September 22, 2010
BUT OBAMA DIDN’T ANSWER THE QUESTION: Indiana Law Grad Asks President Obama: ‘Is the American Dream Dead for Me?’
UPDATE: Reader David Shorrosh emails:
I think the notion of the American Dream needs to be recalibrated — especially the whole question of whether your kids will be better off than you.
The standard-of-living floor has risen so much over the past 60 years or so that it’s difficult to quantify an increase, or to set realistic expectations. It’s kind of like my grandmother who passed away at 93 — as I got older I told her I was jealous of the advancements she witnessed, from seeing her first car while riding in a horse-drawn cart to indoor plumbing to the moon landings, and that I didn’t think anyone outside of her generation will ever see such a radical change. My father immigrated from the middle east and his arrival to the US may as well have been to another planet.
Given that past and the fact that the “poor” in this country have microwave ovens, cable TV and cell phones, and technological advances seem focused on laptops and phones, what does an increased standard of living look like anymore and how does that translate to thoughtful and achievable “American dream”?
This will be a critical concept as we try to pull ourselves out of this financial mess.
Hmm. Well, we could focus on whether our kids are more free than we were . . . .
MORE: From the comments: “Obama Lied: the Economy Died.”
Plus, reader Herbert Jacobi writes with a less humorous take:
One problem is both the left and the right have denigrated the value (and the people) who do blue collar work for the last 40 years. You can make a good living being a plumber, or electrician, auto-mechanic, etc. It’s honest and honorable work. You don’t have to go to college, but you do have to be trained. The days of the shade tree mechanic are more or less over. Probably you can blame the EPA for most of that. When was the last time you changed your own oil? I know a couple of people who still do it but almost everyone use to do it.
It ties back to your running comments on (modern) men not knowing very many useful home skills. Look at the popularity of “Shop class as Soulcraft” by Matthew B. Crawford. (http://www.amazon.com/Shop-Class-Soulcraft-Inquiry-Value/dp/1594202230) A book like that would not have been written in prior to the 1970’s. There has been a relentless push to get everyone to go to college regardless of aptitude or inclination. And to take shop classes out of high school and junior high. I wonder how many of todays students have shop where they get to use band saws and table top saws. My guess is not many.
People who choose to work with their hands are looked down upon by the chattering classes. It use to be that getting into college was hard. Now it’s just expensive. Getting into a post-college profession was even harder. People were impressed if someone went to college. And even more so if they went on to become a lawyer or doctor.
If everyone goes to college and then went to law school would you be impressed to meet a lawyer?