Should American buy in American Dream?

  • Thread starter Alex_Sanders
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In summary, the story the author is trying to tell is that without hard work, an empire will not be built. However, the empire is doomed to fail because it is based on a false sense of entitlement.
  • #1
Alex_Sanders
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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?
 
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  • #2
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.
 
  • #3
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.
 
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  • #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.
 
  • #5
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.
 
  • #6
Ryan_m_b said:
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.
How so?
 
  • #7
russ_watters said:
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.

Poorly chosen? I thought that word would manifest "business" "enterprise" in a lavish, poetic, yet moderately exaggerated manner.
 
  • #8
Ryan_m_b said:
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.

Yes, everyone has the potential, but not necessarily at the right time and place.
 
  • #9
russ_watters said:
However, my perception/fear is that it is being perverted by removal of the "work hard" part, replacing it with a sense of entitlement.

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 achieve 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.
 
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  • #10
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 let's 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.
 
  • #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 statement 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!
 
  • #12
nitsuj said:
The dream is I can own stuff, and it's mine and nobody elses!

Awwww... that's really sad... Isn't there nothing in the constitution?
 
  • #13
nitsuj said:
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!

I'm not following you on this. Can you elaborate?
 
  • #14
Aspiration is a good thing, but it must be tempered with a sense of reality/sobriety.
 
  • #15
Astronuc said:
Aspiration is a good thing, but it must be tempered with a sense of reality/sobriety.
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.
 
  • #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.
 
  • #17
Containment said:
I have a feeling the generation after me probably would be happy living inside a cellphone lol.

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:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1104001/
 
  • #18
wuliheron said:
Less then half of Americans now have a full time job,...
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.
 
  • #19
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?
 
  • #20
mheslep said:
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.

"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
 
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  • #21
It used to be that women stayed home and raised the kids. So at the height of the american dream half of adults weren't working and it wasn't such a problem back then
 
  • #22
wuliheron said:
"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

Interesting snippet from that article:
But the by far largest category "missing" from both the Employed and Unemployed statistics is the "Not In Labor Force": 85.2 Million people.

The BLS definition states: "Not in the labor force (NILF). A person who did not work last week, was not temporarily absent from a job, did not actively look for work in the previous 4 weeks, or looked but was unavailable for work during the reference week; in other words, a person who was neither employed nor unemployed." (Clearly, this does include lot of unemployed people).

I'd like a breakdown of this category to get a better idea of the status of those that are "Not In The Labor Force".
 
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  • #23
Office_Shredder said:
It used to be that women stayed home and raised the kids. So at the height of the american dream half of adults weren't working and it wasn't such a problem back then
It should be noted that during this time, most single wage-earners earned enough money to support their families comfortably and to buy homes, too. That is not the case, today.
 
  • #24
My own research from data at http://data.bls.gov:

All data from February 2012
Total Not in the Labor Force: 88,322,000
Want a Job Now: 6,376,000
Want a Job, but had not looked for work in the past 4 weeks: 2,608,000
Discouraged Workers (Want a job but believe no job is available): 1,006,000
Did not actively look for work in the prior 4 weeks for such reasons as school or family responsibilities, ill health, and transportation problems: 1,603,000

So, my conclusions are that 76,729,000 don't even want to hold a job, which brings the number of people that want a full time job but don't have one to 50,071,000, or about 20% of the total working age population.
 
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  • #25
Please don't buy into that. Up around here, if people can't get full-time work, they will often take what they can get. Felling and limbing trees, processing turkeys, and a host of other part-time, labor-intensive jobs... Lots of these people get paid by the day or the week in cash. They are not unwilling to work - they are falling into the hole created by the assumption that everybody that is working is earning taxable wages. Not true. I have an acquaintance who is expert at evading taxation. He owns a truck, a skidder, and chain-saws, and he'll only work for cash. I avoid him as much as possible, because he's a creep, but he has kept this up for nearly 40 years now.
 
  • #26
wuliheron said:
"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
I'm curious about their definition of working age.

The http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-03.pdf Population under 18 was 74.2m, 65 and over was 40.3m, leaving 194.2 million 18+ to 65, including the disabled, in jail, etc. As of last month the total number of employed was 142 million (including part time, all ages), or 73% of the 2010, 18-65 population. The difference is 52m not working, which is still terrible, but the figure used in your source, 108.6m people ... "Not in the labor force", must be including seniors or under 18.
 
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  • #27
Either way, there is little value to looking at those "not in the labor force" unless it is meant to intentionally mislead about how bad the employment situation is. Same goes for many part time workers.
 
  • #28
russ_watters said:
Either way, there is little value to looking at those "not in the labor force" unless it is meant to intentionally mislead about how bad the employment situation is. Same goes for many part time workers.

Why is there little value into looking into it?
 
  • #29
mheslep said:
I'm curious about their definition of working age.

The working age includes those that are age 16-17.
 
  • #30
turbo said:
It should be noted that during this time, most single wage-earners earned enough money to support their families comfortably and to buy homes, too. That is not the case, today.


But that would suggest the loss of the american dream, our the inability to obtain it, is not because of a sense of entitlement on behalf of the average person that things should be easier, but because doing the same amount of work as thirty years ago no longer gets you what it once did.
 
  • #31
Office_Shredder said:
But that would suggest the loss of the american dream, our the inability to obtain it, is not because of a sense of entitlement on behalf of the average person that things should be easier, but because doing the same amount of work as thirty years ago no longer gets you what it once did.

I'm hesitant to believe Turbo's statement without seeing some data to back it up.
 
  • #32
Drakkith said:
The working age includes those that are age 16-17.
Of which would expect few to have a full time job in an up or down economy.
 
  • #33
Alex_Sanders said:
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?

Empires are built in the US through hard work, every day. You can't even begin to imagine how out of place your question seems to me. As an entrepreneur I see it all the time - some of those people hire me! Times have been tough since the crash of 2008 but slowly we are recovering. In fact the Dow is now approaching an all-time high for the first time since 2007. That represents a tremendous amount of wealth that has been created since Obama took office. Watch the first link in my sig to recall just how far we've come.

I make a good living doing what I love from the place I love; mostly working from home in the lush, green hills and valleys of the pacfic NW. I call that the American dream and I have it. It was certainly my dream.
 
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  • #34
Another consideration is that for every empire, there are multitudes of failures. And that has always been true. Empire-building means taking risks. As a rule, the greater the risks, the greater the rewards. But risks are real. That dreams can come true doesn't mean they will, and never has. You might work hard and smart your entire life and never truly succeed. But that depends a lot on how you define success, and whether you are willing to put everything you have at risk for the chance of huge rewards.
 
  • #35
Drakkith said:
I'm not following you on this. Can you elaborate?

In many countries, the state isn't able to or willing to protect the equity of it's citizens.

In the states, if someone steals from my store, (or police harassing a fruit stand owner without just cause :wink:) I have the ethic of the entire country behind me in seeking restitution.

Here is an excerpt from Canadian, which would be simular to the US.
"Everyone has the right to the use and enjoyment of property, individually or in association with others, and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with law and for reasonable compensation."

If the state decides to take my property for whatever purpose (and I'm sure it must be "for the greater good") I get reasonable (market) compensation. Which probably includes any costs related to the move.

I think that clarifies what I mean. especially the stark comparison between the fruit stand merchant in ummm, i forget where and say a fruit stand merchant in the US. The "dream" is your efforts are protected, and the "fruits of labour" are yours. Just a different take on the American dream.
 

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