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The Vanishing American Dream

August 21, 2010

E.J. Manning

In America, the free market is king while pride and attitude are high. For years, people with low incomes were seen as having only themselves to blame. Those who make a lot of money have been applauded and emulated. Americans have long overlooked the fact that the American Dream has been a reality for fewer and fewer people. To top matters off, Americans are getting sick and tired of being spoon-fed the same hype as the world around them, and their lives, go down the toilet. Americans are finding ways to rebel against the statistical improbability and the same inane chatter about prosperity. Some are voluntary and happily living simpler lives. Others don’t have that luxury.

Statistics say that less affluent Americans stand a 4 percent chance of becoming part of the upper middle class, whatever that may be. What is known is that doing better in America is less likely than in almost every other industrialized nation. Like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the books on statistics are often cooked, based on the whims of policy. Failure is not an option, so the nation invents a new truth, usually a distortion of an old one. America have been reinventing economic truth for at least fifty years. Kennedy and Johnson didn’t buy America truth or betterment. They began the process of selling our souls. To make matters worse, America is still fighting the Vietnam War somewhere else in the name of national security.

Politicians have proclaimed government as the answer as they overspend, often blindly. They did not anticipate the growing social crisis and have no answers. They paint themselves as innocent and guileless, even as they continue with the same bankrupt policies. Washington is still waiting for jobs that aren’t coming or as VP Joe Biden says, will never come. President Barack Obama and his administration seem to be pinning their hopes on the notion that Americans will eventually pull themselves up by their bootstraps. This could be true if Americans hadn’t been kicked down for the last thirty years by invasive tax law and the preponderance of cubicle thinking.

Working for oneself is beyond the imagination of most and no wonder. If you listen to the pedigreed experts give you the lay of the economic land, your life is filled with requirements and accountability before you can make a dollar. You are responsible for the world. The old thinking was to work hard and pull yourself up by sheer will and determination, without holding the world on your shoulders. You found something useful to do and worked at it. The new thinking is to work hard for someone else while following a battery of rules and premises invented by Wall Street thinking and bankers. Finding something useful to do that anyone can afford after you set up the farm and paid your taxes in advance is another matter. The imaginary hasn’t worked to provide the grist for reality. As a result, nothing happens. Surprise.

The government does what it has come to do since the World War II era with roots going back to 1913 or so. This government spends money that is printed by international bankers and spends more every year. Today, the American people have been sold the same rot about buying and living on credit, while generating two-thirds of the American economic output. The Dream is broken, based wholly on a system that has burned itself up. Bankers have destroyed the system with their derivative gambling act of leveraged securities. Banking has become a part of a highly leveraged Wall Street game that won’t be satisfied by the fractional reserve, the ability to loan out cash on hand nine times over. There isn’t enough cash in the world, or enough glory to sate their vanity or their hunger.

Predictably, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has green-stamped the same plan of ages. This is to pump money into the market, even as the government deficit now reaches $1.4 trillion. Little has been accomplished beyond blowing up a doll that looks like the system that used to exist before the meltdown of 2008.

“The lights are going out all over America,” Paul Krugman wrote last week, describing communities that can ill afford to operate. It has been that American can no longer spend money on consumer goods because they have no savings. Most never did. Americans, with largely stagnated wages, became accustomed to buying on credit endlessly while supposing that they would always have the means. That is no longer the case, even if banks are lending. Most of us know that banks aren’t lending except to the financially well endowed.

We know that in many cases, housing, the investment of the Dream, have lost half their value. With that declining value, Americans have lost the ability to borrow on a Dream that was built on a cycle that depended on the inflation of prices and consumer credit. Since the meltdown, a blow-up doll has replaced any system that used to exist. Much of America has lost its ability to support the system. They no longer qualify for credit. If they have a job, they are struggling to make ends meet. Even stagnated incomes and low-paying part time jobs are in short supply. The whole nation is trapped in a vicious cycle of decline and poverty. People can’t pay taxes or don’t generate any. Businesses are in the same boat more and more. Without taxes, the government must go in the hole to continue to exist, let alone provide services.

State governments are especially vulnerable now. Everyone knows about the crisis in California. Other states are shaking in their boots to keep a measure of stability. Cutting services is often the answer. Schools are now closed on some Fridays to save state money in Hawaii. Many cities, like Colorado Springs, are shutting down services like lighting. Other places, like Nashville, are cutting programs to the elderly poor as the lines for these programs grow longer.

Everyone knows that the Federal Government has spent a fortune on keeping the system afloat. AIG has absorbed $182 billion to keep the insurance industry alive. The industry is still trying to sell insurance to seniors as they rate bonds for Wall Street. Bankers are trying to sell reverse mortgages to those that still have substantial capital in their homes as the Federal Reserve constantly prints fresh greenbacks to supply air for the deflating system. The system is trying to feed on anything it can as the stability of the dollar sinks lower. International bankers have seen to it that the euro and other currencies don’t outclass the dollar by keeping everyone down as they bleed nations and peoples across the globe.

Paul Krugman warns that “America is now on the unlit, unpaved road to nowhere.” The lights of cities are failing because of the lack on funding. Everyone is becoming dependent on the Federal Government with the hope of inflating their lifestyle.

This isn’t the case for many Americans. They live in their cars and sleep on the streets. Perhaps they need to move to a warmer climate to survive the cold American winter in the north. Many Americans haven’t discovered the pathway to government sustenance. It may be the lack of information or their human pride that gets in the way. Eventually, resources will undoubtedly get in the way for government sustenance as well. People will have nowhere to go with resentment festering in their hearts, which will further threaten the fabric of good governance.

For years, Americans have been sold the idea of independence and responsibility. Now, an increasing number cannot care for themselves or their children. The winter is coming. The economic winter is already here for many. It may be merely delayed for the rest.

The sudden plunge into homelessness is a reality that’s difficult to understand in light of the American Dream that we have been sold. After all, the Dream said that there was a small home with a white picket fence and health insurance for everyone that worked hard. When that didn’t work, mom went to work to help dad get the promised lifestyle. Homestyle America is shrinking fast, quickly becoming an illusion as more lose their employment and loss of cubicle status.

As a nation, we’ve begged and borrowed for decades. If international bankers don’t own us, the Chinese certainly do. The debt threatens to suffocate the nation and the people. Most that are still financially intact have no financial reserves, living from paycheck to paycheck.

Even in a pre-recession America, many married couples worked two jobs each to make the bills. Life wasn’t luxurious then. It certainly isn’t luxurious now. The American Dream is no longer about working hard. It’s about having a place to lay your head at night.

America’s century is over, but it will fight on – Guardian

Boomers aren’t spending — this is a surprise? – Baltimore Sun

Should China’s Economic and Military Rise Worry the U.S.? – Atlantic Wire

The focus turns on the US economy

Economic War Between US and China Heats Up

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 23, 2010 10:48 am

    Superbly written piece. We are in big trouble in America. We have been in big trouble for a while now, but we’ve been in denial and the government has been supporting our delusion. It is no longer a question of “if” the American economy will crash, but “when.”

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