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The american dream is bunk

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posted on Apr, 26 2006 @ 09:25 PM
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America's rags-to-riches dream an illusion: study


"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - America may still think of itself as the land of opportunity, but the chances of living a rags-to-riches life are a lot lower than elsewhere in the world, according to a new study published on Wednesday. "

The study shows that generational social mobility is lower in the USA than in most European countries. In actual fact it is on par with class-riddled Great Britain. This strikes at the heart of America's view of itself. As Scott Fitzgerald put it, "The rich get richer and the poor get...babies."


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[edit on 29-4-2006 by DontTreadOnMe]




posted on Apr, 27 2006 @ 02:25 PM
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Rizla. How do you difine the American Dream? If its getting so rich you choke on the proceeds, then yes for the most part the American Dream is Bunk, as you so eloquently put it. But, hmmm...I seem to remember hearing of some guy named Gates who seems to have made it big. But yes, for most, that is unattainable.

If your definition of the American Dream is to be free to, for the most part, live as you choose, then the Dream is very much alive and well. Define the dream as you see fit, and then make yourself fit that dream. THAT'S the American Dream. A bit more all encompassing, isn't it. Not all Americans want to be rich. It'd be fun, but not worth all the fuss and bother, quite frankly. With champagne tastes, come champagne responsibility.



posted on Apr, 27 2006 @ 06:01 PM
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Originally posted by seagull
Rizla. How do you difine the American Dream? If its getting so rich you choke on the proceeds, then yes for the most part the American Dream is Bunk, as you so eloquently put it. But, hmmm...I seem to remember hearing of some guy named Gates who seems to have made it big.


Gates was born into a rich family. He's richer than his dad by a long shot now, but he certainly didn't have a humble start in life.

Seems to me that the study defined the American Dream pretty succinctly. It's not "getting so rich you choke on the proceeds," it's simply living better than your parents did, each generation. And according to this study, that happens less often in the U.S. today than in any other advanced economy.

Frankly, I'm not surprised. America's economic policies today are geared to maximizing extremes of wealth, and ensuring that as much of the new wealth created goes to those who are already rich as possible. That works directly against the American Dream. Except, of course, for those rich people who are the beneficiaries.



If your definition of the American Dream is to be free to, for the most part, live as you choose, then the Dream is very much alive and well.


Oh? How do you figure?

When most of the people are kept in a state of constant financial distress, unable to pay the bills on the borrowing they have to do to maintain the consumption the economy requires to stay afloat, the pressure is on 'em to work for the man any way they can. Most of us live better materially than slaves on antebellum plantations (while the credit holds out anyway), but I wouldn't say we were all that much freer.



posted on Apr, 27 2006 @ 06:58 PM
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From the source article:

The likelihood that a child born into a poor family will make it into the top five percent is just one percent, according to "Understanding Mobility in America," a study by economist Tom Hertz from American University.

By contrast, a child born rich had a 22 percent chance of being rich as an adult, he said.

"In other words, the chances of getting rich are about 20 times higher if you are born rich than if you are born in a low-income family," he told an audience at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank sponsoring the work.

It does not require a Rhodes Scholar to come up with this conclusion. As the study states, education is the primary determinant in increasing income.


by seagull
If your definition of the American Dream is to be free to, for the most part, live as you choose, then the Dream is very much alive and well. Define the dream as you see fit, and then make yourself fit that dream. THAT'S the American Dream. A bit more all encompassing, isn't it. Not all Americans want to be rich. It'd be fun, but not worth all the fuss and bother, quite frankly. With champagne tastes, come champagne responsibility.

I agree.
Money isn't everything. Past a certain level, it becomes almost meaningless. I mean, how many Ferrari's can you drive at one time?



posted on Apr, 28 2006 @ 06:26 AM
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Not everyone is out to get rich. If you get in over your head with debt, it is no ones fault but your own. No one is forcing you to carry a couple of dozen credit cards, or a double mortage.

It is my understanding that Mr. Gates got very little in the way of support from his father. I might be wrong, but it was his hard work, and business acumen that got him where he is today, not who he was born to. Try Sam Walton on for size. I don't much care for Walmart, but give the devil his due, hard work and sweat again. Gee...I sense a trend here.

I, personally, don't feel like working that hard...I am perfectly content with my little 2 bedroom house in the small town I live in. My version of the American Dream is just fine thanks. Nothing even resembling bunk. Hark work and sweat does work, of course it helps to catch a break here and there, but you can also make your own breaks by being heads up, and ready to go.

I am afraid we are just going to have to agree to disagree.



posted on Apr, 28 2006 @ 06:38 AM
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Originally posted by seagull
Not everyone is out to get rich. If you get in over your head with debt, it is no ones fault but your own. No one is forcing you to carry a couple of dozen credit cards, or a double mortage.


News Flash! Not everyone is over their head in debt. Some people live paycheck to paycheck. Especially those working for minimum wage. The cost of living varies from state to state, and city to city. After paying for car, insurance, house, utilities, and groceries, many people have little to no discretionary income left.



posted on Apr, 28 2006 @ 04:46 PM
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People have come to this great land of our now for hundreds of years. They have come for many different reasons

Economic liberty

Religious freedom

political autonomy

On reading the article I find it doesn't include immigrants. This totally undercuts the creditablility of the article. They are focusing on the segment of society in which poverty has become ingrained. they should be focusing on the success of first generation americans and their children to see how well they have adapted to their new home.



posted on Apr, 28 2006 @ 05:16 PM
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Originally posted by seagull
Not everyone is out to get rich. If you get in over your head with debt, it is no ones fault but your own. .




Ever hear of a catastrophic illness, divorce, kids off to college, elderly parents, acts of God like fire or flood?

You must be young and really never experienced real life in the real world. It is very easy to accrue crushing debt thru no fault of your own.

This kind of debt can turn the American dream into an American nightmare!!!

[edit on 28-4-2006 by whaaa]



posted on Apr, 28 2006 @ 07:26 PM
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Oddly enough I have heard of these things. I've had some of them occur to ones near and dear to me. That doesn't change the fact that the American Dream isn't the same for all of us. Catastrophic illness is a horrible thing, I speak from personal experiance. I lost 3 of my grandparents to illness, my mother to illness, and I've lost freinds to various acts of God, and Nature.

Another part of the American Dream is doing what you can with what you have. I'm not saying this to be facitious, all of us do this. It's part of living.

Again, we'll have to agree to disagree on the basic premise of this thread. I'm afraid I'll not convince you all who disagree, and you'll not convince me.



posted on Apr, 28 2006 @ 09:46 PM
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Originally posted by jsobecky
As the study states, education is the primary determinant in increasing income.


True, but misleading.

What we have is a system whose rules are designed to create a small class of super-winners, a larger class of sort-of winners, a very large class that just barely hangs on, and a smaller class of total losers.

How many super-winners, sort-of winners, bare hangers-on, and total losers we have in the game is determined by the rules. Whether you, personally, will be a sort-of winner, a bare hanger-on, or a total loser (you pretty much have to be born to it to be a super-winner) is largely determined by your own efforts and abilities. And yes, education is a big factor in turning a bare hanger-on into a sort-of winner.

(Total losers have to suffer from something more than lack of advantages; it takes a serious problem like drug addiction or mental illness most of the time. Although anyone can be in that situation temporarily.)

From the late 1940s through the 1960s and into the 1970s, we operated under a somewhat different set of rules. The operation of these rules created a much larger class of sort-of winners than we have now, and a much smaller class of bare hangers-on. The super-winners were worse off, because more of the nation's wealth went to the sort-of winners at their expense. (They still won very big, however.) The total losers were also a bit worse off through most of this period due to the absence of welfare programs. But on the whole, the generations in adulthood then lived better than their parents had -- and better also than their children do today.

Education is something each individual can pursue to give them a better chance to better their lot, within whatever rule set is operational. But it is not a solution to the overall situation.


by seagull
Money isn't everything. Past a certain level, it becomes almost meaningless. I mean, how many Ferrari's can you drive at one time?


Well, yes and no.

For the super-winners in our current game, the money they rake in mostly serves not to buy stuff for their own enjoyment, but to give them power. By which I mean primarily not political power (influence over government policy -- though it buys that, as well, and they use it as a means to an end), but rather personal power (control over other people's lives directly). When they control access to resources that other people need, these people can make those other people do pretty much whatever they want, within the limits imposed by enforced law.

Also, towards the other end of the scale, money is hardly meaningless. For the majority of people in this country, it is inadequate for their families' basic needs. Which is, of course, why the super-winners can hold power over them.

[edit on 28-4-2006 by Two Steps Forward]



posted on Apr, 28 2006 @ 10:01 PM
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Originally posted by seagull
Catastrophic illness is a horrible thing, I speak from personal experiance. I lost 3 of my grandparents to illness, my mother to illness, and I've lost freinds to various acts of God, and Nature.


The point though is not that catastrophic illness is or isn't a horrible thing, but that it is a source of debt that is not the fault of the debtor. You had said earlier that anyone who got into debt had no one but themselves to blame. I know from personal experience that that is completely untrue. There are other reasons to go into debt besides pathological consumerism. Some people borrow, not to get things they want, but because they must.

Besides catastrophic illness, other causes of debt can be the loss of a career due to technological progress or job outsourcing. A person who has worked for years at a lucrative manufacturing job, only to see that job vanish overseas, is likely to find himself unable to pay his bills, including ones he CANNOT cut back on (like children or medical costs). It can take several years to find a new career when that happens even under the best of circumstances. A lot of debt can pile up in those years.



Another part of the American Dream is doing what you can with what you have. I'm not saying this to be facitious, all of us do this. It's part of living.


Which makes it not part of any dream, American or otherwise. You might as well say breathing is part of the American Dream.

No. The American Dream is twofold: living in a democracy where civil liberties are respected, and doing better materially than your parents did, while seeing your children do better materially than yourself.

Today, our civil liberties are not being respected very well by the government, and our democracy is undermined by excessive influence of money. So much for that part of the dream. And according to the study linked in the OP, the other part doesn't look so good, either.



Again, we'll have to agree to disagree on the basic premise of this thread. I'm afraid I'll not convince you all who disagree, and you'll not convince me.


But the basic premise of this thread is not an assertion of opinion but one of fact. The fact asserted is that in the U.S., it is less likely for each generation to do better materially than its parents (that being a key component of the A.D., see above) than in many other advanced nations.

This being a question of fact, "agreeing to disagree" makes no sense. If you disagree, that means you think it is more likely, not less, that each generation will do better materially than its parents in the U.S. than in other advanced nations. NOT that you think the "American Dream" means something totally non-material or non-economic.

Do you agree or disagree with that assertion of fact? And if you disagree, would you care to link evidence of your own in support of your disagreement?



posted on Apr, 28 2006 @ 10:46 PM
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I read an article a while back (I no longer have the link) showing that wealth-distribution in the USA has sunk to its lowest level since the 1920s. Perhaps someone has some hard facts?



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