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Looking Back to Look Forward: “What Will Happen to the American Dream?”

Posted by Larry Doyle on October 13, 2010 8:07 AM |

How many of you reading this post feel as if life is becoming a blur, given the ongoing and unending avalanche of troubling economic news? I sense this reality becoming more and more prevalent throughout our society. I also sense that people lose track of both time and developments. Keeping a sense of balance and perspective during these challenging times is critically important. To this end, I want to go back one year and review what I wrote then in the hope it will bring these badly needed virtues into focus today. On October 12, 2009, I wrote What Will Happen to the American Dream?

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 –  both in government and in the private sector – do 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.


I strongly believed what I wrote a year ago. I believe it even more strongly today.

Larry Doyle

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I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. As President of Greenwich Investment Management, an SEC regulated privately held registered investment adviser, I am merely a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

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