NOPE

Jack Cafferty on CNN is never one to miss an opportunity to be an alarmist for the purpose of stirring the pot and starting conversations. That is potentially a useful function in a media culture that prioritizes cheerleading and the defense of the status quo. Sometimes, though, I can't tell if Cafferty is asking serious questions or merely going for shock value. Every C-list talk radio host understands the fine art of asking something offensive – "So let's open up the phones to hear what you think about my proposal to mark Muslims with a hot cattle brand…" – to generate interest. That may have been Cafferty's motive when asking viewers to sound off on, "What are the chances the U.S. economy could eventually trigger violence in our country?"

Is that a serious question? I feel like treating is as a serious question even if it isn't.

The knee-jerk answer is "Oh yeah, stock up on guns and MREs. It's gonna be all Thunderdome up in here by 2014 – or possibly even beyond Thunderdome." That answer passes the smell test. Americans have more household debt, less savings, less wealth, and poorer job prospects than at any point since the Great Depression. People increasingly feel strained to the breaking point, frustrated, depressed, powerless, and desperate. Those who don't feel like that are fearful of the people who do. Income inequality is appallingly high, and historically that's an excellent predictor of civil disorder. We already have a higher percentage of our population in prison than any other Western nation. Oh, and we're tits-deep in guns. So sure, the ingredients for violence prompted by economic conditions are there.

That said, I tend to think that the prospects for violence are poor for a number of reasons.

1. Americans are too lazy, uninterested, disheartened, docile, or busy supplicating themselves before their economic betters to put together a half-decent protest rally.

1a. The closest we've come to a half-decent sized rally involved elderly, ignorant, porcine reactionaries waving around misspelled signs and screaming for more upper class tax cuts. I don't think we can even rebel correctly.

2. There's no common purpose. Sure, everyone's angry. Maybe even violently angry. At what? Half of us are ready to start a class war and the other half are polishing up their guns to defend upper class tax cuts, shoot at Mexicans / Muslims / black people, and basically form a circular firing squad rather than focusing on the problem. We'd fight about what we are fighting about. I can't think of anything more pointless.

3. As individuals get closer to their own breaking point, resorting to crime or lone acts of violence seems more probable than any kind of collective action.

The only thing that makes collective violence seem like a plausible outcome is the sense of a very real, profound, and widespread loss of hope in this country. Does anyone actually look forward to the future? Think that sunny days are on the horizon? Believe that the political system can solve our problems (without 1000 unrealistic "ifs")? People who feel that way probably exist, but either they're very quiet or there aren't many of them. The 2008 and 2010 elections both generated a lot of excitement among different portions of the electorate and to say that the results have been disappointing is a rank understatement. Do Obama voters think four more years will bring "change"? At best they consider him the less-terrible of two options. Do Republicans really believe that going to rallies in stupid hats and voting for clueless ideologues who will Go Native the second they enter their offices is going to balance the budget and solve our problems? I doubt it, a small, vocal minority of true believers aside.

The biggest problem is that young people are more pessimistic about the future – their own and of this country – than ever before. If you're under 40, do you even have any long term plans, goals, or hopes anymore? The short- and long-term pictures are both bleak. We're unemployed, marginally employed, or tenuously holding onto one of the few decent jobs to be had in the short term, and in the long term we can look forward to…I don't know, working until we drop dead. And we'll do it in a country that will keep getting dumber, more dilapidated, poorer, and more like the average Banana Republic than the Super Great Land of Success we were told we live in.

Personally I don't think I'm going to live to see a civil war or mass rioting. I'm not confident that what I will live to see will be much better than that, though.

38 thoughts on “NOPE”

  • In regard to 1 and 1A, I think you're forgetting about the better than half-decent sized rallies held recently in Wisconsin. However, I don't cite these rallies as evidence for or against violence prompted by economic conditions. But those Americans were/are not "too lazy, uninterested, disheartened, docile, or busy supplicating themselves before their economic betters to put together a half-decent protest rally."

  • You know what? I agree with you. When I was nearing the end of high school just before the recession hit, I was very excited to start college. Employers for part time labor called me on the spot, and I'd get high fives from everyone–just having ANY degree was respectable.

    Now, almost any degree that isn't part of an industry to exploit others (medical field, geology for oil, chemistry for pharmaceuticals) is likely to be scoffed at. I am too deep in my program to change, and I already feel the world verbally kicking dirt onto my undergrad degree. Meanwhile, educators can only find work as substitutes or adjuncts. Half my professors are hired on a 'one year only' basis, and I can detect their despair at the end of semesters.

    Just 5 years ago I was meeting individuals pulling six figures in my field. I didn't even want that–30k seemed fair, but my elders tell me it's "unrealistic". I've lost all my excitement. My hope for the future is sparse. Worst of all, I'm being told it's my fault. THIS is the real postmodern America–a land of people making modest livings just in time to slam the door behind them.

  • Something tells me that the folks waging war on safety nets haven't thought what happens after that. Inconvenient people don't just evaporate, and some of the ways they'll come up with to make ends meet may have serious consequences.

    I basically agree that it would take something rather cinematic to kick off Mad Max: North American edition, but this high-unemployment, low-wage, quasi-regulated, devil-take-the-hindmost GOP fantasy land we seem to be building sounds like a land of opportunity for organized crime.

    It's almost as if many policy makers were huge cyberpunk fans in their youth, but completely missed the dystopia angle.

  • The United States is finished as an economic powerhouse, because we won't invest in research, education, or infrastructure … so who knows what happens when the other shoe falls.

    The other wildcard is the massive disruptions in other parts of the world due to climate change. 150 million Bangladeshis have to live *somewhere*.

  • I think your country will just go into a long decline into irrevelency, something like Britain in the 20th century. At some point a military or financially crisis will mean you have to give up the world spanning military presence you have today, and you may have some civil unrest. It probably won't be anything resembling a civil war, just periodic riots or minor acts of terror.

  • Poor Americans tend to think of themselves as pre-millionaires, and that's why so many of them vote against their own interests re: funding schools and social safety nets.

    Me? I left America three years ago and haven't looked back.

  • tacosone: thanks for mentioning the WI rallies. I was at many of those and while we were peaceful at that moment, it wouldn't take much to push us over the edge. If a particular governor or state senate majority leader had an 'accident', none of us would shed any tears.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Yup, this country's future is bleak – unless you're a rich individual/family, or a corporation.

    And, as long as the powers that be keep coming up with shit like "Dancing with the Stars," or "American Idol," people will sit on their ever fattening asses – idle.

    I'm 53, unemployed for 30 out of the last 37 months (after never having been unemployed for more than a few weeks since I was 17), and I have absolutely NO hope for the future.

    That's the legacy of 30 years of "The Reagan Devolution."
    And the 8 years of Little Boots flushed this country down the shitter faster than an iron-infused turd.

    R.I.P. America I knew…

  • "If you're under 40, do you even have any long term plans, goals, or hopes anymore?"

    I'm 33, and it always amazes me when my relatives age 55+ ask me about my 401(k), or how many more vacation days I get each year, or when I'm going to get serious and buy a house.

    1. I haven't had a 401(k) in ten years, and I don't expect to ever have one again. Furthermore, I don't believe that anyone who has a 401(k) will be able to depend on it in 30 years' time.
    2. My job (which I'm lucky to have) pays the bills. That's about it. I get "vacation days" when I ask for time off a month in advance, and if I don't mind losing a day's pay. Outside of the hoary old mega-businesses, most people I know are in this position.
    3. Buying a house at any point in the last ten years would have been a terrible decision, and I don't see it getting better anytime soon.

    So much of what my generation was raised to take for granted about this country was dependant on astonishing complex systems that are now breaking down. We don't all fully understand this, but I think most of us can see it or sense it. And we know that we can't count on growing old and reaping the benefits of these dying systems.

  • You won'tknow it until it gets here. People will keep plodding until they reach a breaking point, and Wall $treet will keep pushing for more of everything until doomsday. This boomer has little hope, less still for the future.

  • Mr. Prosser says:

    My nephew will work for awhile plumbing, installing solar panels, whatever until he has enough money for gas and groceries then heads for the coast surfing for a couple of months. He's been doing this for seven years, since dropping out of college. Maybe he has the right attitude. As for the violence, who do you shoot? All I can think of is Jay Gould's quote, "I can hire half the working class to kill off the other half."

  • I think you are right that as citizens and economic strivers, people are too demoralized and confused to rise up. So, I think the question of serious collective violence is all about the food system (see Arab Spring, price of wheat). I don't think most people understand just how fragile our food system is and the list of things that could trip it up. And what's the old quote? Any country is three meals away from anarchy?

  • 30% of this country is overweight & another 30% is obese – so 60% of the population is too fat & lazy to revolt. I don't have a good % point, but the very rich/wealthy are in general skinny – I contend that their wealth would take them out of the revolutionary class as well. Also with so many minorities feeling that the revolt is directed against them, why would they join their white brothers in arms. Which brings me back to, "Who are we revolting against?"

    This comment is not directed against people with weight problems (in either direction).

  • As a relatively young 20-something, I have hope for the future. But it is not hope for this country. In fact, it is hope that has been created by explicitely *refusing to believe in this country*.

    I watched my father try to live the American dream. Naval electronics technician until a few years after my birth, then tried to run his own business — which failed miserably. Kicking around a few pointless middle-management jobs since then. Had his house forclosed on, etc.

    I have seen what happens to those who believe in the mythical "American Dream". And I have dedicated my life to one simple goal:

    "I will not end up like my dad."

    Put myself through college (he certainly couldn't afford it), then spent some time living at home while working to pay off my student debt immediately. Moved out when I was free and clear, picked up a studio apartment in a modest area of town. Drive a 10-year old car that ain't pretty, but it runs. Put my money into a savings account and haven't even considered a 401(k) or any other absurd "investment" scheme — so when the market went to shit and everyone around me was agonizing over watching their retirement disappear, I simply shrugged and continued on with my life. I purchase nothing that I cannot purchase with cash right there — and the same will go for the small, efficient house I eventually plan to buy once the market has finished levelling out to the level it should have been at all along (the housing market is not 'crashing', it's recovering from a completely absurd upward spike).

    Everyone around me keeps saying I should buy a house, or a better car, or why aren't you putting anything into the stock market or trying to be a landlord on the side?!

    I just keep noting that they're still in soul-crushing debt, while I'm sailing clear. The best way to live a decent life in modern America is to completely discard any notion of believing in America.

  • Step right up folks!

    Get yer tar and feathers! Just $20 a barrel! Freshly made!

    I got pitchforks for $10! Nice and sharp! Get 'em while they last!

    I got torches for $5! Guaranteed to burn or your money back!

    Get yer hemp rope! Just $3 a foot! For a buck more I'll tie the noose for ya!

    Step right up!

  • Monkey Business says:

    I like to think of myself as a young person. In the near term, I am extremely pessimistic about the near term future of America. I think things are going to get much worse before they get better. Long-term, I am honestly hopeful about the future of America. Mainly because in the long-term future, there are going to be more black and brown people than white people, and frankly I'd like to give someone other than white people a chance to run shit for a while.

  • It’s a fair question, if you consider that obscene wealth disparities and similar social inequities caused the French to pull out their pitchforks and tumbrels. The wealthy only learn lessons from Dr. Guillotine.

    But we as a group will never revolt. 1. We worship our wealthy, and keep them enshrined. Why knock down our role models and heroes? 2. We feel powerless and depressed, and haven’t the confidence or chutzpah to think we could win if we tried; it’s not that we’re indifferent, it’s just that we’re hopeless. Hopeless people don’t have the energy to revolt. 3. We are better equipped now than ever before to distract ourselves from reality.

    Full disclosure: I own enough gaming consoles, DVDs, cameras, and musical instruments to open a pawn shop, and that doesn’t include my sewing/crafting stuff, sporting goods, computers, books, and gym membership. I am fully prepared to ignore the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, unless one of them wants to help me kill zombies, play Rock Band, or spot me on the bench. So many people hang breathless over American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, and Real Housewives of Macchu Picchu that it’s a miracle they can still roll themselves to bed later. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

    We are a nation of individuals, rootless, and we are not participating in community the way we used to. Seriously, it's a wonder people even throw bake sales anymore. So…yeah, there will be violence; but it will be in the form of isolated incidents, usually of suicidal despair, that make no difference and are not intended to do so. Groups will be mobilized, briefly, if there is a polarizing incident at the national level – but ongoing social injustice, however widespread, is a war of attrition. Pass the ammunition? No: pass the remote.

  • Nom de Plume says:

    @John above: Your own situation describes mine almost exactly. Except that I am 46 years old, run my own business, and have lived the sort of lifestyle you describe for many years now. My needs are not extravagant. I live in an apartment, drive a 10-year-old car, etc. I have what I need, and am (mostly) satisfied with it. I have my home theater, my computer and my fast internet connection, and there's honestly not a lot more that I want. My ideal retirement is a small country house with plenty of books to read. I could damn near do that on Social Security.

    Younger people will need to adjust their expectations, simple as that. Turn off the TV, so you're not constantly reminded of shit you can't afford. Focus on the stuff that really interests you, not on what others insist you be interested in. And consider not having children. Do all of the above, and you've got a reasonable chance at happiness.

  • Eh, don't forget the fundamental rule of anything – whatever your worst fear is, the reality will be a bit worse.
    I just hope The Running Man game show comes on within the next 5 years, though, because I'm not sure I have a lot longer than that.

  • anotherbozo says:

    A cogent, insightful essay from Ed, followed by some great comments topped by ladiesbane's, maybe the prizewinner today. This is why I tune in, though the subject couldn't be more grim.

    But one addendum. "We are a nation of individuals," says ladiesbane. Rather, we are a nation of sheep who have been conditioned to THINK we're individuals; it's this mythology of individualism that keeps us thinking like "pre-millionaires" (great phrase), keeps us worshiping at the altar of the Self-made Man and has convinced us that systemic unemployment and poverty must be the result of our own individual inadequacies.

    Divide and conquer, anyone?

    This mythology is being tested and is beginning to break down, but the chill that the very phrase"class warfare" put into the air back in the Bush administration was telling. We admit to a middle class but have always been uncomfortable with the idea of an upper class that acts in concert, or a lower class that is anything but a waiting room for the overestimated middle.

    There won't be any change, violent or otherwise, until Americans get past the individualism myth and begin to look at social patterns. I'd finish this thought, but I TIVOed "Dancing with the Stars" and want to go watch…

  • @Kong: Lol!

    @John: the "American Dream" is about being able to get ahead and find a place of your own. Somewhere along the line it got co-opted, and started involving going into debt. Same with Aus. it used to be Aussies wouldn't buy anything unless they'd saved for it. Until about the mid-80s you had to have a 50% deposit (you read that right) for a house. Today they're close on the heels of Americans. So effectively you *are* living the "American Dream" you're your own man.

    The more and more I think about it, the single most prescient futurist is Gibson. He's extrapolated our possible dystopian futures from our possible pasts. "All Tomorrows Parties" and to some extent Neil Stephenson's "Snow Crash" where everyone's either a courier or a pizza delivery driver. Never thought I'd ever draw parallels between fiction and reality, but I guess these are interesting times.

  • John and Nom de Plume you've both got the right idea. I'm 41 and have a similar attitude and situation. I do own a house, but the way I see it, I'd be paying the same for an apartment as I am for a mortgage with the added bonus of being able to blast my tunes with impunity, and I have no other debt. There is alot of gloom and doom in so many of these posts – but honestly, when hasn't there been? I personally still have alot of faith in America and the whole idea of it. Yes, there are big problems and issues that need confronting, but let's not forget our history. My grandfather was a coal miner in the 1920s in Pennsylvania when even thinking about joining a union was a direct threat to your physical health and the health of your family. My father lived through the Great Depression when unemployment was pathetically high and people were living in tent cities or 10 to a house if they were lucky. There were no safety nets and if you didn't have money for a doctor or food – tough shit. I know those situations exist today, but not even close to the extent they did in the 1930s. I personally grew up in poverty on public assistance yet still manged to go to college and as of yesterday have been offered the highest paying job I've ever had in my life. I'm not saying all this to sound like a Horatio Alger story, but sometimes we need to step back and take in the full perspective. Oh, and I've lived in Ireland. I can't speak for all "Europe" but I can say that we've definitely got a better lifestyle and more opportunity in the USA. Just my humble opinion.

  • For my political science degree I focused heavily on revolutions and the conditions that make revolutions happen. There are signs now. Historically, often times, uppity women have presaged revolution. You see that with the anti-war pink movement here in America. If there is an organized rebellion it will be more in line with an overthrow of the current establishment then along the lines of a civil war. Personally, I think it's inevitable that we will reach coup like conditions by 2015. We are only one more terrorist strike away from such a scenario. Here's how I think things will play out.

    1. There will be some sort of overt coup orchestrated by portions of the military to ensure “order.” This could happen for any number of reasons. But, the conditions are ripe for elements of the US military to seize power. (in some ways, they already have.) From a macro standpoint, as we learned with Ceasar and the Rubicon, militaries long used to international campaigns don’t take kindly to a force draw down. The culture of our military is different than in the past. In the past we had civilians who worked for a time as soldiers. Now, we have a warrior class unable to work as civilians.

    2. The resulting instability will "force" the military to retain power for longer than initially prescribed.

    3. This longer duration of marshall rule will immediately force the states to ally against federal power to retain civil control and regional control over scarce resources like water and carbon.

    4. As the military in the Capitol realizes that the cache of rule by force only lasts so long in a society of extremely independent individuals, regional factions of the federal military will align themselves with their home states.

    5. This domestic realignment of our military branches will create the environment for one of two final outcomes.

    A. Organized conflict between the states

    B. Reconvening of a second constitutional convention.

  • So, I guess, in rereading my crazy screed, it could be a civil war from an engagement standpoint, but I think it will have more of the policial hallmarks of a revolution when the final outcome is reached. In any case, it will be something the world has never seen before.

  • The American Dream is basically a house, new car, cradle to the grave job with good benefits, and a family or significant other. Also, a college degree is supposed to offer a nice career.

    I live in an efficiency apartment, drive a 20-year old Honda, work at a job that doesn't require a college degree, doesn't have any hope of advancement and doesn't pay a living wage (I love that the job offers benefits, yet I can't afford any of them!), and I am deathly afraid of having kids because there's no way in hell that I could afford them.

    I'd say the American Dream is dead and has been replaced with the American Nightmare.

    As far as goals go, I am at least going to have my student loans paid off in a few months and won't owe money to that ruse anymore. Beyond this, I know I can't depend on anybody for anything more, and college offers no hope. Maybe I could do something myself, I don't know: it is a dubious hope.

    My big hope would be for a mass social movement from the middle class: boycotts, demonstrations, increased union activity, etc. Remember, there's a hell of a lot more of us than there are of them, and most of them depend on us to buy their shit. In my best Jerry Maguire, who's coming with me?

  • Eh, well, all it takes is one charismatic leader, one radical preacher, one Howard Beale or Lonesome Rhodes, one Glenn Beck or Martin Luther King Jr. We don't have that right now. Well, we have Glenn Beck but he is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Plutocracy.

    The Teanuts don't scare anyone because they don't threaten the status quo. They're a joke of a "rebellion." That's why they were allowed to parade around with their guns openly on display, whereas a gathering of black people or anti-war protestors would have brought out the National Guard. The Teanuts aren't a threat to the status quo. Working people, poor people, are.

    I wrote about this back in February during the Wisconsin protests. All we need is one union organizer, one powerfully charismatic anti-poverty crusader, one preacher who can mobilize the real faithful like Ghandi or MLK, and you will have your uprising.

  • Elder Futhark says:

    Ah, yes, the Teatards. Not dangerous. And if memory serves (and it does, but with a limp and haltingly) two and more centuries ago, the poor adn the working people were referred to as "The Dangerous Class".

    Read up on your history. I don't have to because I was fucking there.

    And, uh… guns? Bombs? How fucking quaintly 20th century.

    Citibank, anyone? You will see much, much more of this.

    … or wait til the Chinks hit the kill switch buried in all your electronical chips that they've manufactured.

    That'll be fun.

  • @John, @Nom de Plume, @Web Dunce – to me this is the real "American Dream". This is now, but perhaps always was, actually a universal concept of self-determination and is really just logical, sensible, "living within your means".

    The fake one, @Chris, "as seen on TV", is just a rehash of the something-for-nothing mentality that humans seem to devolve to, for whatever reason – perhaps laziness, when others appear more successful, when you don't get what you want, or something… This one is also universal, though not unilaterally claimed by the USA? (Though wild west Elixir salesmen are probably the iconic representation prior to Madoff?). It just seems that Americans bought into it more than others, and then through the wonders of credit culturally sold it to the rest of the world!?

    I think the USA still "has it" – if it wants it… The recent re-flowering of Silicon Valley is a sign that smart, creative people who are working hard still exist there, and that there is money being invested in them. Better than Australia where the only investment you can get from wealthy people is to buy into the housing bubble, or dig up more dirt.

    There's a lot of whining about being sold a bill of goods, but seriously Yankees, of all people you should know thanks to your consumerist upbringing – CAVEAT EMPTOR.

    Quit whining and get to work finding creative ways to fulfill your dreams – and perhaps dream a little more realistically… After all, it's what your forebears did (though you might have to go back a few generations now), and they built something pretty amazing.

  • @Ladies: you forgot the single most obvious distraction *porn*. Men would rather sit around getting vicarious thrills, rather than extend themselves and engage the World. While women it seems aspire to be nothing more than back alley porn queens, trying to out deprave each other.

    To illustrate: I slagged off Dr Jenny McCarthy the other day and got pilloried for reminding people that she's a Bunny. Who got stuck into me? The feminists. ¿Que? It used to be that feminism was about lifting women (and by extension society) to be something better. Now it seems that feminism is about adopting men's worst traits.

    So as long as nothing affects the highspeed Internet and the porn keeps flowing I reckon the status quo is safe.

  • @Xynzee: I agree that porn, and the internet generally (Zynga, I'm looking at you) are huge eaters of time and minds, but WHAT? You think "women it seems aspire to be nothing more than back alley porn queens, trying to out deprave each other"? I'm a woman, so being told that jars me a bit. (And do Playboy Bunnies still count as pornography? My part of California is dense with seemingly airbrushed sweethearts, groomed to the micrometer, showing nearly as much skin as a centerfold. Do you assume they're all porn queens, too? A lot of them are just volleyball players.)

    The feminism of my era wasn't about making women better than they are; if anything, it was saying we were fine just as we were. A lot of it was about the workplace (eliminating pay disparity, sexual harassment, etc.,) and also about not being discriminated against for failing to behave in a ladylike fashion. Believing that women are not automatically condemned to the pedestal OR the pit, simply because of the XX chromosome pattern, seems to be at the root of the many versions of feminism. Having girly-parts doesn't naturally endow you with the virtues of a Sunday School teacher, and being raunchy is no greater sin for women than men.

    In short: there are loads of reasons to slag off Jenny McC, but being a Bunny is not pertinent to a discussion of flaws or virtues. If you think voluntary participation in the sexual objectification of women makes her a bad person, or even a bad feminist, we might disagree. Just as we disagree on whether women aspire to be nothing more than back alley porn queens.

  • Ladiesbane is just killing this thread.

    @Chris:
    There's no reason not to strive for self-reliance and stay as optimistic as possible. But I don't think it's "whining" to call out this stupified, bovine republic on what it's become.

    We worship the ultra-rich. We believe what we're told and fight, sometimes passionately, against our economic interests, in favor of demolishing the humanitarian tradition our ancestors established. The Bush years were a debacle of historic proportions, and two years later, we've forgiven, forgotten, and brought in Scott Walker for a "change."

    Sure, do your own thing, be creative, hustle, buy local. But maybe start by admitting there's a problem. And it goes deeper than "whining." Or even whining about whining.

  • Good to see there was at least one attempt, albeit a half- hearted one, at the good ol' " Stop Whining And Get Off Of Your Ass " lecture… kudos, it is always good to see someone who still carries the delusion that everybody can suceed in business if they just work hard enough. Not taking into account that not everyone has the skills, education, or socio- economic ( racial ) background, or even the desire to make it in a professional field.
    What about us Americans who want to make a living working in a factory? Or driving a truck? Or who are perfectly happy being a firefighter, a teacher, or a construction worker?
    The whole problem with the tired right- wing yuppie argument of " quit whining and get off yer ass" is that it assumes that people who actually produce the wealth in this country are second class citizens…. that if you don't aspire to be a corporate drone then you deserve to be treated like nothing.
    So excuse us for bitching when we get the shitty end of the stick from the ruling class… again. And we will go ahead and have our Revolution. We don't need your permission.

  • So, basically being castrated and being content with whatever the richest 1% gives us is what we should settle for? Shelter, transportation, the basic necessities of life, a good employer, some semblance of power in the workplace, and the ability to afford our reproductive needs are too much to ask for and we should just accept it?

    I think some have forgotten their God-given right to demand something better. And, what I'm asking for isn't much, and it isn't a lifestyle of the rich and the famous. A Middle Class isn't too much to ask for.

    "Whining" is different than calling a spade a spade: I know what the score is and have life experience to prove it. Like Comrade X stated, there are some major assumptions made when the claim that pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is possible and people can achieve merely with the sweat of thier brow is put forth. It isn't 1960 anymore.

  • I came to this country as an immigrant, so perhaps my understanding of the American Dream is slightly skewed. I had a dream to get a good education for education's sake, not for yuppie benefits, and I got that. I had a dream to get an occupation I could enjoy, that wouldn't feel like paid incarceration, and I got that. I had a dream of living in a world where there wouldn't be any totalitarian registration laws to confine me to a particular city or region., and as of now, I am not a prisoner in my own town. The list is long; suffice it to say, my American Dream has many components that cannot be expressed as a dollar value.

    I don't deny that this society has very serious, critical problems that are a cause for worry. But it strikes me as ironic that the same people who criticize it for coddling the rich also, for instance, discuss the issue of college education strictly in terms of whether or not it can provide you with a sizable income. "There is more to life than a little money, you know." I agree that many in this society mind-bogglingly worship the rich and see them, undeservedly, as paragons of virtue, personifications of some ideal work ethic; I agree that this is deplorable. However, this phenomenon becomes less surprising if you notice how we treat wealth as the only thing of value when we talk about "the American Dream". As long as we worship money as the sole end goal of every human undertaking, we will, alas, continue to worship the rich.

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