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One Generation Later and the American Dream Has Changed

Updated on May 25, 2012
american dream
american dream
our parents and their parents had it, why not us?
our parents and their parents had it, why not us?

One Gereration Ago

Only one generation ago, when I was young, my parents bought a house.  It was a new house, with a picket fence around it, and the lawn was not yet grown in the yard.  I was ten years old, and I remember it well.  It cost them a huge down payment of $600.00 to move into it.  Thereafter, it was a monthly payment of $235.00 .  This was not difficult for my parents, for my dad worked a regular job, and my mom worked part time.

What has happened in one generation of people?  I, now in my fifties, have not had a close chance of being able to do the same, and I have worked two jobs, and sometimes even had more money making ventures out at the same time, and still never came close to being able to come up with the down payment I needed to buy a house.  My down payment was closer to being around $25,000 with monthly payments of $1200.00 to buy a house half the size of my parents house.  There was no way I could swing this amount of money from my paychecks.

What has happened to our economy and our spending habits, and the amount of money a person who had a family to support could make?  What has changed so drastically that our dream of a house with a white picket fence is no longer within the grasp of our American public any more?

The Immigrants

The more people that have piled into these states of ours from other countries, seeking a better life for them and their families, have been able to get a hold of the American dream, at least in part.  If you would take a drive across our lands, and take a count of how many people from other places were new owners of gas stations, convenience stores, liquor stores, etc. you would find that the majority of these businesses have been purchased by those of immigrant backgrounds.  The mom and pop store and restaurant is a thing of the past, and for the most part no longer exists.

When questioned about how they came into the possession of these places a good many will tell you that they were given a sponsorship when they came here from other countries, to help them get a foothold and get started.  This practice began with the ending of the Vietnam war when hundreds of thousands of poor Vietnamese immigrants came over here to escape the poverty of their war torn country.  These people practised their way of life from Vietnam here, and in most instances could be found to have twenty or more working family members living in a one or two bedroom apartment, sleeping on the floor, eating rice and no more.  When you take the amount of money those twenty made and subtract the rent per month, and add together what they had left, and then figure into that the monies they were given to help them buy cars and such things, these sponsors often times gave them amounts equal to their paychecks or better.  Sometimes they were just given an amount that was needed in order to purchase that family business.

This practice of sponsoring families has continued during and after each war, or each wave of people who for political reasons fled their own countries.  The practice of sponsorship has not been a well known or well discussed topic by the media or news teams on television, but rather the more exciting displays of fighting, robberies, murders and other such things always seemed to make headlines first.  Another one of our governments decisions to spend that did not really become public knowledge in all regions, even to this day.  As time passed, the spending by our leaders has by far exceeded what was given to them to spend.  They were given opportunities to give themselves raises, pay for their own traveling and expenditures by means of an expense account, paid for by and with our tax dollars.  This practice has taken on a life of its own, and grown into a monster with sharp teeth ripping into the flesh of our very beings, allowing our leaders to lead lives of leisure and riches, while we pay the tab with our blood sweat and tears.

And It Only Gets Worse

As time goes by, and things continue as they have been going, we find that without change, all things remain the same, or get worse.  When a corporation finds that when you get up into the upper management and have the pocketbook and treatment of the royalty of this world, tell me the man who is going to stop it without prodding.  As  this progressed, the banks, and other financial businesses, along with the population who figured out how to maneuver the money in the market their direction, the wedge between the upper class and the lower class got bigger and bigger. 

Today, there is almost no middle class left in working America.  We now have more millionaires than ever in our history, and the rich are becoming richer and the poor are becoming poverty stricken.  It has been reported that 1% of our public now own 97% of our cash, and it is only getting worse, for the poor that is, and better is you are lucky enough to be on the other side.

It has become a problem of exceptional proportion.  In our history, when the poorer working class have become oppressed, war, or civil unrest has been the answer.  You cannot hold people down into the lowest of financial places, and expect them to just remain working and be happy with it.  Oppression causes people to be unhappy, and they will fight their way out of the problems they find themselves and their families in.

The problem lies within the offices of our government  leaders, those I might remind everyone that we approved and voted into those very offices.  But, when we find that those leaders are not doing the jobs we expect them to, and when we find that there are things going on that are far past  the boundaries of being legal or acceptable, this is the time when we need to step up and stop them from continuing.  We need to take that first step and be a leader in our own communities and voice our opinions and say this is not what we want, and we demand better for our government and for our people.

We need to look into our past history to see our futures, and we need to be sure that what we are doing and the things we are leaving for our children to live with are the things we intend to leave for them, for it is not fair of us to have that American dream for ourselves, and not leave enough or the right things for our children to have the same dreams fulfilled.


Submit a Comment

  • LSpel profile image

    Lydia McCarter 

    7 years ago from The Murder Mitten

    Great article, and so true. When my husban an I bought our house (it is small, but nice for him an I) our down payment was around 3,000. We thought getting a house for under 100,000 was a miracle, even if it is a fixer upper. Its sad how much it costs to merely survive at this point in time.

  • ddsurfsca profile imageAUTHOR

    deb douglas 

    7 years ago from Oxnard

    I am very sorry to hear that, but I completely agree with you. Our economy has changed, and the ways and means to be able to own property is not the same as it was. The only way I can see to be able to buy anything myself is the possibility of getting a government grant for the down. Don't know if it will work or not speaking for myself. Our government is now run by corporations, not people. Unless that changes, we will continue down this spiral, for corporate americans will continue to become richer and richer, and the working class will continue towards poverty.

  • Enlydia Listener profile image

    Enlydia Listener 

    7 years ago from trailer in the country

    the American Dream is soon to be entirely gone...I am 58 and two years ago, my husband and I lost our home, after having been a homeowner for over 25 years...we may never own a home again.

  • ddsurfsca profile imageAUTHOR

    deb douglas 

    7 years ago from Oxnard

    The American Dream, as many know it to be interpreted is the ability to own a family home with a picket fence, to have a job, and to do better than one could in the country from which they came. This is what everyone I asked said it meant to them.

  • GusTheRedneck profile image

    Gustave Kilthau 

    7 years ago from USA

    Howdy ddsurfsca - You may be correct in your analyses, but most people still consider a house to be something with which to keep the rain, sun, and cold off of you.I believe that, for the most part, the "American Dream" has not changed all that much. I think that it is to be free of domination by anyone and everything. I saw evidence of that continuation back in November, 2010.

    Gus :-)))

  • ddsurfsca profile imageAUTHOR

    deb douglas 

    7 years ago from Oxnard

    Perhaps disenchanting, but also true. My hope in writing this is that those who read it can take steps to help our next generation in being able to continue to have the american dream within reach. This may be by leaving a family home to the family in a will, or by leaving a way to help. Either way, the key word here for the family is help.

  • kimh039 profile image

    Kim Harris 

    7 years ago

    a very disenchanting tale. thanks ddsurfsca.


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