The Original American Dream Was Not About Getting Rich
This week, the British royal family welcomed its newest member, when Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a baby boy.
And while the baby boy may not realize it now, he’s been born into a family of extraordinary wealth and status.
While their positions are mostly ceremonial today, Prince William, Kate and the rest of the British royals still represent nobility, the same nobility that our founding fathers fought to escape from nearly 250 years ago.
When George Washington and the rest of our nation’s founding fathers first stepped foot on American soil, their wealth was nothing compared to that of European royalty.
In fact, America didn’t have a millionaire until the middle of the George Washington administration.
Our nation was formed because our founding fathers wanted to escape the clutches of British royalty and nobility, and build a nation that was free to govern itself and thrive on its own, without royal dictatorship.
That’s why, time and time again, there have been efforts made to control royalty and nobility in America. From Lincoln’s land-grant colleges, to Roosevelt and Taft’s trust-busting, and FDR’s new deal, the goal of America has always been to ensure that everyone has an equal chance at living a happy and comfortable life.
In fact, while the Mitt Romney’s and Donald Trump’s of the world – who each inherited millions from daddy - may argue otherwise, the real American Dream isn’t about being a billionaire business man or mega-rich oil tycoon. It’s about being a part of a flourishing middle-class, which allows you to live comfortably your entire life until you die.
And, for many years, Americans thrived under this vision of the American Dream. Forty years ago, a strong and stable middle-class was a reality in our country.
But everything changed when Reagan came to Washington, and as a result, nobility is alive and well in the United States.
According to the Pew Research Center , in 1971, 61% of all American households fell under the “middle class” designation. Today, that number is 51%. And, right now, 35 percent of U.S. households live on $35,000 or less each year.
So, as the middle-class in America continues to shrink, it should come as no surprise that a new study out by The New York Times reveals that American children have very little chance of climbing out of the social and economic class that they’re born into.
Or, in other words, social mobility in America is non-existent.
According to the NYT study, a third of Americans studied who grew up in the top 1 percent made $100,000 by the age of 30.
Only 1 out of every 25 Americans who grew up in the bottom half of America’s income distribution was making the same amount at the same age.
Meanwhile, as social and economic mobility have decreased, income inequality has skyrocketed.
Income inequality has increased in nearly every state in our country over the past three decades, thanks largely in part to the fact that incomes for the wealthiest 20 percent of Americans are eight times greater than those at the bottom 20 percent.
Like it or not, the very nobility that our founding fathers fought to free themselves from has re-emerged in America today. Much like Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries, America is now the land of the haves and the have-nots.
We need to rebuild the middle-class in America, and we need to do it right now.
That starts by keeping good jobs right here in America, and bringing back the jobs that we shipped overseas.
At the same time, we need to restrain corporate monopolies, and prevent giant transnational corporations from having too much control and too much power.
Next, we need to continue working to remove money from politics, and take away the influence that billionaires have on our democratic process.
And, we can’t possibly hope to have a strong middle-class again if we don’t roll back the Reagan tax cuts, so the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share to help support and bolster the American economy.
Every American deserves the right to be successful, and the right to be able to live comfortably for their entire life.