“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient cause”
– The Declaration of Independence July 4th 1776
By: Kidman J. Williams
The “American Dream is Dead” is a quite popular idea in American literature, journalism and even YouTube videos. Is it really dead or did people forget what road to take to the dream? We still see success stories today. We see people who have achieved the so-called, American Dream. Hell, they talk about it enough. People like Gene Simmons who was an immigrant turned millionaire, Ashley Qualls who is the founder of WhateverLife.com, Mark Zuckerberg founder of Facebook, a 14 year old John Magennis and his web design business that earned him his first million by his 16th birthday.
What about the common people who are just looking to work, make his/her money and feed their families with the money they earned? You know, the humble folks just looking to move up in a company and get their respective slice of the pie, supporting their little families and paying their mortgages and car payments, living the middle class lifestyle to just retire with their pensions and traveling a bit during their retirement. Our four fathers vouchsafed us unalienable rights (as seen above) in The Declaration of Independence. So, what about the common man who holds this country up on his/her shoulders?
The McJob Millionaires
Every time I flip on the television, Facebook, and other places people are complaining about how burger flippers don’t deserve a $15 per hour wage. You know what? They are probably right. Why can’t that pimply faced little teenage heathen make nine bucks an hour and be happy? There is no skill in taking an order, dropping some French Fries and assembly lining a burger.
One of the biggest problems with this idea that a teenager doesn’t need that much money is that it is a falsity. It is a simple idea from a simple-minded media looking to protect interests. More and more in these days you find your burger flipper with a degree in engineering, or journalism. You see these same people working for pennies in warehouses making the same money as the zit popping little twit at the shake machine.
We all know that the mainstream media has been riding the fry cook war on wages for a while now. What they haven’t shown the public are the people who are busting their collective sanity gone in factories and warehouses, etc. The hard working family men and women, that at one time made a middle-class wage and now are making just enough to keep them in constant debt. If you don’t like what I have to say, look at these posts I pulled from Craigslist. They show that middle America is disappearing from the landscape and nobody really cares because people are too worried about what a fry cook is making.
In professions like writing everybody wants you to write for a penny a word or they give $5 bucks per 1000 words. There are many different areas that don’t allow people to make the money that they probably deserve to make for their hard work. That isn’t America. That is not the American Dream.
Finding the American Dream
The American Dream is a place of complete happiness and contentment. It is having money to survive with enough greenbacks to have a life and right now most people don’t have that luxury; not without serious credit card debts.
If you ask people what the American Dream is, usually they just laugh about the term. I asked one man standing outside of a bar having a cigarette…his name is Jim. I asked Jim, what is the American Dream? Jim looked at his feet for a couple long seconds and looked at me with tired eyes. He answered, “F#@k the American Dream!” He said in an aggressive manor and continued, “The American Dream is a term used to give hope, it ain’t something given to people. I think the people that tell people about the American Dream are the same people who are sucking the life out of Americans. Look man, you can print this, but don’t use my full name. I don’t want this to get back to my boss.”
“Not a problem. What do you do for a living?”
“Man, I’m a forklift driver at a non-union shop.”
“Do you mind if I ask what you make?”
“Nah man, I make $12 an hour and I put in about 45 hours a week then I work part time at a gas station.”
“I’m guessing that you feel like you were cheated out of the American Dream?”
“Man, more like a nightmare man. I would just like to get a good paying job. One good paying job man.”
“Do you think that you could find a better job?”
“I do man, but every job that I’ve gone for that pays really good usually makes you go through the hoops to get it. You apply on their website, then they might call you back and then the cocksuckers call you in for an interview and a whiz quiz; they call you back for a second and sometimes a third interview just to not give you the job. They either don’t call you back or they tell you they went with someone that beat you because they interviewed earlier in the day. It is either that man, or you have to go through the fucking temp agents and pray that you get hired on. Most of the time you don’t man. They use you for six months and keep you on so they don’t have to pay out insurance and benefits. Some of the companies are so shady man. They even have their own in house temp companies that they work contracts out with man.”
“So, how do you afford your drinking habits?”
“Man, that’s why I have the second job! So, I can have a little spending money.”
As my day went on, I talked to a few more of these poor fools drinking their respective dreams down their gullets. With every drink these sullen mens’ problems seemed to be a little further in the rearview mirror. When I first walked into the tavern, the people were very morose; watching the drink take over there moods became jovial and childlike again.
I broke the mood of one poor guy (another who didn’t want to be officially on record for fear of his job) his name was T.J. I simply asked, “What do you think the American Dream is and is it possible to achieve?”
T.J. leaned his drunk body against the brick wall of the bar and looked up at me with his eyebrows raised and a circuitous smile, “Are you some kind of hippie?”
“Oh Lord no!”
“Is this some kind of article about how the American Dream is dead and it is all the fault of the Republicans?”
“Not at all.”
“I will tell you this, we can all dream right?”
“Well of —”
“That was a rhetorical question. We all dream and to some degree we can control those dreams. I make 6 figures as an internet marketer. I made my dreams happen. All of it! I have a nice house over in Hinsdale, a hot wife and two kids. I’m happy guy! I will tell you this much though. I hang out in this bar and most of the guys in here are guys that I went to high school with and it does frustrate me that a lot of them can’t get their shit together!” His stance got a little more aggressive, “These guys sit here day in and day out whining about their problems with money, but they are here drinking with me, not being able to afford it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love some of these guys and I’ve even helped them out financially, but I’m starting to outgrow them a bit.” He started to get a little excited and started to develop a slight stutter. “The..they…they need to get off their lazy asses and work! It isn’t hard to find a…a…a job and just work it!”
“What about the low pay that they get for these jobs?”
“Oh, f..f..f…FUCK THAT! You just go find a better paying job. They just won’t. That’s why everybody outsources work to China, American workers are lazy!”
I left the bar, maybe a little more confused than enlightened on the subject. T.J.’s ideas kind of stuck with me. Could he be right? No he isn’t right! He is right that there are jobs that pay better, but they are pretty far and few between.
T.J. was right on one idea though. You have to make it happen. Sitting back and complaining about not being successful won’t make you a success. You have to reach out and grab it, work hard at it, and eventually it will happen.
The landscape of the job market is much different than it used to be and I don’t think people understand that idea. You have to make the money yourself somehow. He makes money because he knows how to do internet marketing. A lot of people make money acting like jackasses on YouTube.
College debt surpasses $1 trillion, only about a third of adults between 18-32 live on their own and according to Pew Research only a quarter of 20-somethings are getting married. These were the things that traditionally made up “The American Dream.”
This day and age you have to make things happen for yourself. That means, don’t let someone else cut you a check. You can’t just work anonymously at your job and go happily skipping down the yellow brick road into retirement anymore. I’ve heard the stories about people getting let go early so that the company doesn’t have to pay out pensions. We are living in an age where the bottom-line is everything and there is no loyalty to the hard working employee. You have to build your American Dream from the foundation and make it taller than the Japanese can build it.