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American Dream? (Op/Ed)

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posted on Dec, 17 2006 @ 12:12 PM
A look at the political landscape from Kennedy to Bush II. How has something with so much hope ended so badly for so many?

America today is greatly different from the America of our forefathers. It would have been difficult indeed to imagine what America would have been like now, then. They are two different realms, one agrarian, rural, young; the other industrial, urban, mature. Some would say on the downward side of its peak. Where exactly does our country stand today? Have we lived up to the dreams and aspirations of our forebears? Is the US all that it could be? As you look over the landscape that is 21st century America has it lived up to your expectations? America is not a living breathing being but has America become the land of the free and the home of the brave? Have we reached the potential that the sweat and toil of untold millions was gladly sacrificed for? Have we developed into an egalitarian society where everyone can live free and prosper? Have we walked the walk or just talked the talk?

You are probably, at least somewhat familiar with the series of books, Left Behind. The books presage the future of the world after the rapture. If you are unlucky enough to be left behind life is not going to be very pleasant. Those left behind are going to have to choose whether to take the Mark of the Beast. Those who don't take the mark will have a difficult time during the Tribulation, but ultimately they will be rewarded. Those who take the mark will have it easier during end times, but will ultimately putrefy in hell. How would you fare if you were in that position? Would you take the mark of not? Of course you would probably be ruptured because most people in America feel superior and privileged. But if you read the books you will find large numbers of people are left in America. That doesn't quite wash with our expectations. In a lesser known series, similar but different, they make the Dalai Lama the anti-Christ. I would call that the epitome of ignorance but every time I think someone has done the stupidest thing somebody says or does something more stupid. The Dalai Lama is a very holy man you may not believe as he believes but he certainly qualifies as holy. People who think they have a corner on the God market are an interesting lot. You know the evangelical caught with his pants down or with a boy friend or the priestly pedophile. If God were truly universal then that would mean he (she) was the God of all realms and all people, nobody gets a free pass. Can you imagine how many Americans will be in the pit? " As you sow, so shall you reap." If you spend you life planting bad intentions don't expect to be one of the 'elite.' Can you imagine the joy on the faces of the downtrodden when they find that the meek really will inherit the kingdom of heaven? Perfect justice. Can we even find ten righteous people in America today?

As I survey history as I have lived it, my earliest political memories start @ 1960. I remember watching the election results of the Kennedy/Nixon campaign on our small black and white television with a picture that can only be described as abysmal. Even I could see that John Kennedy was better looking and more upbeat than Richard Nixon. The fact that he was a Roman Catholic was a plus as far as I was concerned. I just thought I could trust him more than Nixon. In retrospect, I know that Kennedy was no saint, Nixon was a sinner and my life was about as good as it would ever get.

My knowledge of the Bay of Pigs invasion mostly comes from books and movies. My political acumen was limited, many would say it still is, but I tried to fill in the gaps with study and late night discussions. What was the Bay of Pigs all about? It was a plan hatched by the CIA after Castro took over Cuba. Eisenhower thought it was all right to prepare for an invasion of Cuba and advised Kennedy. Kennedy was not convinced it was a good idea but yielded to the pressure of the CIA. The CIA is mainly our mechanism of regime change; the Bay of Pigs is just one example of its many failures. After this early debacle in Kennedy's only term, he was much more wary of the CIA. It is written that he planned to drastically cit the CIA budget and free reign.

The Cuban Missile Crises was more a measure of the man John Kennedy was. Here again the Joint Chiefs and cabinet gave Kennedy very few options, all of which were military responses. From a limited strike on the missile sites to a nuclear attack all of which would have called for Russian retaliation. Kennedy sought a strong but non-military response. Eventually an option that would not show weakness was found, quarantine. Let the world know what Russia was attempting and only if the Russian ignored the US blockade would force be used. Strangely cooler heads prevailed every situation does not call for a military response.

Many historians viewed the Kennedy years as a virtual Camelot. Clearly not but the man did give peace a chance. His views on the budding Vietnam situation seemed to indicate that he was losing hope in militarily achieving America's objectives there. Think of that, US history without the Vietnam War. 55,000 US soldier's lives would have been spared and untold millions of Vietnamese. One of our darkest hours erased, families torn apart miraculously whole. Years later it would come out that we had no real plan to win the war. That's validation for you.

It was also said that we misunderstood Ho Chi Minh's objectives. He wanted independence above all else and we refused to help. We were seeing the world through poet WWII blinders. We were supporting the Containment Policy and we professed to believe in the Domino Theory. Was it that simple or did the military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned of require sacrifice? What would be wrong with an independent Vietnam? Was Diem an honorable man? Could he help Vietnam or was he another in a long line of puppets to be installed by the US? Later Diem proved ineffective and ultimately expendable. We seem to have a knack for picking the most unsuited people available. Reza Pahlavi in Iran, Marcos in the Philippines, Pinnochet in Argentina, Noriega in Panama, the worst of the worst.

It's strange we say we believe in democracy and government by the people but how many times has the US replaced a popularly elected official with a hand picked dictator? It appears to be getting what we want and letting a small group of people in the puppet state gain wealth and prestige that really matters. But please don't expect some socialist state where everyone shares equally. Marx is dead. Reagan killed him. At least he said he did.

Case in point Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. He has gotten nothing but bad press in the US. There was even a coup attempt, most likely sponsored by the US, to oust him. He wishes to nationalize the oil of Venezuela. He says to improve the standard of living of his people and the people apparently love him. But socialism is anathema to the US power structure and are they ever threatened. Just think if people in America start to think that they should be sharing the wealth tat might cause a revolution. Better to reprint Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead so people understand that the haves have earned every cent and if they just work hard and are worthy they too can share in the American dream.

Even though Reagan killed him Marx saw one thing very clearly, history is a struggle between the haves and the have-nots. America is at the apex of that struggle; we have the largest gap between rich and poor of any of the industrial countries. That may have been all right when blue-collar workers were making a decent wage and had benefits but today that's the exception to the rule. Today people in America are poor and getting poorer. Millions don't have health care or a decent place to live. But if you read the papers and listen to Dubya you would think that programs that aid the poor are stopping the rich from getting richer. Actually it's the progressive tax that's causing the problem. A good old regressive tax would fix the US. Actually it's going to take a lot more than that.

Well I have to go for now, duty calls. But lest you think I'm un-American I'm headed to the cemetery to pray for my brother who died in Vietnam and my grandfather who fought in the War to end all Wars. Funny how the American Dream is turning out.

[edit on 17-12-2006 by UM_Gazz]

posted on Dec, 18 2006 @ 04:36 AM
the term American dream can be read two ways....that of prosperity, a car in every garage and a chicken in every pot (when that phrase was coined cars were far rarer than they are today and chicken was expensive) a home of one's own and full a decent job. OR the American dream or fantesy that we are somehow different, better or superior than the rest of the world.

The first is still an ideal to strive for....the second, a bad dream that we desperately need to awaken from.

good article. Well written as well. Needs to finish it though.

posted on Dec, 18 2006 @ 05:27 AM
Interesting points. It addresses the extent to which US citizens of a certain stripe wilfully blind themselves to the extent to which the US does not, as advertised, really stand for freedom and democracy, but for manipulating the governments of other countries via the CIA in order to preserve favoured access to cheap labour, raw materials, and markets for their manufactured goods.

About the American dream... there was an article I posted a little while ago about how the "American dream" was far easier to realise in, say, Sweden than in the US, in which stratification of wealth and the gap between rich and poor has increased markedly. At a time where the dollar is under imminent threat of collapse this ossification of the social structure is set, if anything, to increase.

Buit this article by Paul Krugman addresses the issue head on.

The reason most Americans think the economy is fair to poor is simple: For most Americans, it really is fair to poor. Wages have failed to keep up with rising prices. Even in 2005, a year in which the economy grew quite fast, the income of most non-elderly families lagged behind inflation. The number of Americans in poverty has risen even in the face of an official economic recovery, as has the number of Americans without health insurance. Most Americans are little, if any, better off than they were last year and definitely worse off than they were in 2000.

But how is this possible? The economic pie is getting bigger -- how can it be true that most Americans are getting smaller slices? The answer, of course, is that a few people are getting much, much bigger slices. Although wages have stagnated since Bush took office, corporate profits have doubled. The gap between the nation's CEOs and average workers is now ten times greater than it was a generation ago. And while Bush's tax cuts shaved only a few hundred dollars off the tax bills of most Americans, they saved the richest one percent more than $44,000 on average. In fact, once all of Bush's tax cuts take effect, it is estimated that those with incomes of more than $200,000 a year -- the richest five percent of the population -- will pocket almost half of the money. Those who make less than $75,000 a year -- eighty percent of America -- will receive barely a quarter of the cuts. In the Bush era, economic inequality is on the rise.


In addition, the statistical evidence shows, unequal societies tend to be corrupt societies. When there are huge disparities in wealth, the rich have both the motive and the means to corrupt the system on their behalf. In The New Industrial State, published in 1967, John Kenneth Galbraith dismissed any concern that corporate executives might exploit their position for personal gain, insisting that group decision-making would enforce "a high standard of personal honesty." But in recent years, the sheer amount of money paid to executives who are perceived as successful has overridden the restraints that Galbraith believed would control executive greed.

The article makes interesting, if sobering, reading.

posted on Dec, 18 2006 @ 07:33 AM
Ahh welcome to the post War dream Ladies and Gents.

Funny thing, in the 50s Household debt averaged at 20pc of Income its now well over 150pc.

Our parents and parents parents where infact much better off than us, and had easier simplier lifes ......

No need to worry though, its all coming unstuck, sit, relax and enjoy the show ! ( But dont buy a house with Debt!!)

posted on Dec, 18 2006 @ 10:47 AM
Very good OP, a very good read.

The American Dream was what made us in Europe overcome the destruction after the war - it wasn't just the Marshall Plan that did it. But it was the light of America that made us achieve the task of rebuilding and gave us a belief in the future. Having had 5 years with so much evil, America was good. That was hardly an issue, it was a fact.

I grew up in the immediate aftermath of the war, and we suffered, but somehow we also learned to be content with the little we had. All the time longing for better days, material security, we did it with a hope that was endless, cause it was sustained by one thing: The American Dream.

Would you believe when I tell you that a great deal of my generation lived our first years in malnutrition, because many basic foods including dairy were rationed - and I better say, it wasn't Germany I grew up in, but a much lesser torn country compared to that.

Not before 1960, I think it was, import of records was given free. Finally we could buy our favourite singles with Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Little Richard. Before that we could only dream away listning to Radio Luxembourg.

My awareness of the world and politics started with the Suez War and the Hungarian Revolution. I do remember Castro overthrowing Batista, but it was just as far away as Kenyatta, the Mau Mau movement, and Nkrumah becoming the first Head of a sovereign state in Africa.

What I mostly remember about America was the fear if they had to fight another war against the Russians. They were right on our doorstep, so for us it was a very real fear.

My view on - and trust in - America was fundamentally shaken on one rainy November night of 1963, when an assasination in Dallas, Texas was on the news. It never became the same again. I was at the age were you form your own opinion, getting old enough to make up your own mind about things, and I was getting the idea that capitalism and America was 'bad'.

Whom I came to consider the 'good', you probably can figure out yourself.

Must remember to tell, an issue that made me lose my trust in America was racism. Coming from a - at that time - almost ethnic homogen country, we just couldn't comprehend what was going on in Birmingham, Alabama.

All the time I knew, it was not the American people that was wrong - at least not all of them - it was the evil capitalists mongering with threats of war and their racial issues of segregation and fascism.

With the breakthrough of television the Vietnam war became very real. And with all the American boys coming to town on the run from uncle Sam's draft, it became our war as well. But we wasn't on the same side as the warmongers in Washington.

"Ho Ho Chi Min" we shouted in front of the American embassy.

With the draft dodgers and the summer of love, psychedelia, drugs and the music that came out of America, things changed one more time. The dream returned. But this time not as the dream of being material secure, because that we now were. No, it was the dream of freedom to do what you wanted - as long you didn't hurt others of course.

And we did do what we wanted. Drugs, travel, love, music. We didn't wanted to care much about the world, it was wrong and somehow it would fix itself. The trivia of politics just became toooo muuch ...and we became 'spiritual'. We cared more about Buddha, Shiva, Krishna and a whole bunch of phony gurus promoting them, than we did about the war in Nam. We knew it was lost years before they did it Washington.

With the end of the cold war there finally was a light in the darkness. Now the excuse for mad spending on still more deadly weapons, the whole insane retaliation thing and its arm's race, was gone. We thought.

Believing so made the pill a little less bitter to swallow, that you had been betting on the wrong horse. Nevertheless a feeling that something was wrong was there anyhow.

A decade went by, without much happening, but what you can expect when agressors try to take over sovereign states. Maybe there was hope for America after all. Bob Dylan performed at the inaugration of Bill Clinton, so I really thought so.

Until a - in European eyes - rediculous moral rectitude colided with the sound lust of a mortal man. That he happened to be the president of the United States made it fatal. Concerning the steps of impeachment that was taken, the hypocrisy in that incident must be said only to have grown over the years, especially when compared to the lack of those taken now against the present White House kingpin.

That the American dream is not a wet dream, but a righteous one, the Crawford playboy have tried to teach us. And that it's OK to lie when you claim God on your side. White lies?

Well, until 9/11 he really didn't have to lie about anything, only pretend that he was running the country. But that fatal date changed the course of the world, and most of all the course of the USA. The dream was over.

Initially the dream was equal opportunities to make it for anyone who tried hard enough. If there is any now, it must be the dream that things will change. But only free and bold men can change anything. The only boldness I see is the denying of reality ...and the freedom to defend lies.

Only if the American people can stand up against the lies, and punch them down, boldly without thought of possible consequences, not as a bigot of any religion but as men of just, there will be hope.

Or else I'm afraid Bush 43 will pass into history as the president who dismantled the American Dream, eventually turned it into a nightmnare.

posted on Dec, 18 2006 @ 08:39 PM
No.... when you think about it Bush and his ilk really have nothing but disregard for "the American Dream" they are from the I got mine screw you crowd which are the anti-thesis of not only the American dream, but the anti-thesis of all that made this country great in the first place. What has turned the American Dream into a nightmare, indeed is killing it is the crass commercialism and excesses of corporate capitalism.... the idea that nothing is good unless it is the best and most up to date whatever. We are bankrupting ourselves over meaningless things.

I learned years ago that while I may be poor, it does not mean I have to live poorly but htat haas less to do with material things, than it does with a mental and spiritual outlook.

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