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The Decline of the American Dream

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posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 08:59 AM
Before I get into the death of America as we have known it (at least those of us who have been around long enough to know the extent of the changes during the last 40 years) I will tell a tale, a factual tale of the journey. The journey is one which is primarily economic in nature, but there are undercurrents affecting this journey from deeper cultural origins.
We will start in the 60’s…The America of the 60s was one which was just beginning to mature, to shed its’ innocence during the era of JFK’s, Martin Luther King’s and Bobbie Kennedy’s assassination. Our economy was so incredible…that to describe it as astounding would be an understatement. One number is all that is needed…one statistic: We (America) produced 25% of the world’s manufactured goods. Today, we produce around 5% or lower. The last number I saw related to this was 6% and that was quite a few years ago.
Families were comprised of a single wage-earner in most cases. The American prosperity was the stuff of legends in the 3rd world. I lived in Central America for 5 years during this period and Americans, all Americans, were thought to be rich. After all…most of our roads were paved, our primary mode of transportation was the automobile, and we had fast food!
Of course, nothing is perfect, and our country was undergoing rather difficult growth pains, what with the above assassinations, race riots, the war on poverty (which, as we will see, worked backwards) and the “great enlightenment” (free love, drugs and peace).
The war on poverty was a noble cause, but as with most govt programs, the outcome left much to be desired. The war on poverty actually managed to provide incentives to remain poor….more on that later.
During the 70s women began to enter the workforce…the official reasoning was the liberation of women…equality and all that jazz…the actual reason was one of economic necessity. As inflation took hold, as the dollar became nothing more than a piece of paper, as the oil embargo and resulting oil prices managed to severely affect our balance of trade women had to get jobs in order for the American family to maintain the standard of living we expected…expectations that actually grew with time. Suddenly one car garages were too small.
Also during the 70s: the end of America’s “involvement” in Viet Nam (we lost..more later), Watergate and the increase in cynicism by the citizenry. By the end of the 70s the “Great Malaise” was coming into it’s own.
Enter the 80’s…Inflation above 12%, unemployment above 12% and interest rates above 14%. Things were not good…Carter was President and was, in my opinion, the worst of the latter part of the 20th century. He managed to take a bad situation and make it worse.
During the 80s, with inflation, interest rates and unemployment busting our chops, the 2 wage-earner family became the standard. We didn’t feel really good about our country and the situation, but hey…no one really cared either. Gone was the energy and hope of the 60s.
Ronald Reagan enters the picture….Suddenly we were proud of our country again, the economy turns around somewhat. Unfortunately, Reagan’s administration pursued an economic policy of a stronger dollar. This means: stuff made overseas is cheaper and our products made here cost more overseas. Add that to what has now become a slightly negative trade balance and you have a recipe for future problems. Reagan fuels the economy by cutting income taxes, and in particular investment income taxes….so now much more money is being invested in the economy. This really takes effect early to mid 90s…and eventually results in …well, more on that later. In many ways, Reagan (in my opinion) was the best president of the latter part of the 20th century. However the strong dollar will come back to haunt us.
Enter the 90’s..Bush the first, Clinton and debt. Once the 80s have past, one thing the average person would notice, if they were paying attention, would be an increase in “debt” type of advertisements. Not hugely…but from virtually nothing in the 70s, to a small presence in the 80s to a significant part of tv advertising in the 90s. During the 90s we experienced a false economy…everything felt was good. However there was a rotten core in our economy. Wall Street was driven by speculation, the economy was driven by a significant increase in personal debt all while manufacturing jobs were flying overseas by the millions. But no one noticed…or rather, no one brought it up. In 1999 there was a rather dire report presented to congress detailing exactly what was going on with personal debt, the increases since 1990 and it wasn’t sugar coated. In the same report: Millions of manufacturing jobs moving overseas and..incidently also discussed was the huge increase in the negative trade balance that occurred during the 90s.
This report drew zero publicity…zero action on the part of our politicians…zero outcry by our media….simply because things still “felt” good. Unfortunately the economy of the 90s was driven, was fueled by increasing personal debt.
At least they did until around April before Bush’s election. This is when the # started hitting the fan. This is when the bubble began to burst. Note that Clinton was still in office and the Republicans had not selected a candidate yet. The stock market began to … “feel” bad. The balloon had reached it’s limit and popped. First the techies went, and then later the more traditional, sturdy, stronger stocks began to experience weakness.
Enter the 21st century…enter Bush…enter 911…
By this time, personal debt had reached a limit that was simply unsustainable. The economy hiccupped…we had a recession. People stopped borrowing (generally speaking) because they couldn’t afford more debt so as a result less spending. Less spending = shrinking economy.
Suddenly (or so it seemed) there were fewer good paying jobs. Bush took the hit on jobs going overseas…never mind that they had been fleeing there for a decade. The govt’s answer to that, Bush’s answer to that was to “help” the small business man (not much) and to make money easier and cheaper to borrow…hence another round of increasing debt (now both personal and public), risky loans and a still increasing negative trade balance.
You would think that our politicians would be discussing the major actors here in real terms with honesty with real solutions.
No! Instead there seemed to be a silence around the 15 trillion dollars in negative trade balance over the previous 20 years (15 trillion dollars of wealth that left the country, never to return). Silence about what to do to bring manufacturing jobs back (sorry…but taxing corporations that send jobs overseas is just stupid on multiple levels). I do not have the answers, but I do know that any entity that spends more than it makes (see Machiavelli) is doomed to eventual bankruptcy unless the trend is reversed. We desperately need to stop importing energy, and we desperately need to increase exports. We desperately need to cut gov’t spending…Raising taxes is stupid…it is stupid to take money out of the private sector specially during a period when the economy is as weak as it is.

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 09:00 AM
To summarize:
• During the 60s, we were THE world power both militarily as well as economically. Given our loss of economic clout, the loss of military clout is sure to follow.
• In order to maintain our standard of living we first added income-earners and then followed that by increasing personal debt to an unsustainable level.
• Due to energy imports and a significant reduction of manufacturing we have sustained a negative trade balance for decades which has drained our country of wealth. Add a strong dollar policy during the critical stage when the process could have been reversed, we virtually guaranteed our journey into poverty.
• Our gov’t has attempted to “be all things for all people” and in the process has become a bloated, wasteful parasite on the economy. Entitlements are out of control, spending is out of control and the gov’t sole answer seems to be increasing taxes combined with token spending cuts.
• Our politicians, those who know what is happening, refused to alert the people regarding the above issues. Instead they chose to make stupid gestures to help people “feel” better thereby increasing their (the politician’s) chances of re-election, as opposed to doing what was needed. I blame Democrats and Republicans for this…there is no way those in power did not see the trends, causes and results!!
• Due to the actions, or inactions, by our leaders we have been guided into the current situation, whether by design or not…
I have not mentioned, due to time and space, other major players in this decline. I have not even mentioned how wars in Viet Nam and later Iraq further drained our economies and added to the public debt. I touched on but did not elaborate regarding the “war on poverty” which established the role of gov’t in maintaining poverty as well as further draining our economy and adding to the public debt. There are so many other players that I would have to write a thesis to even begin to include them all. As comments are posted, I will attempt to further elaborate.
The common denominator in all the above is the role of our gov’t…one which has exceeded the powers granted by the constitution is such ways that our founding fathers would be preaching revolution long before now.

The belief that the gov’t can “help” our economy is ridiculous….beyond basic infrastructure the gov’t is not much more, and in many cases a severe parasite that is currently draining much more from the economy than they contribute.
Taxation has reached ridiculous levels….think about it. Consider that over 60% of the cost of alchohol (booze) is taxes. Consider how much is taken in via income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes….consider that any business enterprise will require all kinds of documentation, fees, licensing before you are granted the opportunity to pay income taxes. Even with all this taxation, the gov’t still spends more than it takes in…much, much more.
Bottom line is this: The average American is drowning in debt, has an incredible amount of public debt courtesy of our gov’t, and is also being taxed at levels that would/should be considered obscene. The gov’t is printing money like it is going out of style and as though this is perfectly acceptable and will not result in runaway inflation.
By all means, the gov’t has to keep our mind off of that…has to divert attention away from what is happening. They have to make us feel good about things in general.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain……..

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 09:17 AM
We, as a nation, have created a big mess. It seemed to be working as many irrational schemes do initially. Overall it created serious problems. Coverups made the problem so much worse. Now for a small business to get started is hard, the manufacturing jobs for products we use on a daily basis have mostly left the country. The overpriced government jobs are still there. We need to bring small factories back into the country while making environmental laws that are appropriate to govern them. A little bit of oil dripping out of an engine is not bad but a lot of oil dripping out of an engine is bad. Leave the small farmers use the old tractors. Make farming affordable, someone can rebuild that tractor if their expenses of business aren't too high. We have gone astray, it is time to fix the problem and get more small farmers and small businesses in the country.

Passing a test does not make a person honest or mean they do not know what they are doing. Changing the name of things to require an education or continuing education is not necessary. I see that more and more certifications are required to do things. That is not necessary, it only makes reliance of government officials at the top. These upper end government officials with their degrees and no common sense should be evaluated as well as our education system that implies that only college graduates are intelligent.

I see many problems, not a few. You do not need a degree to sell computers or work in a factory. On the job training is much more efficient and sensible, I was an employer and know this as fact.

posted on Mar, 21 2013 @ 10:07 AM
People just need to lower their expectations, the good old days weren`t as good as people like to think they were.people want to live the lifestyle of the good old days that they have read about in books but those days weren`t real.

Those 2 car garages weren`t attached to McMansions and the cars that were in those garages were very basic cars not like the high tech high priced cars of today.

people want the 2 car garages and the cars to go in them, like in the good old days, but they have high expectations of what kind of cars they are and what kind of garage it will be. People don`t want just a 2 car garage they want a high tech 2 car garage with all the bells and whistles otherwise they think that they aren`t living life like in the good old days.

People want the new McMansion with the new 2 car garage and the new cars to go in the garage, well in the good old days a lot of people didn`t have that,they had the modest 2 car garage attached to a modest home with modest cars.
people need to lower their expectations of what they think the good old days were really like and they will find that they are probably already living like the good old days.

posted on Mar, 23 2013 @ 01:12 AM

Originally posted by Tardacus
People just need to lower their expectations, the good old days weren`t as good as people like to think they were.

The good old days?

Truck drivers made $0.30 cents a mile in 1970 and a cup of coffee cost about 0.30 cents.
Truck drivers still make about $0.30 cents a mile and coffee is now $1.50.

In 1970, you could buy a car for around $3000.
Now you get a car for $30,000.

In 1999, gas was $0.99
Now? $3.99

Have your wages gone up to offset the cost of living increase over the last couple of decades?
I'll bet your boss' pay has gone up.

CEO to Worker pay gap

We don't need an increase in Minimum Wage. Because that's not what it really is. It's a Cost of Living increase. If you don't call it that, the employers will never figure out that their cost increases are what's causing the problem.
edit on 23-3-2013 by CryHavoc because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 23 2013 @ 01:20 AM
Depends largely, I suppose, upon what your American dream is...doesn't it?

And so far as being the stuff of legend in the third world? It still is. Been to the border lately? People are still coming. From Mexico. From Columbia. From elsewhere in Central America. From Eastern Europe, and Western for that matter... From Asia. Why? Because, in spite of our problems, this is still a land of opportunity. Always has been.

No, not everyone succeeds. Not everyone reaches that dream. I haven't, at least not yet... But I know quite a few who have.

Decline? No, not really. Is it hard to reach? Oh, yes. Unattainable? Hardly. Too many stories of success out there to ever believe that.

posted on Mar, 23 2013 @ 02:35 AM
There is no American dream... at least for Americans. People still come here because they are handed a free ticket while the people born here are kicked aside like garbage. You can thank the brainwashed, illiterate 47% that vote based on party, handouts or worse, skin color for that. And the useful idiots that don't understand how the path to hell is paved in good intentions.

A great man once said that they call it the American dream because you need to be asleep to believe it. I'm curious, how much deeper does this nation go into debt before Biden stops spending $500,000 on a single night in a hotel?

This nation has a severe "Marie Antoinette" illness.

posted on Mar, 23 2013 @ 06:26 AM
According to many things I saw and read, the US are afraid of becoming a socialist society. Hmmm, that makes me think. Does the American people actually know what socialism is? Well, maybe having a fair society is not good enough. Having a evenly distributed wealth situation would not allow some hotshots to be the smart asses around (pardon my English). What I ask is, does the current highly capitalist situation suits you better. Not having enough money to pay your house mortgage because the banks indirectly took away your job (ahhh, maybe the correct term is "stole your life away) is better than a fair society. I'm sorry, I'm just Portuguese and despite our glorious past we are sinking deep. By the away, you might consider changing the topic title to "Surviving the American Nightmare of uncontrolled greed".
edit on 27/11/2011 by novrod because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 23 2013 @ 06:53 AM
Today the modern slaves (that is YOU) are held prisoner by their belief in compound interest; that they owe money that never existed to repay money created out of thin air. And you modern slaves will regain your freedoms when you realize that private central banking is just another illusion created by the enslavers to trick you into obedient servitude.
Slavery exists only because the slaves have been taught to believe that slavery is the way the world is supposed to be.
Beliefs are chains used to enslave free people.
No chains of steel ever bound a human tighter than the chains made of the beliefs with which we are indoctrinated while young in the state schools and the churches.
The system is intentionally designed to trap the nation's population permantly in unpayable debt, to make them slaves to that debt and to the bankers.
This is the purpose behind the design of the Federal Reserve
slave to the bankers.
Because more money is owed to the bankers than actually exists, because of the interest charged on the loan that created the money, the debt-slavery is permanent!
No matter how hard you work, no matter how much you sacrifice, the debt can never be paid off

posted on Mar, 23 2013 @ 07:05 AM
reply to post by madenusa

This evil magic of creating money out of debt
People will stop believing in the religion called private central banking, and that crisis will bring the system crashing down

posted on Mar, 23 2013 @ 10:49 AM
Englishman here.

Any criticism I level at the US system comes with the disclaimer that I think it's a wonderful country with many wonderful people and that my perspective may well be flawed and ignorant, and I merely articulate it for the purposes of contribution to discussion and stand to be corrected by anyone with superior insight....

It seems to me that the USA more than any other society in the world cherishes and holds dear the concept of Liberty - and I think that's a great principle to found a country on. I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be than the US if I have a controversial opinion to express or want to pursue an individual, eccentric course through life and be separate from the herd. It also seems to me that Americans have perhaps the best work ethic in the developed world - if we're struggling to make ends meet each month over here in lazy Europe, we tend to say "the government needs to provide more" whereas Americans just go out and get a second job. I think, fundamentally, that's a very admirable trait - because hard work IS a virtue and you should be prepared to work for a good life.

HOWEVER...if you take Libertarianism and work-ethic to absolutist extremes, then it plays into the hands of employers and institutions rather than the individual. There are many Americans, it seems to me, who are prepared to defend their employers' reduction of their wages, increasing of their hours, and general destruction of their quality of life, because they reason "that's the way of the world - the strong survive, the weak perish, I need to work harder." I hear a lot of Americans talking about the need to "compete with China" and expressing the view that the West is too decadent and lazy and we're all doomed unless we work harder and longer for less pay. And again, I admire the work ethic there - but on closer inspection, those people are just parroting the attitude their CEO wants them to have. The whole point of the USA is that it's not supposed to be China - it's a country envied the world over because of quality of life, because it's supposed to be a place where you can LIVE rather than simply work.

With the absurd gap between rich and poor that exists in the US today it does indeed seem that the American Dream has become something of a joke on the American people. Of course, it's part of the deal that not everyone can win - but these days it seems that the odds for the average Joe are longer than they've ever been. The American Dream today seems more like a lotto, where a huge number of losing players support one or two epic winners - surely that's not right? And the essential good nature and self-reliant mentality of the American people seems to be being ruthlessly exploited by CEOs and management who can threaten people with "China" and "India" and "outsourcing" and know that 99% of their employees will sacrifice quality of life in order try and win in this unwinnable race.

If the West "wins" against China, we all, really, lose. Because we turn into nations of biological productivity drones whose reason for existence is nothing more than to support the share price of a publicly listed company. The number one question for us to address in the 21st Century, with increasing globalisation driven by technology and communications, is how we preserve the idea of what it is to be human in the face of employers who, operating internationally, think only of the bottom line and of trying to replace expensive people with cheaper people (or even better, where possible, robots). We need to have serious, deep discussions about what it is to be alive on this planet, what makes being alive worthwhile, and resist the inertia of hyper-capitalism to drive us all towards being robotic zombie workers.

As far as I can see, the resistance to this negative trend is weaker in America because the employers have more power there and the essential good, hard working nature of the people plays into the hands of those wishing to exploit it. I'm not a Socialist, but I believe the value of human life is not to be determined by solely, or even primarily, by the amount of profit it can make for a company.

posted on Mar, 23 2013 @ 11:38 AM
the wealthy buy tangible assets with their, precious metals, art, and the best investment for hundreds of years.....arms manufactures...

posted on Mar, 23 2013 @ 12:08 PM
I am 46 years old, so my memories start in the early 70's. I agree with you in terms of where we have come as a nation. You left out the social change aspects, which is probably good, otherwise we would get to involved.
We have to transcend the left vs. right, conservative vs. liberal, protester vs. police mentality before there will be any change in the direction we are heading. IMHO, it is this debate and conflict that has debilitated the US for the past 40 years. Neither side has a lock on the moral high ground now. Both sides have things they are absolutely right about, and both sides have things they are totally F'd up about. Plus, it has just degenerated into a series of feces throwing fits by the radical elements of both sides.
We have differences of opinion, and maybe even different desires in life, but we don't seem to realize we are all in the same boat, and nothing will change until both sides put away a few of their desires. The American Dream never really existed anyway, that's why is it was called a dream. The fact that it has vanished among todays youth, is our own fault.


posted on Mar, 23 2013 @ 12:28 PM
reply to post by bbracken677

what american dream do you speak of?

working 40 hours weeks since i was 18 and during college as well, thats not a dream , its a nightmare

i have not been privy to any american dream, what ever it was is just a fairytale from yester years.

besides after they crash the system and implement carbon taxes/carbon credits as new payment method and that all our old money is useless now,,, well need a world dream because no country will have sovereignty

posted on Mar, 26 2013 @ 11:26 AM
reply to post by ~widowmaker~

If your version of the American Dream is materialistic, then yes, that's how you're going to have to achieve it...

However, if your version is to be able to think as you please...believe in the god of your choice...and worship said god in peace...or just be able to raise your children with a reasonable expectation of safety? Then yes, the American dream is there, too.

There are many, many versions of the American Dream. Some are easy to achieve, some are not; doesn't mean they're not out there to be had.

posted on Mar, 26 2013 @ 12:02 PM
The "American Dream" is a STATE OF MIND. It's all based on your perception of what "life" is. Kind of hard to "dream" of that "life", buried in debt.

posted on Mar, 26 2013 @ 12:04 PM
reply to post by SamaraTen


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