Is the American dream a real thing? Many people strive for it and few get it.
Table of Contents
What is the American Dream?
I think a ton of people want to say they KNOW what the American Dream means. But few actually realize if it actually exists or not.
The American dream is supposed to mean that everyone has a fair chance and that everyone can succeed.
According to Investopedia, the American Dream is the belief that anyone has the ability to be successful in the United States, no matter who they are or where they come from.
But if you look at what we have done to this country and how we treat each other, I think the American Dream is dead — and it’s been gone for quite some time.
When did the American Dream start?
The American Dream in the 1920s is where my brain goes when I think about this topic.
A country of freedom, success, opportunity for the family — I do believe the American Dream was somewhat real back in the day, but it has an entirely different meaning in today’s world.
The term “American Dream” wasn’t coined until 1931. It was first spoken in the book Epic of America by James Truslow Adams. In the book, he provided us with one of the American dream quotes that stand out the most among them all:
“The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”
When you look at those words, it seems like it’s pretty focused on being united and together. But in reality, we’ve never been so divided.
Whether its race, money, or status — the United States is a place that has become so fixated on making money for the one percent; so fixated on bringing down people less fortunate; and so focused on lifting up those with money, those with power, those who ultimately own the companies that we all use on a daily basis.
The “American Dream” wasn’t and isn’t focused on the greater good; on a future of success for everyone — its focus is on putting money in the pockets of the ultra-rich; and it always has been.
In fact, the American Dream has always been a zero-sum game. Where the ultra-wealthy put money in their pockets from the working class.
Compound this for years and that divide gets larger and larger. And people wonder why it’s so hard to save money.
False Sense of Purpose
I haven’t been on this planet for a very long time, only 27 years to be exact, but from what I’ve seen, it’s survival of the fittest out here. And more importantly, I’ve learned that people don’t have your back. And if you look at the government and the leaders of this country, they certainly don’t have your back.
When I look at the true “American Dream” developed years ago, I think it provided a false sense of purpose for people.
And more importantly, it is certainly not all-inclusive.
- “Move to the United States to live the American Dream.”
- “Find success in the American Dream. We’ve got your back.”
- “The American Dream can pick you up from nothing and make you rich.”
These might be words you heard from people many decades ago about moving to the United States to live this “dream.” But in reality, this dream has become somewhat of a nightmare for some people.
And that’s largely in part due to the fact that our necessities are getting more expensive. Just think of what the typical U.S. citizen has to pay for, and how much those prices have jumped over time.
According to HowMuch.net, the majority of consumer spending involves food, housing, healthcare, transportation, and insurance.
And if you look at the cost of housing alone, that accounts for over a third of what we spend.
While middle-class citizens may still get by with these driving costs, what about the lower class? Sadly, these are the ones paying the biggest price.
If the American Dream is all about including everyone with prosperity and freedom, it doesn’t seem to be an even playing field for the lower class — and it’s the one percent who is getting richer while those less fortunate are suffering.
See Related: 10 Top Lucrative Side Hustles
So I wasn’t around in the 1930s when the American Dream first came into play, but the world had to be quite a different place back then.
But from what I know, it wasn’t always focused on bringing people together from all walks of life — it has always been about stepping on people less fortunate and using them to make a profit.
Just think about the examples of the American Dream. Go to college; find a job working for a corporation; shop at Walmart and Amazon; have a few kids; pay thousands for them to go to college — this is the true “American Dream” painted in a picture.
But while you may think this “dream” was designed to create an inclusive country where everyone can be happy and make tons of money, it’s actually more focused on the ultra-wealthy; like the owners of Walmart, Amazon, and other big corporations.
When I think of the language used to describe the American Dream, it honestly sounds like I’m talking to a car salesman.
Instead of ultra-high net worth citizens actually caring about people and caring about what’s best for others, they rather sell people on this idea of the “American Dream” — this idea that you can live a happy and successful life by following the steps they’ve outlined as “freedom.”
But rather, you’re following the path outlined by the ultra-rich, a path that puts money in the pockets of the one percent, a path where the rich are getting richer — and they cash out during each and every step you take.
See Related: How to Ask for Money
Break Free from the “Freedom”
While you may think you’re living in a place all about “freedom,” it’s not actually as free as you think. If you’re serious about making money and finding your true freedom, then it’s all about side hustles.
Although the economy is largely driven by those billionaires looking to make an extra billion, there are tons of side hustles out there that can steer you far away from this “American Dream” way of life.
Working for a massive corporation, living through the 9 to 5 grind, buying from massive corporations just like everyone else — this is what the ultra-rich wants from you.
Professor David M. Harrison, Ph.D.
"In my opinion, the American Dream is not dead, though the path to achieving it continues to evolve. If the Dream were dead, thousands of people wouldn't be continuing to flock to this country each year hoping to build a better life for themselves and their family. Thousands of people wouldn't be out marching in the street protesting real (or perceived) injustices.
Millions of people, on both sides of the political aisle, wouldn't be voicing their opinions so loudly and strongly if the Dream was dead. The Dream is about self-determination and hope for a better tomorrow. If we thought all hope was gone, or that we had no role in determining our future, then the Dream would be dead and people would stop working so hard to ensure a brighter tomorrow.
Sure, the process is ugly. At times, VERY ugly. We hear hear stories of tragedy and abuse of power far too often. Additionally, young folks today don't have the clearly defined path to success that previous generations had. Gone are the days where you could walk out of college and into a high paying job you could expect to keep until retirement.
The future is less clearly defined and more uncertain than ever for many Americans. On the other hand, never before has a generation had this level of opportunity and mobility to define what they want to do and/or where they want to do it. Enhancements in information technology allow access to education and amenities to a broader array of people than ever before, and as long as we maintain systemic safeguards which prevent monopolistic competitors from dominating particular industries or political arenas, the passion and work ethic of the American people will continue to reward those who invest in themselves.
At times, particularly during political campaigns, it may seem like America is broken beyond repair, but these trials are all part of the self-determination process that underlies what's great about American and keeps the Dream alive."
The New American Dream Has No Borders
As the “American Dream” is pretty much a thing of the past, it’s all about finding side hustles to get by. But there are some negative connotations surrounding side hustles.
For one, people argue that gig apps have reduced pay. Secondly, many people think that we live in a world where we shouldn’t resort to a “side hustle.”
While that may be a good point, starting a side hustle could get you out of the rut, and it could even lead to starting a gigantic business that’s full of success.
So while you’d rather not resort to side-hustling, the dead American Dream has essentially forced us to do so. And what’s even better is that you could find a side hustle that provides the lifestyle you’ve always wanted.
So what’s the ticket to a great side hustle? It starts with a solid internet connection.
Wifi is everywhere: from a small coffee shop in Europe to a beach at Lake Tahoe, you can connect to the web from almost every corner of the earth. If you have access to the internet, your abilities to achieve the “dream” of owning a business are endless.
That’s because the internet has no borders — and certainly no walls.