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Goodbye to the American Dream

May 31, 2008

In John Truslow Adams’ 1931 book The Epic of America, he describes the American dream as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”

According to a recent survey by the Marlin Company, though, the fabled American Dream is considered unreachable by 52% of American workers. This statistic obviously depends on a person’s individual interpretation of the term American Dream, but I’m still disappointed by the pessimism in our working class. Perhaps I’m merely deluding myself with dreams of great success. My father told me that he hope I would be more successful than he was, and I work toward that goal.

I am not an aristocrat. My only major piece of property is my car with 100,000 miles. So why do I look at the future with optimism when over half of my workforce colleagues have given up?

UPDATE: I was skimming today’s posts on the EconLog Blog and I found an entry on Rational Optimism. It referenced a new blog entitled “The Rational Optimist.” The author has only written an initial welcome essay, but his ideas look interesting and promising. Most notably, he agrees with my aforementioned philosophy:

“…pessimism and happiness are ultimately at odds. The satisfactions of smug gloominess are thin gruel compared to the hearty nourishment of a positive, cheerful outlook. And without hope, why even get out of bed in the morning?”