 1980, the average worker's pay has barely inched up over inflation while, among the top 10 percent of employed men, it has risen by more than 60 percent. Blue collar jobs and lower-level management positions have nearly disappeared. Accounting for nearly 30 percent of America's gross domestic product in 1960, manufacturing and its male heavy jobs had almost halved by 2000. Since the late 1980s, real increases in buying power have been achieved only in upper management.

The male economic pecking order, which used to be solid and gradual like an Egyptian pyramid, is now stretched out like the Eiffel Tower. There is a cluster of alpha and beta males at the top with a long, lean swoop to a huge base of bottom feeders. The man in the middle is withering away. The "average Joe" is below average. Men are now peacocks—or they're pigeons.

In our contemporary "sweepstakes culture," a few star athletes pocket mega-millions, their rookie teammates pull down a hundred grand, the guys in the minors starve, and the ordinary fan gets mugged. Business moguls take home a few hundred million; their chauffeurs can't make the rent. While the average hold on the CEO slot has shrunk, depending on the study, from between seven and ten years in the 1980s to barely four years today, the big guys get golden parachutes and everyone else gets a pink slip. In the 1980s, the typical boss earned about forty times the wage of his average employee. By the end of the century this gap had stretched out to 419 times in America—ten times wider between the top and the bottom in just two decades—many times the ratio in most other parts of the industrialized world.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, between 1979 and 1997, average pretax income for the top 20 percent of Americans rose from $109,500 to $167,500; the bottom 20 percent saw its income fall from $11,800 to $11,400. 2004 represented the fourth straight year of increases in the nation's poverty rate: more than one in eight Americans live below the official poverty line. In 1977, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans had as many after-tax dollars to spend as the forty-nine million people at the bottom. By the end of the century, the richest 1 percent, with nearly 40 percent of the country's riches, had as much to spend as the bottom one hundred million.

The wealthiest American now boasts a net worth roughly equal to the entire bottom half of the nation's families. The gap between rich and poor in the U.S. is now the widest of any industrialized country. The fat cats are few and bloated; the tomcats are everywhere—and hungry."