Definition: The American dream is a philosophy and set of ideals believed to be necessary for human flourishing. It is a universal concept and has been expressed numerous times throughout history, particularly through the principles of individualism and self-sufficiency.
Not everyone can attaint the American dream. It doesn’t matter if you were born into the middle class or can’t read or write or if you were raised in abject poverty. Regardless of where you were raised, if you work hard and play by the rules (even if it means breaking them), you can still become successful if you have the right support system. The American dream is not achieved by putting oneself through school, work, and saving every penny. It’s about rising above your station in life and working hard so that you can move up the ladder of your profession or life rank. That’s a pretty lofty goal and one that a lot of people haven’t cracked. Many people think the American dream is about getting a great job and setting out on life from there, but that’s not exactly the case.
The American Dream is subject to many conditions. First, the dream is attainable only if you have both effective political and economic freedom and are not trapped by biological or cultural barriers. Second, it is attainable only through the achievement of comparative advantage, i.e., the ability to produce resources and products more cheaply than your rivals, subject to reasonable trade restrictions. Third, the probable conditions for achieving this dream include large-scale expansion of education and literacy among women, substantial improvement in living conditions during the past half-century, and continued improvement in living standards soon.
Advantages of the American Dream
The American dream promises freedom. It’s also the possibility of equality. Both values are important because they motivate individuals to work hard and learn from others. Moreover, the pursuit of each is inextricably linked to the other: hard work earns rewards, and rewarded work helps build wealth.
The promise of the American dream is not merely that you will have a job and be free from fear. It is that you will have family and friends you can trust, education and health care for your family, and secure retirement.
American Dream is about the opportunity, opportunity to rise, opportunity to help others, opportunity for greatness.
Disadvantages of the American Dream
Not surprisingly, in a globalized economy where hard work can be exploited to earn a living, the American dream has become less attainable.
The American dream has been damaged in recent decades by two major forces: The decline of labor unionism and technological innovation that eliminated many jobs that didn’t need to be done by machines.
The American Dream is always defined by equality of opportunity. But in the 20th century, the American Dream began to change shape. As the top one percent gained control over economic and political institutions, the American Dream became less relevant to ordinary people.
The American Dream is a broad concept that inherently includes upward mobility for individuals. The concept is that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can rise above your station in life and move up the ladder of success. However, in America today, the economic ladder is often ladders for the super-rich with access to material comforts and advantages that middle class and lower class people do not have. Disadvantages include lack of opportunity, lower quality of life, debt, and an uncertain future.
The American Dream is a self-perpetuating system that creates exciting opportunities for those who try. It promotes mobility and self-sufficiency and appears inexhaustible. Yet, the achievement of the American Dream depends on ignoring or shrugs off inconvenient realities. We reject the notion that hard work alone can generate prosperity; instead, we celebrate individual achievement with luxury apartments, private schools, and television sets in our garages. Moreover, the American Dream is self-serving exclusivity; it creates a self-interested universe. People act out their conceptions of justice and love instead of looking out for everyone else.