By Mike Aux-Tinee.
Close you eyes and imagine yourself sitting in the back yard of your suburban home. It’s a mildly warm, sunny weekend afternoon and the grass has just been cut. You are there with your spouse watching your two kids play with the family dogs. One of you is reading and the ball game can faintly be heard on the radio. Shortly, the bar-b-que grill will be fired up and everyone will eat dinner outside.
The vision is very foundation of our society and it’s called The American Dream. This is what we all want for our lives, for our children and their children. It’s what we work so hard to achieve and we want to have faith in. There will be so many demands in your life and you try very hard to fulfill them all; your mortgage, two car payments, saving for your kids college education and then your retirement not to mention all of the other ‘necessities’ of life. There are times that things get very tight, but you keep your nose to the grind stone and stick to the plan. After all, you are working to achieve the American Dream.
Through thick and thin, you have faith that the American Dream will not end. When you wake up tomorrow it will be the same as it was yesterday and for every day in the foreseeable future. To further support your decision and ward off buyers remorse, many people will be talking up the American Dream. The politicians make campaign promises to protect it, our television shows portray people much like yourself living the same way and you read about it often in the newspapers. It does not matter where you turn, the concept of the American Dream is receiving considerable air time.
But just out of eye sight, there is a darkness lingering. It moves swiftly and silently throughout our society. With its prey completely numb and unaware of its existence, it strikes when they are off guard.
That darkness is financial ruin and it does not discriminate.
See, the American Dream is like a drug to everyone who believes and does not question it. It has so many components and some of the biggest are; going to college, buying a house, having 2.5 children and then retiring some place warm.
We have been told not to worry about the money; it’s alright to go into debt. See going to college will help you get a better paying job, buying a house will be the biggest and best investment you can make and there are so many benefits to having a family.
The message keeps streaming to get out there to; buy… buy…buy! After all, it is what everyone does and it’s the AMERICAN DREAM! Believe me, it’s a deal, a steal and do not wait much longer or you will miss out on it. You do not want to your family and friends to find out that because you dragged your feet, you missed the boat? Do you?
Everyone just nods their head in agreement and signs their life away on the dotted line.
There are very few who stop and ask themselves, is it really right for me? What will the American Dream cost in real dollars and cents? And what will happen when plans do not go as expected? Of course, Darwin would state those are the strongest and fittest of the species. They are not blinded by what they are about to gain, but what they could lose.
As we have found out, those who made the promises, kept chatting it up and making the television shows are now the ones pointing the finger and blaming everyone else but themselves. See, it’s easy to blame others when things go bad and right now, things are worse than bad. It is a complete and utter nightmare and there is no possibility of it ending any time soon. It is so surreal to read the headlines and listen to the pundits, politicians and television talk show hosts discuss the problem as if it does not exist in their world. They are out of touch with reality. The reality is that the American Dream is dysfunctional, unsustainable and a complete and utter scam.
It is time for something else to step up and take over, for the real American Dream to stand up, walk down the aisle and take her crown back from the imposter.
The reality of what the fake American Dream costs:
- Many college graduates have nearly $27,000 in school loan debts.
- The average American has mortgage debt of $200,000.
- The average American holds around $8,400 in credit card debt.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank, Americans collectively owe $2.5 trillion in consumer debt, excluding mortgages. When you add in $14 trillion in home loans, it should be no surprise that we have a major issue with debt.
If there is a lesson to be learned from this economic downturn, and I truly believe it is a depression and not ‘The Great Recession’ like everyone else calls it, is that the way we are living is unsustainable and it can not continue onward. We can not continue to believe having debt is a good thing, that it’s normal and it’s the way to live our lives.
The current model was created and perpetuated by those who are profiting off our suffering and is going to continue for a very long time. Unless we regain our senses and stop listening and believing in the current version of the American Dream.
But what is so interesting, is that the concept of the American Dream did not start out this way. The original concept of the American Dream comes from an American historian; James Truslow Adams. He coined “American Dream” in his 1931 book The Epic of America.
He stated “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”
I need a minute to dry the tears from my eyes.
This version of the American Dream brought the Pilgrims over to these shores and what brings so many people today searching for a better life. See, this is how it should really be. That a person, no matter what (gender, race, creed, religious affiliation, age, country of birth or any other way to classify a person) should have equal opportunity to work and advance themselves.
We should take pride in ourselves and what we work for; knowing that we worked to achieve our success. This is the American Dream we should believe in, not the one that has caused more economic turmoil in the last eighty years than at any other point in our history.
Here is what I propose:
Eliminating the use of any form of debt to finance and expand our lives, this includes not only home and car loans, but credit cards too. We should not be using credit cards except in cases of emergency. In know, they are so convienient and you promise to pay your bill off next month when it comes in the mail. But according to the numbers, that is not happening and it’s trapping us in a never ending cycle where more of our money is going to the banks and credit card companies bottom lines than our own.
Cash is king! If you can not pay for it with nearly 100% cash you need to wait until you do have the cash or learn to go without it. But, our impulsive I have got to have it now mentality is breaking the bank namely our own. Again, if it is an emergency, something completely unexpected, then that’s fine. Otherwise… NO..NO..NO!
Happiness, true happiness is not derived from having more things, but doing more. Spending time on personal interests; taking a class, learning a new skill or spending time with family and friends. Because, as I have said before, the person with the most people at their funeral is much richer than the one who dies with the most toys.