Alice Chung Blog #2

Mythology of the US: The Great American Dream?

Richard Wilkinson: How economic inequality harms societies

Since the 1800’s, when diverse immigrants came to America seeking for jobs and opportunities to make it big, they were blinded by the adventure and the sparkle of a new and upcoming nation. They were blinded by the light of the Statue of Liberty, by the ideals, dreams, and success stories of people such as Carnegie who were dirt poor as a boy and made it big. These immigrants didn’t expect to work in the factories until the end of their lives trying to support their families. What they expected was high social mobility. They expected opportunities to easily come their way because this nation was new and because this nation projected an image of tolerance and freedom.
In his TED talk, Wilkinson brings up how we should move to Denmark to achieve our American Dream. Denmark, being the nation with the highest social mobility currently, even if these mentioned immigrants had to start from the dirt poor, they would quickly be able to climb the economic ladder compared to any of the times in the US. The great gap between the rich and poor has always been a problem. What caused it? Most likely capitalism. Once the government approved that the American Dream included corporations being able to practice laissez faire, big businesses took over and became the 1% of the population that held most of the money.
So the question is: is the American Dream possible? Taking account of all the statistics that Wilkinson presented, the American Dream is not, in any way of life (health, money, etc), possible for every American. Because of this high inequality, while the standard of living for the one percent is beyond necessary, for many, throughout different classes, the standard of living is subpar, even worse than criminals who get fed everyday in jail. In conclusion, I only bring up one part of the many factors that contribute to the inequality and how it seems to affect the quality of life for Americans.


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