Type of paper: Essay

Topic: America, United States, American Dream, Economics, Life, Economy, Politics, Government

Pages: 2

Words: 550

Published: 2020/12/02

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The term “The American dream” was first used by James Truslow Adams in 1931. It was taken to represent an economy whereby everyone benefitted and led a more fulfilled life through equal opportunities. Nevertheless, this definition has evolved over time and led to an economic system which reveres self-progression and self preservation which has led to gaping disparities in incomes and living conditions. As a result, people have grown unhappier as they pursue material possessions at the expense of social ties. The notion of the American dream and the struggle to achieve it, therefore, has led to more misery than happiness. Conversely, Americans who initially lived under the spirit of the American dream found happiness and contentment by earning just enough to live comfortably. Also, poor governance and the worship of material wealth have been blamed for the suffering endured by those who pursue the dream. This is a paper on the American dream and its effects as depicted by the four articles by Keli Goff, Bob Herbert, Robert H. Frank, and Cal Thomas.
Frank quotes income inequality as the most undesirable aspect of living in an American dream driven society. He remarks that immediately after World War II, the economy grew steadily at a 3% rate driven by a vibrant middle class. Also, there was good infrastructure coupled by an optimistic society. In contrast, the present economic situation as observed in the last three decades is appalling. As observed, the economic growth, driven by the top echelons of the society, has declined rapidly. Similarly, the total of the country’s income earned by the top 1% has risen from 8.9% to 23.5 in the duration running from 1976 to in 2007. Furthermore, the hourly inflation adjusted wages have declined by more than $7. Finally, Frank (par. 16) considers the high income inequality as a moral issue which does not benefit the economy or the top earners themselves.
Herbert blames the American dream for the “sad” state of the American economy. He expresses fear that the American children will inherit a nation consumed by pursuance of a dream that promotes individualism. According to him, a poor economy, unemployment, and overseas wars are factors which are cumulatively leading to poor living conditions. Also, he cites the situation after the Great Recession in America where immigrants gained 656,000 jobs while natives lost 1.2 million jobs even though the immigrants worked at much lower rates (Herbert par. 3). Nonetheless, he points this as a move in the right direction to the rejuvenation of the American dream where everybody who wanted work got a decent pay to support themselves and their families.
According to Herbert, the situation right now in America is far much removed from the economic climate of Americans living under the American dream ethos. America is still recovering from the great recession. Furthermore, the situation is exacerbated by the continuation of poor economic policies that led to the recession. Also, deficit reduction as a strategy to mitigate the effects of the recession does not help either. In addition, the country also has to fork out money for international wars that it is currently engaged in (Hebert par. 6). As a result, Herbert says that human suffering will only increase as rampant cost cutting measures ensues such as reduction of the work force, health and pension benefits, and rising taxes.
According to Goff, achieving the American dream means owning a house, educating two children and driving a good car. Therefore, the cost of the American dream depicted by these milestones, she says, is way too far from affordable by the average American. Also, she cites figures quoted in “USA Today” which pegs the average annual cost of maintaining the living costs of an American dream at $130,000. This high cost and the stereotypical definition of the American dream has created discontentment among many Americans (Goff par. 1).
Goff notes that a lot of young Americans are abandoning the generic American dream and creating their own. This is signified by the increase in the number of people living alone as not everybody is cut out for marriage. Also, not everybody has the temperament to be a parent. Furthermore, the mortgage meltdown, he says, does not help the situation either as more and more people opt to reasonable rent rates as compared to owning a house. Finally, Goff attributes debt as a negative result of the pursuance of the modern day American dream. Mortgages, student loans, and buying of house furnishing items on debt have put individuals into huge debt pits (Goff par. 11).
Carl Thomas concurs with Herbert on laying the blame on the government for America’s sad shape. Thomas excoriates the government for taking on an open-ended war without the people’s consent. He laments the dying American dream being killed by a runaway government which is over-regulating, over-taxing, and over-spending. Also, he censures the government for monopolizing the education system thereby denying poor students access to quality education offered in private schools. According to him, government control has led to decline in content quality in public schools, a situation which has led to production of poor half-baked graduates who lack intellectually. Finally, he concludes that the overreaching government has inculcated an entitlement mentality which has stymied self-reliance, self-initiative, and accountability (Thomas par. 3).
The American dream in its traditional form as discussed by the four writers is not beneficial to the economy or its individual seekers. Americans are adapting to a new system characterized by individualistic way of life by living according to ones tastes instead of subscribing to traditional norms. The economy too has suffered from the glorification of a system that advances self interests instead of the common good.

Works Cited

Frank, Robert. “Income Inequality: Too Big to Ignore.” New York Times 16 October 2010. Web. 9 Feb 2015.
Goff, Keli. “The American Dream Is Dead, and Good Riddance”. The Daily Beast 7 July 2014. Web. 9 Feb 2015.
Herbert, Bob. “Hiding From Reality”. New York Times 19 November 2010. Web. 9 Feb 2015.
Thomas, Cal. “Is the American Dream Over?” Townhall 21January 2015. Web. 17 Feb 2015.

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WePapers. (2020, December, 02) The American Dream Essay Samples. Retrieved December 01, 2021, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-american-dream-essay-samples/
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The American Dream Essay Samples. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-american-dream-essay-samples/. Published Dec 02, 2020. Accessed December 01, 2021.
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