“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” – Norman Vincent Peale
What Happened to The American Dream?
When we talk about the ebbs and flows of the economy and how much it has changed since, say, a few decades ago, there are pessimists who attribute such dialogue to people being “whiney” and then there are people who understand the scope of which the middle and lower class has struggled to maintain their sociological and financial status, hanging on by a tooth as the drastic canyon between the upper and lower class continues to broaden, as the middle class seeks further into the void of despair.
Who or what is to blame for this dramatic shift in social and financial status is a debate that could go on forever, but its cause may not be nearly as important as what needs to be done to fix it.
Here, two women with the same job (save for the company for which they worked and a 20-year gap) have very different experiences. While this particular story may not be a fair representation as to how all employers treat their employees, it does cause hesitation as to what we deem acceptable in our quest to be the best, richest country in the world.
When I was in my 20’s, I spent a good portion of my time traveling and living in other cities. As soon as I turned 18, I packed up my old Honda Accord with its airbag-taped window where glass should have been and a boom box that replaced the speakers I had blown out and I yelled “Bon Voyage, bitches!” with a middle finger up in the air and a pedal to the metal. Don’t get me wrong – I grew up in one of the coolest places a person could ever dream of living and part of me was sad to see my family and friends disappear over the horizon, but excitement overshadowed any guilt or sorrow I felt. I was getting away to meet new people and try new things. I was finally on my own and I was ecstatic.
The next ten years was pretty much spent hopping from town to town, doing my fair share of partying and picking up random jobs here and there. I met some amazing people and a lot of not-so-amazing people. It wasn’t always easy but it was fun and exciting and it really did teach me a lot about life and who I was and how I wanted my life to evolve.
And most people my age had that luxury -of being able to leave at the drop of a hat; go to college in some foreign place and test the waters that the real world had to offer. By no means did we live luxuriously -hell, it was hard to just get by at times, but we made it work and it was all part of the learning experience.
I say this because I don’t think kids in their twenties have the resources to mess up their lives the way we did. With college getting exponentially higher in price and the economy as a whole functioning in a way that makes it impossible for people just starting off to have any real advantages, it’s hard to decide to be a vagabond. A lot of people are now opting to NOT go to school or NOT travel or move somewhere and they have pretty damn good reasons -it’s damn near fiscally impossible.
Don’t believe me?
Check out the most recent distribution of wealth put out by Yahoo Financial of the cost of renting a two-bedroom house and what a person would have to make JUST TO RENT (this doesn’t include any other things like foods, car, entertainment, transportation, clothing, etc). It makes me feel grateful I had the opportunity to do it when it was still feasible, when it didn’t require an arm and a leg and it saddens me that so few people will be able to experience such a life-altering event because of the inconceivable amounts people are asking for.
That’s Not How It Works
The case of the mysterious house. Every man probably thinks he has one… the clean dishes and clothes always available.