7/7/10

Whither The American Dream

The New York Times ran an article, “American Dream Is Elusive for New Generation” which really got me musing. The implication of the article is that The American Dream has almost become a nightmare for the millennium generation.

The American Dream has some sort of mystique about it. Just what is the American Dream? According to Wikipedia, “The meaning of the "American Dream" has changed over the course of history. While historically traced to the New World mystique — especially the availability of low-cost land for farm ownership — the ethos today simply indicates the ability, through participation in the society and economy, for everyone to achieve prosperity. According to the dream, this includes the opportunity for one's children to grow up and receive a good education and career without artificial barriers . It is the opportunity to make individual choices without the prior restrictions that limit people according to their class, caste, religion, race, or ethnicity”.

The last sentence, is the part of the American Dream that has driven this country to greatness and I submit that it is no more elusive for today’s youth than it was the children of the Great Depression. In fact, one might argue that restrictions limiting choice are fewer than they were decades ago and promise to be even fewer if our government can go back to governing rather than firefighting. The Dream is not elusive as long as Americans continue to have the fortitude to overcome all obstacles in their path to a better life.

People have the freedom “to make individual choices without the prior restrictions that limit people according to their class, caste, religion, race, or ethnicity” but people may very well be limited in those choices because too much emphasis has been put on the part of the American Dream which emphasizes prosperity.

Witness the Great Recession which lingers on today. At the very roots of the 2008 financial meltdown was the quest for prosperity fueled by greed and financial irresponsibility leading to an American Nightmare rather than an American Dream. As we have seen , this quest to achieve prosperity has relied less on the participation in the society and the economy and more on greed. Abuses of our financial system in order to achieve prosperity has led to the American Nightmare.

As long as the corporate and financial world persist on minimizing their responsibilities as corporate citizens of America, the American Nightmare will persist. As long as the consumer puts greed ahead of financial responsibility, the American Nightmare will persist.  A reckless quest for prosperity is creating obstacles which even American fortitude will find difficult to overcome. As a result the millennium generation will indeed be shortchanged.

1 comment:

Charles Leck said...

I shall use that last paragraph in a coming blog. I think it is not only correct but put quite profoundly here. CEOs with the opportunity for personal bonus payments in the hundreds of millions of dollars tend to push and push and push beyond the limits and often beyond the law because of their own greed and ugly ambition.