The Shattered Remains of the American Dream

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posted on Sep, 25 2013 @ 02:50 AM
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I *think* this is in the right forum. It's been a while so my navigation is somewhat messed up.

Sitting here bored tonight, I came across an article on a website that I frequently visit called the History News Network. Some of you who are interested in various concepts of happenings in the world tend to look at things historically, and...that's what I tend to do when I'm looking at this site.

This specific article is an interview between one of the staff members and Hendrick Smith, the writer of the book Who Stole The American Dream.


Based on extensive research and interviews with experts as well as people who have suffered the cruel reality of division, unfairness and neglect, Mr. Smith details the policies and decisions of the past forty years that have fostered a modern Gilded Age, forsaken the foundations of post-World War II prosperity, and created “Two Americas ... divided by power, money and ideology.” He explains how deliberate strategies have led to today’s gross inequality of income and wealth.

- See more at: hnn.us...


I found the timing of this article particularly interesting and coincidental. I'm currently engaged in a debate class where there is open discussion on the events of the American Century (The 20th Century). We began in the 1900s where the overall ideology of the country was deep rooted in the American Dream, but what that dream exactly was, was never made clear. One would assume that would be a decent job, a family, a car, a house - all of the things to live a comfortable life. You can now see today that many people do not necessarily match any of these categories where I think Mr. Smith was hinting at. Where there was an emergence of the idea of an American Dream, and as we moved into the 1940s and 1950s we saw that come to fruition, it is now gone. Most younger people are just dreaming to land a job at a retail store let alone a successful career.

If you don't have time to read the article in full - here is what Mr. Smith believes the American Dream is/was:



The dream of most Americans is to have a job, to have a steady rise in income over your lifetime as you build up your skills, to have security in your job, to have some health benefits from your employer, to have a retirement benefit from your employer plus Social Security, to make enough money so you can afford a down payment and make the monthly payments on your home. It’s the job, it’s health care, it’s the pension, and then owning a home and the hoping for a better future for your kids.


However, I made the argument in this class that with the times our ideals are changing. What the generation now considers important varies differently and vastly from what was once considered important. Thus, the argument is presented that the American Dream was relative and constantly changing with different social statues and movements in America during the times. That does not mean that the primary principles of that dream have changed at all, but it does mean that how people prioritize these days is considerably different. That was my visualization of the idea, anyway. Values have changed, consumer products have changed, trends have changed, it is only natural that the dream that was spoken of also changed.

I'm interested to hear what some of our older generation members have to say about that, and if the younger generation would agree. I'm also really interested to hear what some of our international members think. Discuss?
edit on 25.9.2013 by Shugo because: (no reason given)




posted on Sep, 25 2013 @ 03:26 AM
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A very few amount of parents are able to leave anything behind for their kids beyond debt and inflation. The North American dream is dead.



posted on Sep, 25 2013 @ 03:38 AM
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As an "international" (lol just not from the U.S.) member I'd say the american dream could have been the same for most western countries.
Your own home , 2.5 kids , a decent car and freedom from oppression are all anyone wanted post World War 2.

I do believe that dream is dead.
However not from it being percieved as inachievable but more that values have shifted from generation to generation.

I believe that , say from roughly Gen-X onward that there is a revised dream.
Material wealth no longer being the be all and end all.
Now I think we'd like to see the end of the Baby Boomer's monopoly on money, politics and media manipulation.
I like to think we want to see peace, equality, for everyone to be fed and housed and for damn sure much less beauracracy and less flat out BS in politics and media.

I think Occupy in it's infancy was a good sign of what the younger generations are now seeking albeit blindly and lacking focus.

Im a Gen-Xer , perhaps Gen-Y have returned to a more material path which would not be surprising considering what they are bombarded with from a very young age.



posted on Sep, 25 2013 @ 03:45 AM
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reply to post by Shugo
 


I am on my phone so can' t elaborate much..... you might be right. The concept of need varies widely once you fulfill immediate necessities for survival.



posted on Sep, 25 2013 @ 04:24 AM
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skonaz
As an "international" (lol just not from the U.S.) member I'd say the american dream could have been the same for most western countries.
Your own home , 2.5 kids , a decent car and freedom from oppression are all anyone wanted post World War 2.

I do believe that dream is dead.
However not from it being percieved as inachievable but more that values have shifted from generation to generation.

I believe that , say from roughly Gen-X onward that there is a revised dream.
Material wealth no longer being the be all and end all.
Now I think we'd like to see the end of the Baby Boomer's monopoly on money, politics and media manipulation.
I like to think we want to see peace, equality, for everyone to be fed and housed and for damn sure much less beauracracy and less flat out BS in politics and media.

I think Occupy in it's infancy was a good sign of what the younger generations are now seeking albeit blindly and lacking focus.

Im a Gen-Xer , perhaps Gen-Y have returned to a more material path which would not be surprising considering what they are bombarded with from a very young age.


Gen-Xer here too. My parents, who were baby boomers, had more wealth. They were not rich, but they always had just enough. Enough to buy a home, a car, and take care of things whenever they came up. They also had just enough.. to squirrel away in savings. They were blue collar workers, and they worked very hard for everything that they got in factory jobs. With their many years in the factory, they both earned excellent pension plans and were able to prepare for their retirement in their 30's and 40's. Both of them were only high school educated. My mom never even graduated high school, yet she made more money in the 70's, 80's, and 90's, than most people do today.

My parents were always able to take vacations in the summers. We always went somewhere across country, like the Grand Canyon, Dodge City, The Ozarks, Yellowstone, etc.

I guess... that was the American dream for them. To just have the simple things that they desired. They never wanted riches... they just wanted enough to live happily.

I on the other hand will....

1. Never have the kind of job they had, since those jobs are outsourced to other countries
2. Never be able to buy a home. Not because of bad credit, but because I just won't have the money to do so.
3. Will never have a brand new car.
4. Will never be able to take the kind of vacations that they did. Vacation, what is that? I haven't been on one since 2002.
5. Will be paying off student loans for many years to come. Many.

At this point, my dream of having a child may die.. since I'm not in a good financial position.

My mom sees that my life is very different than the one she had. She actually cries about it sometimes, and she worries for me a great deal. She considers herself lucky, because she was young and working during a very prosperous time in our country, and she understands what we are all up against.

I don't even know what the American dream is supposed to be. What is it supposed to consist of?

As you said, we have to redefine and revise our dreams now. They look very different from our parents' lives and dreams.

I realize my perspective of what my life is going to be seems very negative, but I'm very much a realist and I can face the facts and I have come to accept it. We live in a different time, and I believe that things will get worse before they get better.

Revising my dreams does not mean giving up on my peace and happiness. I can live with very little. I can survive. I want to be independent. I want to work hard. I believe many will have to face the reality of living with much less, and quite soon.

Happiness is not going to be wrapped up in material wealth, but a different kind of wealth. That of family, friends, a place to call home, enough to eat, and our health.



posted on Sep, 25 2013 @ 04:53 AM
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Seems to be there for the legal & illegal immigrants that come to Mericka.

Maybe we just need to stop being: lazy, getting into debt because you had to have it, buying a new car every few years, purchasing a house with a payment that you can't afford, buying tons of crap each and every Christmas because if you don't - your kids won't love you, buying kids name brand clothing at full price every school year, have to eat fast food because you are too lazy to cook at home - 3+ times a week, running your central heat and air all year round, having to take a family vacation - getting into debt doing so, move into a bigger house because you had another kid, etc.

Immigrants view on Merika - get to work & doesn't care on what that work is. Saves money by buying stuff cheap. Eats out on special occasions. Usually have a place to live that is well within their budget.

American dream is still here - you just have to stop overconsuming and be willing to work outside your comfort zone and take a lesser job..



posted on Sep, 25 2013 @ 06:03 AM
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I also think the American Dream is very much alive, although I see it more as being the Western Dream.

I'm not from America, but from the UK. I have slightly below than average wage job and my wife works part time, but saying that I think we are living the dream.

The dream is not about how much money you have or whether you can afford the latest gadgets, it's about being content and being able to live in a safe and happy environment. We have two children and we provide as much happiness and love as they need.

Yes we have to tighten our belts at the end of each month and be careful with the money that we do have coming in, we also don't own our own house and are probably never likely to.

I look at the state of other countries like those in the middle east and feel glad every day that my family is spared from the crap that is dished out to these people.

This is the real dream and what other people in these countries long after.



posted on Sep, 25 2013 @ 07:17 AM
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I think we're in a period of limbo and loss of focus all the way around in this nation. The American Dream is.....what exactly? I really can't define that well anymore.

I grew up thinking and being taught that the Dream was a home of my own, a stable career and a retirement to settle into later life with...comfortable and able to dote on the grandchildren like my grandparents did with me.

I can't properly define what it is now? Retirement is a joke and not only do people like me see little odds of such things being there 20+ years from now, but those trying to hang onto it right now are seeing major uncertainty and reductions. Owning ones home has been reduced to who can scam the paperwork best and get the best line for staying in, against efforts to evict or foreclose on property too rich for a person to have ever owned in the first place....yet we say they have the right to it. Not earned..just the right to it, because they are them or something.

It seems the first decade of this century was spent running every wild right wing idea of dominance and world projection of power. That largely failed. Now we have every left wing idea and nutty concept being tried..and that's also largely failing. Both extremes...

The problem is...There are generations being raised while this stupidity in experimenting with an entire nation of people is happening...so American Dreams are hard to see clearly...when daily reality is one nightmare crisis blending into the next in an endless blur ...by design.



posted on Sep, 25 2013 @ 12:00 PM
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Awesome replies so far guys. I'm diggin' it!

The big speculation that has been brought up countless times is what is the 21st century going to be? A few historians and economists have hinted at both China and Russia being the dominant powers this century. I'm not sure if I agree with that to a T, but it does cause one to think.

On the subject of the American Dream though - it's nice to see some people think it's still alive. I think certain fundamental aspects will always be there and most immigrants will hold onto that. Obviously America is not the same "greatest country" as it used to be...I think most Americans can agree with that. The other thing that I've also wondered about is if the commonplace for education and the lack of quality education being some of the reasons that the dream has gone benign?

You have schools in many places, inner cities and rural areas.
You have students who would rather be out doing something else because school isn't stimulating - they aren't learning from it.
This could set a precedent for lower aspirations due to the lack of education. What do you think?



posted on Oct, 3 2013 @ 11:47 AM
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No one knows or agrees what the American Dream is, and that's ok because it's different for everyone. The American Dream should be about freedom to do what you want. That could be success in business for some, or it could be a lifetime of hunting and fishing for someone else.

Freedom isn't free, but it's way more expensive than it used to be. The American Dream dies whenever someone wishes to punish someone else who is exercising their freedom to do as they please and harming no one in the process.



posted on Oct, 3 2013 @ 11:59 AM
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American dream is still alive and well, but I see families working 2-3 jobs just to be able to keep up with the Jonses, house, 2 cars, 3 kids, a dog, and barely able to see/raise their kids because of the 2-3 jobs.

Its programmed into the Collective Consciousness to aim for all these things, but they are all unneccessary.

I live my life as a frugal minimalist, who refuses to bring kids into this kind of world, and most of my friends and family members who struggle, stress, and freak out about making enough to pay the bills each month, they all secretly tell me that they wish they had my life.

As long as I have a good cup of coffee in the morning, a little bit of savings, a few days off a week for time to work on my own hobbies/projects, then I'm happy.



posted on Oct, 4 2013 @ 02:23 AM
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reply to post by Saoquim
 


Thanks for sharing my point. I really think this is the case that the dream is relative. I don't think any two people can say they want the same things out of life. They may want the same fundamental basics, but what would really make them happy is something different entirely.

I am going to reference a few readings this weekend. William Chafe talks about things like this in several of his books off of the Oxford Press. He really hits the nail on the head when it comes to modernizing the look of the early 20th Century American agenda. If any of you have a chance to read any of Chafe's work it comes highly recommended.



posted on Oct, 4 2013 @ 03:14 AM
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Nice... sneaking away from chat. I'm not giving up that easy.

I think I can contribute on this topic.

As a European citizen. Dutch to be precise. This subject has crossed my path a lot.

The American dream, is about possibilities... The chance for every ambitious man, who isn't afraid to work hard, and for fill his dreams, to become successful in life.
No matter where you come from, or despite the lack of education. Every man can start on the bottom, and work themselves to the top.
the land of opportunities, as long as you grab on to them, with both hands, as you create the possibility, for new and better opportunities to cross your path.

Not everyone succeeds, but it's possible.

This dream promised that you can make a difference, and chance your life. together with a career, a wife, some kids, a new car, own your own land with your own house on it, Enjoy the fruits of American society, until the day you die.

It's not just an American dream... This dream has been the reason for countless of people, to become an American, the only nation with the promise of mountains of gold, and unlimited success, in reach, of the common man.
No other country, could offer this. You can't get successful if you were born in poverty anywhere else.

I think that the American way of life, in the land of opportunity, was the American dream.

For American citizens, the American dream, probably was less about new chance and opportunity, then it was about being successful , with all the commodities available.

My two cents anyway.



posted on Oct, 4 2013 @ 03:32 AM
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Taissa

skonaz
As an "international" (lol just not from the U.S.) member I'd say the american dream could have been the same for most western countries.
Your own home , 2.5 kids , a decent car and freedom from oppression are all anyone wanted post World War 2.

I do believe that dream is dead.
However not from it being percieved as inachievable but more that values have shifted from generation to generation.

I believe that , say from roughly Gen-X onward that there is a revised dream.
Material wealth no longer being the be all and end all.
Now I think we'd like to see the end of the Baby Boomer's monopoly on money, politics and media manipulation.
I like to think we want to see peace, equality, for everyone to be fed and housed and for damn sure much less beauracracy and less flat out BS in politics and media.

I think Occupy in it's infancy was a good sign of what the younger generations are now seeking albeit blindly and lacking focus.

Im a Gen-Xer , perhaps Gen-Y have returned to a more material path which would not be surprising considering what they are bombarded with from a very young age.


Gen-Xer here too. My parents, who were baby boomers, had more wealth. They were not rich, but they always had just enough. Enough to buy a home, a car, and take care of things whenever they came up. They also had just enough.. to squirrel away in savings. They were blue collar workers, and they worked very hard for everything that they got in factory jobs. With their many years in the factory, they both earned excellent pension plans and were able to prepare for their retirement in their 30's and 40's. Both of them were only high school educated. My mom never even graduated high school, yet she made more money in the 70's, 80's, and 90's, than most people do today.

My parents were always able to take vacations in the summers. We always went somewhere across country, like the Grand Canyon, Dodge City, The Ozarks, Yellowstone, etc.

I guess... that was the American dream for them. To just have the simple things that they desired. They never wanted riches... they just wanted enough to live happily.

I on the other hand will....

1. Never have the kind of job they had, since those jobs are outsourced to other countries
2. Never be able to buy a home. Not because of bad credit, but because I just won't have the money to do so.
3. Will never have a brand new car.
4. Will never be able to take the kind of vacations that they did. Vacation, what is that? I haven't been on one since 2002.
5. Will be paying off student loans for many years to come. Many.

At this point, my dream of having a child may die.. since I'm not in a good financial position.

My mom sees that my life is very different than the one she had. She actually cries about it sometimes, and she worries for me a great deal. She considers herself lucky, because she was young and working during a very prosperous time in our country, and she understands what we are all up against.

I don't even know what the American dream is supposed to be. What is it supposed to consist of?

As you said, we have to redefine and revise our dreams now. They look very different from our parents' lives and dreams.

I realize my perspective of what my life is going to be seems very negative, but I'm very much a realist and I can face the facts and I have come to accept it. We live in a different time, and I believe that things will get worse before they get better.

Revising my dreams does not mean giving up on my peace and happiness. I can live with very little. I can survive. I want to be independent. I want to work hard. I believe many will have to face the reality of living with much less, and quite soon.

Happiness is not going to be wrapped up in material wealth, but a different kind of wealth. That of family, friends, a place to call home, enough to eat, and our health.


never say never....you just won the power ball lotto for 600 million cash all in 1 dollar bills... now what's the first thing you're gonna do with the money?//



posted on Oct, 4 2013 @ 03:42 AM
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The dream of most Americans is to have a job, to have a steady rise in income over your lifetime as you build up your skills, to have security in your job, to have some health benefits from your employer, to have a retirement benefit from your employer plus Social Security, to make enough money so you can afford a down payment and make the monthly payments on your home. It’s the job, it’s health care, it’s the pension, and then owning a home and the hoping for a better future for your kids.


Anyone under 35 should sit down at some point and just do the math on what it takes to live and grow today to see just how outnumbered and enslaved you really are.

Want an example?
The average salary is (roughly) $50,000 a year. If you have a partner at equal pay then thats (roughly) $100,000. Now if you add in the 2.5 kids (which really equals 3 kids) current estimates say will cost $250,000 each to raise. Thats already $750,000 dollars...add in your home with taxes, mortgage payments, utilities and just general maintenance and you are easily looking at another $250,000.

Ultimately you need to pay someone else at least $1 million dollars just to come close to reaching the American dream.



posted on Oct, 4 2013 @ 03:50 AM
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It's not "The American Dream" so much as it is a human dream to achieve.

To be better than you are. To improve your lot in life through hard work, sweat equity.

It's not gone. It's just hidden behind a forest of red tape and interference. It's hidden behind blind greed of business and blind ambition of government. It is being co-opted by the nanny-state and bargained by corporations.

But it is still there. As long as there is one person working hard to make his/her life better, than that dream will continue to exist.

As much as any entity would like to extinguish that dream, it can't.



posted on Oct, 4 2013 @ 04:15 AM
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never say never....you just won the power ball lotto for 600 million cash all in 1 dollar bills... now what's the first thing you're gonna do with the money?//
reply to post by spartacus699
 


Change it into a bigger currency, or other form of valuable, so I it's easier to carry with me.
I don't know what 600.000.000 million, in dollar bills look like, but I assume it gets heavy fast.
edit on 10/4/2013 by Sinter Klaas because: to add a zero.



posted on Oct, 4 2013 @ 05:08 AM
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reply to post by Shugo
 


Its troublesome to hear so many say they cant have children due to economic concerns of one sort or another. That's our national legacy, personal legacy, the whole procreation thing being put on hold over dollar worries or personal freedom issues. Not to mention the whole 2.5 thing being planted into the mind over the years. I see many immigrants that don't listen to this nonsense.

Another indicator of the times around here are a chain of thrift stores opening up all over town. The better ones are always packed with shoppers on Saturday morning. This is not a bad thing its just that far more are seeing the value and necessity in shopping the thrifts and second hand stores.

And savings. I can remember in the 70s they were paying at one time 7%. So there is almost zero incentive to save with these traditional methods these days.

And now more than ever but not always, the better college education outcomes are going to the 3.5 grade average and above. It you cant pull a high GPA I would recommend not wasting your time and money. Back 30 years ago there were enough jobs to absorb the "B" students into something respectable. Not so any more. This is the most glaring example of the "dream" really being a dream. Forget "american literature" if your not professor material or plan to teach. Fill in the blanks here as there is zero job hopes and decent income in about half of what goes on at college. Success in the other half is reserved for the "A" student. If you cant pull the "A" status pick up a hammer or take up a trade. Or skip college and go to trade school better yet. Far, far better to earn around 20+- an hour without that student loan monkey on your back.



posted on Oct, 4 2013 @ 06:07 AM
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I like others truly believe that the "dream" is something to aspire to, to work towards. Didn't particualrly matter which country you were raised in. I'm 41 and back in the day when someone asked me how are ya? I'd usually reply, "living the dream" now at that time things were different and now I think about it, living the dream is much different now than it was then.
For example back then I had a good job, a few quid left over etc and had a holiday. Now, I am self employed, live week to week, can never afford my own house, and my last holiday was in 2003. But my aspect has changed.
I grow my own food where I can, have chickens etc and try to be as self sufficient as I can, paying bills weekly at the post office. Everything goes OK until something crops up, then I am in the poo as it were. But I manage.
I firmly believe in getting on in an honest and transparent way, simplifying things, using ideas such as barter and exchange, than geting bogged down with banks, cards, loans etc.
In short, what I am trying to say is that I may not be living the dream now, but I am really grateful for what I have, in that, like a lot of other people, I am not living a nightmare.
Interesting post OP, thanks.
edit on 4-10-2013 by Mufcutcakeyumyum because: spelling correction!



posted on Oct, 4 2013 @ 07:35 AM
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In every persons life, and in every societies history,
There is a time when they begin to think that

If only they were not subject to the limiting restraint of "others",
Of the majority, the collective, the rest of the group......
If they only had freedom from the laws and rules,
Then they would be able to create and construct the life of their dreams!
(Whatever that may be)

There is also a time,
When faced with that freedom,
It becomes evident that,
Even without the others pressing in upon you,
Your dreams can still die an early death, due to your own laziness, your appetites, contradicting desires and values; your ignorance, your physical and mental capabilities and health.
There are things, right within yourself, that you cannot control. Your ego is not as powerful as it likes to think.
The others were your scapegoats and excuse, and their pressure more of support than opposition.


The american dream was that of Individual Freedom and Power.
It simply went as far as it could, before it became obvious that the individual and the collective, self and others, are inter-dependant.

It's just a part of becoming mature, whether it's a person, or a society.

edit on 4-10-2013 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)





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