Pity Barack Obama. Everything in his life experience prepared him to be the president who would take on the big challenge of the 21st century: rising income inequality and the hollowing out of the middle class.

His peripatetic youth taught him about the price of plutocracy. In an interview unearthed by Zachary A. Goldfarb of the Washington Post, in 1995 Barack Obama, plugging his autobiography, “Dreams From My Father,” recalled that experience for the Hyde Park Citizen, his neighborhood edition of a newspaper that bills itself as the “Premiere African American Weekly” in Chicago.

“My travels made me sensitive to the plight of those without power and the issues of class and inequalities as it relates to wealth and power,” he said.

“Anytime you have been overseas in these so-called Third World countries, one thing you see is a vast disparity of wealth of those who are part of the power structure and those outside of it.”

As an adult, he didn’t take the obvious and lucrative path for an editor of the Harvard Law Review: a high-flying Wall Street career. Instead, Obama returned to Chicago and continued to focus on the issues of the underclass he had first addressed there as a community organizer.