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"The U.S. worked hard to create the American dream of opportunity. But today, that dream is a myth." ~~ Economist Joseph Stiglitz, Financial Times
If you follow the financial news, you already know that the American people are on an epic downer. Just check out some of these headlines I pulled up in a five minute Internet search and you'll see what I mean:
"U.S. Standard of Living Index Sinks to 10-Month Low; Expectations for future standard of living drops more than current satisfaction" Gallup
"Americans Still Pessimistic About Economy -- Almost 70 percent think the economy is in bad shape" Time Magazine
"Slipping behind: Are we becoming a nation of pessimists?" NBC News
Income Inequality in the United States Fuels Pessimism and Threatens Social Cohesion" Center for American Progress.
And here's my personal favorite:
"NBC/WSJ poll: 60 percent say fire every member of Congress" NBC News
Pessimism, pessimism, and more pessimism. It's like the whole country is on the brink of despair. Maybe Phil Graham was right, after all. Maybe we are just a nation of whiners. But I kind of doubt it. What's really going on can be summed up in one word: Frustration. People are frustrated with the government, frustrated with their jobs, frustrated with their shitty, stagnant wages, frustrated with their droopy incomes, frustrated with their ripoff health care, frustrated with living paycheck to paycheck, frustrated with their measly cat-food retirement plan, frustrated with their dissembling, flannel-mouth president, frustrated with the fact that their kids can't find jobs, and frustrated with the prevaricating US media that keeps palavering about that delusional chimera called the American Dream.
What dream? The dream that America is the land of "land of opportunity"?
Tell that to the 23-year old college grad who's stuck delivering pizzas to try to put a dent in the $65,000 tab he ran up getting his Masters in engineering. See how much he believes in the Dream.
All that stuff about "working hard and playing by the rules" has turned out to be pure bunkum, just like the "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" horsecrap or the "owning a home enters one into the middle class" thing. What a freaking joke -- 6 million people have been booted out of their homes since the bubble burst, and the Pollyannas on TV still drone on about "owning a home." Get the gun!
No one's buying that garbage anymore. Just like no one believes that our economic system is "a level playing field," or that our kids will have a better standard of living than our own, or that tomorrow will be better than today. Every one of those "shining city on a hill" promises have turned out to be complete hogwash. The only city on a hill you're going to find in the US, is the privately-owned gulag where petty drug offenders are locked up for life so some chiseling hedge fund manager can report record profits to his shareholders. There's your shining city in a nutshell.
The American people aren't whiners. They're just tired of the lies, that's all. Look; the country was in the throes of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression, but the American people rallied, right? They came out by the millions to vote for the dazzling young senator from Chicago who was going to change everything and restore America to its formal glory.
So much for that fairytale. Can you really blame the people for believing the hype and pegging their hopes on a man who never had any intention of keeping his word?
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Mike is a freelance writer living in Washington state.