Friday, June 10, 2011

American Dream VS. FMC

The American Dream is a powerful ideology of the American culture, stretching back to our nations founding, igniting our sense of Manifest Destiny, and driving us as a people to be the leading innovative and technological power for generations. The idea of the American Dream is simple: Anyone can make it. If you've got an idea and enough passion and patience, you can be rich, successful, and free from the limitations of your birth and background. It is an intoxicating notion, one that encourages those of all classes to strive for greater purpose and greater prosperity. While their success is not assured, it is believed that everyone has the same chance, we're all flying on a dollar and a dream.

But there is another ideology in America, the ideology of Free Market Capitalism. And according to this philosophy, there are - there must be - losers. There is and there must continue to be inequality. We all not all born the same and thus are doomed to fail or succeed based on our station at birth. The FMC ideology discourages everyone from being successful because that would mean that everyone was the same. There would be no competition, no winners to trickle their prosperity down to the losers. There would be no competition because everyone would have already won. FMC does not encourage those of lower class to go after their dreams. Instead, it forces them into cycles of dependence on jobs, low-income  and low-quality standards of living, and massive corporations that can buy out competitors at whim. In short, FMC is the antithesis of the American Dream.

Ironically, these two ideologies, so diametrically opposed, have been intertwined in our minds. We have been told so many times that the Dream exists because of Capitalism that we have come to believe they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the Dream has been diminishing as FMC has ramped up and gotten bigger. We now live in a country where speculation on oil futures creates "false demand" and so drives up the prices. We live in a country where locally owned businesses are trampled by big box stores, family restaurants are run out of business by chains, and people are squeezed ever downward as money continually floods to the top 2% of the population. There are people living in tenements and storage sheds, starving day and night, while other members of society live in vast gated communities with body guards and security cameras. It's not about personal responsibility. Our lives and fates have become hopelessly entwined with our heritage. It is the very rare individual that can make it rich anymore, especially those in the lowest classes. Many with ideas and the means to make them work must then sell their ideas to large companies or go bankrupt trying to sell their products.

The American Dream, once so majestic and attainable, has been stolen away from the hands of the working and replaced with the idol of Free Market Capitalism. We are told they are the same thing, that one cannot exist without the other, but we don't question this assertion. We have lost the ability to better our lives, and instead have been taught to roll over and acquiesce to our station. That is not how the dream works. I believe in the American Dream. I believe that this country was founded so that every man and woman can have a good quality of life, can be financially secure, and can make a better world for their children that they might attain greater things. FMC is not how that dream comes true, and it never will be.

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