Is The Concept Of The American Dream Still Alive?

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What is the American Dream? The American dream is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the ideal by which equality of opportunity is available to any American, allowing the highest of aspirations and goals to be achieved”. Although this definition is correct, it is not as straightforward as a dictionary makes it seem to be. The American dream has no single definition due to the individuality of the people in our country of today’s society. Many people have different beliefs of what the American dream is, how America has changed, and if this dream is realistic and achievable for all.

In an article titled “The American Dream Is Dead: Here’s Where It Went” written by Adele Peters, she uses her platform to address the decline in social mobility in the unfair distribution of income in America. In this article, Peters points out the fact that many wealthy celebrities came from poor families and had to use their hard work and skill to get where they are today. It was important that she incorporated this fact into her article because those individuals embody the basic principle of what the American dream is. People such as Oprah Winfrey, Jay Z, and Ralph Lauren did not have a headstart in life to get to where they are today. Although these individuals were born into low income families and broke the cycle, that is not typically the case for many Americans in our society. In the article, Peters states that the US ranks among the lowest of all developed countries in terms of upward mobility. This means that even though it is possible to be born into a poor family and become rich later in life, it is more than likely that if you grow up poor, you will remain poor. Studies also show that individuals born into the lowest economic bracket have only at 8% chance of “making it out”. These are the individuals that do not experience the American dream although the general definition states that it is achievable for any American. Most individuals that are born into a wealthy family do not experience this amount of unfairness as they also repeat the cycle of their families and have a higher chance of having a wealthy future. Peters and many others believe the American dream is in fact dead in today’s society due to the unfairness of income, opportunity, and equality.

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In an article titled “By Your Own Bootstraps” written by W. Michael Fox and Richard Alm, they come together to express their beliefs and the importance of opportunity versus equality in achieving the American dream. America is known as the land of opportunity but in more than most cases this is not true. Immigrants come from all over the world to America with hope for a successful future and a better life. Over the past years, immigrants of a lower income have not had a high or fair chance of making it out of the low-income bracket. Although it is possible to climb to the top of the income bracket, not everyone has an equal opportunity in this country. In this article, the author states that location plays a large part in one’s income. For example, people who reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan tend to have a higher income than people who reside in Northville, Michigan. Income inequality is defined by Britannica as “a significant disparity in the distribution of income between individuals, groups, populations, social classes, or countries”. This form of inequality is more than common in America and has been for hundreds of years. Not only does this inequality affect people by location, it also affects people by gender and race. This economic inequality goes against the principals of the American dream and the idea that it is achievable by any American.

In “Long Live The American Dream” written by Shika Dalma, the author shares her own experience in coming to America and compares this country to India and China. Although the economy in America is slowly declining, we still hold our rank as the country with the best economy. According to the article, it states that America’s best intangible wealth makes citizens have a desire to be productive and successful. Knowing how much money there is to be made in our country gives individuals a sense of motivation to be the next millionaire billionaire. According to Dalma, she states that within the first 15 years of residing in America, an individual ends up in a similar or lower position in life as to where they would be if they decided to stay in their home country. Although one’s living conditions maybe worse than it would be if they were in a different country, we still have the highest economy which makes dream jobs possible. According to the article, America’s GDP is around $47,000 as to where China’s is $7500 and India’s is $3290. Not only is there a difference in the economy, there is also a difference in the lower and higher education system. Compared to children from India and China, American students tend to underperform on standardized tests. Although students in these countries tend to do better in school than American students, this type of advanced education being received in other countries is only being given to the “elite” students through the use of private schools. These are all factors which led individuals to come to America in order to fulfill their personal American dream. Unlike the authors of the other articles, Dalma believes the American dream is alive and an=achievable for those who come from other countries.

The American dream in my eyes is not fully alive. In the definition, it states that these opportunities are achievable for any citizen which has been proven to not be true. Through the wealth gap, economic inequality, and lack of opportunity, many individuals are stuck where they are at in life. Although one may be able to push themselves higher up in the wealth bracket, there is only so much they can do with the given resources to get where they need to be to simply eat or have a stable living environment. America is an extremely unfair country that does not prioritize the well being of its residents making this dream remain as nothing more than a dream.

Sources

  1. Oxforddictionary.com
  2. Brittanica.com
  3. Readings For Writers 16th Edition Jo Ray McCuen-Metherell Anthony C Winkler (57,-59,60-62,63-65) 

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