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Sunday, October 13, 2013

What happened to the American Dream?


*a re-enactment of early pioneer days

We think of life as a mortgage note, a promissory note with an amount and a date, a place and time in the future when debts are all paid up and we can live our golden days without worries. Just sign, work hard, and see. You may not see the benefit of your hard work before you die, but your children will as they inherit the place free and clear and start their future with your help. A house will make their American dream come alive.

Our grandparents, with a life expectancy of fifty-sixty years managed to pay off their mortgages, raise five to eight children, and help the next generation become more stable and self reliant. Each dreamed that the next generation was to be more secure and better educated than the last.

About thirty years ago, in my generation, taxes for the wealthy were frozen by a series of deductions and shelters concocted so the wealthy had ways to hide their money, while the average Joe's salary and benefits began to shrink and costs for a gallon of milk, and car insurance jumped faster than the average raise.  If your company had previously promised you a pension for the many years you worked, it began to find ways to renege on that promise by  a variety of mergers, negotiations, or declaring insolvency.  

Wall Street managed to screw up the American economy and took State and Municipalities' accounts into the same vortex as savings held in stocks and bonds and bank notes by ordinary citizens.
When Wall Street  collapsed, the economy collapsed. None of the individual investors recouped their losses. Companies liquidated. If you anticipated a pension, chances are your company was no longer able to deliver one. So many regulatory standards had been ignored; and policies to re-intestate strong safeguards came under attack.  Somehow, in our naivete' we thought, for sure, that having a lot of regulations meant we were not going to get a good return on our investments.

So where are we today? There are still many of us who are in the dark about how the recession occurred and who is to blame for it. There are still many who feel regulations are bad for our economy. There are still many who want no government at all.

I only know one thing for sure: our American dream has collapsed.
Why are we not talking about that?

16 comments:

Kathleen McCoy said...

You're so right, Rosaria! All the concocted crises we're seeing now are diversionary tactics and ways to further erode the social safety net. it's beyond scary. I'm amazed that people aren't taking to the streets but I think the focus is so on survival, on trying to make ends meet and get a job. It's so sad. I really feel for younger people. And I'm concerned for us, too, in all this uncertainty and in this "winner take all" mindset. I'm distressed that so many people have voted and are continuing to vote against their best interests.

Rob-bear said...

They call it "The American Dream" because it only happens when you're sleeping. When you're awake, it's "The American Nightmare."

It all comes from having business — big business (huge business) — and government living hand in glove. It is possible to buy an election, something which the wealthy can do. And then the "bought" turn around and reward the "buyers." The political process is called Fascism — it takes control of the country out of the hands of ordinary citizens, and share it between government and business. Thus, Benito Mussolini.

Other than that, America is just fine. Canada, too.

Blessings and Bear hugs!

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Not sure it is just an American Dream..... have a good week. Diane

Brian Miller said...

i think all in all we feel little control of what is left if anything of the american dream...and there are a lot of reasons...and i think the dream was surplanted by our desire for conquest...we took the brave new world and once we vanquished that foe we turned elsewhere and then onto ourselves....

The Broad said...

Somewhere along the line we began to think we could have it all -- instead of thinking about all we have. What concerns me the most is how much hatred and anger there seems to be and that that hatred and anger seems to unite such a large segment of the population.

ds said...

I think Brian makes an excellent point. Deregulation has done us no favors.

Becky Jerdee said...

We're all in our corners getting ready for the revolution...we'll come out fighting!

My Maine Blog said...

My sentiments exactly Rosaria. Soon our United States is going to look like a third world country because there is so much fighting and hatred within our government. What has happened to showing compassion and understanding and looking at things from another point of view...there's something to be said about "Walk A Mile In My Shoes". All of our politicians need to walk a mile in some of our shoes to know the real impact that they are forcing on us. I guess it's time to turn complacency into speaking up for our rights and speaking very loud. Not sure how to do that because I for one do not have a clue but if there were a way to get rid of everyone in Congress my name would be at the top of the list to make it happen and to get real people deciding our fate.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rosaria .. love your picture and the concept of life back then .. it was I'm sure more peaceful - hard-working, but at least honest.

Now somehow we have to cope on our own - interesting to read - Hilary

Maggie May said...

I'm afraid its not just America that is having a problem. People over here are also finding things really difficult and the Government seems to be taking everything away bit by bit.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

rosaria williams said...

Perhaps things have always been complicated. The problem nowadays is that those with means want to regulate what government can and cannot do. One man one vote should prevent that.

Tom Sightings said...

I see a lot of the same problems as you do, but I'm much more optimistic. I see kids coming out of high school and college, many of them brilliant and much more focused than we were ... and they are finding their way. I also see a number of 20-somethings for whom English is their second language, and while they are not as well prepared, they are every bit as ambitious and I don't think they'll just lie down and take what's given to them. At least ... I hope not.

yaya said...

I see politicians only concerned with their own welfare. I see many able bodied people only concerned with getting welfare. I live in a small town, but there are many jobs available. The problem? According to most of the companies, it's hard to find workers that can pass a drug test. I think if you apply for welfare you should have to pass a drug test to qualify. Getting the "dream" is possible but perhaps we need to start out with a "nap" and work really hard to upgrade to a "dream". My Dad died at age 56 but he left a home mortgage free, cars paid off, no credit card debt. Mom never got a dime of his pension..no widow benefits..never took a dime of social security due her. She worked 3 jobs, finished putting the last of 6 kids through college. At 87 she still has a paid off home and lives comfortably on her own pension & SS. I don't have all the answers, but maybe we need to go back to living like the lady in your pic!

Russell C.J. Duffy said...

Not just the American dream but western society enmasse. Great Britain helped forge the Industrial Revolution. We created what seemed a better life, and in many ways it was. Over here we have the NHS and all of us have shared in the wonder of modern technology BUT...
The machine we created, at the risk of sounding like some aging hippie, no longer is run bu us. It now does the reverse and runs us. People wanted a better life style but sacrificed it for the sake of belief in something they saw or thought as being better.
What a pity we cannot combine the old ways of roots and soil, of honest labour rewarded fairly with all the whizz bang technology we now have.

troutbirder said...

Lots of reasons for sure. But our short attention span hasn't helped. Talk radio and cable TV gives simplistic diversionary answers appealing to the already ignorant. The wealthy hide behind all this and pull the strings...

A Cuban In London said...

Your post resonates with what some of my friends who live in the States have already mentioned. Maybe the American Dream was only that, a dream and reality is setting in somehow. I don't know but from this side of the pond I look at people getting quite worried. What an honest post you've written today. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.