American Dream Is the Idea

Waves of immigrants — the Irish fleeing famine, the Italians, the Germans, the Scandinavians, the Chinese — came to America, in the hopes of beginning their own businesses, starting their own farms and making life better for their children. America seemed like a place where the past did not define ones status in the present: yet even though many of these ethnic groups made inroads into Americas social fabric and prospered, they also had to struggle against racism and intolerance.

Despite the success of many poor individuals, it is important to remember that even wealthy industrialists and philanthropists like Andrew Carnegie, who made a fortune after beginning life as a poor man, often employed workers at slave wages to make tremendous profits. Even today, having social standing in America conveys undeniable advantages. The rich live in communities with better schools, have better health (and health insurance) and greater access to networking opportunities than the poor. They pass these benefits of education and connections on to their children, benefits that not every aspirant to the American Dream possesses.

The promise of the American Dream has been realized for many: there can be no denying this fact. But it has also denied its seductive promise to many aspirants. And there are many others who have only listened to half the American Dream, and simply tried to get rich quick without working hard, including corrupt investment bankers, gold miners, and criminals. To live the American Dream of success, to make something from nothing, often requires hard work — and familial connections, a streak of ruthlessness, and being a member of a privileged social class. This is the dark side of the American Dream..

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