Historian James Truslow Adams coined the term American Dream during the Great Depression.
He said: “The American Dream was of a better, richer, and happier life for all our citizens of every rank, which is the greatest contribution we have made to the thought and welfare of the world. That dream or hope has been present from the start. Ever since we became an independent nation, each generation has seen an uprising of ordinary Americans to save the American Dream from the forces which appear to be overwhelming it.”
Some random information that overwhelms the American Dream today:
1. Change in income during the Reagan Era: Incomes of top 1% increased 55%. Incomes of bottom 90 decreased .3% (Mother Jones),
2. The tax rate for a millionaire has gone from 66.4% in 1945 to 32.4% today. The pre-Bush tax cut rate for millionaires was 36.4% (Mother Jones),
3. The top one-hundredth of one percent makes an average of $27 million per year per household. The average annual income for the bottom 90 percent is $31,244 (Mother Jones),
4. The richest 10% controls 2/3 of Americans’ net worth (Mother Jones),
5. Gains and losses, 2007-2009: Wall Street profits: +720%; unemployment rate: +102 %; Americans’ home equity: -35% (Mother Jones),
6. Average CEO pay is 185 times bigger than the average worker (Mother Jones),
7. General Electric, the nation’s largest corporation, reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion and said $5.1 billion of the total came from the United States. GE will pay no taxes for 2010. GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt was recently appointed to chair the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which is expected to discuss corporate taxes (NY Times),
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8. Incentive pay for chief executive officers of 50 major corporations jumped 30% in 2010, an average of $126 million. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that average hourly compensation for American workers fell 0.5% in February. The wealth gap grows (Time),
9. In a Newsweek poll last September, 63% of Americans said they did not think they would be able to maintain their current standard of living, Fareed Zakaria wrote: “The middle class, many Americans have come to believe, is being hollowed out, (Time),
The global financial crisis of 2008 cost millions of people their jobs, savings, and home equity. Ronald Reagan began the process of deregulation that led to the recession aided by the greed, crimes, incompetence, and psychopathology of Wall Street, regulators, Washington politicians (mostly Republicans), the financial services industry, and the economist elites who move from appointed government positions to academia, to consulting, and back again benefiting at each stop they make. People knew this collapse was coming; no one listened to the truth-tellers who were demonized by the villains.
Who was held accountable? No one. Corruption has become normal.
It is ironic that the recession was caused by the agents of the super-wealthy and the victims were the poor, middle, and working class. Now the recovery, which includes Republicans demonizing public workers so then can pick their pockets and Republican anti-people budget proposals in state legislatures and in Washington, is staged to benefit the super-wealthy at the further expense of the rest of America. Is the “recovery” itself another hustle?
What kind of people turn on our teachers, the elderly, and the neediest to enrich the top 1%? Is money all they care about? What is this sickness in our society?
Robert Reich wrote: The truth is if the super-rich paid their fair share of taxes, government wouldn’t be broke. If Governor Scott Walker hadn’t handed out tax breaks to corporations and the well-off, Wisconsin wouldn’t be in a budget crisis. If Washington hadn’t extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich, eviscerated the estate tax, and created loopholes for private-equity and hedge-fund managers, the federal budget wouldn’t look nearly as bad.
James Truslow Adams wrote, “…each generation has seen an uprising of ordinary Americans to save the American Dream from the forces which appear to be overwhelming it.”
Wake up poor people, working class folks, and the middle class. Stop attacking one another while those turning you against yourselves laugh all the way to the bank. Your dream of a better life is in danger of becoming a nightmare.