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Should American buy in American Dream?

  1. Mar 16, 2012 #1
    The kind of story that build an empire from nothing with bare hands?

    But of course, it is very tempting isn't it? Like my fav. American Dream denialee, George Carlin, he got rich by telling jokes! And most (normal) people like him! Although he was not filthy rich.

    Do most American still buy in that? Or do they laugh at it as if it's some kind of joke? Does it wield no power over current American, as it should be considered something belongs to the 50s?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2012 #2


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    History has shown that empires collapse. The reasons for that debated fiercely and you can add your own speculation to the mix, but just looking at the record if an empire does spontaneously be created, it ends up usually combusting later down the line.
  4. Mar 16, 2012 #3


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    Chiro, the word "empire" was poorly chosen by the OP - it was not meant in the way you used it.

    Many still believe in the American dream. Perhaps as important as what Americans believe, the immigrants still streaming in believe in it too.

    However, my perception/fear is that it is being perverted by removal of the "work hard" part, replacing it with a sense of entitlement.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  5. Mar 16, 2012 #4
    Less then half of Americans now have a full time job, last year a million people lost their homes, and this year another million are expected to loose their homes. The American dream isn't dead, but there can be no doubt it is on the rocks. The idea that half the population is somehow lazy and incompetent is insulting to say the least and does not promote democracy.
  6. Mar 16, 2012 #5


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    As I understand it the "dream" is that anyone has the potential/opportunity to work their way to success. I don't see how that fits with reality.
  7. Mar 16, 2012 #6


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    How so?
  8. Mar 16, 2012 #7
    Poorly chosen? I thought that word would manifest "business" "enterprise" in a lavish, poetic, yet moderately exaggerated manner.
  9. Mar 16, 2012 #8
    Yes, everyone has the potential, but not necessarily at the right time and place.
  10. Mar 16, 2012 #9
    Of course without defining "working hard" my retort is meaningless, so working hard means blood sweat & tears.

    Perhaps it is knowlodge that "working hard" most often amounts to nothing (working smart doesn't, but is a truism). How do you connect working hard, or lack there of with a sense of entitlement.

    Compared to my ancestery, I have it easy breezy. I also have a far better standard of living.

    I have to work far less hard, to acheive a greater standard of living than those in the history you imply.

    This isn't a pervertion of work ethic, it is advancement in technologies. The old man tone is laughable.

    Perhaps a sense of "When I was your age I had to work way harder to get all that great stuff you can afford today with so little 'hard work'". Add in complaints of inequity and bam, people today feel self entitled .

    The "generations" are not comparable in this context.

    I wonder if back in the day, people felt entitled to the gross income they earned. Man, people back then felt so entitled.

    I wonder if the folks who were being canned left right & centre from manufacturing jobs felt like they were entitled to those jobs that went to other countries. Or entitled to the house they had half equity in but lost in entirety from foreclosure.

    I guess in summary "hard work" & "entitlement" are not interchangeable as you presented it.

    The game of capitalism can not be described as fair for everyone, it's not. There are winners & lossers, you're describing the lossers as having a sense of entitlement.

    Perhaps in that sense it is the winners who assume entitlement to the "fruits of labour" the "lossers" generate. And is justified in that bs "well I worked harder for it so I earned it"

    I agree with Ryan_m_b in post #5. hard work doesn't even remotely equate to financial success.

    (in this context) Only one thing needs to be fair with capitalism, and that's equal opportunity to entry. And it pretty much is... GAME ON! but don't try and suggest it's made fair via hard work. Thats like saying a Harlem Globetrotters basketball game is fair, and the other team feels entitled to some points too, but that they just don't work hard enough for them.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  11. Mar 16, 2012 #10


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    Alex - ok, that was probably a little harsh. I understood what you meant, it's just that a non-native English speaker probably wouldn't (didn't) understand the word usage in that context.

    Nitsuj - during the day, I write from a droid, so my posts are sometimes underdeveloped. Let me expand:

    My formulation of the American Dream is:

    Work hard and you can achieve financial security and all that accompanies it.

    Several points (most of this is opinion...):
    1. Yes, "work hard" also needs to be developed more. It does, indeed, include "work smart", by which I mean make good decisions. You don't have to be intelligent to achieve the American dream, you just need the common sense and maturity to make good decisions. More on that later.

    2. Many people are handed the American Dream on a silver platter - most by their parents, some by luck. And some are merely helped along by these things. This seems to trip people up on the meaning of/applicability of the concept, but it shouldn't. It doesn't have any effect at all on the trueness (or untrueness) of the concept. Ie, the fact that someone else had it handed to them doesn't mean you can't still achieve it the way the formula says you can. But this does mix with the issue of entitlement:

    3. Yes, even as the bar for measuring success has risen over time, so too has the ease of surpassing it - as judged by the number who do rising. So this should be a good time to be a believer in the American dream. But I agree with the premise of the thread being that there is a danger. The danger I see is that as more people achieve it and it becomes easier to achive it, there is a reverse psychological effect: people start thinking it should be easier to achieve it. And that's part of what I meant by the sense of entitlement. The other part is in how it relates to those who inheret it or are helped toward it by their parents. There appears to me to be more and more people reacting to the anti-rich rhetoric in American politics with the feeling that if it is handed to the rich, it should be handed to me too. And I view much of the motivation for expansion of social programs to be based on that idea. For example, my perception of socialized medicine: 'The rich have better healthcare than I do and didn't have to work hard to get it, so lets make them pay for mine!'

    So the risk I see for the American Dream is the same as the issue that took down the Soviet Union ("If they pretend to pay me, I'll pretend to work!"): Too much social safety net breeds mediocrity. I see people who don't work hard believing the American Dream should be handed to them and if we do hand it to them, then we prove to them that they don't have to work hard to get it or keep it. Then more people stop working hard. My perception of this psychology is my biggest fear for the long-term viability of the Western political/economic model (or, should I say - the encroachment of socialism/communism into the western political/economic model).

    Now there is also a big misconception I see is the idea that only the rich can pass the American Dream on to their children. This could not be further from the truth and is a very large piece of the problem, at least in the US. Most of what parents pass on to their kids is in how the parents raise their kids and that extends into the kids adult lives. At the same time, most of the big "work smart" good decisions people have to make to achieve the American Dream should be made by age 25: they have to do with education. So parents have a substantial influence on that and set their kids up for relatively easy success. Some examples:

    1. Should I quit high school?
    2. Should I go to college or a trade school?
    3. Should I major in English or business or engineering? (related to #2...).

    Beyond that, parents can also pass on a work ethic. This is important as well, because I've seen/known kids who made bad decisions in their 20s and didn't work to fix them and it hurt them pretty badly. I've also seen kids who'se parents pushed them into good decisions, who then screwed up after they got out on their own. And I've also seen kids turn it around later, after screwing around for most of their 20s.

    One of the keys to the American Dream that should be apparent in all of this is that if you haven't been given it, you need to believe in it to achieve it. In other words: if you believe it is not possible, then for you, it probably isn't.
  12. Mar 16, 2012 #11
    Ah, i see Russ, I think that is solid point of view.

    I came back to add to my post that I do agree with the original statment if reversed to "people who work hard feel entitled". As in making all the "right moves" entitles one to financial success.

    Just because one went to university doesn't mean they'll earn that statistical figure of 120k a year, just like the university's pamphlet said. I can see your point of beliving in the Dream here. Many do just end up working a job well below their level of expertise, perhaps after giving up on the "dream".

    That I agree is a case that many people experience, and is inescapable holistically.

    Some slight hummor in this, the American Dream from the perspective of non-Americans, is probably, the stuff you earned from your own hard work is "protected" by the state. Often free enterprise is not the case, let alone citizen ownership. The dream is I can own stuff, and it's mine and nobody elses!
  13. Mar 16, 2012 #12
    Awwww... that's really sad... Isn't there nothing in the constitution?
  14. Mar 16, 2012 #13


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    I'm not following you on this. Can you elaborate?
  15. Mar 16, 2012 #14


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    Aspiration is a good thing, but it must be tempered with a sense of reality/sobriety.
  16. Mar 16, 2012 #15


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    Plus the realization that if you borrow (as opposed to saving and investing your own money), the fruits of your labors may be subject to liens and foreclosures. Easy credit should not be confused with prosperity because credit can be fragile.
  17. Mar 16, 2012 #16
    I think the american dream still exists it's just changing but mostly only on a physical level. I honestly don't believe people care that much about owning a big home or even a fast gas guzzling car I know I don't but people still want the good life it's just now the good life seems simpler in ways. I think most of that change can be credited towards the interwebs (what can't be) and computers as it has made needing to go places for entertainment (Car) or having a big home for guests to come visit less important.

    So in short the american dream still exists it's just much cheaper to achieve now if you cut out a few of the big ticket items.

    Actually this makes me think about the difference between myself and one of my slightly older family members. They are the type that would need a big home to feel happy in while I'm the type of person that could live in a closet as long as it was web connected. I have a feeling the generation after me probably would be happy living inside a cellphone lol.
  18. Mar 16, 2012 #17


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    Yep: they will be sucked into a computer and everyone will be racing cars and throwing discs to survive. :) In case you don't get what I'm saying:

  19. Mar 17, 2012 #18


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    Half? Take away children, seniors (retired), and the disabled and easily over three quarters have a full time job. Employment is bad, but not that bad.
  20. Mar 17, 2012 #19


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    Did we really just get a "the american dream is possible as long as you don't own a car our a house" post? Is this really the new american dream?
  21. Mar 18, 2012 #20
    "108.616 million people in America are either unemployed, underemployed or "Not in the labor force". This represents 45.5% of working age Americans.

    If you count the "Part time employed for non-economic reasons", you get 126.8 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed, working part time or "Not in the labor force". That represents 53% of working age Americans."

    Read more: http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-01-24/markets/29974517_1_part-time-unemployment-labor-force#ixzz1pRnGb1HZ [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
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