The law is restrained by its own reasonableness and the competence of law enforcement. The problem is that law enforcement is always made up of us peasants, some of whom might want to become truly powerful or wealthy. The same applies to the church. The effectiveness of the church in restraint depends upon its ability to provide succor, blessing, understanding, community - all things the powerful need in common with the common man. The clergy too is made up of peasants.
American exceptionalism depends uniquely on the persistence of the Slice, those capable of and desirous of maintaining a highly competent meritocracy. The rest of us are peasants. What I'm suggesting here is that American class distinctions are overwrought and that we are over sensitive to them. A great deal of meaning is attached in our society to meaningless efforts and great distinction given to trivial differences. There are the powerful, there is the Slice, and there is the peasantry. The Slice is smaller, much smaller than the middle class. I believe it to be smaller than the upper middle class. Indeed it is a small subset of the rich and near rich. They are the people who work because they know how and because they want to, but most importantly, they enable the institutions of power.
I missed this when he posted it a couple years ago, probably because bacteria were trying to kill me at the time. Worth reading in its entirety; like most models of society, it's a tad oversimplified, but it contains an interesting way of looking at societies in general. Goes well with the preceding post.