Ahhh, the American Dream.¬† It has meant different things to different people over the course of the American experiment.¬† Originally it described the ability for any man to own land if he so desired.¬† Something that was typically reserved for nobility or the aristocracy class in England.¬† The founders said, “How fuckin un-American”.¬† The American dream democratized land ownership for the entire society.¬† During the 19th century the American dream came to represent the equality of all people, especially for those who had not been born in this country.¬† Immigrants flocked to this country for its foundation on a classless society.
‚ÄĚThe German emigrant comes into a country free from the despotism, privileged orders and monopolies, intolerable taxes, and constraints in matters of belief and conscience.¬† The rich stand on the same footing as the poor………..[In America] wealth and possession of real estate confer not the least political right on its owner above what the poorest citizen has. Nor are there nobility, privileged orders, or standing armies to weaken the physical and moral power of the people, nor are there swarms of public functionaries to devour in idleness credit for. Above all, there are no princes and corrupt courts representing the so-called divine right of birth.” F. W. Bogen, The German in America (Boston, 1851)
The 20th century brought us the great depression, economic collapse brought on by too big to fail financial institutions and the banking industry…who knew.¬† And as if it were scripted, the people who were hit the hardest were the middle class and the poor.¬† The rich got richer and the poor got poorer.¬† It seemed as if the American dream was not a foregone conclusion.¬† Fortunately for this country, we had a president with what I like to refer to as, “A Pair Of Testicles.”¬† Upon his nomination and inauguration this man with balls stated:
“Throughout the nation men and women, forgotten in the political philosophy of the Government, look to us here for guidance and for more equitable opportunity to share in the distribution of national wealth… I pledge myself to a new deal for the American people. This is more than a political campaign. It is a call to arms.” “Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men. … The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization.” FDR (1932,1933)
What a stud.¬† The American Dream got the new deal.¬† No longer would Americans be expected to work more than forty hours a week, and if so they were compensated above their regular income.¬† Child labor would become a thing of the past.¬† The welfare of the poor and the unemployed were put above billionaires and corporate entities.¬† Farmers were allowed to keep their land instead of being forced out or foreclosed on by banks.¬† New laws were enacted to protect us from the whims of the financial market and the greed of the so called “money changers”.
It would seem like nothing but good times were ahead.¬† What would the 21st century bring for the American dream?¬† Surely the right of all Americans to have access to health care.¬† For every citizen, regardless of class to have the chance at an education would be a top priority right.¬† After all, how can you have life, liberty and pursue happiness if you can’t stay healthy or receive an education?
Well we got screwed.
Starting around 1974, a certain conservative political organization which shall remain nameless started to dismantle the new deal.¬† That movement has picked up steam and is stronger than ever.¬† People attending college now have almost one trillion dollars in student loans which is more than Americans owe to credit card debt.¬† Since 1982, college tuition has gone up 400%.¬† Once they graduate with these slave like burdens they can look forward to jobs in retail.¬† Here in the United States, a quarter of all retail employees have college degrees.¬† Good thing they borrowed a hundred grand to take those biology courses.
And since college graduates are now fighting over the bottom of the barrel bullshit jobs, unless you’re willing to take on a hundred grand of debt for a job that pays $7.50 an hour you’ll end up homeless.¬† “Yes, I realize you would be stocking shelves with liquid drano for 11 hours a day but we’re really looking for someone with a degree in advanced aeronautics.¬† But good luck with food stamps.”
Of course, if you’re lucky enough to get a job in this country you’ll have the pleasure of working more than citizens of every other industrialized country in the world.¬† Yes, Americans now work more than everyone else except for maybe the Koreans.¬† But that’s understandable, they have all our jobs.¬† And the average hours worked per year has gone up every year.¬† If everyone keeps working more hours, soon everyone will be working the equivalent of two jobs.¬† I think we’ll be able to get that unemployment rate up to 50% by 2020.¬† Ladies and gentlemen, slavery is alive and well.
Now, I know what you’re going to say, homeless people are bums and they just don’t want to work.¬† It turns out that most homeless people do work….or did until their jobs vanished or went to Indonesia.¬† There are three and a half million homeless people in this country and counting and some 20% of them are employed.¬† They have real jobs like…..becoming Miss USA.
Yes, that’s right.¬† A contestant for Miss USA is a homeless person.¬† One month after 23 year old Blair Griffith won Miss Colorado she and her sick mother were evicted.¬† And guess what, she’s a magna cum laude college graduate.¬† She did have a job….in retail….(I swear I couldn’t make this shit up)….at the local Saks Fifth Avenue.¬† And surprise, it’s closing because of the economy.¬† There she is….Miss Colorado….homeless and jobless.¬† Her talents include filling out countless applications and standing in line at the homeless shelter.¬† You know your country is fucked when the people who represent its beauty are living in the street.¬† I bet you think twice about giving a dollar to that homeless disable vet sitting on the curb next time you pass his “will work for food” sign.¬† Maybe he could put in a good word for you with Miss Colorado.
So why, you might ask, is the reigning Miss Colorado homeless?¬† Turns out to be more of the same.¬† Her mother had a heart attack and her insurance company kicked her off her plan.¬† Without insurance she was forced to pay her bills on her own and it bankrupted her.¬† Yadda Yadda Yadda.¬† If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this same story…..well….we might have kept Miss Colorado off the fuckin streets.¬† So just so you have the math right, in this land of opportunity, there is one step in-between Miss USA and homelessness.
It turns out that medical debt is now the leading cause of bankruptcy in this country.¬† In 2007, 62% of all bankruptcies were due to medical debt.¬† Are you ready for the punch line?¬† Here is comes, 78% of all of those bankruptcies were filed from people WITH INSURANCE!¬† What a joke huh.¬† Land of opportunity my sick white in debt ass.¬† You get sick, you’re fucked.¬† You get an education, you’re fucked.¬† What happened to the American Dream?
Enter our hero. ¬†An enterprising man who has found the American Dream.¬† Richard Verone, a 59 year old man living in North Carolina jumped into action last month when he saw an opportunity.¬† Verone worked for Coca-Cola for seventeen years and then was of course laid off.¬† He wasn’t able to work as much as he used to due to two ruptured discs in his back…..a problem with his foot…..and an as yet undiagnosed growth in his chest.¬† Since Coca-Cola sees chest growths as grounds for termination, Verone lost his job and his health insurance.¬† He and his ruptured back blew through his life savings and a string of part time jobs to no avail and will more than likely die painfully in the street……if not for the American Dream.¬† He seized on the only opportunity he had.¬† Prison.¬† Richard Verone walked into a bank, slid the teller a note that said, “I have a gun, I want only $1.”¬† The confused teller gave the man a dollar to which he replied, “Thanks, I’ll be right there on the couch waiting for the police.”¬† And wait he did.¬† The police came and he went quietly.¬† Later, Verone stated that he hopes for a 3 year sentence so he has plenty of time to get his medical issues addressed.¬† Also, after serving 3 years he will be eligible for social security.¬† A win win really.
Especially when you consider all the trouble the majority of Americans are facing these days.¬† Think about it, Richard Verone is going to get room and board, time off work plus three meals a day.¬† His health problems will be addressed once he gives up his freedom as well.¬† Did you know that you can get a college education in prison?¬† And you don’t have to go into tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to get it.¬† Richard Verone is going to walk out of prison a healthy man, social security eligible and potentially a new career.¬† He might even have a little spending money to boot.¬† Compare that with his only other option of dying in the street of chest growths writhing in pain from a ruptured back and it’s a no brainer.¬† That my friends is the American Dream of the 21st century.¬† Richard Verone, my hat is off to you sir!
But that isn’t the American Dream we were told about, it’s just the one that has been given to us.¬† Johnny Paycheck would tell them to shove it…..but then again, Johnny Paycheck filed for bankruptcy after being audited by the IRS for 1.6 million dollars of debt and died penniless.
The rich and the powerful will never like the idea of a middle class with equal rights.¬† That was the reason we had to come up with the American Dream and have that whole “revolution” thing in the first place.¬† Now go to prison and get you some dream.