Friday, December 05, 2008

The End of the "American Dream"?

The American Dream concept began after WWII with the GI Bill and veterans able to go to college, get a decent paying job, afford a home, car and family.

The car companies are going in the economic toilet, jobs are being downsized, homes are in foreclosure....and college? The cost of college will soon be out of reach of the average American family as reported recently in the New York Times:

Now, this doesn't affect me personally. I have no children or grandchildren standing on the brink of college. My daughter has paid off her college loans. I don't own a house; my job is fairly secure; my car is a Chrysler and almost paid off. I do have a lot of books but not a lot of "toys".

I believe the beginning of today's economic problem started a long time ago with college loans.
The end of the "American Dream" began when college costs became so high that we made our children debtors before they had a profession. They began their adult lives with high loans. Since the 1059s we've become a society of materialism - a society of things, of toys. "He who dies with the most toys, wins."

In order to get the next part of the "Dream", many people gambled on the increase in housing values and got mortgages that would be unaffordable with those college loans and car payments.

Cars of course are needed because there is no public transportation from the suburbs where those mortgaged homes are to the jobs in the sprawling industrial parks or distant cities - where the better-paying jobs are.

Then we have the children, who live in front of the TV or the computer and see ads for high-priced products that they want. And their parents get these things with credit cards or home equity loans.... And those children of things, of toys, of materialism will soon want/need to go to college. The question is How?

The bottom is dropping out of the economy and our age of commercial materialism is slowly changing.

The new American Dream should include a college education, decent health care and a clean environment - not a stockpile of things.

The person who dies with the most toys may "win" but he still dies.


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