Thursday, July 21, 2011

Just what is the American Dream?

People mis-perceive what the American Dream is.
  • it is not, to achieve riches
  • it is not, to become powerful
  • it is not, to become the President of the United States

These things have come to be discussed as the possibilities available in living in the greatest country in the history of this planet.

The American Dream really is (now get this straight people):
  • to be free, not to be indentured to a royal, a tyrant or a wealthy landowner
  • to have a decent opportunity at working for a living that will support you
  • to have the capability to work to have the possibility of owning your own home
  • to be free of being considered guilty first, when charged with a crime
  • to be free of cruel and unusual punishment
  • to be free of religion, or to choose your religion
  • to be free to enter into government, to have the possibility of becoming President, unless you are not a naturally born citizen, a reasonable thing I think
  • to be free to have the possibility to receive an education
Therefore, the American Dream is not to have all the wealth possible to anyone, but rather to be free of those things that kept all people down over millennia. That being low born, rather than equal born, would not be something that would hold you down. To have the possibility of achieving things, but not the absolute achievement requirement. And that, is where we seem to have gone off track.

The first thing we need to do is to stop expecting so much from being American. We need to bring that expectation back into reality, to enjoy, to appreciate what we do have. To make use of what is available and not expect it to come to us without our effort. We do not have the right to drain our fellow citizens of their taxes for our benefit to be able to not work, unless it is not possible to work. State Welfare is for those who truly cannot work, or cannot find work because there isn't any work. But people who simply decide not to work and live off the taxes of their fellow citizens, was never the idea.

We depend upon our government for protection from there being oppression, no jobs, no equality, no availability to those things mentioned above. But only the base line notions of those things. The possibility of owning your own house does not say a house with a pool, a house in the best neighborhoods, but a house. We should be able to have a modicum of expectation for living in a safe neighborhood, with decent access to protection from fire, crime and death or harassment, be it from fellow citizens or government authorities (Police, agents, etc.).

We should not have an expectation of being bailed out when we move into a flood plain and then lose everything because, hey, surprise, it flooded. If this is someplace like New Orleans, then perhaps that would be different and a unique situation.

But to live by a river for instance, that floods year after year and to expect the government to constantly bail you out, is unreasonable and a nearly criminal waste of tax payer's money.

This does not include criminals who, if they abuse their rights, may lose them, but even then they should retain some, like freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, which isn't to say, they should have access to porno and such luxury items, as one inmate recently sued the government over. But even they deserve to have the right before judgement in court, to a fair and impartial treatment. Just in case they are innocent and only look or act guilty. Some people are just too stupid to know not to act guilty, or are mentally incapable of it.

My point here is that we expect too much from the "American Dream". We should have more respect for it, for our country, for our fellow citizens who in some cases are supplementing our pursuit of that dream. We should put the labor in to achieve our dreams, we should fund those dreams, and if anything, we should expect a stable platform from our government to have the opportunity to achieve those dreams through our efforts. We should not, for instance, expect to have fifteen kids, unless we can afford them, afford to clothe them, feed them, put them through school. We need to pay our own way, not expecting others to foot the bill.

They say that "Heaven" helps those who help themselves. They do not say that Heaven will come to your home, carry you to the perfect job and give you riches. That comes with hard work. It comes with intelligent thought.

You must have heard the joke about the guy stranded on the roof of his flooded house, water nearly up to the roof? I'm not religious but if religion is good for anything, it's giving moral lessons. The story goes that there was a huge flood in a village. One man said to everyone as they evacuated, "I'll stay! God will save me!" The flood got higher and a boat came, and the man in it said "Come on, get in with us, we're here to save you!" "No" replied the man. "God will save me!" So they left him. Then the flood got much higher and the man was getting nervous, knowing he would drown soon if something didn't happen. A helicopter came by and offered him help. "No," he said, "My God will save me!" Eventually the man did drown. When he got to the gates of Heaven, he asked God, "Lord, why didn't you save me?" And God replied, "For goodness sake, you fool! I sent you a boat, I sent you a helicopter. What more did you want!"

We should have an expectation of some sort, but let's face it, at some point, we are simply being stupid about it. We should expect only the basics. Being able to give our hard work to the work place, to make decisions that lead to our lives getting better. Still, that does not say that we WILL make good decisions, that our choices WILL lead to what we desire. And when we fail, we should pick ourselves up and try again, not expect to be bailed out because we blew it. And so we will always have people who fail, who do not achieve the American Dream, but that does not mean that we are responsible for those people to be all they can be. They are. We are responsibly only that we will reasonably try to keep them safe, alive and "reasonably" healthy if they want to partake in that.

It seems the American Dream has turned into something it's not and never should have been and we need to get back to our roots. Too high of an expectation about anything will ruin that. Possibly we can see that in many areas of modern American life, health, wealth, relationships.

That being said, we should be protected from Corporations, from the Corporate way of thinking. As times get better FOR THE CITIZENS, we should be working less for more. But that has gone the other direction and we have to ask, why?
Henry Ford
Why is because we decided many decades ago that corporations were individuals themselves and have rights. And that, is obviously wrong. That is something that came to be during a time when corporations seemed like a wonderful thing. Where certain individuals such as Ford, Rockefeller and others looked to us like Gods. These men seemed to embody the American Dream. From the top down, the outside in, they did seem to have achieved that Dream. But from the bottom up, from the inside out, this was not, this was never, what the American Dream was to be all about.

John Rockefeller

That was the beginning of the end and how we all ended up where we are.

With Corporations and their way of thinking now running nearly everything, invading nearly all forms of employment and activity, they have taken the role of us and we have become their drones. We thought that those famous men were something to be held up to be respected and envied (and there was the problem in a nutshell). And those men wanted, like their corporations, to make more money, to have more power. Regardless of any of their benign and philanthropic pursuits, what they did was like a cancer to our society and has lead to our current out of control situation. At the time, it didn't seem that bad, but as things grew out of all proportion and understanding, it turned into a monster.

When you consider that as well as things were going for decade after decade, people, not shareholders, should have been the final recipients of the benefits that the corporations had received. This is not socialism, it's just good management. Yes, the shareholders should have reaped benefits but they didn't need to get as much as they got and the orientation should have been equal on the employees and the owners; not just for the owners. The amount of money made at the top now is unethical, immoral, and yes, fattening.

Which brings us to the fattening of America, because if we, at the bottom can only afford to eat junk food and carbs, which are far cheaper than protein, isn't it our way of achieving a false sense of prosperity? And so you see the poor growing fatter and the rich growing richer. The employees work longer hours and the rich still grow richer.

We need to reverse this and perhaps the threat of nationalizing corporations may not be a bad way to scare the hell out of these creatures, to motivate them into doing what is right. Decades ago I felt that things were going so well that we should soon be seeing four day work weeks, six hour days, one to three month vacations a year as you see in some European countries, younger retirements and healthcare for all. Healthcare that will not bankrupt people when things go wrong for them.

So after all this being said, what IS the American Dream?

It's complicated. But it's not what we seem to think it is.

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