The “American Dream” is defined by James Truslow Adams as, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth” (1931). The American Dream has been in act ever since the beginning of America. It was placed in the Constitution, that states that you have the right to, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These words were forever placed into all Americans and filled them with promises of bright futures. How do Americans now see the American Dream, and what does it mean to them? I will also be looking more into the economic, and equality effects of the American Dream that I have researched.
The first research reading I did was Gary S. Becker and Kevin M. Murphy’s, “The Upside of Income Inequality.” In the article it says that, “Gary Becker is a Nobel laureate in Economics, taught at the University of Chicago and wrote a column for BusinessWeek. Kevin Murphy is a professor at the University of Chicago and was the recipient of a 2005 MacArthur “genius” fellowship.” (Becker, 581). They started by saying that inequality has risen and that the rise in returns on investments in human capital, is beneficial and desirable. They give examples, by showing how college graduates gain higher income, than high school graduates. They say, “in recent years, a person with a college education earned roughly 70 percent more income.” (Becker, 583). This shows how the American Dream can be more achievable through education, but it also shows the inequality with income for Americans. They also give information that this inequality also changes with gender, and race. They say that, “This increased in the proportion of persons going to higher education is found among all racial and ethnic groups” (Becker, 585). They say that this higher education, has extended over to the economy. They say, “Growth in the education level of the population has been a significant source of rising wages, productivity, and living standards over the past century. Higher returns in education will accelerate growth in living standards as existing investments have a higher return” (Becker, 585-586). This has made the demand for skilled people higher, opening jobs up in high paying sectors allowing more Americans higher incomes. They say, “More investment in quality and quantity of schooling will benefit both individuals and society.” (Becker, 586). It’s still strange though, that even though their are clear benefits to going to college, many high school graduates don’t go on to college, and only half of college graduates go onto a 4 year college. They say that, “raise taxes on high-income households and reduce taxes on low-income households. While this may sound more sensible, it is not.” (Becker, 588). They also say, “A more sensible policy is to try to take greater advantage of the opportunities afforded by the higher returns to human capital and encourage more human capital investments.) (Becker, 588).
The next reading was Brandon King’s, “The American Dream: Dead, Alive, or on Hold?” In this article it says, “Brandon King is a law student at Indiana University. He majored in political science at the University of Cincinnati.” (King, 610). He proclaims that the American Dream is still around today, reassuring us that it’s what can get us out of the “Great Recession, overcoming inequality, and achieving true prosperity.” (King, 611). Paul Krugman says that the American Dream has changed from the past years, saying it first was seen as being poor and then becoming rich, to a now modest view of having a stable middle class life style. King then gives an example of a study that was made by Amy Hoak. She states, “studies show a decrease in homeownership from 69% in 2005 to about 66.5% in 2010, and an increase in renters households of 1.1 million” (King, 611). King proclaims, that the stock market seems to be uneven and weak, but the stock market is on its way to pre-recession levels. The stock market is recovering but very slowly. He says that the rising of minimum wages did little to nothing for making Americans more rich, all it did was make companies hire less Americans. He then says, “government funding for Wall Street and struggling businesses makes the economy healthier.” (King, 613). He ends the article by saying that the American Dream will always be alive as long as Americans believe they will have a stable future.
My next article was Tim Roemer s, “America Remains the World’s Beacon of Success.” Tim Roemer has, “served in Congress as a Democrat from Indiana and as ambassador to India from 2009 to 2011. He also has been a scholarship at the Mercatus Center, a conservative think tank at George Mason University, and served on the 9/11 Commission.” (Roemer, 618). He begins with saying that America is admired by the world, while it is hated by Americans. He then says, “Millions of Americans are out of work. Our trade deficit runs about $44 billion per month, the news is filled with stories of greed and corruption, Congress is paralyzed by partnership, and that India and China are outpacing us in infrastructure, technology and manufacturing capability, and investment.” (Roemer, 618-619). Tim says that living overseas he see that other major powers are facing similar or even bigger problems, and that more people want to move to America. He says, “Our national economy is bigger than those of Russia, Britain, Brazil, France, and Italy combined.” (Roemer, 619). Tim says, “the United State companies remain world leaders in, “information technology, bioscience, nanotechnology, and aerospace.” (Roemer, 620). Tim also says, that we have plenty of problems, but if we can, as citizens, develop a better infrastructure, and fight for our rights. We can transform problems into solutions, and move towards a better union.
The first PDF file was written by Ken Fuchsman titled, “The Age of Miracle and Wonders: Paul Simon and the Changing American Dream.” He states, “In the nineteenth century, as work became separated from home and immigrants flooded the country, the American dream had a distinctly male cast. It was centered around economic opportunity and career success for men.” (Fuchsman). This shows how immense the differences are from the nineteenth century to now is, and how much the economy relied heavily on men. Fuchsman also says, “With the rise of the consumer culture in the twentieth century, affluence spread into the home in new ways, and the scope of the American dream was expanding.” (Fuchsman).
The second PDF file was written by Neeta Kantamneni, Nichole Shada, Morgan R. Conley, Mary A. Hellwege, Jessica M. Tate, and Sherry C. Wang called, “Academic and Career Development of Undocumented College Students: The American Dream?” This article talks about immigrants in the workplace. The article says, “An estimated 11.7 million undocumented immigrants currently live in the United States, and approximately 8.3 million undocumented immigrants are currently employed in the labor force despite limited opportunities for employment.” (Kantamneni). This unfortunately makes job opportunities harder to come by. The article also says, “Children may immigrate to the United States with their families seeking refuge from violence or extreme poverty, and at times, may not have input on immigration decisions.” These undocumented children unfortunately have a very hard time in the schooling systems making it harder for them to truly have equal opportunity in America.
This research helps understand the different stances, towards equal rights to the “American Dream”, and how it’s not always equal. The dreams of being rich, or just having a simply stable life, is just two out of the many ways Americans and others see the dream. It truly affects everything around you molding the job force or even the way you think of yourself. In the end, what I have found out is that the “American Dream” is truly not one idea. The American Dream is simply, how “you” perceive the definition.