The reality of the American Dream

By Alexa Lago, Opinion Editor
August 28, 2013
Filed under Opinion

The American Dream is a very well-known concept throughout the world. It has brought hope and joy to not only Americans, but people in countless other countries. Who wouldn’t want a stable job, a decent house with a white picket fence, 2.5 kids and the freedom America has to offer?

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It always seemed like such an easy concept to grasp — that is, until President Obama’s recent comments in an interview for Kindle Singles got me thinking about it. In the interview, he addressed how our culture has changed the way we define success and how we now view the American Dream.

Has the definition of the American Dream changed? If so, is it even achievable for the average American anymore?

The simple life painted by the American Dream is now a thing of the past. It has been taken over by the luxurious lifestyle that is fueled by our fame-driven and money-hungry culture.

In today’s world, the former American Dream is the minimum we can hope to achieve. When we look at big CEOs of companies and celebrities, we see the new and improved American Dream. It comes with a certain amount of success that isn’t normal for the regular hard-working American. The kind of recognition and wealth that is found with it is only available for the rich and the lucky.

No longer do we look at the hardworking man at his minimum wage job and think, “This is it.” Instead, we look up to those who live a lavish life. They have beautiful homes that have every amenity imaginable, outrageous cars and brand name clothes. They work less for more money and still manage to have an assured stability at work that most of us aren’t accustomed to.

What once was achievable for everyone is now available only to the privileged few. For the lower- and middle-class citizens, it’s almost impossible to obtain.

If we want to attain anything close to what the American Dream has to offer today, we must start by attending college. Most of the career fields that earn high salaries require more schooling than the average bachelor’s degree. That means more time and money spent on an education that you can’t afford.

Once you’ve made it through school, the hardest part is actually finding a job within your field of study. With the job market in ruins, it might take years before you can find a job.

It’s also very rare for people to remain working for the same company his or her whole life anymore, removing the stability aspect.

More than likely you will never be able to afford a huge house or have nice cars. Instead you will only add to the mountain of debt you already have trying to purchase less valuable versions. If you want kids, not only will it cost a fortune to raise them, but you’ll spend money on their college education to better their future as well.

It seems like the average American can barely keep up with the former ideals of the American Dream, let alone adopt the new ones. What once was available to everyone scarcely exists anymore. It’s an unfair and sad end to an era that allowed everyone an equal chance.

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