The American dream promises that anyone can make it if they work hard enough and play by the rules. Anyone can make it by pulling themselves up by their “bootstraps.”
So as inequality of income and wealth has widened – especially along the lines of race and gender – American children born into poverty have less chance of making it. While 90% of children born in 1940 grew up to earn more than their parents, today only half of all American adults earn more than their parents did.
The phrase “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” itself is rubbish. Its origins date back to an 18th-century fairy tale, and the phrase was originally intended as a metaphor for an impossible feat of strength.
Other countries understand that the family you’re born into as well as the social safety nets and social springboards you have access to play large roles.
Children born poor in Canada, Denmark, or the United Kingdom – nations without America’s degree of inequality, nations which provide strong social safety nets and public investments – have a greater chance of economic success than children born poor in America.
Individuals in those countries are blamed less for their personal failures and credited less for personal successes.
So, why is America still perpetuating the fallacy of the self-made individual? Because those in power want you to believe it. If everyone thinks they’re on their own, it’s easier for the powerful to dismantle unions, unravel safety nets, and slash taxes for the wealthy.
It’s in their interest to keep the American Dream deeply rooted in our psyche – the assumption that you determine your destiny. So we don’t demand reforms that are necessary – paid family and medical leave, for example, or early childhood education, accessible childcare, and policies that lift every family out of poverty.
Let’s stop perpetuating this myth of the self-made individual. And let’s start rebuilding the American dream by creating opportunities for all, not just those who are already wealthy, privileged, and well-connected.
Trump defense team’s two most ‘egregious constitutional claims’ blown up by law professor: They ‘have impeachment exactly backwards’
‘Stop lying’: Experts and observers discredit Trump attorney’s impeachment defense with readily available facts
After three days of House impeachment managers’ brilliant prosecution of President Donald Trump – and “prebuttal” of the arguments the president’s team was expected to make – White House attorneys Saturday morning began their defense of President Trump.
It’s not going well.
Deputy White House Counsel Mike Purpura (photo) has been making the majority of today’s arguments – they have decided that not enough people will be watching on TV so Saturday’s defense will last not eight but just two hours.
Nancy Pelosi missed a big opportunity in impeachment — but she still has time to fix it
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has her reasons for limiting her impeachment articles to offenses stemming from the abuses and violations related to Ukraine. Unfortunately, she declined to pursue a broader impeachment approach that recognizes multiple provable, serious violations of the Constitution. Speaker Pelosi overruled Chairs of Committees, including the Judiciary Committee, and other senior lawmakers who wanted to forward to the Senate a broader array of impeachable offenses.
Having lost four of the last five House elections to the worst Republican Party in history, Speaker Pelosi remains cautious. She is overly worried about the conservative Democrats who won congressional seats in 2018 in Republican, pro-Trump districts. Endangering their seats might, Pelosi fears, lead to the loss of the House in 2020 and, more immediately, risk not having the votes in the House to pass additional impeachable offenses.