Who Stole the American Dream?

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Stole-American-Dream-Hedrick-Smith makes it clear the theft began at the behest of Lewis Powell of the famed Powell memo.That's when business set out to buy the government, and succeeded. They write the laws themselves, manipulate election laws themselves, supply the machines themselves. Even develop new markets for themselves. Drug testing was an early victory for the cabal. Reagan signed it, the courts approved it, and now a multi billion dollar industry thrives based on usurption of a constitutional right.

The author might be a good guest for Thom's Great Thinkers segment

Now Smith takes us across America to show how seismic changes, sparked by a sequence of landmark political and economic decisions, have transformed America. As only a veteran reporter can, Smith fits the puzzle together, starting with Lewis Powell’s provocative memo that triggered a political rebellion that dramatically altered the landscape of power from then until today.

This is a book full of surprises and revelations—the accidental beginnings of the 401(k) plan, with disastrous economic consequences for many; the major policy changes that began under Jimmy Carter; how the New Economy disrupted America’s engine of shared prosperity, the “virtuous circle” of growth, and how America lost the title of “Land of Opportunity.” Smith documents the transfer of $6 trillion in middle-class wealth from homeowners to banks even before the housing boom went bust, and how the U.S. policy tilt favoring the rich is stunting America’s economic growth.

This book is essential reading for all of us who want to understand America today, or why average Americans are struggling to keep afloat. Smith reveals how pivotal laws and policies were altered while the public wasn’t looking, how Congress often ignores public opinion, why moderate politicians got shoved to the sidelines, and how Wall Street often wins politically by hiring over 1,400 former government officials as lobbyists.

Smith talks to a wide range of people, telling the stories of Americans high and low. From political leaders such as Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and Martin Luther King, Jr., to CEOs such as Al Dunlap, Bob Galvin, and Andy Grove, to heartland Middle Americans such as airline mechanic Pat O’Neill, software systems manager Kristine Serrano, small businessman John Terboss, and subcontractor Eliseo Guardado, Smith puts a human face on how middle-class America and the American Dream have been undermined.

This magnificent work of history and reportage is filled with the penetrating insights, provocative discoveries, and the great empathy of a master journalist. Finally, Smith offers ideas for restoring America’s great promise and reclaiming the American Dream.
Read the prologue to see the beginning of the cancer that killed America. Fascism with a nice flag lapel pin I suppose is alright for some.

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douglaslee
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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

A dream is just that, a dream, not reality. You can't steal a dream but you can alter it. Dreams are from the subconcience of the mind and the "American" dream comes from the subconcience mind of the nation. When we as a nation begin to change the perceptions of what the perfect life is, the American dream changes with it. We have changed dramatically as a nation over the last 50 years and it only makes sense that the American dream has changed drastically as well.

The American dream now seems to be a good paying job, lifelong healthcare, more free time with family, and an I phone.

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Bush_Wacker
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Jun. 25, 2011 6:53 am

Hardball: Who stole the American dream?

Chris Matthews talks to Hedrick Smith about his new book, “Who Stole the American Dream?”

program date: 11/16/12

http://video.ca.msn.com/watch/video/who-stole-the-american-dream/17ylpuq7t

miksilvr
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Jul. 7, 2011 11:13 am

Like the American Dream, I have the hope that my children and my children's children will be able to live happy, truthful, and productive lives with minimal negative effects from the junk that my generation is srewing: pollution, war, and nonsensical economics/politics.

It can be summed up in part of the poem "Ullyses" by Tennyson:

For though we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are. One equal temper of heroic hearts made weak by time and fate, but strong in will, to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 3:57 pm
Quote Bush_Wacker:

A dream is just that, a dream, not reality. You can't steal a dream but you can alter it. Dreams are from the subconcience of the mind and the "American" dream comes from the subconcience mind of the nation. When we as a nation begin to change the perceptions of what the perfect life is, the American dream changes with it. We have changed dramatically as a nation over the last 50 years and it only makes sense that the American dream has changed drastically as well.

The American dream now seems to be a good paying job, lifelong healthcare, more free time with family, and an I phone.

Probably the new dream won't be as far-reaching. The dream of living in a house instead of a cardboard box and having something to eat for dinne might replace it. The nightmare will be attempting to do that just as it was in Argentina when they allowed corporate/financial rule to come to the fore.

60% of the population became destitue and 80% of the nation's children malnourished. Argentines finally rose up and threw the neo-liberal fools out of office. Their Pres.resigned and fled the capitol in a helicopter. I suppose that's better than being hung from the national flag pole.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote polycarp2:
Quote Bush_Wacker:

A dream is just that, a dream, not reality. You can't steal a dream but you can alter it. Dreams are from the subconcience of the mind and the "American" dream comes from the subconcience mind of the nation. When we as a nation begin to change the perceptions of what the perfect life is, the American dream changes with it. We have changed dramatically as a nation over the last 50 years and it only makes sense that the American dream has changed drastically as well.

The American dream now seems to be a good paying job, lifelong healthcare, more free time with family, and an I phone.

Probably the new dream won't be as far-reaching. The dream of living in a house instead of a cardboard box and having something to eat for dinne might replace it. The nightmare will be attempting to do that just as it was in Argentina when they allowed corporate/financial rule to come to the fore.

60% of the population became destitue and 80% of the nation's children malnourished. Argentines finally rose up and threw the neo-liberal fools out of office. Their Pres.resigned and fled the capitol in a helicopter. I suppose that's better than being hung from the national flag pole.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

In act two, the workers of the Argentine factories that had been thrown out of their jobs as the capitalists closed the doors and fled broke into the factories and reopened them as co-ops. The workers became the owners. No more capitalists. Just workers sharing the responsibilities and benefits and rewards amongst themselves.

"The Take" (1/9) #Occupy-Factories Success!: Argentina's "Occupy" against Fascism #OWS #occupy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMnUkOB4fIE

miksilvr
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Jul. 7, 2011 11:13 am

Something companies with successful brand name products ought to consider is an ESOP to get 51% ownership in the employees' hands. Bain vultures are always circling.

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Argentina underwent a total economic collapse by following the U.S. model. A once wealthy country was immersed into poverty. In a large country like the U.S., it takes longer.

After the collapse, Argentina implimented laws allowing for worker take-over of idle facilities....to claim ownership and re-open factories where the work had been outsourced. The U.S. doesn't have a legal structure allowing for it.

I found it interesting that under the new model, one doesn't earn millions while another earns just enough to live in a hovel. In the worker-run facilities, wages are equal.

New social/economic models being implimented and experimented with through-out So. America are pretty fascinating. Of course, it took millions taking to the streets to start new beginnings in the nation's that have overthrown the neo-liberalism advocated by the U.S. at home and abroad. They voted in the streets and occupations. The world's first occupiers weren't in Wall Street parks.

Neo-liberalism has always led to mass destitution wherever it's been applied. We won't be an exception to that. We're just a larger, wealthier country. It takes longer for the results manifested in So. America and So. Europe to become manifest in the U.S.

So. America is showing there is a way out of increasing poverty and bankrupt governments when enough people demand it. Kudos to Argentina for renouncing its bankster and corporate policy generated debts. So. Europe and the U.S. ought to do the same.

When Argentina renounced neo-liberal policy, its economic growth quickly surpassed even that of China. The nation recovered.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

The "Dream" of Enlightenment Liberalism was that authoritarian structures were not required and that human beings could be free in fact from the feudal assumptions about political and economic 'realism.' It is about being a self-governing people rather than a ruled and subdued population. It is about the broad and inclusive participation in power of morally equal human beings to assert the authority of the society over its social institutions. Democracy is how society establishes, organizes and holds accountable "the State," and along with the State, democracy is how society holds other "public institutions" accountable to its social good. It applies to the Law, to Medicine, to Education and how the communications and transportation infrastructure is to serve the people. Commerce is also bound by its need to serve the social good to operate. It has no independent right to rule even if it has a sovereignty of function upon which its authority depends.

The point is that there was a "dream" about power coming up from the people instead of down from heaven. I think it is more a vision than an illusion, and no matter how naive or wrapped in nationalist and racist mythologies, the idea has moral merit compared to the record of tyranny and despotism.

Nonetheless, there is a very interesting argument about "freedom" in the middle of a review of Alan Ryan's "On Politics," a big review of the history of Western Philosophy as reviewed by Adam Kirsch in the Oct. 29/Nov. 9 New Yorker. The division is between the very well administrated and adjudicated Persian Empire and the tulmultous Greek Democracy of Athens. The question of "freedom" divides between having a great government that offers both protection from harm and help in times of need run by an elite or having the will of the people lead you astray into the disasters of the Peloponnesian War pits good government and "freedom" from fears, wants and unmet needs against participation in power and the risk of disaster.

While I am not lured into the idea that dynasties either die or are not nasty, I think populism needs to be more than a mob with no civic culture or identity. The image of good government where people can be secure in their persons and homes, where there will be a good response to human needs and where they are free to enjoy "what matters" instead of having to worry about what could go wrong, is needed if we want to embrace freedom. Otherwise, what we get will be nasty and will not last long.

Rather than despise and disparage "the American Dream," I would like to rescue its humanity and decency from "the American Century." There has been a legitimate tussle between the Plutocrats and the Workers, between the Blue Noses and the Blue Collars, about what the Dream is really all about. The Gatsby or Horation Alger debate on the value of the prize aside, there is a big popular following for the up from the bottom, "only in America" image of HP and Bill Gates beginning in garages, etc. The reality of American class and social mobility is contrary to this image of opportunity.

The Union image of the American Dream is Middle Class economic independence. It is not about great wealth, but it is about sufficient disposable income to enjoy life. I think that is a distinction worth reviving, and I believe we can build upon elements of "the Dream" when we run it through the Pledge of Allegiance filter.

drc2
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Apr. 26, 2012 11:15 am

Lipstick on a pig. American transnational corporations look for every advantage to increase their short term bottom line and often turn to psychology. All ads have their psychological elements and appeal to feelings. The American dream was re-invented by marketing psychologists and sociologists with corporate profits as the end goal. This is a brave new one world order where hype is played up and substance is downplayed.

We've been told that we are the land of the free and home of the brave and Americans are exceptional and many still believe that. Our manufacturing excellence in the world pertains mainly to weapons. We don't even make a chainsaw that any self-respecting logger would buy; a chainsaw is a two cycle motor with a centrifugal clutch. We don't make cameras or electronic equipment, but we make smart bombs. Our society was re-engineered to transfer wealth ever upward to the global rulers who just also happen to rule over America. The primitive, myopic, self-centered, fear motivated reptilian mind stole the American dream.

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Choco
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

drc2's New Yorker reference

Then as Choco mentioned, the transfer upward persists and can be seen in the different wealthy classes. The west coast wealthy [hollywood] vote democrat, the east coast [wallstreet] vote republcan. The difference can be traced to where their wealth comes from. The west coast wealthy make something that needs to be purchased [entertainment] by a consumer class. Without consumers they fail. The east coast makes nothing, they need no american consumers, they are the feudal lords of the 21st century.The American people are obsolete for this elite crowd.

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Probably the dream started disapapearing when the we society began changing over to the me society.

Those who achieved the dream were convinced they'd save a bundle if the stuctures put in place to make the dream possible were dismantled.

Uncle Ronnie was the beginning of that. His biggest accomplice from the other side of the aisle was Bill Clinton. He did more to dismantle the New Deal than any Republican could dare do.

The current twit in the White House is merely mopping up what remains to the cheers of his supporters..

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Poly and Choco, not to dispute the points you make about the American Dream motif, but think of this as a much better historical drama where Obama does represent the American Dream in a deeply ironic interplay of success and failure. Obama is both the realization of the American Dream and the revealer of its tragedy. Here is Camelot without the extracuricular sex and glam, more like Father Knows Best than the end of White America. As Chris Rock let us know, Obama is the White Man America Needs Now.

Whose Hope and Change stuff would get laughed out of AA. Only if we want to. Only when we have faced what has gotten in this mess. Obama lets us know that the problem is not Obama, not who we elect to be President. (Given the narrow range of choice). If we had more choices, the problem would already be solved. Nope, Obama lets us know that there ain't gonna' be no savior rising up to make us free.

If you want to go back to the immigrant lure to America and what mythic and land sales con men visions brought the desperate and the ambitious to these shores, you have to appreciate a lot more than what Americans have thought about America. In the early days, "land of opportunity" was no hollow claim, although opportunism might be more accurate. If you ignore the genocide, the lure of virtually free land was no small thing. If you appreciate the racism, you can see how the Dream avoided any discouraging words.

I still have a soft spot in my heart for democracy and governing ourselves to avoid being ruled over by others who are not qualified because nobody is. I like the inclusive vision of universal freedom and justice, and, as an American, I will add the experience of people who have come here to recreate themselves to a tradition and dream of expanding inclusion and global humanity. We do not have a unifying religious culture or ethnic identity. We are working out some interesting stuff that seems to have something to do with the human future.

All this makes the New Rome and the bullshit economy more heretical to anything worth having as an American Dream.

drc2
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Apr. 26, 2012 11:15 am
We do not have a unifying religious culture or ethnic identity. We are working out some interesting stuff that seems to have something to do with the human future.
The unifying thread that permeates the decision makers is profit. Specifically profit at all costs. The assault weapons and high capacity magazines are high profit margin products. The self defense ruse doesn't even get questioned. The war in Iraq was a high profit margin operation for the MIComplex, the supply chains of Halliburton [no conflict of interest there mr VP and CEO of Halliburton] The simplest and quickest way for a high profit is destruction. Chainsaw Al Dunlap saw the Sunbeam price skyrocket after the termination of 60% of the work force. Quick return, high return, low tax, all without any semblance of managerial skills or product knowledge, and certainly not customer service.

The 6 and 7 year olds lost this week should be a national tragedy. However, the 20 sacrificed to the profit whore, likely won't be the final score.

The tears shed in marketing conference rooms are because they lost 20 customers

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

My point is that it does "get questioned" as we live in denial and narcissism. The facts are not on that side, so keeping reality from crashing ideology becomes a desperate struggle, undermining what makes ideology attractive. Of course, fighting the last battle for God against the Infidels attracts some.

When our stories reflect more of a peasant or street perspective they reveal power and princes as human and ironic. When it is every little girl wants to be a princess, yukkk. When it is the girl from the kitchen pulling the rug of pretense out from under those with rank and title, we all love it. Particularly small people.

Of course our public media is full of the same level of sincerity and depth as the commercial santa ads. But, this is still the season where Dickens is not turned inside out with that moocher Tiny Tim and his union actiist goon Dad living with Welfare Mom. There is still a story of peasant uprising from a birth in a manger that all the King's men and horses could not stop.

When the New Rome and its minions cannot control the world as if they were gods, watching the threads wear thin on the Emperor's New Clothes becomes a new seasonal favorite. The harder it is to intimidate believers into believing, the more strident and cultish it will be. As I said earlier, we don't have to minimize or trivialize the grief about Sandy Hook to connect that to drone victims.

drc2
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Apr. 26, 2012 11:15 am

"They call it the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it." George Carlin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acLW1vFO-2Q

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norske
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I took the opportunity to click on a few other George Carlin links as well. This is one very funny truth-teller. Thanks!

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Currently Chatting

The world we're leaving for today's teens...

Without immediate global action on climate change, today's teenagers will be forced to live with the consequences of our inaction. The World Bank has issued their third report of climate change, and it says that global temperatures could rise by as much as 4 degrees Celsius by the time today's teens hit their 80th birthday.

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