“It’s time to retire the American Dream,” writes The Washington Post’s Robert J. Samuelson, “. . . to drop it from our national conversation.”
Not so fast. The ability to stand on one’s own two feet, to make a living and a life for oneself and one’s family, to be financially and otherwise independent — that dream is still absolutely relevant.
And should be achievable beginning from any station in adulthood.
Samuelson is correct, though, to worry that the dream is becoming “an informal entitlement.” The “pathways to the Dream” constructed by government “often led to dead ends.”
“True, homeownership is a laudable goal; it stabilizes neighborhoods, for example,” he writes. “But the promotion went overboard. Lax lending standards lured people into buying homes they could not afford, contributing to the 2007-09 financial crisis.”
Samuelson also thinks that “it made sense to subsidize loans allowing more students to go to college” because a college degree “meant better jobs,” but recognizes that the cost of college shot higher and many students ended up “with heavy debts and no degree.”
So you see where the problem really lies. As Henry David Thoreau wrote a century and a half ago, “The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way.”
The American Dream isn’t to have government fulfill all our dreams. It has a more modest role.
Making our dreams come true is our job.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.