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  1. #21
    Doesn't Read Your Posts Haight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    Or, for the people who started out with nothing. Look at the homesteading of the American Midwest. That farmland (which was free on condition of improvement) is now going for upwards of $5,000 an acre. There were many ripoff artists back then, but it made a lot of poor people rich. Wealth is actually far more democratic in the United States than it is in most places in the world.
    It made some poor people rich. Moreover, and to be more specific. . . it made some white-males rich. No one that knows anything about American History would question that.

    However, the author of the thread asked - and I replied to:
    Quote Originally Posted by Hirsch63 View Post
    Was there a time when what you achieved/recieved in America was proportional to your investment of resources...presuming that all your actions were within the boundaries of law?
    In other words, the American Dream proposes that through hard work and perserverance, anyone can achieve wealth in the US. To that I say. . . false.

    Moreover, it has always been false because it assumes a condition of equality for all men and women who decide to chase this dream. And that equality has never existed. Yet having others chase the dream has always been profitable for the elite establishment in these United States.
    "The only time I'm wrong is when I'm questioning myself."
    Haight

  2. #22
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haight View Post
    It made some poor people rich. Moreover, and to be more specific. . . it made some white-males rich. No one that knows anything about American History would question that.

    However, the author of the thread asked - and I replied to:

    In other words, the American Dream proposes that through hard work and perserverance, anyone can achieve wealth in the US. To that I say. . . false.

    Moreover, it has always been false because it assumes a condition of equality for all men and women who decide to chase this dream. And that equality has never existed. Yet having others chase the dream has always been profitable for the elite establishment in these United States.
    I disagree. It assumes an equal chance to rise or fall on your merits, not that everyone has the same ACTUAL chance to succeed. I was raised middle-class, but I have natural attributes and tendencies that have afforded me the opportunity to continue in my education and to far out-earn my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. Many of my classmates in grade school (similar socioeconomic background) will do no better or worse than their parents. Does an undereducated black or Hispanic man from inner-city Philadelphia have the same opportunities? No, and that is unfortunate. But they do have a shot, and it does happen. That is the point: the shot. I have been very lucky in life thus far, but I have to do the heavy lifting to achieve what I want for myself. It's not a myth in the least.
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  3. #23
    Senior Member Hirsch63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    I disagree. It assumes an equal chance to rise or fall on your merits, not that everyone has the same ACTUAL chance to succeed. I was raised middle-class, but I have natural attributes and tendencies that have afforded me the opportunity to continue in my education and to far out-earn my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. Many of my classmates in grade school (similar socioeconomic background) will do no better or worse than their parents. Does an undereducated black or Hispanic man from inner-city Philadelphia have the same opportunities? No, and that is unfortunate. But they do have a shot, and it does happen. That is the point: the shot. I have been very lucky in life thus far, but I have to do the heavy lifting to achieve what I want for myself. It's not a myth in the least.
    Can you define "middle class" for us?

    Do you feel that your "natural attributes and tendencies" would allow you to succeed in any of the current world economies,or only here in America?
    Is it soley the abilities that you have been gifted with and no other factors that have allowed you to excel?

    Can a theory be offered as to why the poor and under-educated inner-city dweller who has the very same opportunities as you to achieve the American Dream somehow seems to fall short of the realization?

    When you reference "heavy lifting" are you referring to the actual physical movement of objects, or simply using it as a metaphor?
    Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings...Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you a king

  4. #24
    Member sinnamon's Avatar
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    To the OP

    I agree with your definition of the "American Dream;" however, I believe it has devolved significantly. At one time I believe it was possible for the average working American to buy his own home & support his family. At some point persuing the American Dream meant that in the average home both partners must work. Now, both partners must work, and owning their own property requires mountainous debt. Most "middle class" people's American Dream is a house of cards now. Few people have money in savings. Their debt ratio is way out of balance. If one significant change happens, the entire house of cards will collapse.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jen View Post
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  5. #25

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    It's interesting to me that the disagreement in this thread is not really about the OP. It seems disagreement on the American Dream is really about how many people can be expected to reap the rewards of it. The posters who think it should mean success for most seem to disagree that the American Dream is valid; the posters that think it's more about the opportunity and acknowledge that most won't get there seem to think the American Dream is alive and well.
    Everybody have fun tonight. Everybody Wang Chung tonight.

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  6. #26
    Doesn't Read Your Posts Haight's Avatar
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    I think that's because - and I think this is the original religious aspect - the American Dream is effective because people want to believe. They want to believe in economic opportunities even if the facts tell them otherwise. It's about denying that others are actually in control of your fate; that freedom is more about degrees than actuality; and that you are capable of something financially greater. . . "it's all in your hands," they tell themselves.

    It's almost as if they would dangle that carrot in front of themselves if it weren't for the fact that the theoretical carrot is already there.

    In other words, it gives people hope and a belief of self-perseverance.

    And apparently, people need that.
    "The only time I'm wrong is when I'm questioning myself."
    Haight

  7. #27
    Senior Member Hirsch63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinnamon View Post
    To the OP

    I agree with your definition of the "American Dream;" however, I believe it has devolved significantly. At one time I believe it was possible for the average working American to buy his own home & support his family. At some point persuing the American Dream meant that in the average home both partners must work. Now, both partners must work, and owning their own property requires mountainous debt. Most "middle class" people's American Dream is a house of cards now. Few people have money in savings. Their debt ratio is way out of balance. If one significant change happens, the entire house of cards will collapse.
    I am looking for a definition of the "American Dream"...and have found the forum members here to be generally thoughtful. I agree that my own understanding of the Amrican Dream is one that I also would consider eroded. I remember my grand-parents could live well enough on one salary. Likewise throughout the 60's my father could build us a home on property that he purchased with his wages. As the 70's progressed my mother had to enter the workforce to supplement household income. In the 80's and through the 90's my wife (at the time) and I could not even get close to putting a down-payment on a house in the mid-west both of us working 40+ hour weeks.

    I suspect that this is true for many Americans...except for, as Haight noted; an elite well positioned few.

    I was interested in the historical evolution of the American Dream, if the concept is still valid as it is understood...pure_mercury seems to feel that he has luckily fulfilled his concept of it. Others seem to understand it as justly earned reward for hard work.

    I believe that the "free" (talk to some aboriginals?) farmland that would have been available in the west was not provided out of sheer altruism...sending (or compelling) ambitious settlers west to tame the wilderness and act as a buffer against the wild frontier was a cost effective strategy carefully planned for a long term benefit...Did some pioneers benefit in the aggregate? Certainly. Were the efforts of those who fell short subsequently enjoyed by the vultures who only waited for the statistically inevitable?
    Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings...Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you a king

  8. #28
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    The American Dream I've been raised with was always the Horatio Alger style pull yourself by the bootstraps idea. Any little kid can grow up and be the president- if you work hard some day someone will notice and you'll get a lot of money- we can always continue to get richer and more successful forever and ever if we are creative and hard working enough.

    Of course, I think that's all absolute bullshit- as Haight said- it only works for a few people- and those people are usually those who had the means to succeed in the first place. The chances of moving up through the social classes in this country are depressingly slim- the best you can do is get a college education and maybe get a secure job and pay off your student loans and eventually get good enough credit to buy a house and a new car The ability to even get a good blue collar job with benefits is even becoming less today than it was 20 years ago- you can't graduate from high school, get a job down at the plant and marry your sweetheart anymore in most communities!

    that was a depressing post! I have actually been pondering if the American Dream is dead now and we're just trying to convince ourselves that social mobility is still a possibility. Not everyone can grow up to be the president- not everyone will get rich off of hard work- we cannot continue to get richer and more successful forever and ever. There's not really the reality of the dream around anymore- just the hope that maybe I will be the exception to it. Why do Americans play the lottery? They're optimists and think that they might strike it rich. Why do Americans protest against an interitance tax on large estates? Because we all hope to either inheret a large estate or leave one to our kids. Pathetic- but true
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

  9. #29

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    What's pathetic about that?
    Everybody have fun tonight. Everybody Wang Chung tonight.

    Johari
    /Nohari

  10. #30
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    Pathetic that what we hope for so rarely happens

    sorry- I'm from the rust belt... I'm kind of tired of seeing empty hopes
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

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