I have a lot of catching up to do! I'm way behind and plan to spend some time during this very busy week getting current.
Hard Times by Charles Dickens was a great book! Dickens uses this book and its characters to satirize Utilitarianism and capitalism's naked pursuit of profit no matter what. There's also a certain whiff of criticism about government looking after business concerns before or rather than the people.
And there's a great quote in there that I think a lot of successful North Americans carry around as their general philosophy on life: if I can do it, then so can you. Unfortunately, as you already realize, a lot of being successful is based on chance, luck, racism, and timing.
"This, again, was among the fictions of Coketown. Any capitalist there, who had made sixty thousand pounds out of sixpence, always professed to wonder why the sixty thousand nearest Hands didn’t each make sixty thousand pounds out of sixpence, and more or less reproached them every one for not accomplishing the little feat. What I did you can do. Why don’t you go and do it?"
Great characters; great writing.