Analysis Of The American Dream

Submitted By David-Odusanya
Words: 1973
Pages: 8

David Odusanya
FS 101 Section 38
Paper 2

For this final draft I cleaned up many of the loose edges which made my first draft weak. I cleaned up the language and properly cited sources while also giving new and more useful information and taking out less reliable information. I made the essay leaner and more streamlined without changing the punch the paper gave originally.

In the HBO television show The Newsroom, main character Will McAvoy has a stream of consciousness and expresses his thoughts on why America is not the greatest country in the world. He closes the speech by saying “the first step to solving any problem is recognizing that there is one, America is not the greatest country in the world anymore”. This closing statement achieves its objective and eloquently sheds light onto the fact that America is not what it once was; great. One thing that gave America its prowess was it socioeconomic mobility. The country our grandparents and parents lived in gave the promise that if its citizen were honest and worked hard they would be justly rewarded. This promise slowly became what is known as the American Dream. In the 21st century the American Dream is dead. The wealth gap in America has made the dream that hard work and honesty will allow one to earn enough no longer exists in today’s society.
Wealth disparity and its effects on society as a whole can be a difficult idea to understand, making it important to ground this idea in a concrete way. A way to do this is to simplify life down to a one hundred meter race. In an ideal society everyone starts the race on the official start line however this is not the case when it comes to wealth. To be born into a wealthy family is to be born with a ten meter head start. Not only does being born wealthy give a person a head start but also gives a person the nicest running spikes while everyone else is left to run with plain old running shoes. The wealthy have a clear head start. The head start the wealthy have and maintain is at the cost of all the other runners. This is where a problem occurs. Amongst economist it is widely accepted that allowing the wealthy to have a slight start is important to maintain a healthy economy, but if this head start becomes too great the economy will collapse. The latter is the problem we face today. The wealthy have systematically concentrated money and power for themselves making it increasingly difficult for those in the middle and lower classes to experience socioeconomic growth. To fully understand what this means, it is important to examine what the characteristics of income inequality. John Locke was correct in his belief that every person deserves the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of property and it is important that this belief is open to all.
In order to have a cohesive understanding on what wealth disparity is and its effect on socioeconomic growth a question must be asked: how wealthy are the rich? According to Edward Wolff, the top twenty percent of Americans have approximately eighty percent of the national wealth. Also, the top one percent have approximately forty percent of the national wealth. Furthermore, this same one percent also makes a little less than a quarter of national income as well as controlling approximately fifty percent of all stocks, bonds and mutual funds. (qt. in Gilson) It was recently released that the average CEO makes three hundred and eighty times more than their average employee. (Liberto) According to Emmanuel Saez’s and Thomas Piketty’s study on income inequality also showed a startling fact that the wealthiest 160,000 families own as much wealth as the poorest 24 million families. (Piketty Saez 4) Along with having vast sums of money the wealth are also living a better lifestyle. According to William Domhoff children of wealthy families attend the best schools, get extra help, and have opportunities to work at top companies thanks to family or schooling connections. On average