The American Dream
“My green light?” said Jinzhao, who has been studying “Gatsby” in her sophomore English class at the Boston Latin School. “My green light is Harvard.”
Throughout history, people have been told that America was the land of opportunity. With portrayals in film, television shows, and books; people are sold on the country’s idea of achieving success with hard work, tenacity, sacrifice and risk-taking. We’ve all heard sayings along the lines of, “As long as you keep working, you can move up in life”…this idea of America being the greatest country in the world, seems more like a farce day after day.
For the first time in history, the majority of American parents don’t think their kids will be better off than they were. This shouldn’t be a cause for alarm, says journalist Courtney Martin. Rather, it’s an opportunity to define a new approach to work and family that emphasizes community and creativity. “The biggest danger is not failing to achieve the American Dream,” she says in a talk that will resonate far beyond the US. “The biggest danger is achieving a dream that you don’t actually believe in.”
There is no dispute that income inequality has been on the rise in the United States. The share of total income earned by the top 1 percent of families was less than 10 percent in the late 1970s but now exceeds 20 percent as of the end of 2012. A large portion of this increase is due to an upsurge in the labor incomes earned by senior company executives and successful entrepreneurs. But is the rise in U.S. economic inequality purely a matter of rising labor compensation at the top, or did wealth inequality rise as well?