“American dream” is now a myth: How bad Republican-born policies and worse ideology ruined us

Over the past few years of economic torpor and social despair there’s been a lot of discussion about the death of the American dream. This shouldn’t be surprising. In a time when people feel they can’t keep up or are falling behind, it’s hard to have faith in the idea that everyone can achieve a base level of security and provide for their kids to do better than they did. That was always the deal for working-class Americans, immigrants and middle-class alike.

Generally, people agree that the lack of social and economic mobility we see today — necessities for the achievement of the American dream — is a result of the dramatic income inequality that’s grown dramatically over the last couple of decades. There’s even a name for this phenomenon called the Great Gatsby Curve, which simply shows that the more income inequality there is, the less social mobility there is. As Tim Noah of the New Republic explained:

Economists have long suspected that you can’t really experience ever-growing income inequality without experiencing a decline in Horatio Alger-style upward mobility because (to use a frequently-employed metaphor) it’s harder to climb a ladder when the rungs are farther apart. [Economist Alan] Krueger calculates based on the Gatsby curve (admittedly, somewhat speculatively) that “the persistence in the advantages and disadvantages of income passed from parents to the children” will “rise by about a quarter for the next generation as a result of the rise in inequality that the U.S. has seen in the last 25 years

It’s doubtful that more than a handful of average Americans have heard of the Great Gatsby Curve but they do know that they aren’t getting ahead at the same pace as their parents did. Earlier generations started out with much less (there was less to have!), but the level of advancement over the course of a lifetime for average working people, whether factory workers or teachers or small business owners, was measurable and real. People who never thought of going to college had all their children graduate from university. Couples whose parents always lived in small urban dwellings bought big houses in the suburbs and retired from their jobs knowing they could live comfortably in their old age. Each generation did a bit better than the last, gaining more opportunity and living with more financial security. It wasn’t sexy but it was solid.

According to polling, including this latest one by the Public Religion Research Institute, the bottom has fallen out of the American dream for a whole lot of people. Only 42 percent of Americans still believe in it today and it’s not getting better:

Other polling has shown similar results.  That’s a sad comment on our country.

Oddly, that same poll shows that far more Republicans than Democrats believe the American dream is still operative, 55 percent to 32 percent. If you wonder why that is, perhaps it’s because many Republicans have a completely different definition of the American dream.  They don’t see it as a middle-class goal at all, much of it made possible by the promise of a decent education and secure retirement, guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.  No, they believe that the American dream is getting filthy rich. It’s not much different than winning the lottery or getting a slot on the Real Housewives of Galt’s Gulch.

Here’s a good example of how Republicans explain it to the rubes, in a piece called “In Defense of the Wealthy and the American Dream”:

The United States has 422 billionaires, nearly four times that of 2nd place China. We have a 15.3 trillion dollar economy. We have a standard of living that is the envy of the world. Why?

We have the American Dream and other countries don’t. This American Dream exists because we are free to pursue unlimited prosperity. What fuels the desire to pursue the American Dream is the right to keep the wealth you produce. Property rights are fundamental to the existence of the American Dream and to the continued success of our nation. It was intentional. Our founding fathers built a nation around individual liberty and individual property rights. Without these rights, there would be no 422 billionaires, no 15.3 trillion dollar economy, no high standard of living. These rights are the very foundation of America. Liberty and the right to keep your property (wealth) have, for generations, separated America from the rest of the world. It is the reason America has been considered by so many around the world as “the land of opportunity”.

He calls these 422 billionaires the “American Dream Achievers.” And if you too want to be an American Dream Achiever you must agree not to tax them or regulate their businesses or in any other way try to reduce the wealth inequality we know is causing virtually everyone else to stagnate economically. But have no fear, you can totally do it! Why, if you just work hard you can be the 423rd billionaire — out of 313 million Americans!

A few months ago David Leonhardt of the New York Times published a story that showed exactly where the real American dream — enough opportunity and security to live a decent life and make it possible for your kids to succeed — is in the most trouble. And ironically, it turns out that one specific group of people is being scammed by this absurd con game more than any other: Southern Republicans.

The results of this week’s poll on Americans’ pessimism about the American dream doesn’t break the data out by region. It does break it out by race and class, however, and it’s perhaps unsurprising that the most pessimistic, by a long shot, are the white working class and African-Americans. It’s fair to guess that an awful lot of those working-class whites and African-Americans hail from that red area on the map where their futures and their children’s futures really are grim.

And that’s largely thanks to the policies put in place by GOP politicians who are intent upon delivering for those rare “American Dream Achievers” — and nobody else. You can’t blame the African-Americans.  They know the score and don’t vote for these dream killers. The Southern white working class is another story. They’re participating in their own demise.

Bachmann Mulling Another Sideshow, er, Prez Campaign Run in 2016

It’s the campaign nobody is asking for, but we might get it anyway!!

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Michele Bachmann was barely able to hold onto her solidly Republican exurban district last election cycle, and in May 2013 she announced she won’t run for another term. Yet she still believes she’d be a viable presidential contender in 2016.

Bachmann was asked by the right-leaning RealClearPolitics whether she thinks any Republican women will make a push to be their party’s presidential candidate, and in reply she threw her own name into the mix.

“The only thing that the media has speculated on is that it’s going to be various men that are running,” she said. “They haven’t speculated, for instance, that I’m going to run. What if I decide to run? And there’s a chance I could run.” 

There’s also a chance I could run, but that’d require a Godly miracle like the one Michele thinks will ultimately force Presidential Obama to voluntarily repeal Obamacare. But we digress.

And even though her last presidential campaign was a scandal-plagued disaster, Bachmann told RealClearPolitics the experience would benefit her if she decides to make another go at it.

“Like with anything else, practice makes perfect,” she said. “And I think if a person has gone through the process — for instance, I had gone through 15 presidential debates — it’s easy to see a person’s improvement going through that.” 

But Bachmann, who in the interview called herself “one of the top — if not the top — fundraisers in the history of the United States Congress,” cautioned she hasn’t made a final decision one way or the other, adding that she’ll think more seriously about it after her last term in Congress wraps up.

I am hoping that she does decide to run. Why? Because she has no chance of winning and thereby driving the country into a ditch anyway, but who can resist the excitement of the possibility of more stories like the one about how the Associated Press threw in the towel on fact-checking her during the 2012 Republican presidential debates because so much of what she said was pure bullshit!

Show your right-wing friends this post… They need to see it.

When you’re like me, and I’m assuming there are quite a few, sometimes you hit a point where you can no longer sugarcoat your political arguments.  As you hear the same asinine statements constantly repeated, you just hit a point where you want to stand up and say, “Look you babbling buffoon, let me spell it out for you very simply.”

Now, most times we can’t do this because the person who we’re debating is a friend or relative and we don’t want to be overly rude. Well, I’ve decided to do it for you.

Here are a few of my simplified responses to the ignorance by many on some key topics being debated in our country (and probably others as well):

Gun Rights: I love when I see Republicans showing off some image of a group of “good ol’ boys” holding shotguns and hunting rifles with some caption like “Want to take our guns? Good luck!”  That or someone holding a handgun with a caption along the lines of “Liberals, come and take this!”

Attention all Fox News Sheeple:

Obama never said he was going to take your hunting rifles or handguns away.  He said he wants universal background checks, a ban on high-capacity magazines and a ban on assault weapons (a ban that every Republican President in the last 30 years, including Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush has supported).

So, when you share these pictures, acting as if you’re “getting at liberal ignorance,” all you’re really doing is spreading an image around the internet that showcases how you–and any other Republican who sees it and thinks “EXACTLY!”–don’t know a damn thing about which you’re speaking.

We’re Out to Preserve the Sanctity of Marriage: Unless you want to make divorce illegal, don’t tell me about same-sex marriage “ruining the sanctity of marriage.”

Divorce did that long ago.

Same-sex Marriage overall: Honestly, I’m exhausted with the same-sex marriage “debate.” 

There is no debate.

Procreation is not a requirement for the right to marry, nor are those who procreate required to get married.

“Homosexuality is a sin” comes from religion.

The term “traditional marriage” is defined from religious text.

Our country does not establish laws based on religion. T Continue reading

Paul Ryan Gets Schooled By Constituent Who Will Save Hundreds Under Obamacare

RACINE, Wisconsin — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been one of the primary architects of the GOP’s ongoing crusade to repeal and replace Obamacare. Most recently, the Budget Chairman has indicated that Republicans will attempt to pass individual reforms to roll back the health law’s provisions piece by piece.

But not all of Ryan’s constituents agree with his position. On Wednesday, the Republican congressman was confronted by one such voter at a town hall in southeast Wisconsin.

“ACA subsidies are a good thing,” Michael Martincic, 64, of Oak Creek told Ryan, criticizing his Party’s repeated attempts to get rid of the health reform law.

Martincic works as a roofer and is currently paying $700 for his health insurance through his union. However, upon browsing Healthcare.gov — “it was so easy to get on the site; the whole thing only took 15 minutes,” Martincic told ThinkProgress afterward — he found that he qualified for subsidies and could be paying as little as $200 for coverage.

Martincic also told Ryan about others who had been helped by Obamacare as well, including a friend with leukemia whose out-of-pocket expenses had been cut in half. At several points, the crowd clapped and cheered for him.

Nonetheless, Ryan defended his party’s repeal votes — 51 in total — noting that some of them only aimed to chip away at particular parts of Obamacare. “We didn’t have 51 votes to repeal it altogether 51 times,” Ryan said. “That’s sort of this urban legend…there are many pieces of this law that we went after.”

Watch it:

Ryan’s own plan to replace Obamacare, the Patients’ Choice Act, was unveiled back in 2009. Although that plan lacks some of the consumer protections in Obamacare, it also incorporates some of the same provisions that made it into the health law. Ryan admitted last year that Obamacare does include some ideas that Republicans “have always been talking about.” But that hasn’t stopped him from repeatedly introducing budget proposals to repeal the law.

Martincic said he and his wife are still deciding whether to go through with the insurance switch, but he’s grateful to have the option. When ThinkProgress asked him whether he thinks Ryan sees the people like himself, who could benefit from Obamacare, Martincic shook his head. “He misses it.”

TRANSCRIPT:

MARTINCIC: What Obama did was get this law passed. Whether it’s good, bad, or not, it got passed. It’s actually helping some people grow, helped this other guy [with] medication. The Republicans….By myself…I could actually…get some kind of subsidy, which would help me…

RYAN: With the ACA, one thing I want to say is we didn’t have 51 votes to repeal it altogether 51 times. I think that’s sort of like this urban legend that we said, ‘let’s repeal it.’ It’s like we did a repeal vote on the whole law. There are many pieces of this law that we’ve gone after—several of them that were made into law, so please know—I think even Democrats would acknowledge that there are a lot of problems with this law. And so we passed a lot of things changing this law—several of which were made into law—but I really do believe there’s a better way to do it than with this health care law.

My argument is that I think there are better ways at dealing with these extremely important and legitimate problems, like people with preexisting conditions—this is why I’m a big fan of risk pools. We had the [??] system in Wisconsin—it worked well, and then it had the federal government attached to it, so it was even more affordable for people with preexisting conditions. That was one of our proposals. So I do think that there are better ways of fixing this problem—affordable coverage for everybody, including people with preexisting conditions that’s a lot better than [this law]. It’s going to hurt our hospitals, it’s going to hurt Medicare, it’s going to make people buy things they don’t want to buy.

 

Via:ThinkProgress Logo