The American Dream is defined as “a life of personal happiness and material comfort as traditionally sought by individuals in the United States” (Dictionary.com). Too bad it doesn’t exist, or so most Americans tend to think.
In a recent poll conducted by ORC International and CNNMoney, 59% of Americans now believe the American Dream is impossible for most Americans to achieve. This is an increase from the 54% recorded in 2006, just prior to the recession—or “economic downturn,” as it was so often referenced.
I’m sorry, but downturn doesn’t seem like the right word. Nosedive seems much more appropriate.
The ORC poll also showed that 63% of respondents believe their children will be worse off than their parents, which certainly doesn’t qualify as optimism for the future.
Of course, none of this comes as much of a surprise to me since I never believed the American Dream to be possible. Sure, if you create some kind of application that Mark Zuckerberg pays billions of dollars to acquire—or win the lottery—then what you achieve may be labeled as the American Dream. To me, though, it seems more like luck.
I know what you’re thinking: How can an American not believe in the American Dream? Surely, you must have been more optimistic when you were young, right?
Actually yes, I was more optimistic as a child, but that’s because I didn’t know any better. Ignorance is bliss, after all. Then I grew up and started to realize just how backwards and uncivilized America can be, which thrust me squarely into the aforementioned 59%. What caused this transformation, you ask? I hardly know where to start, but I’ll give it a shot anyway.
At the root of everything—not only in this country but around the world—is something we all desire yet never seem to have enough of: money. Most of us slave away for the majority of our lives to earn “greenbacks” that honestly aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. In fact, money represents only two things: debt and interest. We borrow and borrow—forever expanding the deficit—yet make few plans to ever pay it back—as if that were even possible. Interest accumulates and before you know it, we’re even further in debt than we were before. Meanwhile, the wealth of our nation is scooped up by corporations who use it to line the pockets of the top 1%–pockets protected from “on high” by our corrupt and ineffective political system.
I’m sorry, but this doesn’t sound like the American Dream to me. I don’t remember poverty being part of its definition.
The truth is that money represents something else—something slowly eating away at the very fabric of our society: control. Instead of working together to make our nation—and the world—a better place, we fight, compete, lie, cheat, steal, kill and waste our lives in pursuit of the almighty dollar, and for what? So we can buy the latest iPhone, take one measly vacation each year or pay off endless credit card debt? I’m sorry, but that doesn’t sound like much of an American Dream to me.
What’s the solution to our monetary mess? I’m not sure, but I like the idea proposed by Jacque Fresco, a futurist and social engineer who suggested we all move to a resource-based economy. According to the Venus Project, an organization Fresco founded, this involves “a holistic socio-economic system in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter or any other system of debt or servitude.” Instead of limiting themselves based on financial costs, human beings instead utilize Earth’s resources in thoughtful, sustainable ways—largely through the use of technology. Granted, this wouldn’t be easy to implement—given our love of money—but consider this: the only reason money has value is because we give it value. Remove this from the equation and everything will change.
I could ramble endlessly about the Venus Project and resource-based economies, but nothing I explain comes close to what Fresco had to say on the subjects. Learn more by going HERE.
Aside from money, there are other reasons why I believe the American Dream to be just that… a dream. Rather than rambling any further, though, here’s a quick list of some of them:
- The government we created no longer represents the people; it represents special interest groups, corporations and itself. Case in point: universal background checks on gun purchases. The majority of Americans supported this idea, but it was shot down in Washington largely because the NRA disapproved. And we certainly don’t want to upset an organization that contributes so much campaign funding during election years.
- Politicians serve no purpose and contribute nothing to our world. The problems we face are largely technical, which means politicians couldn’t solve them if they wanted to!
- We spend our childhoods learning and our adult lives working, all so we can “enjoy life” when we retire and are too damned old to enjoy it anyway. What’s wrong with this picture?
- People with guns continue to murder each other in record numbers, yet we resist any meaningful legislation for fear it will rob us of our constitutional rights. Yes, the right to bear arms came from our forefathers, but they were also fighting for their freedom from British rule. Should the same rules apply today even though the circumstances have changed? Better yet, are we so close-minded as to think we can’t contemporize this right to make it more applicable to today’s world? I wonder how many more people have to die before we even attempt to save them through sound and reasonable gun legislation.
- When it comes down to what is best for Americans or what is best for big business, the citizens of this nation always take a back seat. Consider our dependence on fossil fuels, for instance. Right now, clean energy technologies could make fossil fuels unnecessary, but only if huge oil and gas conglomerates permit them. Since utilizing clean energy could result in smaller profits for these corporations—as well as fewer contributions to the political candidates who support these companies—we are instead offered something like hydraulic fracturing, which is a nightmare unto itself.
- Most of the food we eat is so processed and filled with crap that living a healthy life is almost impossible. In fact, it costs nearly twice as much (or more) to eat healthy in this country. How can that be good for people?
- Health care is another sore subject in this country. When we give insurance companies free rein, people suffer. When we try to provide health care for everyone, politicians automatically label it as socialist and discount it, and again people suffer. I’m sorry, but how can it be bad to take care of your own citizens? Granted, the health care system is filled with waste and is just as corrupt as Washington, but it doesn’t have to be. We made it that way, so only we can fix it.
I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the point: the American Dream is over… if it ever existed at all. This doesn’t mean we can’t create a new dream, though. Unfortunately, this can only be achieved once we start working together, employing more logic and common sense, and actually start giving a shit about people more than money and power.
In other words, don’t hold your breath. Just keep dreaming and maybe someday we can create a true civilization—one that moves us forward as a species rather than destroying everything in its path. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, that’s for sure.
Posted on June 11, 2014, in Perspectives and tagged American Dream, Business and Economy, commentary, current-events, environment, Federal government of the United States, justice, news, perspectives, politics, Venus Project. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.