Sunday, February 8, 2009

The American Dream?

Ah, the American Dream. Everyone who has grown up in the United States knows what it is... people in every corner of the globe know what it is. It's probably the central motivating force that brought thousands, if not millions, of people to these shores. Here in the good ol' U.S.A. anyone can make a million! But, perhaps it's time to take a second look at the American Dream because of what it has become... and maybe always was... simply a dream.

Let's say, in some alternate reality, there were ten people sitting around a table. On that table there was a jar containing 100 one dollar bills. Let's also say that to make a dream come true in this other world, a person needed 7 dollars. No problem, they each could take 7 dollars out of the jar and there would still be 30 dollars remaining. Now lets say that one of those people figured out a way to take 40 dollars out of the jar. Suddenly, at least two of the other 10 people wouldn't have enough for their dreams... and if the loss of the 40 dollars was spread evenly across the other nine people, only the one with 40 dollars could make his/her dream come true. Unfortunately, this alternate world resembles the United States more than you might think.

Some economists estimate that currently in the U.S., the richest one percent of the population controls 40 percent of the wealth. That's right, all of those Gates and Buffetts, Adelsons and Ellisons that we are taught to idolize and emulate have taken 40 dollars out of the jar. To be fair, these super wealthy individuals also give millions to charities and other worthy causes, which is admirable. But the fact remains, if we continue to transfer wealth to the top one percent of our population at an accelerating rate, there will be an increasing number of "American Dreams" that don't have a snowball's chance in hell of ever coming true.

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