“Only in America” was written by Leiber, Stoller, Weill, and Mann (1963) as a song to propagate the American dream. After more than four decades of American dream to own a house, a car, and to have a good-paying job one can see that it is not enough any longer for many ‘new’ Americans. Hard work and determination perhaps were good enough tools to “take a giant step and reach right up and touch the stars…” four decades ago (that is if you were the right skin color) but not any longer.
It does take a genius of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to become wealthy using their own talents as leverage. Or it takes a sheer luck and some intuition to participate in real estate speculations at exactly the right time. Either, that precludes honest working folks who work their given hours a week and get enough to pay the bills. More (2003) compared such to a drug “first prescribed to us as children in the form of a fairy tale. ” Certainly, it happens for some, for a very few.
It does seem that those very few knew exactly what they were doing – either investing into the right stock, buying properties when they still cost in low 100s in California, or get on the tip of the wave of progress, like Bill Gates did. Well, for the few it worked but not for the majority of us. It is not difficult to figure out the reasons. A rational thought would suggest that American government is able to render every citizen rich – not necessarily with the money distribution but with the controlling the purchase power of an average citizen.
If to eliminate the political agenda and change the status quo to people-centered market, it is not difficult to see that one carrying President of the country can do so by a) eliminating unnecessary government agencies and departments and b) removing political and financial limitations to the free enterprise. The latter action by itself can be very powerful for business owners not having a need to compensate for the high rents and other costs to run a business will keep their products of low cost.
Everything, from energy to communication services, to the infrastructure will cost less, much less as the result. Any business owner understands that selling products by the quantity will bring more financial result than doing so by higher cost and selling by the lesser numbers. As the result, people, even those with meager incomes, will have more purchase power by being able to afford much more than they can do today. That would raise the daily comfort of people. They would become content for their minds would not be preoccupied with the sheer necessities needed by their families.
Material things and services, like houses, cars, food, clothes, education needs, health needs should not cost so much of a fortune that people must get into the life-time debt to be able to afford it. If the necessities are met and people do not have a difficult time to find an appropriate for them job, the content should become widespread. As of now, most people live in fear, in fear of loosing their jobs, in fear not being able to pay the mortgage and the car notes, for fear not being able to meet their responsibility to their families.
People who live by such fear cannot experience content. I once knew a family, good solid one. He was a teacher working in the same district for over a decade. She worked at the bank. They had a nice house, two cars, good-looking furniture, but could not save enough to pay their financial obligations sooner. They lived a nice life, but in debt. And then, the tragedy stroke. He lost the purpose, feeling stagnated he left to his home country that he came from originally. Looking for happiness, he left his wife and children.
To avoid gossip and talk in their community, she moved to another state with 50K dollars that came from his retirement plan. Because she could not afford to continue paying for the house, the house was foreclosed. The same happened with one of the cars. Her credit was in ruin, and now she had to start anew. She was afraid to touch the money, whatever left from moving and initial expenses. After three months, she found a job at the bank. The income was just enough to cover rent and monthly bills.
What did happen to such a strong family who used to have everything: each other, nice house, cars, two wonderful kids, and ability to buy things they wanted…? One could say they lived American Dream, but did they? Does material things constitute the Dream most people strive to in their lives? It is apparent to me, that people who do not have material comfort around them, whose life is difficult because they have to calculate whether they have enough money to purchase oranges or grapes but cannot afford both, they would think that the end to their means would be living like that couple lived.
And yet, my friend, being a nice and decent man felt trapped and not content. Once people obtain the material means around them they soon realize that their American Dream was not fancy cars or bigger homes – it is the opportunity to do what their heart desires: self-expression in the least amount. That would not happen if he had an opportunity to change a job that he was doing for 26 years, or at least to take a year of sabbatical. That would not happen if they were not in debt paying $ 2500 for the house and $ 1000 a month for their two cars.
That would not happen if financial obligations did not overload him conflicting with his inner desires. Here, I believe I came to the root of the question whether this great country can give a feeling of being at home. Obviously, having enough income is not enough. Eliminating the need to obtain debts to rise economically perhaps would do for some. To my opinion, however, the concept of American Dream was neither of that: it had nothing to do with the financial part of it.
If one looks deeper perhaps it can be seen that the fulfillment of personal dreams through the structure’s support to each family’s happiness can render people happier, and if happy they feel the more at home they would consider the country they live in. When people have to struggle thinking about their family economics and knowing that they cannot change their occupations because the discontinuation of income would bring their family to the financial ruin, they cannot think of their personal development through the change of direction in their life.
They grow more and more discontent and discontented people are bitter people, people who can at the brink of a move quit their country and go looking for the happiness elsewhere. In conclusion, more and more people understand that described is not enough to be happy in life, that doing the job for the only purpose to get the money to buy the house and a nice car causes stagnation, and as the result unhappiness and discontent. An opportunity that was promised as a part of all American dream is waning and harder to grasp.
That is because people understand more and more that to be called Home, the society must offer something else: as in the promise to personal fulfillment – whatever it be. The idea of a home can be different from different perspectives. Certainly, living in a house with the backyard, driving a brand new car, and having a respectable income can make characteristics of a home for many people who had never had such before. Yet, for others these are not enough for they seek something else, perhaps certain characteristics of the society that increase the degree of their satisfaction from living this life.
Yet for others the dream is to become wealthy just to discover (in case if they achieve it) that even that was an illusion. The idea of a home cannot be objectified for it is unique to the subjective perception of every person who lives within the society. References More, M. (2003). Dude, where’s my country? (publisher? ) Jay and the Americans (1963). Only in America. Song written by Leiber, J. , Stoller, M. , Weill, C. , and Mann, B.
Courtney from Study Moose
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