Posts tagged with: american dream

need1Earlier this week, Michael Hendrix offered some striking commentary on the economic future of millennials, fearing that many in our generation are in a similar position as “the horse at the advent of the automobile.”

The economic horizon is shifting, and with such changes come new opportunities. Yet rather than being energized and agile in response, many are content to simply shrug and plod along.

As Hendrix concludes, there’s hope in the reality that we are not horses, but creative, spiritual beings, fashioned in the image of God:

It isn’t so much that we’ll have winners and losers that gets me. It’s that many millennials aren’t facing up to the tough choices they’ll need to make to align their visions with reality. When the internal combustion engine came along and rendered horsepower to the pages of Motor Trend, these animals had little choice over their fate. We are different. We can look square-eyed into a future of vast change. We can work hard at the tasks set before us, for we were made to do so. Put another way, we can avoid the glue factory.

The basic idea of the American Dream has come under scrutiny in recent years — most strongly, it seems, from various corners of the church. And though some critiques are clumsier than others, all seem to point to at least one critical reality: With increased prosperity comes increased temptation to give way to an overly individualized and materialistic understanding of vocation and calling. Where our ancestors seized economic opportunity through hard work and service, paving the way for a more comfortable life, we now show a propensity to conflate the former (opportunity) with the latter (a 4-bedroom house in the burbs). (more…)

AmericanDream1The concept of the American Dream can cause a fair amount of tension within the church, says Drew Cleveland. Some have gone as far as to make the American Dream a concept against which the church ought to be opposed:

The concern that this dream can be misused is not wholly invalid. Even Smith acknowledges that “this dream easily slides towards idolatry,” and yes, it is often true that a good thing can become an object of worship if not enjoyed in moderation. For many affluent and educated Americans, including some Christians, the American Dream is a materialistic desire for not only a job, a family, and a house with the white picket fence, but also a beach house, two SUVS, exotic vacations, big-screen TVs, the latest fashions, $5 lattes, etc. It is easy to see why other Christians oppose this perversion of the American Dream, which simply promotes the acquisition of treasures on earth or social privilege solely for self-glorification. But many of those who still long for the best of the American Dream are the marginal, the poor, the working class – those for whom education, steady work, and home ownership are life-long goals.

Read more . . .

Blog author: aknot
posted by on Monday, July 2, 2012

Fresh out of college and full of ideals, young Americans are finding that, in this economy, the American Dream comes at a steep cost. Just ask Michelle Holshue:

At 30 years old, Holshue exemplifies a key tenet of the American dream: exceeding one’s parents’ education and income.

“My dad never finished high school,” she says. “So in that sense, I am doing better than my parents did.”

Holshue’s father is a school bus driver, and her mother, a teacher. At this early stage in her career, Holshue is already making more money than her parents make after decades of working.

Even so, all her credentials came at a cost. Holshue’s student loans for her bachelor’s and nursing degrees total $140,000.

“I think at last count there was something like 20 different loans,” she says, paging through a thick binder of loan statements.

Holshue says she’s in debt more than her parents ever were when they bought their house. In fact, her monthly student loan payment of $1,100 is nearly as much as her rent.

“The first of the month, I might have $100 to live on for two weeks. Which doesn’t even pay my transportation cost,” Holshue says.

Holshue’s story, broadcast by NPR and linked to at Instapundit, is unfortunately far from the exception for many Americans, especially those leaving college to enter the workforce. Recent graduates needn’t wait long before their idealism is saddled by debt and their career aspirations, once the exemplar of the much-lauded American Dream, become something more nightmarish.

The question remains:  How can we solve the debt problem for future generations? Thus far, the Obama administration’s answer has been an enormous increase of the national debt and the passing of health care legislation that will raise taxes on 3 million middle class Americans. This amounts to a widespread suffocation of economic opportunity. Continued policies along this lines will force coming generations to confront the debt of their forebears and strain not to build a better future but to recompense the mistakes of the past.

Blog author: jballor
posted by on Thursday, February 16, 2012

In this week’s Acton Commentary I conclude, “The American people do not need politicians to tell them what happiness is and how it should be pursued.”

I admit that I didn’t have this quote in mind (or I would have used it!), but Art Carden (follow him here and read him here) notes the following from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations:

What is the species of domestic industry which his capital can employ, and of which the produce is likely to be of the greatest value, every individual, it is evident, can, in his local situation, judge much better than any statesman or lawgiver can do for him. The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.

And following up on the folly of political-driven homeownership for all, Reuters (HT: Drudge) reports that the “New American Dream is renting to get rich.”

The payoff? “So while home ownership may sound glamorous, you need a lot of money to make it work, without much guarantee of positive returns in a post-bubble era.”