We have all heard of the American dream, the American Dream is the national ethos, a promise of prosperity for its people. In the American Dream, citizens of every rank feel that they can achieve a better, richer, and happier life than their parents did. Basically it is to be successful, own your home, have a good paying job or your own business, and have enough money to buy the toys you desire.
The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence which states that "all men are created equal" and that they are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights" including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is backed up by the Capitalist theories, in which anyone has the possibility of reaching their own goals. The "American Dream" has been credited with helping to build a cohesive American experience but has also been blamed for over-inflated expectations.
Today's query, has the American dream died?
Everyday someone in this country goes to bed broke and hungry, everyday someone wins the lottery, the rest of us are perched somewhere between on a seemingly endless ladder.
Home ownership has been the pillar of the dream since the beginning of this country, millions have come for that dream alone. On average home prices rose 100% in seven years, some markets 400% or more, how could the banking industry not foresee a crash?
Americans are currently losing their homes at a astonishing rate of 250,000 homes per month, if this rate continues, all of America will be homeless in five - six years. Of course that could never happen because at least 5% percent of Americans own their homes outright, but with more and more of them taking out reverse mortgages, theirs are gone when they die.
Small business in America has been decimated buy soulless corporations and store chains. See what corporate America has done for us. What I see is that any town of any size has a Mega supermarket, a Walmart, McDonalds, Wendy's, Kentucky fried, and the like. Every major interstate connection has a crowd of competing gas stations and dozens of huge overpriced, nearly empty, (except in season) national hotel chains. So what was the cost for this uniformity called progress?
Drive along any old state highway and you'll see the reminder from the fifties those little cottage court motels falling down in ruins. Then you'll notice their replacements, those roadside motels, which were nothing more than the cottages pressed together, now they are closed or turned into tiny apartments as well. You'll also notice those cozy roadside restaurants, ice cream stands, and independent gas stations, now all empty or turned into strange little homes. So much for living and working in the country...
Walmart is the perfect example of corporate evil in the works. Critics of Wal-Mart call the homespun stuff a fraud, a calculated strategy to put a human face on a relentlessly profit-minded corporation. They were built upon patriotism, be American buy American was their mantra. Look around today's Wal-mart and see if you can find anything that was made in America. Now after beating down and putting out of business all it's major competitors Wal-Mart has been building Super Stores so they can compete against grocery stores as well, and now gas stations right in their parking lots. I have noticed wherever Wal-mart exists, there seems to be a Salvation Army or Goodwill Store near by. I guess that's so that the businessmen that were driven out, have some place affordable to shop.
Yet we are still plowing down forests and using up valuable farm land to create the empty store fronts of the future... So why are these giant corporations not using the old spaces? Because more often than not the cost of remodeling or tearing down the old facilities is too expensive. So the so called planners blindly go along with the creation of future slums.
What about those vast cities, could we ever of made these achievements without corporate America? I ask you, are they such great achievements? Every large city has an inner area often called slums, where business has been driven away when the bigger newer, shops malls and stores moved into the outer edges... now with the emphasize on even bigger stores and malls, I am seeing not only empty shops but whole plazas closed down, huge buildings, vast parking lots awaiting the fate of the cozy roadside cottages. Now every town of size is getting it's own Walmart while the downtown areas are slowly losing all local business, empty store fronts are common everywhere in this country. Small business has been turned into a yard sale.
What about the small towns? I remember growing up in small town America, every neighborhood had a small grocery store run by someone's grandparents. These little stores, where people gathered to gossip, were crushed out of existence by supermarkets, using coupons, specials and sales to get you to buy the products of their choice. Now these small stores have returned, in the form of convenience stores, little stores, run by gasoline companies where you can expect to pay double the going rate for most anything, sacrificing cost for speed. Everybody had thought paying Joe's grandmother an extra five cents for a can of corn was outrageous, but they now pay the quickly mart 50 to 75 cents more, without blinking. Thank you corporate America...
In modern America, the corporations are putting vast amounts of money into campaign coffers and just like the millionaires, they expect favors and get them. Alas What can we do? The only real solution is to support local business. Tell Congress to stop the corporate welfare handouts and support campaign finance reform. Corporations are not people and they are not citizens, this country was founded by "we the people" not "them the corporations". So organize support groups for local business. Talk to town planners, tell them you don't want to live in a future slum.
Who Killed the American dream?
The question many minds have been pondering for quite awhile now is just what happened to our great economy? While quite easy to explain, it will be much harder to get back on track. There are several factors, which alone would never sink the economy alone, but together they become a different story.
Short version? Corporate greed and stupidity.
#1 Military spending. The old adage that War is good for the economy is simply not true. The section of the economy that produces weapons is small and doesn't interact much with the rest of the economy. Therefore it draws money away from other sectors. The Bush administration spent half of our gross national product on wars, a nasty habit that the Obama administration has chosen to continue...
#2 Over inflated housing market. Big investors blinded by greed poured billions of dollars, into over inflated housing markets, you need not be a rocket scientist to figure out that in a market like southern California when housing prices rise 400% in a few short years, that the bottom will dropout and of course it did and those holding the paper took the beating.
#3 Credit card economy. Sometime late in the twentieth century, it occurred to some economists that you could spur economic growth by selling things on credit. So somehow it got to the point in the 1990's where you could get credit cards for your kids, your dog, companies that don't really exist. In the end, at 25% interest is like paying double for everything you charge, and at some point in debt far enough that it will take forever to pay it back.
#4 International investment drain. Dubai Launched a huge growth in the luxury housing market, one that could only be afforded by millionaires. This adventure attracted a large portion of the international investment funds and in the long run will be doomed because there isn't enough Millionaires world wide to buy up all this property. Even so the greed factor has sent billions of dollars off to Dubai where no one lives, pulling that money from real projects that would help promote the global economy.
#5 Walmart claims to be the provider of the lower classes, but no company has done more to hurt the economy than Walmart. Since the death of founder Sam Walton, the company has become an unstoppable machine, that eats the economy bit by bit. They Started by killing small local business, by selling "American made" products at lower prices. They exploited the elderly by hiring them and taking out huge life insurance policies on them and made millions doing so. Then they killed thousands of American companies, by changing their suppliers to China and the far east. Then they moved into supermarkets with their super stores, and cut out the local farmers. To save money, they get rid of cashiers with self checkouts, now they are putting money into mini-markets and gas stations in their parking lots. Is it any wonder that six of the ten richest people in this country have the same last name?
Walton and I'll bet Sam is spinning in his grave.
#6 Which leaves just one more little problem, Gas and Oil companies. Exxon Mobile has posted record profits of over 8 billion dollars a quarter every quarter since the beginning of the recession. How did the oil companies make so much money while the economy falls apart? Easy they caused it, while people's paychecks were shrinking they raised prices of gas to record levels blaming foreign oil suppliers. Near half of the oil used in this country is produced in this country, they gave no raises, had no production cost increases, yet raised the price of gas 200%. Notwithstanding, billions of gallons of gas held in reserve, which was purchased and produced at lower rates. Their excuse a perversion of supply and demand, if you use more we must charge more and oil costs abroad. Transportation of goods is a major cost factor, by raising gas prices, so high they pushed the cost of all consumer goods and products, at every single point in the supply chain. Thereby creating the largest driving force in the collapse of our economy and made a trillion dollars in doing so. A small fuss was raised, yet in the end nothing was done about this gross rip off of the American peoples. Why? Because the oil companies own Congress.
What can be done?
after all, how bad could it get?
Can it be fixed?
It is small business and people that make our economy work. The economy needs the means of exchange (credit or money) available so the number of exchanges of goods and services can increase. The problem is Wall St. was buying and selling debt instead of assets. The solution is to not encourage credit to stimulate the economy, the economy needs investments in goods producing business. This is where small business always succeeds. Many small businesses fold in the first year or two, but the truth is it does not matter whether the business is a success, the start up costs of building, remodeling and stocking inventory is the base line of the stimulus. The successful small business is the new foundation for a stable economy.
One thing is for sure the economy will not recover, while everybody is waiting for going out of business sales, to make their major purchases. Someone needs to pay retail, for capitalism to survive.
Should it be replaced?
Economic recovery cannot be provided by the capitalist system, because it is very sick and has not really started healing. Normal capitalist markets did not cure the Great Depression of the 1930s and they cannot solve this economic crisis either, because collateral values have decreased so much with the government and financial companies holding onto so many toxic assets and so many people have negative equity in their homes. It's time for economists to realize that it isn't a battle between Capitalism and Socialism that will bring about stability, it's time for a hybrid economy. a economy where the haves can keep their wealth and the have not's can survive and still have a chance to cross that line between the classes. The truth is that we have already passed into a socialist economy, but our governing officials won't admit it and don't have the experience to know how to make it function. The one big fixx plan describes how this might function.
Twenty Years later UPDATE The American Dream re-visited.
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