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Is the American Dream ended? And who's to blame?

Cal Thomas's picture

For generations, parents have told their children about “The American dream.” Basically it has meant building a life based on the foundational principles that created and have sustained America for more than 200 years. By doing so, one might reasonably expect a new generation to achieve a better life than their parents and grandparents experienced.

But what defines “better”? In modern times it has been defined as achieving greater prosperity and consuming more material goods.

At least one liberal writer is channeling Jimmy Carter, implying our best days are behind us and this version of the American dream is over.

Writing recently in The New York Times, columnist Bob Herbert says: “However you want to define the American dream, there is not much of it that’s left anymore. Wherever you choose to look — at the economy and jobs, the public schools, the budget deficits, the nonstop warfare overseas — you’ll see a country in sad shape. Standards of living are declining, and American parents increasingly believe that their children will inherit a very bad deal.”

Herbert does not assess blame for this, so I will. His version of the American dream — as opposed to the original dream, which remains for those who would embrace it — is over for a very good reason.

Setting aside war, which was imposed on America, the eclipse of liberalism’s American dream has been largely caused by expanding, encroaching, over-taxing, over-spending and over-regulating government.

This has produced a country of government addicts with an entitlement mentality. These twin maladies have eroded self-reliance, individual initiative and personal accountability.

A monopolistic government school system keeps the poor from achieving their dreams, as many remain locked (thanks to Democrats and their union supporters) in failing government schools, producing graduates (if in fact they do graduate) who lag behind other nations in subjects that matter.

Herbert claims, “We have become a hapless, can’t-do society.” He says it’s, “embarrassing.” Is it not the politicians who lead a people increasingly dependent on them who are responsible for this? The liberals among them and their policies are leading us down a path to economic and cultural insolvency.

The creation of a government that is out of control and thus out of touch, robs every citizen, preventing fulfillment of the original American dream.

Anyone who thinks dysfunctional government is going to help achieve their dreams is putting their faith in the wrong place. People who believe a politician of whatever party or persuasion can make their life better than individual initiative are doing more than dreaming; such persons are displaying cult-like faith, which can never be fulfilled.

The rules for achieving the American dream may no longer be taught in and supported by culture, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work.

The rules are known to previous generations: studying and staying in school; achieving at least an undergraduate degree; avoiding drugs that harm your mind and body; getting married before you have children and working hard to stay married as an example to those children and to benefit society; saving and investing for retirement so as not to burden taxpayers and relatives; living within one’s means; demonstrating personal honesty and professional integrity, which comes from character developed in one’s youth, usually with a sense of right and wrong once imposed by parents and affirmed by culture.

“America will never get its act together until we recognize how much trouble we’re really in,” writes Herbert. That’s true, but more than acknowledging the obvious is needed. We must also understand what got us here and the path that leads upward.

What got us here is unrestrained liberalism. What will get us back on the right path is ... (see above).

[Cal Thomas is America’s most widely syndicated op-ed columnist, appearing in more than 600 national newspapers. He is the author of more than 10 books and is a FOX News political contributor since 1997. Email Cal Thomas at] ©2010 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.


PTC Observer's picture

Is not dead, it is merely on life support. Assuming the current bunch of conartists don't steal it, we can rebuild the foundation to the American Dream. Here's how:

1. Above all else, restrict the vote to those that produce. If you work for the government, or derive your income in any way from the government, you can't vote. It is a conflict of interest.
2. Limit the terms of government officials, six years for Senators and two terms for Representatives. Define a limit for all others.
3. Dramatically reduce central government spending; at a minimum significantly reduce the rate of spending increase.
4. Reduce taxes just above the rate of reduction in spending – net result is to reduce spending more than taxes thus reducing the national debt.
5. Recognize and reward risk taking, savings and capital formation –
a. Incent innovation by giving tax credits on R&D expenditures, possibly 110% of expenditures.
b. Reduce capital gains taxes to zero
c. Eliminate inheritance taxes
d. Overhaul patent laws that are outmoded.
e. Eliminate taxes on savings interest
5. Attack the problems related to Trial Lawyers – Tort reform in every sector of the economy – key provision is to make the loser pay the bill.
6. Minimize government regulation and thus unleash the full intellectual capacity of the country. Remember that regulation does two things to make the country less competitive; a. it drains resources away from productive effort, and b. it comparatively puts the US at competitive disadvantage to those countries that have no such regulations. Pass legislation to toughen penalties on defective products, and negligence by unprincipled businessmen. Throw the book at them when they are guilty no matter how wealthy they are.
7. Drive government decision making to the local level and give local authorities more say on how they use the people’s money. It makes no sense to send money to the central government and have them give it back to local government. It is not efficient from a economic standpoint.
8. Reduce military spending as a percentage of GDP – we don’t need to be the world’s police. Protect our boarders and our people at home. Build the wall on the southern border or whatever it takes to protect our national sovereignty
9. Eliminate corporate welfare – we need to stop protecting unproductive neo-capitalists.
10. Get out of Banking & “private” business – initial efforts to inflate the money supply following the collapse of weaker institutions was the right thing to do to avert a panic, but government needs to let weaker banks and other companies fail no matter how big they are. If they can’t compete they can’t compete, just that simple.
11. Incent legal immigration of scientists, physicians, nurses, mathematicians, and wealthy individuals to the United States.
12. Slowly dismantle the Federal Reserve Bank (a private bank that controls the money supply).
13. Return to a gold standard or something like it. For those that don’t understand this notion, the reason we have major cycles in our economy is due primarily to the FED trying to manipulate the money supply. Tie the currency to a precious metal and currency can’t inflate because you can increase the supply of the metal quickly. Then end the FED.
14. Require the Senate to confirm judicial appointments within a session or the appointee gets a pass into the court system without a Senate vote. If the appointee is appointed late in a session they have until the end of the next session.
15. Finally, repeal the 17th and 16th amendments. Replace the 16th with absolutely nothing.

If we do these things at a minimum, we will ignite the mighty engine once again. Fail to do these things and we will fall into the dark abyss of financial collapse.

Poor people on welfare or unemployment compensation can not vote!
(used to have to own land to vote!)

Term Limits!
(Isn't that regulation?)

Dramatically or significantly reduce spending!
(which one?)

Reduce taxes and start paying on the debt!
(right that seems logical---not!)

Eliminate, overall, eliminate, etc.
(right, very possible)

Let locals collect the taxes now going to Washington and send it locally.
(right---Montana can negotiate its own foreign relations.

Be isolationists again--build walls--cut the army.
(Right. close all international banks, UN, overseas bases, embassies, etc.)

Let Banks go broke.
(all of them, we don't need them).

Only Immigrate professionals--like doctors from the islands?
(we don't want any workers).

Gold Standard.
(How about fish worms).

Attack trial lawyers!
(OK by me but how rich do you need to be to sue?)

Minimize regulation.
(I suggest especially on banks, Insurance companies, Trading Houses, Communications, transportation with semis, etc.)

Vote quickly on judges, etc,
(especially if we are in power).

Attack the Constitution.
Make it clear about condom use, alcohol drinking, and jerk pork sauce!)

Robert W. Morgan's picture

Specifically, Hank Johnson, John Lewis, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Frank, Barbara Boxer, John Kerry and their mindless followers.

And of course there are many others who certainly understand the problem and may even agree with most of your ideas, but have to vote in their own self-interest. The system does not allow common sense or efficiency. Nevertheless, you have really good ideas.

Live free or die!

.....and can't fly helicopters.
Reagan's "foundational principles" must be adhered to: only three spouses and children who hate you.

Pay people welfare if they DO NOT have a husband, but if they do and make the same money---NO welfare. Now that is a workable method.

Quit consuming goods if you can't afford them and don't deserve them due to productivity!

Go to all private schools, that way we can stop educating many as we did before 1965. That will be cheaper providing they get a BA or a BS degree.

No drugs (like cigarettes and alcohol, get married before kids (just like the Palins),

Use affirmed cultural thinking to grow up. I will do the affirming.

The path leads upward without liberalism, but with it, somewhere else.
(I don't know where "upward" is or for whom!


Mike King's picture

Have something against those of us who can pilot a helicopter with a BS?

Sounds as if you opened the wrong medicine cabinet again. You obviously took your wife's blue pill again.

I was answering Cal Thomas' thingy of stupidity. I know you and others piloted helicopters---Cal T. would want everyone to do so!

Do you remember hearing about the pilots of WW2 who had NO BS or BA? Just smart.
They of course lost their temp rank after they were used.
George B. was one. I have flown in those old Grummans! (Avengers)--motors with a frame around them. Deadening sound.

Cyclist's picture

Was it a TBF or TBM?

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

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