Is the American Dream Dead?

Such an awful, awful question. After all, we Americans are optimists—this country was built on the promise and premise of prosperity and success through one’s own efforts. But, times they are a changin’.


Looking around, I see a developing chasm between the generations: those who followed and found the American Dream and those who came after, fed promises of the same but whose current realities do not match what we were told. I see hard working, honest individuals who are struggling to keep up with the costs of life. Sure, nobody needs a flat screen tv or a cell phone, and certainly no one is entitled to exotic vacations or a fancy car, but for the folks I am observing this isn’t the source of their problems. The everyday cost of living is.


When you take this issue and compound it with the dissatisfaction that is sewn into the collective subconscious of those who watch The Kardashians or any number of movies or tv programs where the protagonists have fabulous clothes, cars, and careers, it is little wonder that the “Why not me, too?” mentality sets in. That, and easy access to credit cards, makes a perfect storm of buying things we don’t need for lives we don’t live—nor does almost anyone else–but we choose to believe what we see on tv. It doesn’t help that politicians promise voters “free money” in a variety of formulas and subsidies, if only we can find our way to vote for them. News flash: there is no such thing as free money.


Notice that the new federal health care laws exempt members of Congress and their families from the mandates? What’s that all about, I ask you.


But back to the American Dream. How’s it working out for you? How do you think it’s looking for the next generation?


I detest gloom and doom. I continue to believe that America and the philosophical foundations on which it was established continue to offer more and better than any other place on earth. We can speak our minds and not be shot; social strata do not prevent someone from success; women are respected, educated, and are in a better position here than anywhere else I can think of.


But, as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, as a result of nearly unmitigated prosperity and security for the past 50 years or so, and the fact that Americans are, by nature, a generous and optimistic group, we have tried too hard to be all things to all people. Nobody can do this! No one. And now the chickens are coming home to roost.


For a variety of reasons, the public education system is crumbling, graduating scores of kids who lack critical thinking and writing skills. We lack the worker base to support a ravenous and burgeoning elderly population, and those who are fortunate enough to be working are working harder than ever and making less as they go. Throughout the nation, the political gridlock is comprised of too few honest legislators and too many self-dealers who want to get theirs before it all dries up.


Still, at least we have freedom of speech. At least I know I won’t be sentenced to death by stoning for walking along a street with my head uncovered in the company of some man. And I have ultimate confidence that sectarian violence will not compromise my ability to cross the street or go to the market. And the fact that we can have confidence in such things, in addition to a whole lot more still means to me that the United States remains the brightest light out there in our unruly world.


So, maybe the American dream isn’t dead after all. Maybe there’s an enormous course correction occurring that will require a big chunk out of our generational hides, but it may lead to a saner and more reasonable expectation for life.

Re-booting often does.


What do you think? How do you see the American dream these days?


One Response to “Is the American Dream Dead?”

  1. grasshopper Says:

    i agree. well said.

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