American comedian George Carlin joked that "it's called the American Dream 'cause you have to be asleep to believe it."
Is this true? Is this as good as it gets, as close as we will ever get to The American Dream?
To me, it sounds more like a nightmare……
The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States of America in which democratic ideals are perceived as a promise of prosperity for its
people. In the American Dream, first expressed by James Truslow Adams in 1931, citizens of every rank feel that they can achieve a "better, richer,
and happier life." The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence which states that "all men
are created equal
" and that they have "certain inalienable Rights
" including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The "American Dream" has been credited with helping to build a cohesive American experience but has also been blamed for over inflated expectations.
The presence of the American Dream has not historically helped the majority of minority race and lower class American citizens to gain a greater
degree of social equality and influence. Instead, the American wealth structure has often been observed to sustain class differences in which
well-positioned groups continue to be advantaged.
“The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each
according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have
grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman
shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the
fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."
- Historian and writer James Truslow Adams in his 1931 book Epic of America
Mr. Adams penned these words in the midst of the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis in our history. It is timely to reflect on these words,
as it appears that the American Dream is slipping further out of reach for most Americans. If the dream of a better life for our future generations is
lost, it will truly mark a turning point for our great Republic. The reason the American Dream is slipping away is due to the actions of politicians
running our government and bureaucrats running the Federal Reserve. Those with ability who have earned a better life through their hard work,
intelligence and integrity should be attaining a higher position in the social order. Instead, our government is rewarding those Americans who have
taken unwarranted risks, made brainless decisions, and willingly chose the course of excessive debt to climb the social ladder.
As the politicians scurry to “save” capitalism through the use of communist measures, more Americans are becoming disheartened. The definition of
communism according to Webster’s is:
A system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed.
George Bush, Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke have decided to seize money from the vast majority of Americans who lived within their means, utilized
debt sparingly, and worked hard to get ahead, and give it to the most appalling failures in our society. They have shovelled billions to banks that
operated their businesses like gambling parlours. They have shovelled hundreds of millions to people who bought houses with no money down, interest
only mortgages and fraudulent loan applications. They are now rewarding automakers who made the wrong vehicles, pay 30,000 workers per year to not
work, and have only been able to “sell” cars by giving them away with 0% financing to any schmuck who could sign on the dotted line. These acts
fit the definition of communism. We are now more communist than China.
The American Dream was not founded upon wealth and materialism. It revolves around achieving a better life based on the merits of your intelligence,
hard work and contribution to the community of all Americans. There is a moral aspect to the American Dream that has been lost over time. James
Truslow Adams addressed it in an essay he wrote in 1929:
"There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live. Surely these should never be confused in
the mind of any man who has the slightest inkling of what culture is. For most of us it is essential that we should make a living...In the
complications of modern life and with our increased accumulation of knowledge, it doubtless helps greatly to compress some years of experience into
far fewer years by studying for a particular trace or profession in an institution; but that fact should not blind us to another—namely, that in so
doing we are learning a trade or a profession, but are not getting a liberal education as human beings."
Our current system of incentives is inconsistent with the equal rights of others. I was taught the difference between right and wrong by my parents.
The pursuit of happiness by Americans is where the American Dream has gone off the track. The pursuit of excessive wealth, power, influence, luxury
automobiles, McMansions, and electronic devices has substituted for happiness in the world we live in today. Whatever means necessary to achieve this
bastardized American Dream (Nightmare?) has been the mantra of the “Me Generation”. Every disgraced CEO of the last year was part of the Baby Boom
generation. Parents, schools, corporations, media and government have taught Americans how to make a living, but have done a horrific job in teaching
Americans how to live. The government and Federal Reserve have encouraged the warped American Dream through the use of insane tax, fiscal, and
interest rate policies.