Why is the American Dream unattainable?
Table of Contents
1931, James Truslow introduced the idea of the American dream in his book ‘The Epic of America.’ He termed it as the ability of every person to get better and richer regardless of birth or position (WJC, 2016). During this period, most people believed in the American dream, but currently, the American dream remains farfetched for most. Smith (2017) states that the American dream is open-ended, and 17% of Americans consider it unattainable. This statement can be attributed to factors such as the political and economic structure and the operational knowledge of specifics in American society.
Political and Economic Structure
The goal of the American dream is for one to end up with more than what they began with, and it was never intended to be a zero-sum solution. However, nowadays, the government benefits more at the expense of the American citizens due to higher tax rates resulting in a high cost of living. High living costs and salary stagnation make people resort to getting loans and using mortgages to purchase houses. According to research by RS (2022), up to 42% of Americans have bought their homes through mortgages and still have debt, while overall, 77% of American households have a loan, which could be car loans or credit card loans, among others. With this, it is impossible to attain the American dream, especially if salary stagnation continues. Besides, if people live within the living wage and cannot save for their retirement plans or emergencies, then the chances of their economic growth will be minimal. The political structure also plays a vital role in making the American dream unattainable. When only a specific group represents the political system, for instance, whites, the issues faced by the rest of the population are not addressed in public policy debates. Hence, the underrepresented group keeps suffering with no solutions, making the American dream unreachable.
Operating Knowledge of Specifics
Today, very few people are exposed to suitable job opportunities. Most of them are hidden behind corruption, whereby the wealthy are likely to get the chance. Opportunities are also offered to the people who have learned and have the knowledge for the particular job. The main issue is that school programs have become very expensive, resulting in a minimal number of students from middle and low-income families. In addition to a lack of education, the poor are subjected to a digital divide that limits their access to internet services and information, following the American dream created by Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg regarding technology. Those who manage to go to schools and access internet services from less wealthy families engross themselves in student loans that could take a long time to repay. This issue creates a cycle of family poverty and social inequality, making the American dream unachievable.
The American dream applies to everyone, but for blacks, the chances of attaining the American dream are almost impossible. It happens because they are considered the minority group, and the mentality that they are meant to be enslaved limits them to low-paying jobs to earn a living. Their classic American Dream version for the immigrants becomes what they wish for their children instead of themselves. Blacks are also subjected to criminal law in America due to minor mistakes. For instance, the number of blacks incarcerated due to the war on drugs keeps increasing. According to UNODC (2015), blacks are the largest population incarcerated due to the war on drugs. The blacks are also subjected to killings from the federal government, for instance, the murder of George Floyd. This event results in constant fear of making a move, making the American dream unattainable.
The American dream remains unobtainable in today’s world because of the lifestyle change being experienced. The economic and political impact is one factor contributing to the unattainability of America’s dream. The government benefits at the expense of the citizens leading to a high cost of living and salary stagnation. Blacks are also a vulnerable population that is not provided equal opportunities, which is why most of them find the American dream unrealistic.
- (2022). Average American Debt. https://www.ramseysolutions.com/debt/average-american-debt#:~:text=Forty%2Dtwo%20percent%20of%20households,51.5%20million%20total%20American%20households)
- Smith, S. (2017, October 30). Most think the ‘American dream’ is within reach for them. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/10/31/most-think-the-american-dream-is-within-reach-for-them/
- UNODC. (2015). The Drug War, Mass Incarceration and Race. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. https://www.unodc.org/documents/ungass2016/Contributions/Civil/DrugPolicyAlliance/DPA_Fact_Sheet_Drug_War_Mass_Incarceration_and_Race_June2015.pdf
- WJC. (2016). How the American Dream Has Changed Over Time. https://wjccschools.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2016/05/How-the-American-Dream-Has-Changed-Over-Time.pdf