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The ‘American Dream’ Is No Longer Achievable

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The ‘American Dream’ Is No Longer Achievable

Sid Hogge, Opinion Writer

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The United States, the land of the free and the home of the ‘American dream’. A dream that is glorified and put on a pedestal in America. The American dream is to move up the social order through hard work and determination. It is the idea that anyone can achieve success and get rich through their own efforts, no matter their class, but is wealth mobility achievable anymore? The inequality between the rich and the poor in America is growing, and this hoarding of wealth by the wealthy makes it very difficult to change class. An achievable ‘American dream’ is a fading concept.

For the last 25 years, the American dream has been dead. According to CNBC, 78% of full time workers are living paycheck to paycheck. They are unable to put money into retirement or savings, or anything that would better their circumstances. This also means that if there were an emergency they would have to go into debt in order to afford it. A large percentage of Americans have seen their living standards decrease, or become stagnant, thus making life actively worse for most people. This is a problem that surrounds all Americans who participate in the economy.   

The American dream is dead is because the rich have destroyed it. While there are exceptions like Elton John who donated roughly 38 million in 2016, there are still many in the top 1% that continue to hoard their wealth. Roughly a third (100 million) of Americans still live near or under the poverty line, (22K for a family of four). Half of the country makes less than $30K. The bottom 80% of Americans make less than 60K, while the top one percent make at least 250K. The economic divide between the rich the poor is so vast that it is nearly impossible to cross. Of people born into the bottom 20%, 70% remain under the middle class. The poor are trapped in their class due to the rich hoarding their wealth. After the recession, 85% of income growth went to the top 1%. The rich see huge income increases, but for the vast majority of Americans, wages have flatlined or fallen since the 90’s. This traps the poor in poverty while the rich get richer at their expense, thus killing the American dream.

Some people assert that the American dream is still alive. They claim that because of the possibility of achieving higher wealth, that it is still relevant to today’s society. Joel Contartese, an American immigrant entrepreneur is just one example of someone with immense pride towards our classic American dream. “America provides plenty of tools to help you achieve your dreams, you just have to fight for it,” claimed Contartese. Through hard work fantasies can become reality with just some effort. What has not been considered is the tragically low percentage of people that do not manage to grow out of their class, and the countless amount of hours those stuck in poverty have to work just to survive. Some people are lucky enough to grow out of their class, but there is not a fair enough opportunity for most people to escape poverty.

The new American dream is to ‘survive day by day’ for people living in poverty. The new objective is to attend college and own an apartment instead of a house with a white picket fence. This is life for 100 million people in the country, while the top 1% live in a totally separate reality. Americans need to acknowledge this difference no matter their class. If people do not realize the income and class gap the poor will continue to struggle. It is unreasonable for the top 1% to wield 230 trillion of the world’s wealth while others are unable to afford food and shelter. Instead of praising a broken dream directed towards the rich, a new dream is needed that supports class mobility for the poor. American’s must accommodate the lower class and give everyone an equal opportunity at achieving what should be America’s ‘New American dream’.

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