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View Diary: Death of the American Dream is marked by the weakest social safety net & largest prison population (176 comments)

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  •  A real case might be made that the American (4+ / 0-)
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    elwior, alizard, MsGrin, cpresley

    dream (as much as it entailed joining the middle class, anyway) was crafted as a response to fears that capitalism might be replaced with something like Soviet-style socialism.

    With a world wide economic depression following soon after the Russian revolution, there were well-founded fears.

    Even before the collapse of the Soviet Union the growing middle class had served its purpose and was under attack from many quarters--not the least of which President Reagan (see Michael Moore's diary of 8/5, if you missed it).

    Those with wealth and power use us against each other to protect their interests and position, but historically they always push too hard. As someone has said things may change little by little--and then all at once.

    An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out? Rene Descartes

    by Had Enough Right Wing BS on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 01:05:52 PM PDT

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    •  That sounds correct (1+ / 0-)
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      Had Enough Right Wing BS

      and it's still throwing out the specter of Soviet-style Socialism that grabs people's psyche today.  How, then, to get folks to recognize that when we were happier in those good old days that we were less dog-eat-dog so that the pack would all get fed?

      'Give away to the rich and punish the poor for the extravagance.....crazy' --LaFeminista

      by MsGrin on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 04:43:07 PM PDT

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      •  I think we have to recognize that we will (2+ / 0-)
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        Democrats Ramshield, MsGrin

        always be at a disadvantage because we are trying to appeal to peoples' hopes. The Republicans unabashedly prey on the most basic fears.

        Hope is powerful, but fear stops us in our tracks.

        I think even people who never lived in those good old days have a certain sense of nostalgia. Our tendency to be driven by our fears is also one of the factors which compels us to be social animals. I think most people do want a less dog-eat-dog world, they do a little extra snarling just so they aren't the ones who get bit.

        In some ways the power really does rest with us. Not to go all Jerry Springer, but if we can just be a little bit kinder to each other than we think we need to         be . . .

        On a national scale we have to rely to some extent on our leaders, and we all know that some of them are the wrong tools for the job. Too many peddle a mix of fear and greed and resentment designed to keep us separated. Our best revenge is to refuse to drink it. I wish there was some quick and easy way for us to take that poisonous potion away from every ones' lips. If there is I don't know of it.

        Although I think people can sense that something is just "off" many may not have enough direct experience to know how the world can be. Like someone who has only eaten commercially grown produce tasting their first fresh fruit or veggie straight from a real garden. Just like them, when people see how things can be I think it would be hard to go back to the same old same old.

        It's not strictly political, maybe part of "the purpose of life" is to find ways to make exactly these kinds of improvements.

        An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out? Rene Descartes

        by Had Enough Right Wing BS on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 07:49:34 PM PDT

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        •  Thanks for the comment (2+ / 0-)
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          MsGrin, Had Enough Right Wing BS

          sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

          by Democrats Ramshield on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 08:18:14 PM PDT

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        •  Beautifully said, thank you (1+ / 0-)
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          Had Enough Right Wing BS

          I needed that input this week.

          'Give away to the rich and punish the poor for the extravagance.....crazy' --LaFeminista

          by MsGrin on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 08:48:39 PM PDT

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        •  I would say that the expression (2+ / 0-)

          that "the US is trying to appeal to people's hope" is an understatetment.

          If you ask me I think it's more like they use it clearly to manipulate people and gain profit from it. This constant selling "the American Dream", the frequent reminder that "if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything in this country" is plain awful to my ears.

          Selling the "American exceptionalism" (just watch MSNBC's ad from Chris Matthews how he sells American exceptionalism bragging and padding the Americans on their shoulders for having put a black man in the White House - I don't know if it's just me, but my stomach aches if I listen to it, may be I am overly sensitive to use Obama's race for anything, but I absolutely can't stand that ad).

          Another thing which gets on my nerves is that Americans never question their own "great ideas" like the one that argues immigration is the best thing that can happen to America and that it's their open arm immigration policies that "makes America as great a nation as it is".

          You know most "immigrants" came either by force or by dire need to escape extreme poverty or extreme political persecution. All the immigrant groups had to suffer in one way or another exploitation of their labor and underwent some form of cultural imperialism with the intent to make the newcomer a real American so that they "could make it in Amerca and achieve their dream". Of course as an immigrant whose livelyhood is dependent on the host, you start singing to the choir and internalize that arguement over the years (if happen to make some progress in this country). Who dares to questions American exceptionalism if you are a poor guy from out of nowhere?  

          Sometimes I want to answer,  if a well-meaning and well-to-do American says how wonderful this melting pot is and how great that country has become because of their immigrants: "Why don't you do your dirty jobs and hard work on your own instead of using cheap labor of impoverished immigrants or instead of buying "intelligence" of engineers and scientists from abroad?"  But one doesn't say that, it's so rude.

          We will see how great the US really is when the white middle class has to work their fields and pick vegetables for the hourly rates they pay their immigrants.

          Sorry for the rant. The reason for why I seldom comment in Democrat Ramshields diaries is that if I would speak my mind the bitter words come out faster than the sweeter ones. And that of course is no good - neither for me nor for you.

          •  mimi bus. librarian advocate intellectual freedom (1+ / 0-)
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            Had Enough Right Wing BS

            I encourage you to practice if you would please your unrestricted intellectual freedom . You're obviously a very experienced person and your background that you bring to bear adds value to our discussion here. So I ask and encourage you to please liberally give as your conscience directs. Too many people give into the pressure of social niceties to practice self-censorship.

            Certainly outspoken Tea Party members on the other side of the fence do not give into that type of restraint. If we are to successfully compete with them in public spaces and in public dialog, then we must engage fully, because all forms of censorship from the perspective of a business librarian are counter to the practice of intellectual freedom.

            Business librarians are trained in the public discourse of business related issues to always support and encourage intellectual freedom, therefore if I may please I would humbly like to encourage you and other readers, such as yourself to please consider giving, as this promotes not only intellectual freedom but it adds value to the public discourse. As always I find myself to be quite grateful for your support and the support of the other readers. As without your support efforts of citizen journalism like this one would fail, and to that end I do continue to be grateful for the level of support that I enjoy at the Kos. I'd just like to also thank you and the other readers for extending yourself to provide such cogent commentary, as this will certainly add value to all of our lives.  

            sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

            by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 03:46:13 AM PDT

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            •  Thank you DR, but frankly I feel uncomfortable (1+ / 0-)
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              Had Enough Right Wing BS

              commenting here much and being asked (or encouraged by your messages) to do so.

              I have read all of your diaries, I think, (and I follow you since a long time) and you make the same valuable and correct points in each of your diaries in an almost repetitive manner. For those Americans, who don't know anything about countries outside the US, your diaries are very valuable and might trigger a lot of discussion.

              I, though, don't want to discuss them, because I compared the US and the little bit I know from my home country in Europe my whole life and it is an unhealthy way to keep my mind busy and often turns out negatively on my mental well-bing to do so over and over.

              So, I would rather be understood as someone who would not be asked (even if so politely asked as you do it) to comment.  You are extremely polite and without a doubt professional in your way to encourage participation in your specific diary series. I just don't feel comfortable with it.

              Hopefully you do understand. I tried to express myself clear and hopefully polite enough. I have learned that it doesn't help to compare countries other than to learn that different people find different solutions (or not) to their social and political problems.

              I search for something positive to do to support those policies in the US I would like to see implemented. Thinking about Europe isn't doing it for me.

              •  Mimi, I know your comment was drected at DR, but (1+ / 0-)
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                mimi

                I hope you will continue to share your perspective. You seem very perceptive and have vastly broader experiences than I (for example) do.

                I understand it may be uncomfortable, and don't think you should feel obligated. I do appreciate whatever level of commenting works for you, though.

                Your insights are valuable to me.

                An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out? Rene Descartes

                by Had Enough Right Wing BS on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 11:34:41 AM PDT

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                •  I am a bit sorry for my answer to DR (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Had Enough Right Wing BS

                  but it reflects the truth. I easily approach the cliff to depression and dwelling in comparisons is not good for me. I always hope one day I find some outlet in my activities to support and fight for social policies I consider the right ones like public health care, public campaign finance, overhaul of the electoral college and more.

                  So far I found my day-time job so demanding that it actually prevent me from having enough strength in me to become an activist or join others from whom I could learn.

                  And I like your sig ... see I want to be an optimist and get rid of the pessimist shadow that follows me around... :-)  

                  •  I could have easily written this: (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    mimi
                    So far I found my day-time job so demanding that it actually prevent me from having enough strength in me to become an activist or join others from whom I could learn.

                    And probably many others here as well feel the same way. One of the best things about Daily Kos is that none of us has to do the work alone. We all have to find our own pace. I wish I could be more involved, too.

                    I dare say, even people whose day-time job is government or activism often wish they could do more. It sounds trite, but we can accomplish much more together than any of us could alone.

                    I haven't used Daily Kos very long but I see it less as a solution than as a very good starting point. Information and links I get here can help me use the time I have better than if I tried to start working completely on my own.

                    I don't expect you to comment or compare or anything if it makes you feel bad, but I really like your "voice."

                    An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out? Rene Descartes

                    by Had Enough Right Wing BS on Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 04:38:55 AM PDT

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          •  You make some important points, just as the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mimi

            diarist has. I'm afraid I often write without precision. The "we" I was referring to when I said, "we are trying to appeal to peoples' hopes" are progressives/liberals/Democrats.

            The United States absolutely has a record of abusing many, and allowing the exploitation of more. The "boot strap" adage and claims of "American exceptionalism" are used like Marx's famous opiates of the masses, to dull our awareness. As Democrats Ramshield points out we don't need to go back in history at all to find truly monstrous treatment.

            Denying history, or the present reality for that matter, is foolish. We are not prisoners either of the past or what now is, except as we choose to be, though.

            I have always found it strange that some of the most important things we might say or think about can tend to sound maudlin, while belligerent nonsense can come off as bold. Sometimes when I might consider an idea trite I have to ask myself if it is so basic why is it not more common. Then again I know I have a tendency to focus too much on what the future can be, and this risks ignoring truths so many can't wish away.

            It is all too easy to imagine falling through the social safety net and finding myself, as the diarist describes, in our modern day equivalent of work houses. Like some Ebeneezer Scrooge, I guess I try to make my peace by framing things in a comfortable (for me) way. Fleeing to the future as I want it to be I risk abandoning those who don't have the freedom to do the same.

            An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out? Rene Descartes

            by Had Enough Right Wing BS on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 04:06:33 AM PDT

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