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When America established itself, it was affirmed in the Declaration of Independence boldly that without regard as to who you are, you were granted the opportunity to improve your life by being endowed with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The intentions behind these rights to the American government was not by materialistic gain, but an indispensable driver for a prosperous economy. The American Dream, was at its root the means to achieve a better economic standing than your parents. Today, the American Dream is dead. Less than one hundred years after being coined, and less than two years if you count the entire population including people from all walks of life, the American Dream has been decimated by cause of economic inequality, a failing education system, and continuous discrepancies between native, immigrant, and multicultural people.
Economic inequality is easily the most tremendous attribution to end of the American Dream. Namely the economy has slowed overall since the economic crisis in 2009, making it harder for each generation to surpass the one prior to it. A slow economy generates less income, making there less money to go around for all. Fewer people benefiting from newly produced income means the disparities between the classes are growing larger and larger each passing year. This inequality hurts the ability of society members realistic access to economic mobility, the ability to move from one social class to another. In recent studies conducted by economist Raj Chetty, the jump from lower to middle class and more significantly middle to upper class is growing larger and larger apart making it even harder to surpass the generations before them rendering the American Dream impossible to achieve.
He estimates this inequality accounts for more than seventy percent of the mobility decline. These days, only forty one percent of thirty year olds are making more than their parents when they were thirty. Stagnated wages is another relevant factor when discussing the American Dream. People who have a greater income, and political power are the figures who directly put wage stagnation into motion by intentionally institutionalizing policy choices including a decrease in union density, various business practices, and relinquishment of full time employment opportunities. The upper class continuously puts these policies into place for the very reason that it becomes less of a likelihood for that economic mobility to occur, thus keeping the money floating in the upper class economy in their hands and not among other people. A good method of contemplating the role of inequality in the American economy is understanding that the economy modern day is statistically more productive than it was forty years ago even if economic growth is slower than it was forty years ago; however, this increase has potential to allow more than half of the population to make out better than their parents did but they can’t because the available growth has been disproportionately rendered to the upper class, keeping the poor poor, and the rich rich, representing the American Dream dead.
Education has been plastered as the hallmark to achieving the American Dream. Income and job security are directly related to educational acquirement. Such is not the case anymore. In recent years, the United States prided itself on the education system in place because it catered to the masses. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, “As recently as 2000, the United States still ranked second in the share of the population with a college degree. Now we have dropped to fifth. Among 25-to-34-year-olds…we rank 12th, while once-impoverished South Korea tops the list.” A scary realization considering the entire world has been modeling themselves off of our own operations; the government has fed this fate. Economic philosopher Richard Reeves accredits the dead American dream to a connection between education and economic inequality. He cites “Children of rich parents have many more opportunities to build skills than those with poor parents. A labor market that increasingly values skills highlights the inequities of education as a result. In other words, the game is fair, but the process of selecting players is rigged.” System in which the lower class cannot afford the same quality education as the upper class denying them the same opportunities in job markets.
While the American Dream has always been an American dream, it has attracted the attention of people globally. People from all over the world, generally from impoverished or dangerous countries immigrate to America in search of life far better off than the ones they came from. Unfortunately, generally immigrants that come to this country are faced with two scenarios depending on their status. Legally, they are discriminated against much like the native people living in the country which prevents them the same opportunities even white lower class people are granted even if they don’t have the possibility of achieving such. Illegally, workers are severely mistreated working in brutal conditions, living in tiny quarters, and facing near constant threats of deportation for inadequate work. Not to mention drastically lower than standard wages. The Labor Department credits that “People of color are nearly twice as likely to be out of work as Caucasian Americans, even when they have the same degree. Latin Americans are 70 percent more likely to be out of work when compared to Caucasian workers with the same degree.” While their quality of life has improved miniscule, the chance of reaching and accomplishing the American Dream is a reality that they will never live to see. Just another way big corporations and the wealthy class work to ensure the littlest possible amount of money trickles down to the under classes.
The reality of the American Dream is that is has not been failed by millions, it in itself has failed millions because of all factors making it totally impossible to achieve. Because the government, the wealthiest individuals, and big corporations, have manifested economic inequality, harboured a selective education system, and completely taken advantage of those seeking a better life with equal opportunity, the American Dream can no longer be deliberated as a reality in contemporary society. The American Dream is dead.
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