Is the American Dream Dead?

One of the fundamental aspects of our culture is the idea that anything you can dream is possible. The Wright Brothers believed in aviation. Thomas Edison believe in harnessing the power of electricity. There are limitless examples of the power of the American spirit.

These days it seems as if we hear little about our accomplishments and more about problems. We’re told about the bad things the nation has done and why people can’t succeed. If you’re born poor in this country the intelligentsia tells us you’re the product of an exploitative and unequal society. If you tell people they can’t succeed is it surprising that they don’t succeed? But is it true? Is there no way out of poverty?

Thomas Sowell has an article about how race-hustlers are dragging down the American dream. If the American dream is dead, how come poor Asian immigrants continue to move here and succeed?

Often these Asian immigrants arrive not only with very little money, but also very little knowledge of English. They start out working at low-paid jobs but working so many hours, often at more than one job, that they are able to put a little money aside.

After a few years, they have enough money to open some little shop, where they still work long hours, and still save their money so that they can afford to send their children to college. Meanwhile, these children know that their parents not only expect, but demand, that they make good grades.

Some people try to explain why Asians and Asian-Americans succeed so well in education and in the economy by some special characteristics that they have. That may be true, but their success may also be a result of what they do not have; namely, “leaders” who tell them that the deck is so stacked against them that they cannot rise, or at least not without depending on “leaders.”

For those who argue that Asian immigrants possess some “special characteristic,” are they insinuating that poor Americans do not possess the will to succeed? And, isn’t that racist? We should quit making excuses and figure out what is working. What is working for Asian immigrants? For one, when they get married and have children they stay married.

Single parent families seem to be a common thread among many of America’s problems. Why does the intelligentsia refuse to acknowledge the rising threat of single parent families. It’s contributing to a never-ending cycle of poverty. We have accepted the new normal without even a second thought.

We live in a culture where promiscuity isn’t a big deal. Is it really surprising that in a culture where casual sex is acceptable that divorce is more common? This is a conversation that many people in this nation do not want to have, but in the long run we cannot run from this economic and social calamity.

3 responses to “Is the American Dream Dead?

  1. This is a complex subject. You noted Edison as an example. Edison had three months of formal education, and was considered mentally deficient (“addled”) by his teachers. The Wright Brothers didn’t graduate from high school. What does that suggest about education as a determinant of success?

    Edison invented things that spawned new industries, but as he advanced in years he spent most of his time fighting and trying to stifle, control, or legally exact profit from the innovations of others in electricity (Tesla), sound recording (Emile Berliner) and motion pictures (Lumiere brothers, Georges Melies). His workshop-laboratory produced much, but it was also considered a sweat shop by Charles Steinmetz, the greatest of his assistants. At the end, Edison had become the robber-baron of technology.

    The Wright Brothers didn’t invent the airplane, or human-powered flight. They pragmatically improved on the work of others, making flying viable by creating three-axis steering control and flexible wing stabilization. Like Edison, as they aged they became combative toward others who tried to improve on their achievements.

    Do those who embody the American Dream inevitably grow less likely to mentor those who endeavor to further progress beyond what they themselves have accomplished? I don’t know, but it’s a bit depressing to wonder about.

    I think there are exceptional individuals, and that they will prevail and advance no matter what cultural support they do or do not receive. I’m not convinced any aspect of culture trumps the random distribution of genius present in a population, nor that high intelligence by itself determines success.

    • I don’t have much to add other than when I picked Edison on the list I wondered if anyone one mention Tesla or the Robber Baron bit. It kind of fits how our culture is quick to point out flaws in people who are never perfect. That idea ties indirectly at Club Soda’s post a few months ago about nullification.

  2. I really do not think that the fundamental aspect of our culture is about becoming what you dream noting the vast historical record of the common American supporting the oppression of minorities such as non-males, non-whites, non-christians, non-capitalists. If anything I would say that the American culture is still that of a colonial/slave state mentality. Some of the moderate right wingers in this country (a.k.a. “Liberal Democrats”) might go so far as to claim Thomas Sowell an “Uncle Tom” traitor, but this is one of the reason I agree liberalism is a bit of a mental disorder. Thomas is taking his right wing capitalist beliefs to their logical conclusions. He admits that capitalism is cruel and dishonest and he openly embraces it for the quit rewards capitalism are known for. American liberals cry and complain about the effects of capitalism yet still support the capitalist system. Liberals may as well be right wingers, and many of the American liberals very much are right wingers, yet they are not conservative about their support of capitalism. American liberals prop up capitalistic system and claim they are “socialism” just because they use some tax payer money for them. Promescuity is a property of the American capitalist system. This is why I also consider conservatism to be a mental disorder. The same conservatives who scream “Free market!!” also cry and grit their teeth over prostitution, pronography, and sex and violence on TV. The same conservatives who constantly beat the drums of war and invasion then turn around and cry about the level of violence in childrens video games. As far as my conclusion of my opinion on this topic, I will take the stance of George Carlin: “They call it the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

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