American Dream : tout ce qu’il faut savoir

« The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed » Mahatma Gandhi 

What is the American Dream today ? 

 

Definition

Freedom includes a promise of the possibility of prosperity and success. 

In 1931 James Truslow Adams defined it as : « life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement » regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.  

 

The Founding father (1776)

The founding fathers are considered as the creators of the government of America. Among them, we can name George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin or Alexander Hamilton. Their visions of American Dream is that each person’s desire to pursue their idea of happiness is not self- indulgence, but a necessary driver of a prosperous society. For them, unalienable rights are: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. 

Cf Hotario Alger Rags to riches. 

 

Declaration of Independence

The American dream is rooted in the second sentence of the US declaration of independence « all men are created equal (…) endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights (..) Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness » 

But also in the CivilRight Act (1964) : protecting workers from discrimination by race, colour, religion, sex or Nacional origin. 

In 1929 the stock market crashed with the Great Depression. From then, the idea of American Dream had been a pursuit of material benefits.

Franklin D. Roosevelt defined the pursuit of happiness as a decent housing, a good job, education and health care. Some people think that the Great Depression and rising income inequality spelled the end of American Dream. 

 

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New vision of it after the Great Recession (2008) 

The « new vision » of American Dream is to focus on what really matters. The goal of life is spending time with family, valuing nature and creating a manful life.
Suze Orman (Financial adviser) « it’s a dream when you are living below your means but within your needs. You are not spending every penny, you are not impressing people. » 

 

How climate change could affect the American Dream ? 

What are the costs of unbridled growth ? 

Many global warming solutions advocate lower levels of consumption. We should have lower standards of life.
Some people feel their vision of  American Dream is threatened by solutions like the Green New Deal. For instance, if temperatures rise by 3°C – 37.4°F- the global GDP would fall 25%. 

The American Dream has to be confronted with American Reality. Consumption has exhausted natural resources that could lead to the sixth mass extinction. 

Thus, the Zenith of American Dream is based on both individualism and materialism, a new collective vision is called for. 

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But, Is the new AmDream really new ? 

There is no need to create new American Dream from scratch, but return to Founding Father’s vision. 

Barack Obama : « it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like. » He promised to revive the American Dream. « Even if you’re born with nothing, work hard and you can get into the middle class ».

 

Is the AmDream a myth ?

Barack Obama : « our founding precept about wide open opportunity and each generation doing better than the last will be a myth » American Dream is only true for those in Wall Street (top1%) .

US economy has been dramatically hit by both the 2008 recession and the Coronavirus pandemic, and thus no longer offers the healthy, attractive appearance. The wave of contentment and optimism which has always been generated by the myth now seems to be giving way to some form of despair and delusion. 

The American Dream which was once based on meritocracy and hard-work now depends on one’s wealth. The pandemic seems to reveal that the access to the Dream depends on the survival of the wealthiest. Minority groups are even more likely to suffer from the underlying health.

The American Dream sounds more like a desperate fantasy, a mere lure which yet somehow allows them to keep hoping. 

« Disease of despair » 

The diseases of despair are three classes of behavior-related medical conditions that increase in groups of people who experience despair due to a sense that their long-term social and economic outlook is bleak. The three disease types are drug overdose (including alcohol overdose), suicide, and alcoholic liver disease.along the middle class, how realist that the American Dream is impossible for them. 

The movie Coming appart, by Charles Murray released in 2012 illustrate this.  Optimism gave way to frustration and anger. The American Dream is no longer inspiring but killing workers.  

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