The ideal that we are all free to make our own choices and create our own future. The ideal that if someone works hard and makes good choices, they can accomplish anything that they can dream. The United States was founded on this model. For two hundred years millions of people have left their homelands in search of this endeavor. Over a million people per year are still clamoring to get in, some legally, some not, all striving for a better life than the one they left behind.
The American Dream is alive and well all over the world… except in half of Americans. The problem with the dream is the part that it’s about freedom, and choices, and hard work. Half of America was raised to believe that the American Dream was that everything was to be taken care of FOR them… not by them. Half of Americans don’t feel that people should have to work hard or accomplish anything. They feel that simply being an American should automatically give them privileges.
Half of America thinks that working is for “other people”… for “rich people”. As long as the rich have money why should anyone else have to work. The rich should just pay for everyone else. The fact that they are expected to pay back loans that they signed for in order to further their own education, or possibly have to give up on some luxuries in order to afford necessities is a form of slavery.
People love to compare the cost of housing between when “Boomers” were buying compared to now is seriously laughable. The biggest just in the market was between 1970s-1990s, when it increased by 700%, and was when the Boomers were buying. It had more to do with the tech boom and an economy that was suddenly international and an entire way of life changing than being mean to the next generation. From the 90s to today housing costs have only gone up about 100%, which is a lot less.
Of course, the same people who cry about not being able to afford housing on a single income are the same people crying about how people shouldn’t get married and that women have to work and never stay home with the kids… even though they really don’t think anyone should have to work and hate work… women should be forced to have to work because it’s men who kept them down by not letting them do the thing that everyone hates to do.
These same people are also the ones who get an upgrade on a $1000 telephone every year. Not to mention TVs, gaming systems, tablets, computers…. and on and on. Do you know what Boomers spent on Telephones and TVs? Around $20 and $160 respectively, and seeing as the average household income was about $8300 they were quite expensive. People had to save up for them… and then… that was it. They had the same phone and TV for decades. They didn’t “upgrade”, they didn’t have 30 different streaming services. They had rabbit ears, tin foil, and their youngest child to help get the one channel of the 3-5 they were trying to watch.
One way that people try to explain the unfairness is by saying that the increase in minimum wage hasn’t changed much. Which is true in some regards. The federal minimum wage in 1970 was $1.60 the current federal minimum wage is $7.25, therefore minimum wage is up 450%, which is a lot, but the most important thing is that hardly anyone makes the federal minimum wage. Each state has their own minimum wage, and most people don’t even make that.
As mentioned before the average household income in 1970 (Boomer’s time) was $8300. When accounted for inflation that changes it to $58,800 in today’s dollars, but the average income of today’s American household is actually almost $67,500 which is more. So yes, the average housing cost went up, but so did the average household income. This is also at a time when the average household income includes a lot more single people just supporting themselves and choosing not to have a family than ever before.
The difference is in spending patterns. People spend more on recreation than ever before. People take out loans for tens of thousands of dollars on a degree they have no chance at getting a career with. The American Dream has been corrupted from, “work hard, make good choices, and you can accomplish your goals” to “Do whatever you feel. You deserve everything you want, and no one should ever tell you no. If they do, they are just stealing from you.”
Now, I don’t believe that every millionaire worked hard and earned their money. The government in particular is filled with people who played the system and did steal other people’s money. I don’t care which side of the aisle they sit on. Yet somehow those same millionaire politicians who have made their money by telling you that hard working rich people are stealing your money and you need to give them more money and vote them in so they can steal even more money have convinced an entire generation that the American Dream is not real… because hard work is the invention of evil people who are stealing your money.
Here’s the thing about Capitalism and the American Dream. You don’t have to go to work and make minimum wage. You don’t have to take out loans from the government to learn the things they want to teach you. That’s just what those in charge want you to believe so they can keep making money off of you. If you want to succeed in life, you just have to follow the true American Dream path. You have to work hard. You have to sacrifice some of your now, and some of your fun for a better later. You have to make good choices with your money and with your relationships. You have to take responsibility for your life. That is what being free is all about. That is the reason that millions of people have risked their lives to come here and are still risking their lives today.
The same people who hate the American Dream are the same people fighting for others to be able to come here. They understand how dehumanizing other countries can still be. How slavery is still in existence and human rights are still quashed all over the world, and yet they complain because they have to actually sacrifice their everyday latte and upgrade to the next iPhone in order to buy a dream home. Not to get shelter, which other countries don’t have, but to buy their 3-bedroom, private back yard, and maybe a pool… DREAM home.
There’s a line in the original Matrix movie in which Mr. Smith explains to Neo that the machines had tried to create a utopia for the humans but that the humans kept waking up. They couldn’t handle it. Humans crave conflict. They need something to fight against. A lot of people just curb that need by watching dramas on TV where they root for the hero and feel justified when they win. In fact, this is a primarily American thing as well. Not all countries create movies, TV shows, books, in which the hero wins. Some people elsewhere find it quite trite, but Americans need it. Americans, on the whole, have nothing real left to fight for. We have equal rights. We have the ability to get anything we accomplish if we just work hard and make good choices. Americans are now pushing back on what has already been accomplished and blaming, not those who don’t work hard or make good choices for their problems, but those who do for somehow creating a society in which these things are necessary.
The American Dream is alive and well. In fact, it’s so easy to obtain those who don’t are seen as not the problem, but as victims of the ease of society. Something must be wrong with society as a whole if some find it so easy and others can’t “catch a break”. Of course, in order to catch something, you have to go out into the field and put out your glove. You can’t just wait for someone to hand it to you. The American Dream is all about getting out into the field and doing your part. It’s probably why Baseball is our pastime.