American Dream

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  • #1
quantumcarl
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I'm not too sure about what the American Dream is... I think it has to do with recognizing and actualizing opportunity. And the fact that anyone can do it.

I think its a really grand idea!

It seems to have sprouted from the suppressive effect of the Feifdoms and Landlords of the English, German and Italian traditions. America offered an escape from the tyranny of these traditions and people went for it.

What's your idea of the American Dream?
 

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  • #2
russ_watters
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Originally posted by quantumcarl
I'm not too sure about what the American Dream is... I think it has to do with recognizing and actualizing opportunity. And the fact that anyone can do it.

What's your idea of the American Dream?
Thats pretty much it. The main problem with it is that it is such an extrordinary thing that many (most?) people don't believe it is possible and make that a self-fulfilling prophecy.
 
  • #3
Dissident Dan
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I'm going to try to live the American Dream. I think that I have the skills to do it. However, I think that it's not possible for everyone to "live the American Dream", because that usually involves being famous or having well above average wealth..which, both of which, by definition, cannot apply to everyone.
 
  • #4
For some of us, wealth has nothing to do with living the American Dream. In retrospect, the financial worst of times was the best of times(Apologies to Dickens).

Rgeards
 
  • #5
russ_watters
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Originally posted by Dissident Dan
However, I think that it's not possible for everyone to "live the American Dream", because that usually involves being famous or having well above average wealth..which, both of which, by definition, cannot apply to everyone.
I don't believe that being famous is part of the American Dream. And if everyone were a millionaire, "average wealth" would be a million dollars.
 
  • #6
My idea of the American dream consisted of;
Owning your own house, being able to comfortably support a family, and having the opportunity to create your own business, be your own boss, and make lots of money.

Rage Against The Machine, on the other hand, says;
Hypocrisy, Brutality, the Elite... all of which are American Dreams.
 
  • #7
quantumcarl
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Originally posted by russ_watters
I don't believe that being famous is part of the American Dream. And if everyone were a millionaire, "average wealth" would be a million dollars.

this is not unbelievable to me.

Each person is worth an infinite amount to each other person... in terms of their potential.

A factory worker can come up with the extreme best way to do something that saves the factory owner millions of dollars. It is in the owner's best interest to foster that relationship with all people. And, of course, a good relationship is recognizable in the presence of equal pay for equal efficiancy and contribution. Rewarding ingenuity only fosters more ingenuity and this can only lead to better products and production.

The woman at home with the kids can become the next Oprah or the next big Jewlery designer... or contract out her tutoring skils as a Sculptor or musician.

This type of condition was never possible under the Old World Kingdoms. People were classified and stamped and sent off to dig the coal or the field or the fresh dung.

In the American Dream a person can get a start as a coal miner or a McDonalds employee... and concentrate on a goal that they are assured of getting if they are persistant. There won't be some dark figure telling them their family belongs to it... that they owe the Landlord another 3 generations of farming to pay their great great great great granddaddies debts.

Todays economy works a little better... it is a science and it is intticately woven with the science of sociology. This is where Democracy works its way in. Tolerance of religion, creed, tradition...and this tolerance is what the american dream is founded on... the tolerance is metamorphized by the american dream where each individual has so much to offer to its Country that the Country, by way of Democratic rule, no longer must "tolerate" these various types of peoples... but will profit, as a whole, by experiencing this variety of ideas and cultures/peoples.

Thanks.
 
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  • #8
The American Dream is a compelling myth. If you want to measure its accuracy, I guess it's fairly accurate if you are talking about the opportunites for improvement from the level at which you are at. But it's not accurate if you try to describe America as a level playing field where everyone has a fair and equal opportunity to become president, the next Michael Jordan or Michael Jackson. Then it's more like a handicap race with the most privileged starting well ahead of the pack.
 
  • #9
russ_watters
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Originally posted by N_Quire
The American Dream is a compelling myth. If you want to measure its accuracy, I guess it's fairly accurate if you are talking about the opportunites for improvement from the level at which you are at. But it's not accurate if you try to describe America as a level playing field where everyone has a fair and equal opportunity to become president, the next Michael Jordan or Michael Jackson. Then it's more like a handicap race with the most privileged starting well ahead of the pack.
If you replaced the word "privileged" with "able," we'd be in near complete agreement. Though "myth" is a little strong of a word too.

Many people seem to think the American Dream should simply be handed out stapled to your US birth certificate. Thats not the way it works. You have to EARN it. Some people are not smart enough, motivated enough, or tenacious enough to earn it. But that doesn't mean it isn't available to them. Certainly some people have more obstacles to overcome than others, but that does NOT mean that there is a level of obstruction that can't be overcome. People have realized the American Dream from the worst possible starting point.
 
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  • #10
kat
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"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." -James Truslow Adams, The Epic of America
 
  • #11
Russ, I don't think that starting with wealthy, famous or in other way privileged parents has anything to do with the children's ability. The child of such parents has a head start and that head start can even compensate for a lack of ability. Just look at George W Bush.
 
  • #12
quantumcarl
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Originally posted by russ_watters
If you replaced the word "privileged" with "able," we'd be in near complete agreement. Though "myth" is a little strong of a word too.

Many people seem to think the American Dream should simply be handed out stapled to your US birth certificate. Thats not the way it works. You have to EARN it. Some people are not smart enough, motivated enough, or tenacious enough to earn it. But that doesn't mean it isn't available to them. Certainly some people have more obstacles to overcome than others, but that does NOT mean that there is a level of obstruction that can't be overcome. People have realized the American Dream from the worst possible starting point.

I agree, the proof is all over the place.

There's this guy who's been whacked with a brain hemmorage and heart failure... for whatever reasons... who is easily making 30 - 40 grand a year driving around in his little custom wheelchair... He's sold space on the thing to all the local bussinesses for advertising. Each space brings him 300 bucks a year... he's got room for about 50 ads. This guy is having fun, meeting people and raking in the cash... and he's not ripping anyone off.

He's simply living the dream

The Canadian Dream, however, is slightly different. I think it involves images of Don Cherry in a plaid, pleated miniskirt on a can of beer... and a frozen muckluck for lunch. Don't ask.
 
  • #13
The American Dream is... you can appear on a show called Fear Factor, eat some cockroaches and worms and win $100,000 or you can go to a good graduate school, do a masters and phd in physics and then join the unemployment line.
 
  • #14
quantumcarl
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Originally posted by N_Quire
The American Dream is... you can appear on a show called Fear Factor, eat some cockroaches and worms and win $100,000 or you can go to a good graduate school, do a masters and phd in physics and then join the unemployment line.

Why would anyone join the unemployment line (whatever that is)?

No telling for taste... or imagination (or lack thereof), I guess.
 
  • #15
Some people would lie to you(and themselves), and claim that ability and hard work are all it takes to get teh 'American dream.' They are[//i] wrong, though, because so much of attainuing sucess depends on factors out of our hands. To claim otherwise is short-sighted, and frankly false. Who your parents are, what economic class you are born into, etc, play a HUGE role in your adult acheivements.

The people who believe otherwise are just wrong.
 
  • #16
Dissident Dan
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I would also add to that list: the intelligence that you are born with, along with other factors that are out of your control (at least, partially) that are still part of you, stuff as physical abilities and attributes.
 
  • #17
This American Dream, is it for each individual to decide, or is it for another to tell him about?
 
  • #18
Most wealthy Americans can truthfully say they had a very poor great grand parent.

Each of us aspires to fulfill our own dream.

Regards
 
  • #19
quantumcarl
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Originally posted by GENIERE
Most wealthy Americans can truthfully say they had a very poor great grand parent.

Each of us aspires to fulfill our own dream.

Regards

Yes, this is a natural tendency that is less prohibited in America than it is in some other countries. Cuba, on the other hand is still working on the theory that handing out food vouchers and artificially limiting incomes if people like it or not is a good, evolutionary social policy. Kind of like a worrisome nannie.
 
  • #20
Originally posted by GENIERE
Most wealthy Americans can truthfully say they had a very poor great grand parent.

Each of us aspires to fulfill our own dream.

Regards

What I find is ironic is that those great grandparents would credit things like opportunities and luck as much as their own hard work...while their great grandchildren, who never worked for anything, would claim that people are poor simply because they aren't trying hard enough.
 
  • #21
quantumcarl
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Originally posted by Zero
What I find is ironic is that those great grandparents would credit things like opportunities and luck as much as their own hard work...while their great grandchildren, who never worked for anything, would claim that people are poor simply because they aren't trying hard enough.

Some people like being poor... that's the opportunity they've seen and that they've gone for.

Robert DeNero was a security guard at Penn Station or another. Not a big wage... Obviously his idea was not to remain in that wage category or that profession. He dreamed... he made good on his dreams... that's the American Dream... something like 20 million per picture!

My compatriot Brian Adams used to serve burgers at a restaurant that my wife almost had my first kid in... not his dream... there in poverty... there in the grease pit.

Today, Brian has met the Queen, Paul McCartney, EVERYBODY in the music buz... and has many gold records. That is the manifestation of his dreams... and he did this by seizing the opportunities available to him... that are available to everyone.

Look at Stephan Hawkings. Most people would have stayed in their hospital room and given up... (taking that opportunity over all others)... Now look at the guy!... he's even chasing his secretary around... (not that I know... simple gossip)!
 
  • #22
quantumcarl
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American Dream:

does this imply that America is asleep? A "sleeping giant"?

It could. But, originally, the term was coined by some pretty experienced and bright people. If I had the time I'd find out who exactly coined the phrase and developed the concept. If any of you by the glory of the dawning of the coming of the light dudes or dudettes know off hand who started this snowball, the american dream, please illuminate this thread with your info. Thank you very much!
 
  • #23
kat
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Originally posted by quantumcarl
American Dream:

does this imply that America is asleep? A "sleeping giant"?

It could. But, originally, the term was coined by some pretty experienced and bright people. If I had the time I'd find out who exactly coined the phrase and developed the concept. If any of you by the glory of the dawning of the coming of the light dudes or dudettes know off hand who started this snowball, the american dream, please illuminate this thread with your info. Thank you very much!

Uhh..I thought I already had!:wink:
Originally posted by kat
"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." -James Truslow Adams, The Epic of America
 
  • #24
quantumcarl
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Originally posted by kat
Uhh..I thought I already had!:wink:

Yes, I wondered if that quote was from the originator or
an expansion on the existing idea.

Do you know which it is?
Is the statement 200 years old or more?

Obviously not since it mentions motor cars.

Did the American Dream start at the same time as Ford?
 
  • #25
kat
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Originally posted by quantumcarl
Yes, I wondered if that quote was from the originator or
an expansion on the existing idea.

Do you know which it is?
Is the statement 200 years old or more?

Obviously not since it mentions motor cars.

Did the American Dream start at the same time as Ford?

The term was first coined in Adams novel, The Epic of America. The book was published in the early 193o's during the worst of the depression. I believe Adams expressed that the "American Dream" had always existed, that in fact it was the ideal that our country was built upon. I think Ford's automobile production started a few decades before that.
 
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  • #26
Dissident Dan
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It looks like we have a way to go, then. Hopefully, we can continue to make progress.
 
  • #27
quantumcarl
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Originally posted by kat
The term was first coined in Adams novel, The Epic of America. The book was published in the early 193o's during the worst of the depression. I believe Adams expressed that the "American Dream" had always existed, that in fact it was the ideal that our country was built upon. I think Ford's automobile production started a few decades before that.

Thank you kat...

that's pretty wild... James Truslow Adams... identifier of a certain, very healthy quality of the United States of America. Excellent!

Canadian Dream? The return of the fashionablity of shag carpets and black light posters. (not really) actually, I couldn't tell ya.

Could be more something like Gold Fever.. we had quite a bout of that back before the depression... it was a big boom for the Cnd Northwest.
We learned a bit of independence then.

People left their Landloards and Kingdomes and Servitile existences and struck out to become independent prospectors and dream-makers. The Gold Rush could have been the seed of our dream. As nightmarish as it may have been!:wink: Thanks again
 
  • #28
Originally posted by quantumcarl
Some people like being poor... that's the opportunity they've seen and that they've gone for.


This is one of the most ignorant things I have ever read...pretty impressive! How do you explain poor people with two jobs? I know ALOT of them.
 
  • #29
russ_watters
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Originally posted by Zero
This is one of the most ignorant things I have ever read...pretty impressive! How do you explain poor people with two jobs? I know ALOT of them.
They should get better jobs. Not enough school or training? Get some. There is no excuse for an able-bodied/unburdoned person being poor in the US.
 
  • #30
kat
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Originally posted by russ_watters
They should get better jobs. Not enough school or training? Get some. There is no excuse for an able-bodied/unburdoned person being poor in the US.


There are just too many possible impacting factors in life that could undermine this outlook, even for the able bodied and highly educated. I know people here in Maine who have worked hard all their lives, lost their jobs through the closing of so many of the mills here, many of them with college educations and still unable to get jobs, competing with 100's for jobs in positions on the level of a cashier at a pizza place. Often hard working people with multiple jobs can't afford to stop working in order to get further education, and today more then ever perhaps..it is very clear that a degree isn't the key to success it used to be.
 
  • #31
Originally posted by kat
There are just too many possible impacting factors in life that could undermine this outlook, even for the able bodied and highly educated. I know people here in Maine who have worked hard all their lives, lost their jobs through the closing of so many of the mills here, many of them with college educations and still unable to get jobs, competing with 100's for jobs in positions on the level of a cashier at a pizza place. Often hard working people with multiple jobs can't afford to stop working in order to get further education, and today more then ever perhaps..it is very clear that a degree isn't the key to success it used to be.

All good points...and to me, sometimes it seems like people who ignore these points want to maintain the illusion that everything they have is based solely on hard work, and want to discount things like their parent's ability to help, luck, being in the right place at the right time, etc.
 
  • #32
quantumcarl
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Originally posted by Zero
All good points...and to me, sometimes it seems like people who ignore these points want to maintain the illusion that everything they have is based solely on hard work, and want to discount things like their parent's ability to help, luck, being in the right place at the right time, etc.

I think its all about recognizing opportunity.

If you don't know how to recognize opportunity... you will miss out on it. So... if you're in the right place at the right time... if you have parents willing to help you or educate you... if you have a large lump of quartz impregnated with gold in front of you... and you are unable to recognized these gifts and opportunities (for whatever reason)... then... yer screwed.

That's why its a good idea to get a well rounded education or to offer one to your children. Education is the key to recognizing a good opportunity as opposed to a stinky one.

One thing evident in the past in America is the opportunity for people to advance their education. This, perhaps, is the foundation of the American Dream. Mind you... the europeans who came to this continent... with a ruck sack and a family of 18... would say the foundation of the American Dream was the large amounts of free land being offered. But, it still took some education to recognize this offer as a good thing.
 
  • #33
Originally posted by quantumcarl


That's why its a good idea to get a well rounded education or to offer one to your children. Education is the key to recognizing a good opportunity as opposed to a stinky one.

One thing evident in the past in America is the opportunity for people to advance their education. This, perhaps, is the foundation of the American Dream. Mind you... the europeans who came to this continent... with a ruck sack and a family of 18... would say the foundation of the American Dream was the large amounts of free land being offered. But, it still took some education to recognize this offer as a good thing.

On teh other hand, if a kid only gets one meal a day, and lives in poverty, how good of an education can he get?
 
  • #34
quantumcarl
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Originally posted by Zero
On teh other hand, if a kid only gets one meal a day, and lives in poverty, how good of an education can he get?

In this case, your right... the basic needs are to be met for your children. This helps to build a strong constitution upon which to build a strong education. This is where parents... practical and experienced or educated parents come in handy.

However, the children who learn to survive on one meal a day and still enjoy life are often the ones that learn, early on, what a good opportunity looks like. It looks like two meals a day, maybe... or a tricycle with wheels that work. Whatever. Kids are smart. If they don't get what their body is asking for... they go out and find it.

There are a ton of success stories out of America that speak of children who had nothing growing up. This condition made them hungry for the things they didn't have. It also made them appreciate the little things. Consider Elvis, for example. If you're American you probably know more stories than me.

The other factor... glaringly obvious... is the parenting of the child. In some cases the parents had no scruples... were too drunk... too hung up on their own trips... to get down and provide a good example for their children. The provision of good examples of values, respect of others... etc... seem to help the impoverished or any child grow up and succeed in their "American Dream".

Values, good manners and respect don't cost squat. These are perhaps some of the other components of the American Dream. Why is it that they are beginning to become extinct? Who knows... perhaps its natural for all things to go the way of the Pteridactyl.
 
  • #35
Raven
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The American dream is simply that -- a dream.

It just doesn't add for me. There are no gains with no losses. When someone rises another falls. All are taught to strive for the highest gains, but it is never mentioned how many will suffer. The hierarchy that exists in a capitalistic society is built on an elite top with a huge bottom base of low and medium range wage workers who support them. Without this structure it may collapse.

Everyone will strive to rise, but in reality the system can only allow a few to actually move up. In time the base will increase the the top will shrink. Dismal thinking I know, but that's how I see it.

Needless to say, the opportunities that exist in America are abundant, unfortunately the greed that feeds it tends to be self-destructive to the country and the world in general. This country's wealth in my opinion has prospered on other countries means as well as on its own citizens. I personally think the dream should be revised to take what you need and make sure to contribute back what you can. Capitalism in itself isn't the problem but like all systems it has its flaws. The death of a capitalistic system will be caused by those who horde (that could probably to all systems).
 

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