American Dream 3 Essay

978 words - 4 pages

AMERICAN DREAM Government & Economy The American dream, it has been said, means different things to different people. Differences in wealth and status affect the meaning of the dream for different people. Its meaning has also changed repeatedly over time. The reason that they have changed is because the American Dream is regulated by the government and the economy. An eighteenth century, white, male plantation owners' answer to the question, "What is the American Dream?" would probably be different from that of a modern, black, buisness-type female. A common essence shines through these many aspects of the American dream. The American Dream can be seen by three angles; freedom from want, freedom from threat of physical danger, and freedom of choice. Even though we feel we can control all of this is is pretty much out of our hands and in the governments.The first aspect of the American dream is freedom from want. For the plantation owner, freedom from want might have meant owning more land and more slaves and building a bigger house. For the slave, the dream might simply have been eating decent food, wearing warm clothes, perhaps saving enough money to purchase his manumission. (McLennan, S.) Toward the later part of the nineteenth century, the picture had changed. America had spread westward and had filled with immigrants from Asia and Europe. While this was going on America was forming the modern day government and started to put proposals together to make this "Land of the Free" cost a little bit. Those fortunate and industrious enough to do so were accumulating vast fortunes. Despite America's great wealth, freedom from basic want was still only a dream for the working poor. Wages were low and manual labor was grueling. For them, the American Dream was to earn enough to free themselves from their employers and work toward making their own fortunes. Although not legally slaves, they often owed more to their employers for food and lodging than they could earn in wages. Whereas a hundred years ago, poor Americans struggled to get free of the company store; today, they struggle to free themselves from their credit cards. Interest rates and taxes are putting a burdon on all trying to get ahead in life. Today the relative condition of rich and poor is unchanged, however mobility between the two conditions has increased dramatically. For instance, the person struggling through the university system on a scholarship or her family's savings may have earned billions of dollars twenty years from now. By the same token, the unwary corporate executive may have been reduced to modest means by a change in the economy. For all of these Americans, a common facet of the dream is to have enough money to do as they wish, not as they must.Freedom from threat of physical danger is the second facet of the American dream, because many have risked their...

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