How the American Dream is detremental to the West

The American Dream is the idea that if you work hard enough you can attain almost anything you like career wise and have a high salary with all the trappings of success (usually openly visible). This may have been attainable back in the past with relative east in comparison to today but I would suggest it’s harder for most people to attain in the modern-day and individual people and society at times can lose out because of the effects of the “American Dream”. I believe this can affect most Western countries and not only the U.S.A

Higher education costs To achieve anything close to the “American Dream” one needs education. However this isn’t cheap and costs are rising. Many are still paying off student debts 10-20 years after their adult education is finished and for some even more. What’s even more troubling is that the jobs market  isn’t what it used to be in many western nations and graduates are finding themselves in entry-level positions that don’t pay near enough to pay off student debts while paying living expenses.

Increased working hours and a host of other struggles relating to working included increased stress and over competitiveness that can be seen as un-natural to some. The “ideal” of the “American Dream” only serves to increase these issues.

Debt and living beyond ones means is becoming increasingly commonplace. A high amount of American households have considerable consumer debt according to surveys.

Social position plays a role in who gets what opportunities. While the idea of a meritocracy is great in theory some people have a higher social standpoint and have “more doors opened” for them to progress. A very basic example would be someone with a lot of social savvy would be “noticed by the working world” far quicker then someone with aspbergers.

Productivity Culture is destroying other forms of culture by making things about productivity and not the ability to “take time” to enjoy things as they are to be properly enjoyed. The productivity culture is slipping into the fabric of our non work lives and some may be losing the ability to just enjoy things without rushing or endlessly worrying about how efficient something was done.

Promotion of materialism has some detriment to society as the main function of the “American Dream” is to have ones wealth and success on show by the multiple items people buy in order to show the world they have made it, or pretend they have made it if this in’t true. The saying “fake it till you make it” is true here. This creates a space issue in many households and some of the stuff bought doesn’t see usage (or much of it).

Growth is expanding and sometimes at record pace. Due to both materialism and productivity culture growth is happening at an alarming rate. This is problematic in an environmental sense as some natural land has to be given up to build all the extra shops and services to accommodate the needs and desires of more people and greater needs and desires. This growth may have some part to play in Gentrification

To conclude I’m not completely against productivity, success and materialism but think that they will not be able to carry on in an extreme form for much longer. I think the “American Dream” or what could be called consumerist dream is on its last legs if not already dead.

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable

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