Is the American Dream dead?

By: Jerry Nix | Freewavemaker, LLC                         Date Published: Tuesday, October 24, 2023

“The American Dream is Dead” …

These were the words of one newscaster this past week. I could not believe my ears when I heard this “conservative” newsman say these words. “The cost of everything is so high now and incomes are so low that people just can’t afford the American Dream anymore,” he went on to ramble.

This is when I decided to turn the TV off and do a little research of my own. I mean come on … this is not the first time in our history that the cost of goods and services have outpaced the incomes that people are able to earn … be real!

There are a number of reasons why many in the news media today feel that the American Dream is no longer attainable. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • Rising economic or wealth inequality: The gap between the rich and the poor in the United States has been growing for decades. In 2021, the top 1% of earners in the United States took home 20.8% of all income, while the bottom 50% of earners took home just 12.8% of all income. This means that it is becoming increasingly difficult for people from low – and middle-income families to achieve economic mobility and move up the socioeconomic ladder.
  • The high cost of living, education, and healthcare: The cost of housing, healthcare, and education has been rising steadily in recent years, while wages have stagnated. This makes it difficult for people to save money and build wealth. It also makes it difficult for people to get the education and healthcare they need to succeed in the economy.
  • Stagnant Wages: Wages for most workers have not kept up with the cost of living, making it difficult for people to make ends meet. This can lead to financial insecurity and make it difficult to save for the future. I like to think it is not impossible to save for the future, but it is more difficult.
  • Job Security: The job market has become increasingly insecure in recent years, with more and more people working in temporary or contract jobs. This can make it difficult for people to plan for the future and feel confident that they will be able to provide for themselves and their families.
  • A lack of social mobility: The United States used to be known as a land of opportunity, where people from all backgrounds could rise above their circumstances and achieve success. Studies have shown that social mobility in the United States has declined in recent decades. This means that children from low-income families are more likely to remain in poverty than they were in the past.
  • A lack of affordable education: Some believe a college degree is increasingly necessary for good-paying jobs. I am not one of those. However, the cost of college has skyrocketed in recent decades, making it difficult for many people to afford if they want or need a college degree for their chosen profession. This is especially true for students from low-income families.
  • Discrimination: Many people in the United States still face discrimination based on their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and other factors. This discrimination can make it more difficult to find a job, get a loan, and achieve other goals.

The news media reports on these issues on a daily basis. As a result, many journalists and commentators have come to the conclusion that the American Dream is no longer a reality for many Americans.

So, exactly what is the American Dream?

The American Dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of their social class, race, ethnicity, gender, or religion, can achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative. It is the idea that the United States is a land of opportunity where anyone can rise above their circumstances and build a better life for themselves and their families. This has been proven to be factual time and time again.

The American Dream is often associated with material success, such as owning a home, having a good job, and accumulating wealth. However, it is more than just about money. It is also about having the freedom to pursue one’s dreams, to live a life that is fulfilling and meaningful.

The American Dream has been a powerful force in American culture for centuries. It has inspired immigrants to come to the United States in search of a better life, and it has motivated generations of Americans to work hard and achieve their goals.

While the American Dream is still a powerful ideal, it is important to recognize that it is not always easy to achieve. There are many obstacles that can stand in the way of success, such as poverty, discrimination, and lack of opportunity. However, the American Dream remains a powerful motivator because it offers hope and possibility to all.

Here is a more concise definition of the American Dream (if you are looking for a definition):

The American Dream is the belief that everyone in the United States has the opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative.

It is important to note that the American Dream is not a guarantee of success. It is simply the belief that everyone has a chance to succeed, regardless of their background.

But I think it is also important to realize that the American Dream actually can me different things to different people – and this is where one tends to get confused over the idea of the American Dream.

To one person it may mean accumulating so much wealth that at some point in time they never have to lift a finger to work again …

To others it may not be about wealth but simply the ability to work a job or career they like so much that beyond the wealth, they are willing to work till the day they drop dead doing what they love to do.

To me, it is simply the “freedom of choice” to do and live the way that makes you happy. As long as we have freedom, we will always have the “American Dream” and you can take that to the bank. Again, simply having an American Dream is not a guarantee of success. It is the belief that everyone has a chance to succeed in whatever way they define success. It will not be as easy for some as it may be for others … but it is there for all who want to take advantage of the dream and work for it.

There are numerous people who have achieved “their American Dream” that literally started with nothing. This does not mean they were all from poor backgrounds, but that they simply started with nothing they owned themselves, while some were from very poor backgrounds.

Here are just a few that most of you readers will be familiar with:

  • Oprah Winfrey: Winfrey was born into poverty in Mississippi. She was molested by multiple relatives and friends during her childhood. She became pregnant at the age of 14 and her baby was born prematurely and died shortly after birth. Winfrey was sent to live in a reform school, where she was further abused. Despite all of these challenges, Winfrey went on to become one of the most successful talk show hosts of all time. She is also a successful actress, producer, and philanthropist.
  • J.K. Rowling: Rowling was born in England to a working-class family. Her mother died of multiple sclerosis when Rowling was just 15 years old. Rowling struggled financially as a single mother of a young child. She wrote the first Harry Potter book while living on welfare. The Harry Potter series has sold over 500 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 80 languages. Rowling is now one of the richest women in the world.
  • Steve Jobs: Jobs was adopted by a working-class family in California. He dropped out of college and started Apple Computer in his garage with his friend Steve Wozniak. Apple went on to become one of the most successful technology companies in the world. Jobs was also the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, which was acquired by Disney in 2006.
  • Bill Gates: Gates was born into a wealthy family in Seattle, Washington. He started programming computers at a young age and dropped out of Harvard University to start Microsoft with his friend Paul Allen. Microsoft went on to become the dominant player in the personal computer software market. Gates is now one of the richest people in the world.
  • Mark Zuckerberg: Zuckerberg was born into a wealthy family in White Plains, New York. He started programming computers at a young age and founded Facebook while he was still a student at Harvard University. Facebook has become one of the most popular social media platforms in the world. Zuckerberg is now one of the richest people in the world.

This is just a small sample of the many people who have achieved the American Dream. These individuals have all overcome significant challenges to achieve success. Their stories are an inspiration to us all.

If you would like to know much more about the American Dream that seems so elusive to some today (but it really isn’t) you can read more on Wikipedia by following this link 🡪

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend!

Jerry Nix | Freewavemaker, LLC

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