The End of the American Dream?
A blogger has another view.
1:56 PM, Aug 4, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Recently the FT's Ed Luce spent some time with families in Minnesota and Virginia and concluded that we're pretty much done for. The American Dream, Luce says, has become "America's Fitful Reverie." His article is worth reading in full; in fact, it's the best summary of the decline argument that I've read.
Of course, whether or not Luce is right is another question entirely.
Certainly median incomes stagnated over the 2000s, and inequality has become more pronounced. The shift to the information / service economy was producing winners and losers, and changing American society, long before the financial crisis and the Great Recession began. And those developments have made social anxiety particularly acute. Home prices have plunged, unemployment is at rates not seen in close to 30 years, America and Americans are too deeply in debt, and because of the peculiarities of American health care, losing a job means losing health insurance and maybe a pension too.
All that said, it's worth pointing out that, looking at the grand scheme of things, there has never been a better time in human history to be alive, or a richer country in which to be born. And as big as America's problems may be, she is still pretty well off. Read Stephen J. Rose's Rebound or Gregg Easterbrook's Sonic Boom if you don't believe me. Or read Scott Winship, who takes Luce's article apart piece by piece. Here's Winship demolishing Luce's claim that "a growing majority of Americans have been telling pollsters that they expect their children to be worse off than they are."
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