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.
Lawmaker Rashida Tlaib calls for boycott of Bill Maher’s ‘Real Time’ over Israel comments
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., suggested a boycott against HBO host Bill Maher after he denounced the international movement to boycott Israel as a "bullshit purity test by people who want to appear woke but actually slept through history class."
This article first appeared on Salon.
"Maybe folks should boycott his show," Tlaib wrote in a tweet on Saturday. "I am tired of folks discrediting a form of speech that is centered on equality and freedom. This is exactly how they tried to discredit & stop the boycott to stand up against the apartheid in S. Africa. It didn't work then and it won't now."
Trump is the nightmare from which we can’t wake up
Every morning we wake up and the nightmare that is Donald Trump seems to go on. Most nightmares, even recurring ones, eventually come to an end. We must hope this one will eventually end as well.
As a columnist, it’s difficult to keep writing about what seems to be the same thing over and over — Trump being a racist, homophobic, sexist pig. Then he, his family or someone in the administration does something else that boggles the mind. Last week, he retweeted a conspiracy theory that the Clintons were responsible for Jeffrey Epstein’s death. Every time you think he can’t sink lower he does.
Like a fox — how a TV news channel is tearing America apart
A little over 20 years ago, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes concocted a profitable way to tap into the white supremacist ideology still bubbling below America’s surface.
They started a “news” network that, instead of providing actual news, gave white, conservative viewers the news they wanted to hear: that they, their families, and their values were under attack by minorities, gays, women, liberals, socialists, Muslims, atheists, the media, etc. — and therefore their biases were justified.
It’s been a lucrative strategy. However, just making a buck wasn’t enough for them. They also wanted to shape the fortunes of the country they were dividing. Here, too, they had tremendous success.