Sunday, December 25, 2011

The American Dream?

The American Dream?

Politicians, pundits, patriots and people ordinaire often make reference to something boastfully called, “the American Dream”—as if everyone understands what that means, sort of like “apple pie” and “motherhood”. But not everyone means the same thing.

To some it means: a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage; a good-paying job; a house on Elm St.; a high school diploma or a college degree; a doctor and medicine for every ailment, etc. It means a government which ensures the availability of all these.

To me, it does not mean any of these things. Instead it means simply liberty and opportunity. The earliest Americans, mostly farmers and merchants, had no assurance of any of the niceties mentioned above, yet they saw themselves as being in an unequaled land of opportunity and freedom from oppression, either governmental or ecclesiastical. As evidence of this, note that neither the Constitution, nor the Pledge of Allegiance, nor the Star Spangled Banner, nor any holy writ provides a guarantee of anything but liberty, equality under the law, and opportunity to pursue all the rest.

Judging by the behavior and clamor of some, it appears that democracy has allowed too many of its citizens to equate “opportunity” with “entitlement”. They do not understand that opportunity is merely the priviledge of exerting oneself in the effort to succeed and advance with no guarantees and no favoritism. It requires risk, discipline, work and entrepreneurship.

Those of us who are receiving payments from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, food stamps, or receiving free emergency room healthcare, are the beneficiaries of a giant, government sponsored, Ponzi scheme. We are being paid out of funds collected from those who are required by law to be the payers. What we may have contributed earlier comes nowhere near covering the cost of what we are receiving now. As long as we perceive these payouts as entitlements, the percentage of would-be immigrants who are attracted by the prospect of becoming recipients will be high. Only a change in our thinking, from wanting entitlements to wanting opportunity, will cause an increase in the percentage of would-be immigrants who seek opportunity rather than handouts. This is how to restore the real American Dream.

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