The American Dream
In the modern day, people from all over the globe are making an effort to leave their homelands and chase their dreams in the US. The American Dream which embraces freedom, equality for all and increased opportunities attracts many foreigners who feel these privileges are unattainable in their countries. The American Dream motivates individuals to stretch beyond their limits in the pursuit of their personal goals of success and opportunities. However, with stagnant wages, unaffordable education, and escalating debts, the America Dream no longer lives.
People who still believe the American Dream is alive argue that the US is the ideal platform for making positive global investments and acquisitions. For instance, in 2014, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development reported that foreign and local investors invested approximately $92 billion into the US market. Only two countries defeated the US; China with $129 billion, and Hong Kong with $103 billion. It is thus an indication that the state’s FDI flows are stable.
The technological advancement experienced in the US confirms the attainment of the American Dream since it has helped in realizing lower prices for most commodities previously considered expensive. For example, unlike few generations ago, today many Americans have smartphones and computers. The aviation industry has recorded positive progress as well with the number of aircraft tripling between 1960 and 2012. As at August 2015, the US had a total of 209,034 home-based jets. The number is higher than the planes from the rest of the world combined (approximately 151, 000).
Half of the US population no longer believes in the attainment of the American Dream. The notion of equal opportunity for all is nonexistent. The fundamental elements that the American Dream focusses on have remained a luxury to the majority of the citizens. For instance, most people are still receiving indecent wages with no guarantee for a retirement security (Kopczuk et al. 27). Parents from poor backgrounds no longer have the conviction that their children will get an education and lead successful lives. The more the social gap widens, the more the majority cannot afford the key aspects of the American Dream.
One of the biggest indicators of the dead American Dream is the financial disabilities suffered by many Americans. It hoped to see the working class experiencing a consistent income growth, but this is yet to happen. For instance, for the last fifteen years, the middle-class populations have not received an increase in their wages. The result is a fall in the middle-class households with statistics indicating that the median household income has taken a downward trend since the 2008 financial crisis. On the contrary, the income of the wealthiest Americans keeps on improving. For instance, since 2000, the richest people in America have doubled their wealth, and the business revenues have risen to alarming levels. A survey conducted by Goldman Sachs indicated that the profits recorded in the corporate sector in 2013 were five times better than wages.
In the past, one person’s earnings could comfortably sustain a middle-class family. Mothers would stay at home taking care of their kids while the fathers went work and the family would still enjoy a stable life. However, this arrangement no longer has a place in the modern America. The high cost of living has given rise to the two-earner-trends since one person’s earnings cannot meet the home costs, pay for education and other basics such as transport and entertainment (Kopczuk et al. 17). The cost of the necessities keeps on increasing while the wages stagnate which translates to families battling a financial crisis and struggling to make a decent living (Sinclair 5). People are no longer willing to expand their family size because they see parenthood as a financial risk.
The number of people living in debt is increasingly high since their salaries cannot address most of their expenses. America has gradually turned into a debt-dependent economy, and the lifestyle does not only impact the nation as whole but individual families as well. Some of the expenses are too high than the growth of incomes especially for persons under the age of twenty-five (Kopczuk et al. 32). In the long run, the accumulation of debts has created two classes of Americans namely the wealthy and the debtors.
The economically disadvantaged Americans rely on education loans to keep their children in school (Edmiston et al. 15). The American Dream hoped to see every citizen getting a quality education as a necessity for professional growth and improved lifestyle. However, this dream is no longer valid since college education is only affordable for the wealthy while the financially challenged turn to money lenders to finance their tuition. Such people have mountains of debts to clear when they finish school and settle in employments. As a result, their spending is too high compared to their income. This pattern explains why people aged twenty-five and below are the most debt-stricken since they start off their career lives with clearing education loans alongside other financial responsibilities (Edmiston et al. 22).
In 2012, Forbes reported that education was one of the facilitators of realizing the American Dream. However, between 1985 and 2012, college fees had escalated by 500 percent. Moreover, the overall consumer price index went up by 115 percent. The projection of tuition fees for private institutions of higher learning was approximate $130,000 for a four-year period. The figure did not cater for food, resources such as stationery, boarding, and other students’ expenses.
In the past, those who could not meet the high charges of private colleges and universities were taking refuge in public institutions which were affordable even to the poorest populations. However, today these institutions are as expensive as the private ones; for instance, the University of California (UC) would offer free public education without compromising on quality. However, the tuition-free service is no longer available since Ronald Reagan became Governor. For instance, in 2012, UC Berkeley charged students $12,972 annual fees plus $14,414 accommodation. The institutions charged an estimated $32,168 including stationery.
The university increased its fees by 15 percent within two years when the state experienced a financial crisis and in response reduced the higher education funding. The median national household income is $51,000, making even the public colleges unaffordable. Students can still enjoy scholarships and grants. However, the increased college fees translate to a fall in these programs, and the middle-class, as well as lower-income learners, have to borrow more to cater for their other out-of-cost expenses.
The American Dream does not appear attainable, and the gap between the poor and the wealthy keeps on widening. Most Americans are living in debt since their incomes cannot sustain their families, yet the financially influential persons and big corporations are recording significant profit margins. Americans cannot look back and say the American Dream has come to pass wages remain stagnant, education is unaffordable, and people live on debts.
Edmiston, Kelly D., Lara Brooks and Steven Shepelwich. “Student loans: overview and issues.” Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Working Paper12-05 (2013). Pgs. 3-27.
Kopczuk, Wojciech, Emmanuel Saez and Jae Song. Uncovering the American dream: Inequality and mobility in social security earnings data since 1937. No. w13345. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2007. Pgs. 1-39
Sinclair, Upton. “The Jungle.” New York, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 2012. Pgs. 5.