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

Why I’m still on the fence about Gentrification

20150711_152014Gentrification is the term for when typically wealthier people arrive in a neighbourhood and as a result the area changes for what many perceive as better. As a result the feel of the area can change. While change is to be expected as nothing in life remains static not all change is equally as desired. Now I’m 27 and have gained some degree of life experience I have experienced some degree of both sides of the argument for and against gentrification.

Pros

Your hometown will be freshened up and the number of derelict buildings of buildings in a neglected state will start to diminish.

Less undesirable behavior takes place in your town No one enjoys to hear that people are being abused in the street by a group of youths. Rubbish dumped in the street most days a week does not serve to encourage others (including visitors) to treat your town much better. Polite society typically doesn’t tolerate undesirable behavior for long.

More ability to take pride in your town I’ve heard of people who were never particularly proud of the towns they lived in, that’s until gentrification came to town. Now that the local councils are taking rubbish collecting and social problems seriously the town is visibly improving and people who would have never thought of visiting are probably thinking of passing by.

Restoration of older buildings Many towns and cities have buildings that are worse for wear. Gentrification can and usually does restore these to a respectable standard and the locals can be proud that their building is now in a presentable state.

Cons

Loss of culture or character of the town A lot of towns that have been gentrified have had their own subculture or feel to them. Nowadays while these towns look nice they often possess no sense of soul.

Community spirit While its fantastic to see some of the towns past problems disappear this can be at a tradeoff of community spirit. As nice as a new supermarket is, very little sense of community spirit will be found there.

Specific communities can lose their community I have experienced this twice in the city  of London first hand. There’s a Latin/Southern American community in North London I know of fairly well. This community has had to fight more than once to keep it. I also know of a lesbian bar I used to frequent that now is no more. There is only one left in the entire city. If you rely on specific communities like this at all then this is an obvious downside to gentrification.

Increasing rents Even if the cultural aspect manages to remain (or to some degree) many can be forced out due to rising rents and prices of goods and services. Not everyone is a high flyer in the career sense and that’s OK. Some of us a happy being working class and have no true interest or desire for the boardroom or anything remotely similar. However these people can be priced out of their own neighborhood fairly quickly.

The area loses out forever I know that the Latin/Southern American communities building was going to be bulldozed at one time. This was with the intention of building handful of designer shops and an appartement block. A lot of the areas character and charm will be lost and there would be little reason for people to want to visit that area over any other that already has designer shops. No amount of money, no matter how well-intentioned can buy community spirit or cultural identity.

Ultimately I think it can work well at times but only if the local culture and community is preserved (including any specialist or international communities). I am not so keen if there is no effort taken to retain the culture of an area.

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable