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What Will Happen to the American Dream?

Posted by Larry Doyle on October 12, 2009 2:41 PM |

The pursuit of a better life and greater opportunities have driven successive generations since the founding of our nation. Will that dream live on? Will future generations have a chance to live a better life than the current generation or recent generations?

Is the mere talk of this pursuit of the American dream mere poppycock? Do we think we can regain our economic stature and, once again, experience true economic prosperity merely because we want to have it happen?

Many feel that success is a function of a few basic principles combined with a little bit of luck. Is it truly luck, as some may maintain? No, I think not. I have always thought of luck as nothing more than where ‘preparation meets opportunity.’

In writing on this topic, I am not so hardened to think that families can easily or fluidly pursue opportunities which would entail picking up roots and moving. That said, demographic shifts will certainly be an ongoing theme as our economy and our country adapt to the new dynamics within the ‘Uncle Sam’ economy.

While we could debate at length the merits, or lack thereof, of bank bailouts and government support across a wide array of businesses and industries, I believe a great and unmentioned cost of a number of government programs is the masking of significant structural problems embedded in both the financial and moral balance sheets of individuals, families, corporations, and the government itself.

These structural problems and principles encompass the virtues of sacrifice, education, personal responsibilities, love of neighbor and nation. While politicians and corporate leaders may talk about the need to develop, promote, and spread strong principles of integrity, the evidence supporting those principles is severely lacking. As a result, generally speaking our leaders Р both in government and in the private sector Рdo not engender much respect and admiration.

Regrettably, all too often within our very family structures the lack of respect and willingness to truly sacrifice for a better tomorrow has also proven to be lacking. Why? Our predilection to ‘live for today’ has eroded the very foundation of the American dream. Those who have achieved and are achieving the ‘dream’ seem to broadly embrace these aforementioned principles.

Do I believe the American dream is dead? No, I just think those who truly want to achieve it will need to be even more prepared and will need to seek opportunities in industries and locations off the beaten path. The preparation is centered on education and developing skills. The opportunities are centered on the willingness to move outside one’s comfort zone and assume a degree of personal discomfort and risk.

I do not mean to preach and I apologize if anybody views my commentary in that fashion . . . but nobody ever said life was easy or fair.


  • kbdabear

    A Financial Times article says it’s possible that more pain is possible, not imminent but those happy days celebrations are a bit premature;

    • Larry Doyle

      Great minds thinking alike! Earlier today I actually linked to this article in the Newsworthy section here at Sense on Cents.

  • Patrick Johnston

    Future generations will be fine as long as financial responsibility continues to be taught in the schools. I have a son aged 16 who has saved $16,000 working as a caddy. He already knows the danger of too much debt because he was taught this in school and at home.

    • Larry Doyle

      Patrick…I commend you. I am willing to bet your son grasped the concept of savings at school because it was “lived” at home.

      The country needs more homes that not only ‘talk that talk’ but ‘walk that walk.’

  • Bob

    Here’s some food for thought:

    1*”You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.”

    2*”What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.”

    3*The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.”

    4*When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation.”

    5*You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it…”

    — Adrian Rogers, 1931

    • Trey

      Cute sayings. Its too bad that all but
      #3. are fairly empty of any real value or
      meaning. We do indeed create a more
      prosperous community when those who have
      more ‘give back’ so that those who don’t
      _can_also_contribute_to_the productivity_

      When the *marginal* tax rate for income
      over $5 million dollars a year was 91%,
      in the 1950’s, we were all better off.

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