Is It Possible To Achieve An American Dream?

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The American dream is the idea that if you come to this country you’re given the opportunity to do whatever you want with your life, and that you can be whoever you want. Therein lies the first issue with this concept: opportunity.

Opportunity is the main idea that keeps the American dream alive. It’s an idea that says, “Once I’m given to you, you can do whatever you set out to do.” Yet, it’s not that simple. If the concept of opportunity in America was, no one would ever complain and America would be perfect forever. But opportunity doesn’t exist freely. You can’t have a business without workers and consumers. Big, successful businesses must be built off of the backs of thousands of people – either those who work for your business or those from who your business profits. Business needs workers, and the American dream is a selling device to bring workers from other countries so this one can thrive. The best part is, no one ever really knows this until they come.

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The next problem in the dream is that running a business is hard. To even get something off the ground or get a foot in the door is hard. People will believe that business is the survival of the fittest and that hard work is what it takes to be successful. This isn’t exactly the case, as “survival of the fittest” was meant to describe biological evolution, not meant to be applied to human economics. Also, as I said before, business is built off of the labor of others.

However, if we do subscribe to this application of survival of the fittest, it should instead be referred to as survival of the ruthless and lucky, with maybe some room for the intelligent and determined in there somewhere. In reality, from the overthrowing of dynasties to the bootlegging of the Kennedys, illegal activity is a great boost for earning power and opportunity.

As for luck, even from the evolutionary standpoint, the sheer chance of a meteor hitting the earth, killing dominant species around the world, and leaving a new species to evolve and take its place, sounds kind of lucky to me. Part of this idea; prosperity and success doesn’t happen overnight. It happens over generations.

Humans evolved over millions of years, John F. Kennedy became president and your grandparents may have come to America looking for a better life. I’ll agree, depending on where you come from and what you’re escaping, America may be a lot better, but almost no one comes to America and finds themselves in a mansion.

The difference between yourself and past generations is that you can hope to achieve this wealth. The reason? A generation can only be given better opportunities because of the generation before it. Your great grandparents might have only had a tenement, but if you’re not going to Hofstra on a scholarship, it’s because your family has just enough money to give you the opportunity to do even better.

Is the American dream real? Yes. You might even be in a position to achieve it without even thinking about it, but that’s because it’s much more nuanced and messy than people would like to think. 

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