Yet we can ask why wealth production has not taken place (or not taken place as spectacularly) in certain pockets of an otherwise fabulously wealthy nation. The answer, in a word, is government. Indeed, as economist Steven Horwitz points out in a recent article, "Even a cursory look at the U.S. poverty rate shows dramatic declines in the years leading up to the late 1960s and a much smaller rate of decline since then." Competitive enterprise was doing the trick, until the War on Poverty got in the way. As Jon Stewart once quipped, we gotta stop declaring war on stuff.
What could the US government do to help those Americans who have missed the wealth train? Well, it could get out of the way. More specifically, Horwitz has three suggestions: 1) get rid of minimum-wage and occupational-licensure laws; 2) open public schools to competition; and 3) end the War on Drugs. I refer you to his excellent article for explanations of how these government programs and prohibitions have hurt the poor, and how these freedom-enhancing measures would actually help them get wealthier instead of just promising to.