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A New American Dream?

It was James Truslow Adams who first coined the term "The American Dream" in his book THE EPIC OF AMERICA written in 1931. He writes that the American dream is:

"...that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.

It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."

But Barbara Ehrenreich, who has lived, worked and fought along side low-wage workers has witnessed the growing disparity of wages between the rich and poor. The hopes and dreams of many of the workers she's been hearing from seem to differ from the definition above. Says Ehrenreich:

"There was one woman who said something to me that was so poignant. Speaking of her hopes for the future, she said, 'My big wish would be to have a job which if I missed work one day, like for a child home sick or something, I would still be able to buy groceries for the next day.' And I thought, yeah, that's quite a hope."

How would you define the American Dream?

  • Has it changed for you over time?
  • Do you think your children or even your grandchildren will define it the same way?

    Photo: Robin Holland


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    Comments

    Hello Bill is only me again... a question for Barack... like to know if the US Government is ....
    AL-QAEDA?.. If Africa, Asia,South America and the United States go Communist don't blame him. Barack Obama is not responsible for famines the U.S., Asia, or epidemics in Africa. It's not his fault the average of American earns in this time and age... $7.00/10.00 per hour and the South American 0.75 a day. All he will do is predict the consequences. That a population living in misery will turn to COMMUNISM as a way out. Unless something is done to alleviate these conditions. But the countries themselves don't have the economic resources to make these changes. The United Nations doesn't. Even the United States doesn't.
    They need the help of world industry. Particulary China and the U.S. Industry is an ideal position to do this. It can deal directly with the people of a country. It can change their lives in a way no Government can.
    A government need to increase production, raise wages, hired doctors, nurses, teachers; expand schools; built clubhouses; hospitals, provide FREE MADICAL AND DENTAL care and MEDICINES at no cost; financed housing loans and help set up cooperative stores. And then the people joined in. They rebuilt their own homes, paid for their own teachers, built and operate their own store and, in effect, revitalized the whole country.
    Imagine this kind of success multiplied by tens of thousands of companies all over the United States, Asia, Africa and South America?...
    The deeds of industry may well be as important as the gospel of evil "democracy".
    best regards, gil mendozza for the windham community coalition.

    a transcript: Mr.Moyers...humm... yes we america's are very gillible and stupid! we should be up in arms screaming and fighting, where are the JANE FONDA'S of today?... Our parties are corrupt, our congress is corrupt and my good friend... our president has became CORRUPTED. You see Barack was an ANTI-WAR now he's a WARMONGER!!! who in hell in brainwashing him?.. we need a revolution an American revolution of the hard working American People... we need a new party; we hard working American's need to united together for a particular purpose, to protect our homes for foreclosure, to protect our jobs... to be able to put food in our tables etc, etc... you see our Vice President Gufy Baiden... trying to convence Barack not to do his Health Care Reform... Barack was able to passed one but very infested with Doctors, Insurance and Drug Companies... Anyways the time is near we America's need a NEW PARTY LIKE SOCIALISM OR COMMUNISM.
    my best regards, gil

    Sick'em Mouvinon,,,,
    Love the post!

    The American Dream simply stated is happiness and whatever that means to each individual.

    And poor CJ, with the time to read but nothing to contribute ,has neither a life nor a dream. It is not your fault entirely, CJ. Our materialist system indoctrinates on the "Big dog model": if you can't have sex with it, eat it, drink it, get high on it or torture it; then, piss on it."
    As much as some of us wish for better, this blog is as wecome as a kerosine heater in an abandoned rowhouse, the last place left to warm our minds. CJ, I sit now in a wrecker near the NJT, laptop plugged in the lighter, scanner in my ear, flying off the WiFi from the radio shack, and wondering if you have any inspiration at all.

    YOu people have no life

    The American Dream has lost all moral values. Originally the American Dream encompassed not necessarily equal opportunities but any opportunity what so ever no matter how large or small. People were appreciative of any small chance, not every life change had to be their “big break.” People were grateful for being able to comfortably get by in life. Now a days, greed has consumed our society, and we want more, more, and more. To many a six figure income is no longer satisfactory. People believe fulfilling the American dream concludes with living like royalty. Our society has lost all of its moral values and along with that the American dream has withered away in to a greedy self fulfilling prophecy. The American dream is constantly changing and my opinion is that its not for the better.

    Everyone has their own "American Dream." Everyone has high hopes for the future because they want a better life as an adult than they did as a child. Some people want to re-write their childhood because they want to forget their bad momories. Some people have big goals like making millions or having a family. I think that everyone has their own views of the future and they want to make the best of their lifestyle.

    The American dream is not a static vision that apparently is also constant across wealth classes. It's an aspiration that anyone, no matter the background can believe in. Personally, the American dream hasn't changed for me since I immigrated to the USA in 2002 but it is significant - it's living modestly, and making sure that the life I lead influences in a good way more than the resources I consume. Of course, I was brought up that way, to be economical and to be able to help the planet in whichever way that's accessible. That will obviously change for my own children and grandchildren, when conservation will perhaps outweigh most other considerations. The America they will live in will be different, and so will the fundamental base for the "American Dream".

    Through out the history of the United States the American Dream has constantly changed. In the beginning it was a dream of escape. Before and During the revolution it was for freedom from oppression. Next came the American Dream in going west. The next American dream was split between 2 oppossing forces one for the freedom of a new nation and one of keeping a united and anti slavery dream. After that came the American dream of a free silver economy. 1920s the dream was to live it large and lavishly. the 30s to survive and find some money. 40s to win a war. 50s everyone is happy. 60s an anti vietnam era dream. 70s music and parties. 2000s for an anti inflationary economy

    The only reason my family moved to America was for my education, not money or social status. My parents had a decent job,but they gave that up for my quality education that they thought America had. But i realized that getting a good education doesn't accomplish everything.
    America is not as perfect as i hoped it to be, because inflation in here is worse than the one in my home country. Living is harder than before so, it is harder to pursue my dream. My children will not have the same dream as me because they will grow up here since they are born here.They won't go through the same problems as i did, so their American dream will be completely different from mine.

    The American dream is an opinion based on the happenings of the time. No two American dreams are the same, everyone is different and so is there opinion of freedom and the American dream

    it definately has changed over the years. some women now are the dominiant providers in the familys people are finally learning to embrace differences and not looking at them as flaws.

    its definatley going to change by time my grandchildren are talking about the american dream. theres a lot of things that are going to change, maybe by then the american dream wont be a perfect family with the dog and the nice cars and the platnium blonde hair to die for.

    As a student, I may sound a bit optimistic, but it seems to me that the American dream is satisfaction, be it personal or shared. Sure the government may have the nation constricted with taxes and regulations, the military are ordered to invade foreign countries, and corperations treat their employees like crap, but I still beleive that it is possible to glean some happiness from the nation we live in. At one point the typical American dream was a two story townhouse with a white picket fence. I think that the fence still exists, but now it exists to keep out the world, and to preserve the happiness that each person has gained for themselves. I hope our granchildren have a much different view of the world than some of commenters here.

    The American Dream has changed over time, although it still has many of the same aspects that it did back in the day.
    For example, back in the day, which was a Wednesday by the way, the American Dream was like the movie Pleasantville. It was the white picket fence type of life where the father was the breadwinner and the mother was the housewife who had dinner ready on the table by the time the father got home. The kids were respectful and naive to sexuality. The dream consisted of having a family like this as well as being financially stable and, most importantly, happy.
    Today it is slightly different. Being financially stable is still an important piece for example. Views on how children should behave have relaxed.

    The American dream has definitely changed in the 18 years I have been alive. It does not mean the same as it did in 1989. Times have changed since back in the day, which was a Wednesday by the way. Back on that Wednesday, the world was not so tangled into electronic devices such as computers, iPods, Playstation/Xbox, etc. Life was much simpler. It also seemed simpler to me because I was a little kid. I think I could leave a much better and meaningful comment if I was older.

    The american dream in my opinion is to get rich. During my childhood years the american dream was to have a happy life. To live it up and not take anything seriously. And one day, I realized that happiness does not happen as easy as it sounds. To have that life in america requires money, thus the american dream is money. Money controls the world, the media has warped our views of the american dream so that we think the only way to achieve happiness is by buying materials.

    I do think that the american dream should be providing people with better jobs and oppurtunities even though this isnt true for some people. I think that the "American Dream" will always be viewed differently depending on who the person is and how there life is. My children in the future will probably have a different interpretation of the american dream because who knows what life will be like for them, when that time comes.

    I believe the American Dream is to find happiness. True happiness must be strove or even fought for. What has is gotten easy is not worth having. What a person gets has real worth when blood, sweat, and tears is put into the process of attaining it. I thought the American Dream was to make as much money as one could before you die. Now I feel that a family that loves you is more important than any amount of money. I hope my children and grandchildren have the same dream to continue my legacy and search for happiness but I can't promise this. Technology, politics and media will change over time and this may affect how my descendents act. No one American Dream is the same.

    In my opinion, the American Dream is controled by money. If not all then most of the American public is ran through the cosumption of material things. It has changed over time because instead of family traditions and ordeals, we find ourselves lost in this world ran by greed. I can only hope that my kids will be raised well enough by me to make it in this cutthroat world.

    C.R.E.A.M - ya dig.

    The American dream constantly changes in response to the times, and is not applicable to everyone. The American Dream is not real, but rather a visible focal point for people to rally to, to give people hope to get through the day. i never really had an "American Dream", and i doubt anyone can adequately describe the American dream. i mean a REAL intellectual statement, not just spouting regurgitated drivel that we were taught.

    I would just like to tell all the people that scoff at our great country, or say that the american dream is a lie, that they can talk to every american veteran that sacrificed for this country to fight for freedom, and that the God that blessed this nation will smite all those who are not loyal to lady liberty and uncle sam. these people have no idea the efforts made by american servicemen and woman is godforsaken places, in order for these neo-liberal grass roots pansies to turn a blind eye to their efforts.

    Ok but seriously, the american dream is in the eye of the beholder. It is always changing in unison with the rest of the world, and there is no way that my children / grandchildren will define it the same way. I believe that the progress of a society must be judged by its poorest inhabitants, because a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

    The American Dream is constantly changing its definition, with the growing and expanding economy and ever changing generations. It has most recently changed towards making money, not being happy. It used to be about being happy with your family, and now a days people are only after money, and dont care what they have to do to get it.

    The American Dream is a term that seems to change from generation to generation. It seems to have evolved from the ideals of family in the mid-20th century to wealth in the late 20th century with the tech boom. It seems as though every era in American history has had a different definition and that is fine.

    What scares me however is te fact that the current generation doesn't seem to have a clear sense of an American Dream. We have become nothing more than the "whatever generation." To me it seems that the technological tools that have revolutionized our world's communication have ironically served to disconnect the current generation from reality and eachother. I feel as though the need for a purpose and dream have been replaced with the false sense of purpose that myspace and facebook have created for millions of teens.

    The new generation needs to reach out and claim their own piece of the American Dream, not sit by idly and expect it to be served to them.

    The American Dream is different for everyone. This is because everyone is born into a life with different opportunities. The goal for a person in a low socio-economic situation is to survive, whereas the goal for somone born into a wealthy life is to earn more money.

    The American Dream is definatly one of the hardest things to describe because it is percieved differently by everyone. It can be as ideal or as unrealistic as one can want. I feel that the true American Dream is the ideal lifestyle that a citizen wants to have in this land. Whether it is obtainable or not is not a question since, in the end, its a "dream". For our children and grandchildren, the dream will most likely be comletely altered. The outcome of what happens in the world in the next twenty or so years will dictate if America will fall, or become an even greater nation. Only after this will the American Dream be altered.

    The American Dream for me is the dream of a “promised” land where everyone is living prosperous lives with great determination and hard work. This has not changed for me over time as I’m a firm believer that everyone who has passion for something and works hard for it should live this “American Dream”.

    Unfortunately, the “American Dream” is becoming more or less so like wishful thinking. This is in part due to the US government not serving the interests of the hard-working US citizens. Furthermore, US corporations have become more corrupt and more interested into making greater profits at the cost of firing their poor hard-working employees. I’m not saying that capitalism is a bad thing. Actually, capitalism is a great system if the government performs daily checks against corrupt corporations like Enron. However, today, this is unfortunately not the case with our current functioning capitalist system. Take a look at the housing market for example. Because investment banks saw a great investment opportunity in the housing market, they along with the Federal Reserve created a big housing bubble, much like the dotcom bubble back in the mid-1990s. To make greater profits, many of the banks lend risky sub-prime loans. To make matters worse, many of these risky loan offers were to poor US citizens with a bad credit history. Thanks to the housing bubble caused mainly by greedy US corporations, now many Americans are without homes and forced to make foreclosures while many employees in US investment banks firms such as Bears Sterns have lost their jobs as a result of this. My fellow bloggers, it’s about time that we as Americans take action against these greedy US corporations and demand the government to make dramatic changes in our capitalist system.

    I admit, I have many things yet to learn as I’m only eighteen years old. However, I do plan in the future to get married and have children of my own. I truly worry about my future children as they will have the same “American Dream” as I did back then only to find that dream only to later find that dream to be a mere unattainable “myth”.

    My idea of the American Dream is similar to the one defined in the '30s. I want a political/social system where I am free to accomplish what I know I can do, and live at a standard that is above paycheck to paycheck.

    My Cousin lives in Portland and he did well in school. He got good grades and graduated from college in four years. He lives, for the most part, from month to month, paycheck to paycheck. His mother is the same way. I don't want to suddenly realize at 35 that all of the preparation and work I did in highschool and college was to work in a JC Penny's five days a week or be a floor manager at a Big 5.

    If that's all I have to look forward to, if that's all that will result from my work, then the American Dream is dead; we as a society have killed it.

    For the past 18 years I've only been able to uphold minimum wage jobs and I still live with my parents. But people in my generation think that it is the age of inheiritance and because of this, no one is motivated to get a job after college or even take college seriously. Any socioeconomical issues that hold people back from achieving the American Dream can only be traced back to the people themselves. Stop sitting around and complaining and do something already instead of wasting away the years of your life you have left. Some people do start out easier than others or start life with certain advantages but its just their luck and if those people use it to build upon it, than no one can hold that against them. If one is born into poverty, they have no choice but to try harder if they want to achieve. As far as politics go, why don't the people show up and vote if they want change. I do agree that our government system is a little skewed, but the truth is it always has been. If people want to change things in society, they should get involved in political issues and see past the media or at least learn to read between the lines. It's too easy to sit there and complain without even trying, and that has recently become a commonplace in American values. My main concern is that everyone is losing that spark of determination, and I don't know how we can get it back.

    I have studied the American Dream for many years in the classroom, however I never had a firm grasp on it's definition. Obviously most people would just say "oh it's to become rich and stuff." For me, thats a little too vague. After reading the passage Adams wrote, I was given a whole new meaning to the American Dream. He explicity states that the American dream is "the basis of stature of which they are innately capable of being. And that they are recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."

    I feel that this is fantastic defintion of the American Dream because it is different for each and every person. Unfortunately that is all it is, a dream. Most people feel that the definition of the American Dream has changed because in today's society it isn't attainable on the basis of which it is defined. However it never was completely attainable. People will always be judged on factors other than purely their character, that is life.

    The definition of the American Dream has not changed nor do I believe it ever will.

    When thinking of the American Dream.... people want to be in the American dream owning the biggest house the fanciest car having the best looks, everyone cant have it no one will. People with the biggest houses and the best looks and the fanciest cars are not always happy just look around being happy and enjoying life is awarding in its self. I think being happy and loving life is the American dream or every dream.

    The American Dream now seems the same as the 1930's in a way because how people are happy with their lives. The American Dream will always have different points of views, though. In a comment above their was one person who just talks about how they just want to make enough money to buy food for their family and now we want more. We want to have enough money to get what we want such as fashion, food, ect. IT's a dream where once you are where you want there are no worries you are stable in life.

    The American Dream is the perfect utopia that one may dream of constantly. One always dreams of this perfect world, but it is what the term means, a dream. Very few lucky people ever get to achieve their American Dream. Universally it represents a stable life with a steady cash flow, food, and perhaps luxuries.
    For example, an illegal immigrant may simply want a small apartment, a job, and a steady living. This might be different from somone of an affluent nature who may simply want more luxuries, a larger house, and various others possibilities.
    With the recent actions of various governments around the world, what is the American Dream? Censorship runs rampant, people are oppressed, and freedoms are currently retricted. In some places where the American Dream is dreamt, these problems are not apparent, and therefore the American Dream is different for these people.
    Everyone views the American Dream as something different, and it’s almost impossible to define. It’ll change throughout time, and with the evolution of ourselves and our lives, the Dream will adjust to the changes in our lives.

    i agree with you ROBBIE ROBINSON, the american dream is beautiful.

    I believe the American Dream is the ability to pursue whatever one wants without being hindered or judged. The goals of the individual may vary from one person to another, but the dream is to be able to pursue these goals and hopefully achieve them in an accommodating environment.

    In general, I don’t think the dream has changed over time. We still want to be able to achieve our goals, but the focus of the dream changes. During the baby boom, the stereotypical dream was to have a house, white picket fence, two children, a dog, and a green lawn greener than that of your neighbor’s. As we have progressed technologically, our goals have changed, but the dream is still to achieve these goals.

    I believe my children and grandchildren will follow in my footsteps while their goals may be different.

    I think that the american dream has changed and will always change. The American Dream is life liberty and the persuit of happiness, It might be cheesy but that is the answer, to live and to be free. To search for what makes you happy. Which can almost seem like a neverending task. Some for which might be unstable, but for others thier will reach thier goal and be happy. The best way to achieve that is to not ask for so much and just be happy with what you have. Again sorry for the cheeseyness but That is my vision for the merican dream an i think everyone can participate in this dream there are no limits.

    Ultimately I think the American Dream is happiness, with each person having different goals in order to reach their dream. I think that for people who are living a harder life, their dream is for peace and equality and they know that hard work will result in their happiness. People who are living a more luxurious life wish for more material objects to make them feel happier, even though owning expensive things will never really fulfill their dream for happiness.

    What is the definition of the American Dream?
    I think, in today's age/era, the American Dream has continued to be successful and happy family. However, I think it has evolved to be secured today.

    Has it changed for you over time?
    Yes, since I was younger, events such as the terrorists attacks, the Iraq War, and George Bush has happened. That has changed the American Dream immensley.

    Do you think your children or even your grandchildren will define it the same way?
    People have been defining our generation as the generation to determine not only the future of the U.S., but the future of the world. So, i definitiley think that our children and grandchildren's world will be so much different and right now, their American Dream cannot be predicted.

    Over the course of the last 100 years, the "American Dream" has climbed the mountain, only to come back down again. Many advancements were made for workers with underpaying jobs. New medicines were made available and as technology increased, so did means of accessing it. However, at the turn of the century, the Dream has wavered. Never has there been such a wide gap between the rich and poor. With prices of gasoline and food at record highs, people across the country are being faced with the choice of choosing between the two. Some are not able to afford their houses anymore with their budgets shrinking. The Dream as we know it is beginning to fail, and a change is needed to save it before it is to late.

    I feel like the american dream is not about the world benefiting, but rather about individuals who want to get ahead and create a better life for themselves. Kind of like every man for himself. Today, I would describe the american dream as going to colledge and getting an education. Get a well paying job, get married, buy a nice house and car, have kids and call it a day, or should i say life.

    As i am about to graduate from highschool, i am feeling as if going to colledge is an obligation rather then a choice. I HAVE to go to colledge and get an education. Sometimes i feel myself wanting something more, or different then the 'american dream'.

    1. Well, I will go for positive. Since many major events had been occured such as industrial revolutions, civil war, or World War 1 and 2, American dream, if they call, should be change; value or perspective of generation become more flexible. Not only perspectives but also the things that society expect from the one individual also has been changed such as we do not expect one girl to be just become a housewife. Further more, the name of fair opportunity for every man has been changed as well. For example, we do not give a legal right or permission to work in this country to everyone.

    2. Yes, I believe that the "American Dream" will definately change over and over as the generation changes. Similar to it has been changed, it should be more flexible or somewhat restrictive. As the society becomes more advanced or former, there should be less chance to "lower class", who has relatively lower wealth, to skyrocket to higher class. So, the "Amercian Dream" will change over and over.

    Today I think the American Dream is freedom, and economic stability. Everyone is looking for a stable, well paying job and many are praying for the safe return of the soldiers whether they believe in the war or not. A dream is defined as something as beauty, charm, or excellence.
    The Constitution is up in flames? How can you say that and not support that with any facts at all?
    While I may not support the Bush Admin, i would not call them tyrants at all, you must be so used to this american freedom you aren't even thinking before you type. Move to Africa, where there are tyrants who are ok with civil wars and the killing of innocent children, or Cuba, where the Castros won't get out of office and then tell me Bush and Cheney are tyrants. Idiots maybe, but not tyrants.
    "Only you can be the change you wish to see in the world"
    If you want something done, get up and do it.

    The American dream has definitly changed over time. We have gone from graduating high school and living in the cookie cutter 50s, to getting into college and the gas guzzler cars and soccer moms of today. Every generation has a unique american dream.

    I think that James Truslow Adams idea of the american dream is a better version of todays. Today i believe that the american dream is more about owning things than everyone having a better life.

    How would you define the American Dream?

    I would define the stereotypical American dream as coming from nothing, and working hard to move up in society.


    Has it changed for you over time?

    The American dream has changed overtime. The idea of working hard to elevate your social status is not as prevalent as it used to be.

    Do you think your children or even your grandchildren will define it the same way?
    No, because the "American Dream" is contantly changing.

    Today in my opinion, the American dream is sought out to be who has more money and power, such that they could get anything that they fancy. In today’s American dream it is leading more towards a materialistic living and society. Yet the American dream is still prominent in the majorities mind as a large estate with a wife and kids, people still have different ideals about the dream. This is because of the fact that everyone has a different set of morals causing the dream to be slightly different, if not at all different.

    The American dream has changed over time as more job oppurtunities have arised. Which is why people from other countries seek to come to this country. They have freedom over their lives and can choose to succeed or fail in their new lives in this country.

    The American Dream is living a successful life and not having to live paycheck to paycheck, but living comfortably in a decent home with an acceptable life. Truslow says that the dream is of social order and that people want to attain what they are capable of getting. This idea is probably not widely accepted by most people because not all people are capable of attaining an enjoyable life. Some people are not capable of getting a job that will pay enough to live decently and those people would want more than just what they are capable of attaining. The American dream is more about equality of people and distribution of resources so everyone can live comfortably. All most people want is just enough to live and to be successful, whatever that means to them. However, it does differ between different people, other people may have their own idea of the American Dream

    The dream has not changed for me over time. To me it is becoming successful and being able to live a decent lifestyle, but I do not need anything too excessive and the dream is not about material items to me, but about not having to worry about expenditures and income.

    I think my children and grandchildren will define it the same way because overall the dream should not change, in general all most people should want is just enough. There are people who want material things and want to be billionaires in order to buy as much as they can, but these people just use the items to fill something missing in their life, if there was no hole, all the would want is just enough as well.

    In my opinion, the American Dream means the ability to pursue our wildest aspirations without fear of failure because, in the U.S., anything is possible. Often times, people neglect the unfortunate in our society due to the fact that we tend to focus on the people who have achieved great success; at the same time, individuals in our society work hard to improve the quality of life for the people who have not attained what they set out to attain.
    Over time, the common perception of the American Dream as having everything you want and having individuals cater to your every whim seems to become more and more unreasonable. Whether illusion or reality, the class divide seems to be exponentially expanding as a result; the rich are becoming richer, and the poor are falling into an ever deep abyss of poverty.
    In my lifetime, I do not believe that the idea of the American Dream has changed significantly. I believe this correlates directly with advancing technological capabilities; as technology allows us to do more, we begin to believe that we can advances ourselves as well.
    I believe that generational changes have the most significant impact on the changing perception of the American Dream. The ideal in the next generation (my children) will probably be even more unrealistic than it is today; similarly, my grandchildren will probably live in world where there aspirations would seem ludicrous and delusional to us.

    While the American dream in the early 1900’s was to come to American and gain social and religious freedom, the “American Dream” in today’s society has changed drastically. Because in the past, immigrants to American have achieved success by striking it rich in the “land of opportunity,” this belief has echoed into our culture today.
    Many people come to America from poorer countries because they believe that America can grant them many opportunities that they would not receive otherwise. They know that they can get high paying jobs and earn a lot of money, as long as they work hard at it. Because America has so many welfare laws and guidelines, it ensures all people working in America minimum wage and some type of insurance.

    I would define the American dream as working at a job that you enjoy, and having a comfortable income. It also means being together with someone that you love and having children that you love. It also means having lots of friends and family that you keep in touch with. Travelling to places you like, doing the things you like to do, owning a house that you love, and driving the car you have always wanted are parts of the American dream as well.

    1. No; not really. I have always felt that way about the American dream.

    2. Probably not, but they should. Times change, but that doesn't mean that traditional American values change. I believe in the American of today, and the one that my ancestors came to.

    This is very interesting. With everything that we are dealing with in terms of immigration laws, this blog is very relevent. America is indeed the land of oppurtunity for those who are willing and able to take advantage of such a thriving society. With regards to the comment the author made, it isn't right to have to choose between work and taking care of your children. We should not live in a world of paranoia, frightened that any wrong move could potentially be the loss of one's job.

    i think the american dream is really cool. people come from all over the world to have a chance at the american dream. Our nation is made up of immigrants who came to america for vatious reasons. i would define it as an opportunity for all. America is a place where you can reach your full potential. I think that future generations will see the amercian dream the same way. And why shouldn't they, they should be given the opportunity to be all they can be as well.

    Has it changed for you over time?

    I feel that the American Dream has changed over time. Over every decade there is a different situation that occurs. For example during the 40s the American Dream was peace, due to the war going on. However in the 70s, the American Dream was incerased influence in the Womens movement, and the civil rights movement. As you can see the American Dream is continuously changing.

    Do you think your children or even your grandchildren will define it the same way?

    No, the American Dream is continously changing. We are always facing new dilemas, and in the future we will not be concerned about the same things that we are concerned about as of right now.

    How would you define the American Dream?
    The American Dream is the idea that life will be better and more enriching to everyone. People would be given opportunities making everyone as equals. The American Dream is not materialistic. Its not the idea that you can have what you want. Its more about your life and how it can be the best it can be.
    Has it changed for you over time?

    It has definitely changed over time. In the past people wanted the perfect family, the clothes the car the riches. Now, because of our diverse country and realistic ideas, people just want opportunities that they can’t normally get.

    Do you think your children or even your grandchildren will define it the same way?

    I don’t think our children or even our grandchildren will define it the same way. The idea of the American Dream is constantly shifting.

    I feel like the American Dream is dead for my generation. Our country is stuck in a war that feels endless. Gas prices are steadily rising, today I heard that the prediction is gas will be $8 a gallon this summer, that's nearly minimum wage.

    The American Dream is supposed to be all about how anyone can work hard and move up the social ladder but it's getting harder and harder to move up that ladder. There's so much pressure on young people today to go to college and get a degree so we can get a good job. But with the cost of college and the ridiculous competition it's like an impossible battle if you're not already part of the upper class.

    I don't think my generation is entirely hopeless but I don't think we're as optomistic as past generations either. I hope that my children and grandchildren have a better dream than my generation, something more hopeful than now.

    The american dream has changed numerous times over the years. I think that it is also very different depending on your religious beliefs and cultural background. I dont think that it is fair to distinctly define what the american dream is or should be. However, for at typical middle class american I would guess that their view of the american dream is health, prosperity, family, and a steady place in society. I think that the standards of today are MUCH lower than stardards of Americans in the past. We are settling for much less today.

    i believe the american dream is different for every person. everybody is different and raised from different cultural values. the american dream has already changed a ton in the last 50 years. i think today everyone is more about materialistic stuff and we are loosing the lower class. i definately think that the american dream will be totally different for my children and even more my grandchildren...

    I believe the American Dream comes down to the fulfillment you feel in your life. To some people, it relates to monetary situations, but to others it can be the effect you believe you make on the world. This dream changes for each person over time, depending on how the individual views their role in society. Future generations will relay similar ideas or beliefs, but their American Dreams will be shaped by the culture they are engulfed in.

    I believe the American Dream is different for everyone. Everyone strives for something different. An immigrant wants to come to American to strive for a better life for themselves and their families but other people strive to be rich want all the expensive items but others dont strive for that.

    To me the american dream boils down to just one thing....happiness. Throughout the decades when certain "goals" have changed creating new definitions of the "american dream", it really just redefines what is needed to be happy in that time. That is really everyone concerns. They truely believe that if they obtain certain thingssociety deems desirable they will be happy. So really the american dream is just dreaming of happiness and will change in detail but not the basic idea of it.

    I think the American Dream is about what we can get out of our system for our personal enrichment. If get what we want easy, thats the American Dream.

    I believe the American Dream is different depending on your social class and what kind of community you grew up in. If grew up in a wealthy household your dream is going to be different then someone who grows up in a run down community. Future generations will experience a lot more change and will decipher the american dream in a different manner.

    Reading through this artical, it is really interesting to hear what people have to say about the American Dream.

    The dream changes depending on what people want. People's wants change as their situation changes.

    The dream changes depending on what people want. People's wants change as their situation changes.

    The American Dream is based on the idea that greater educational and employment opportunities will allow each generation to achieve more than their parents. Unfortunately, for far too many young people, this dream is slipping out of reach. If current economic trends continue, it is likely that for the first time in modern American history the younger generation will have a lower standard of living than their parents. This is a national tragedy that must be addressed. Unfortunately, instead of working to remedy this problem, the Bush-Cheney Administration is making a bad situation worse.

    The American Dream is complicated, or is it? In today's society few people even consider the next person - and don't care as long as they get whatever materialistic life they desire. We have built a country that is no longer ethical. Everyone feels entitled to lie, steal, cheat, and manipulate in order to chase after their idea of the American Dream. In other words, they actually feel entitled to the dream - and collateral damage along the way is not considered. What a world!

    "Nickled and Dimed" just has to be a hit musical; the title song brought tears to my eyes. Due to difficult circumstances, since the Reagan era my life has followed the course Ms. Ehrenreich experienced, with accompanying improvements actually measured in nickels and dimes. To truly appreciate the agony of such workers, add on the responsibilities of a parent, and a single parent at that, given that is the condition of very many of our low paid workers in this day. The best observation I heard in this excellent interview was that every job requires great skill, intelligence, energy.

    There was one benefit to this ordeal - best expressed by the following quotation from Lao-tse:

    "He who knows he has enough - is rich."

    Those who make do on very little are the real life of this planet.

    I now watch as my son, burdened by college debt, attempts to gain the skills necessary to join a renewable energy work force that so far does not exist. With my approval he turned down lucrative weapons lab employment - I am so proud of him.

    On that 'memorable person' poll, I vote for Barbara also. Talk about the silent majority - she certainly speaks for us.

    I like old Barbara Ehrenreich and have read "Nickled and Dimed" and "Bait and Switch." People criticize her participant observer research approach, but it is a good way to confirm American's commonality of experience. I worked in survey research and I know how people tend to inflate their well-being and optimism out of pride. No one brags about layoff or foreclosure. You see them with a USDA food card in the grocery or their name appears for unpaid property taxes in the newspaper. I appreciate her work and feel her income from her books and speaking engagements is deserved.

    Recently though she has criticized Hillary Clinton for membership in a Senate prayer circle. While the Clinton machine is a dirty campaigner, and Hillary can be a fibber, I do not think this is a valid criticism. Stating the facts of the prayer group would be a better approach. To condemn a candidate due to association with Republicans is to assume that no Republican has empathy for others or any redeeming ideas. I prefer to think that two party partisanship is contrived and artificial, that both are corrupt and nearly useless.
    Both Barbara E. and I like Obama, but I will not know if I can vote for him until the election day comes. It would benefit any voter to remain skeptical of their preferred candidate, since our elections offer no assurance that campaign promises will be implemented. I think we need more than 2 or 3 parties. This is a big nation of great diversity. If anyone should realize this it is Barbara E. Girl, keep your eyes open and don't put all your eggs in one Barack Obama (basket). I thought you were a pragmatic feminist: I thought you were a smart shopper: I thought you were better than that.

    I hope that you have good friends. If not make them.

    I don't understand why you stayed in that situation when you were a teenager. There are people who could have helped you.

    Get going, E. There's a new life waiting for you out there.
    Best wishes.

    For a long time I've been wanting to comment on social and economic changes taking place in the U.S. during the past 50 or so years.

    I realize that there many converging issues that create a "perfect storm," but the one issue I rarely hear about is race. Not race in the normal sense, because much has indeed changed, and for the better, during the past 50 years. But the social-economic game has also been shuffled around. I frequently like to liken the situation to a skyscraper. At one time the building had ten floors and certain groups of people were not allowed even entrance into the building. Then we had WWII and had to affect a certain degree of social change for the better at home. No longer could we block certain groups of people from entering that building, but while they have been allowed entrance, building owners and investors went busily to work adding ten additional floors to the building. So now everyone is allowed entrance, but those original ten floors are now labyrinthine in their ability to obfuscate, cloud, divert, etc. the individual in her pursuit of social and economic security. And, it seems, in some strange way the tremendous effort required to navigate that ten-floor maze actually funds the construction of the ten additional (and adding) floors. It is like a giant shell game where the real issues at stake are hidden from view, hidden so that achieving a real sense of individual economic and social security is more difficult to attain than it was 40 or so years ago.

    I'm reminded of all this whenever I see some of the fabulous programming on PBS that looks at the current trends in corporate irresponsibility, whether it is insurance companies refusing to honor policies, school systems being unaware of their true purpose in assisting this shell game, even with all their rhetoric to "standards," or a housing market that exploits the mythic pursuit of the American Dream.

    I can't help thinking that race, and this country's inability and/or reluctance to see and understand its subtle effects, is a profound impetus for the growing trend in "inequity" in this country.

    Thank you, PBS, and especially Bill Moyers, for insightful investigation into this brewing "perfect storm."

    I posted a response to the issue of the "American Dream" on my site on Facebook, and I feel quite passionate about what I said. However, I do not know how to get that post from Facebook to this blog. Please let me know!
    Thanks!
    Felicia

    We recorded the Journal with Barbara Ehrenreich and watched it last night. Mr. Moyers asked her about her most recent book celebrating joy. My wife said, "The rich get rich and the poor get poorer; in the meantime, in between time, ain't we got fun? I tought that summarized the class divisions and the search for joy.

    The censorship on this site is too tight. I have tried to post two times regarding Impeachment of the president and Vice president . There was nothing in either paragraph that warranted censorship. The fact that his happened only corroborates my sentiment that the US is no longer a democracy and freedom of speech is no more.

    I referred to this story in my latest blog post, "How to Solve the Health Care Crisis in 30 Days". I hope you like my spin on the subject.

    the dream changes with time passing

    Lee Jankowsi,

    you are spot on.

    The 1931 dream is as good a definition of the American dream now as it was then. Why change a beautiful dream? However, we have fallen away from realizing this dream both politically and socially. If we all would work to realize this dream for all Americans, then all Americans would have an equality under our Flag that would mean something to each of us and to the world. It's why immigrants continue to flock to our shores and have for over a century now. BUT. We have to bring this dream to fruition by our actions and we're not.

    Now the inequality in america is referring tome as this is about the low-jobs and the unmployment rate. My reaction to this is that these people have to work 3-4 jobs to get paid and to have all of their lexury. Its really saddened to see that they have to struggle got get what they wanted. The government is doing nothing about and some candidates see it and wants to do something about it but nothing. The song "Nickels & Dimes" told me other than their payment that is is life: boring struggling life and we cant have a good life. That these people end up working for hours and hours to take care of their living expensives and children. I feel really sorry for them. I see it in my school,stores, and everywhere around. I might not understand what Barara was saying., but does how life is when you are stuggling to get where you want in life. They have to work all day and they have no time for anything. This is what my mother went through went she was working and going to college. She work in nursing at serveral hopsitals and she want money to support me and my brother. She has accomplesed that. She spends and makes more money than my father does. It seems like this is how life is. I like the song:"Nickles & Dimes" even though it has a catchy tune. The record deal should put this song in an Albam to tell everybody the importance of it. I wonder is this how life is for me and others forever?

    How would you define the American Dream?

    The American Dream for me is a human, universal dream. It doesn't pertain just to "America."

    But I would define "my" American Dream as the following:
    - four day work week
    - a single-payer healthcare system guaranteeing access to healthcare for every American citizen
    - FREE, universal schooling and education. BAN PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES
    - A government that has as its focus, the PUBLIC INTEREST and not that of any "private interest"
    - A minimum wage that always rises every year
    - GREED does not exist
    - Humans are angels

    Has it changed for you over time?

    No. My conception of the American dream has not changed one bit and I've been a dreamer some 40 years now. But what has changed is how my dream never seems to get any closer to reality.

    In America, people live to work and don't work to live. The working/labor class have been scapegoated so badly that their influence has diminished and we do have the makings of a new Gilded Age where the rich become obscenely rich and the poor experience even greater disenfranchisement and sink into penury.
    It is the role of capitalism to generate wealth. It is the role of government to distribute it.

    Let us consider getting back to the rule of "Law"...
    The Constitution...

    Liberty and freedom for all may just be what the doctor ordered...

    Could somebody explain to me how is this country better off when the present day robber barons of wall street can buy a company with their only goal being to fire over 800 people from good paying jobs. WHY?. So that they can add to their already enormous fortunes.No attention is paid to the damage they do to an area's economy or the effect on the lives of these poor victims.the irony I see in all this is that our government istead of curtailing the practise ,is acually encouraging it by letting these same robber barons pay only capital gains taxes on their ill gotten gains

    How would you define the American Dream?
    I believe the "American Dream" is an idea that holds the future as a place where all people are created equal, we can all afford to take time off without any repercussions, and we are completely safe in our environment. I think this is the one thing that unites all Americans, what separates us is how we get there, and unfortunately who gets stepped on while getting there.


    Has it changed for you over time?
    I don't believe so, I still believe it's possible. I thought we where on our way, but I think over the last few years we have stumbled.


    Do you think your children or even your grandchildren will define it the same way?
    Yes I do, and I hope that they will see it. I hope they will look back on my generation and say, "that was a turning point" that helped people become free and informed again!

    I advocate for people who go through domestic violence. I have noticed that woman are more often the victim when violence is present.

    In my experience the violence comes from a lack of equality in the relationship and this equality is most common in the area of finances. Most of the women have lower paying jobs( women in general make 75 cents to a mans' dollar in the same work environment), or no job at all and when conflict arises they do not have the resources in order to bargin their position and value in relationship, so they are not respected by the wealthier mate.

    This is a smaller version of corporate power struggles with the individual or organized union negotiations. Due to the weight of corporate finances compared to individual worker resources, the corporate people do not respect the individual worker and their situation when it comes time to negociate a workers' value at the discussion table. In this system wealth has the freedom to determine all other value.

    Which brings me to this system that permeates our individual and corporate lives. It is the value assigned people through their relationship with capital that decides their place in society. This has come to signify a persons self esteem as well as their social status, which both have become dependent on the resources an individual controls rather than seeing all individuals as having an innate societal respect.

    In my job I see women come in to the office without personal value in thier own eyes until they become employed. In this they see that society has given them a value by paying them money. They are now accepted by the system as carrying a certain amount of respect, they are necessary in the production system and in a capitalist society this is the first step towards being deserving of reward, (which means getting food, clothing, shelter, medical and educational needs met).

    at this point they seem to change and are said to have achieved self esteem or love and respect for oneself. Yet, all it takes is for them to lose this job and they fall back into a hole again. So I cannot beleive that being a part of the work force is equal to self esteem, personal love or respect as it truly should be defined. It is an illusion of value given without a depth of understanding or knowledge concerning the individual.

    We as Americans fail to value the depth of a person and their abilities and our systems of daily life mirror this flaw.

    Gaining employment or gaining wealth through any means is not truly equal to self esteem or individual will or wisdom. This truth is proven eveyday when an individual or group of individuals that form a corporation lose their ability to gain wealth and this failure will play out in other aspects of their lives in most if not all their personal relationships for example.

    I think it is time to address this situation in order to perceive society and one another, not for what we can get from one another or society or be given by another or society but for the depth of life that exists in us all that carries innate will and wisdom that is to be respected in all relationships.

    Otherwise we become products valued by a system we have no control over. when if anything is true, it is that the only thing we truly have power over is ourselves and how we see ourselves. We should never turn that over to anyone else for any reason or amount of money.

    Where did you get the data that the fastest growing job in the US a janitorial position? I saw that a recent Businessweek article cited only professional jobs as fastest growing. I would like to find your source data. Thank you.

    I think it's pointless to compare life in America today, with life in America 100 years ago.

    How about in my lifetime?

    When I was growing up, in the 50s and 60s, almost every public school I attended, and there were a lot, since my father was an officer in the military, was excellent, and was adequately to exceptionally funded. Today? Not by any stretch of the imagination. For many reasons, not the least of which is NCLB, I drive my youngest child to a charter school located 30 minutes from my home, and pledge over $2,000 a year to it so that it can provide my child with a basic education.

    Over the past 20 years, I have experienced my family's health insurance premiums skyrocket, while our coverage has been gradually eroded. Today, the only reason my husband and I carry health insurance is so that, when we go to a doctor, or to a clinic, or require treatment in a hospital or ER, we can answer "yes" to the question "Do you have health insurance?" Why? Because a "no" answer puts you in a position of being denied treatment.

    Even with our, what I consider to be expensive, coverage by a nationally known company, we pay for all of our doctor's office visits, drugs, diagnostic tests, and an alarming proportion of our hospital/ER costs out-of-pocket.

    My husband and I calculate that all of our financial advancements over the past 20 years have been taken over by our increased health care and energy costs (utilities for our home and business, and fuel for our personal and business vehicles.)

    While it's true that our children today do not contract polio, that we have access to information never before experienced on a mass level by human beings, and that the price of many goods we buy has decreased because of their being manufactured overseas at lower costs to the corporation and to the consumer, many of the basic indicators of basic quality of life are increasingly becoming out of our reach.

    So if I judge the quality of my life by the quantity of goods I am able to purchase that are now made in China, well, my life has improved. But if I judge the quality of my life by the quality of the public education available to our children and by the affordability of basic health care, well, we're on a downward spiral.

    To Katherin Harris

    You are a perfect example of one of the symptomatic problems in this county. You care more about grammar and spelling in a response area than actually trying to understand what is going on. I bet you are materialistic too.

    For the rest of you, I was forced to put up with my parents because they put up a good face to others and people don't want to believe that parents can be that cruel and selfish towards their childred. I do not think of my self as a victim, I still keep going but everyday I think why? The point is is that the problems we face are not to rest on one person or one presidency no matter who the president is. Expand your mind and point the finger at yourself. The work is not black and white and it is this type of thinking that leads us to be blind or in denile about the suffering that is going on.

    For those of you that having a job is not suffering than read my last post. When parent are trying to make ends meet social structer, honesty, integrity are lost. Insted we become more abusive, selfish, materialistic, fearful, defeated.

    I have lived all across the nation and I have personally witness this. People in NC still living with out electricity, plumbing. People everywhere that if they do buy a house can not afford to keep it up and living in ruin or run down houses causing illness.
    People still fly the confederate flag and can't think for themselves. Parents still out infecting their children's mind with closed thinking and not trying to teack their children to think for themselves. We breed hate.
    In NC their is still KKK organizations, lynchings, and cross burnings. But you do not hear about that on the news.
    The point is again that with over 6 billion people you have to think about the stuff you don't hear about or you tell your self silently isn't happening. I've been employed since I was 10. It is scary to not be employed and to hope that every month my GI bill money will show up, that my son still gets his SCHIP money because he has medical problems and perscription are a minimum of $700 a month just to keep him from being sick and going to the ER, also hoping to keep my food stamps. I know, I worked all those years, payed taxes, earned social security disability-I can't get, work for the military, and this is what I am left with. The reality is that if and when I finish school I won't make much more, my care will be 10yrs old and probably have to move. So a starting wage even with experience and being 35 with a degreee means less time with my son, higher day care bills, and more bills in general. It's no wonder people that are on "welfare or other assistance" stay on it. If you make $1 dollar to much you lose $100's more.

    So stop think about one person being the problem. It is more than that.

    Thank for the positive feedback from those of you that gave it. Remember their are many suffering silently all around. I was 5 when the sexually abuse started. I could tell my parents because they were already emotinoally and physically abusing me. Why because of money and jobs. Additionally I couldn't tell because my mom would loose her job if she didn't have a babysitter. This example of being trapped is what is really going on, why drug abuse is worse in failing economic cities where the middle class is wiped out. In cities now just to rent you have to prove 3-4 times the amount of rent in income. How can a single parent do that at minimum wage. So now you can't live in town or much less anywhere. Talk about a squezze out effect. I was debt free and a student and couldn't get an apartment until I basically paid six months upfront.

    Also the Dept of Ag who sets the poverty line every April only looks at household size when it to income brackets for assitance. So Dept of Human Services, WIC, and many other organizations that are there to help you make up the difference do not distinguish between a house of 2 where there is 2 adults that earn money and a house of 2 where it is only one adult and one child. A child can't go out and earn money. So many single parent homes go with out. This is one of the leading problems facing the economic downfall and social decline. More stess is being placed on families. And weather you like it or no just because a politician thinks a family should be a two parent family, the reality is that it is not. Families come in all different form. Why not (said politician) you tell an abuse child or spouse/parent that they should stay with someone that will abuse them until they murder them or they kill themselves. Or, maybe they should stay with someone that gambles their money away, plays on the computer all the time, is more involved in sports than their family. What you should be focusing on is increasing the economic health of families, tax code, and reducing the stess on people so that when they come home and that they do come home they aren't pissed up and wound up so tight trying to pay bill. This stess is what leads to abuse and finding outlets that I think on some level we could all agree take away from the lifting up a family. This crosses religious and cultural boundries. It affects us all.

    Halfway through reading the comments this Sunday morning, I came upon the following post. I had earlier commented on the agony of parents over their children in the current state of affairs - this post so eloquently tells of the hardships and extreme damage those children face. I have a child who experienced terrible things as this heroic person has done.

    I would like to thank her or him for this important post. It clearly expresses the damage in self esteem that has been inflicted upon so many of our children, and still what spirit they have!

    [quote]Posted by: lynn rhoten | August 4, 2007 03:03 AM

    Here's the thing. The people that should be in leadership that could make all the difference won't get there. Why? Because those of us that really grow up with hardship can't talk about it. The press and America really don't want honesty. They want someone to say it's okay. Everything will be better tomorrow. Isn't that what it really comes down to. America has no integrity or acutual honesty. I'm talking about the basic stuff. If your mad say your mad. You shouldn't be sued for it or told to be politically correct. Being 'PC' is a cop out. Anyone really got a friend out there that doesn't turn around and judge you behind you back. Hell, I'm 31 and my Step dad says he thinks he's better than me. He used to be a Scoutmaster, member of city council, and a rotarian. He lies about smoking to my mom, oh she's nothing to brag about either. The real thing is that as an adult they don't care to see me for who I have become. My brother and I were really good kids and stayed out of trouble, our parents were stricy. They were also selfish. Too busy partying in their 30 and 40 to realize that the babysitters kids were sexually molesting us. And I was raped when I was 19. My mom (who was in denile and still is because she was a social worker and she didn't have family problems. Oh and a social work really meanss an employment specialist)That why I went to school with bruises all the time and they tried to call me a runaway when I would put up with them beating me at age 16. No one that could do anything would help. And as a single parent in the military they wouldn't leave me alone. The military wouldn't tell them to leave me alone and when I don't return there phone calls I get some nasty messeges. They even tried to sue me for my son when I had done nothing wrong, from six states away, and at least the judge was prior military and saw through it. So ask yourself. Despite what I think about health care and the basic standard of living that is missing and other problems you wouldn't vote for me because I have experience life. You are a hypocrite America. The ones that need the most and can do the most are left to suffer siltently in shame waiting to die to be done with the humiliation and the lack of being "worth" being alive. And if you really think that these tradgeies don't happen, well my mom didn't know until I was 30 and even then she could on focus on herself. She materialistis too and as she made more money she was gone more and has become even more materialistic. She would rather look at her stuff than put pictures of her grandchildren on the wall of her new house. As for my step dad well I have no respect for him, he says he's better than me and can't let go of typical child behavior, calling me a liar, mom too, and this is the guy who lies about drinking, smoking, dipping. He also has two DUII. The sad thing is, I didn't have it as bad as many others unfourtunatly. And as the push increase to be gone from family, rely on schools and babysitter to be the family for our children they will suffer more for it. Parents are in denile, selfish. The thing is is that if we left consumerism behind, became the parents of our children again and refuse to put up with working to buy crap that we don't need for our children and to falsley convince ourselves that WE ARE FINE maybe we could turn this country, world around. We truely are selling our soles and our children's. So someone like me with this type of life would never make. People don't want to know the truth about what their selvishness and consumerism is really doing to everyone.. Employers,,,,my being sexually molested is just as much your fault as the one that did it, my family, and anyone else that ignored me. You would also be schoked to know that my mom sent someone to my house that I told her not to, she says that she didn't hear me tell her that he tried to rape me. And when I made a comment to my step dad as to what I thought of his nephew when I was a teenager, he promptley pulled off the road and beat me. He never asked why. And when I told my mom last year not even an apolgy. My step cousin had tried to rape me. Wake up America
    [/quote]

    Like the many other “bloggers” that have written to you, please accept my deepest thanks for creating a television series that actually helps me to understand the important and relevant issues of today. Your program is especially important as the once trusted news media is no longer viewed as an unbiased source of information looking out for the public good. Programs like yours are essential. Your program has introduced me to and has helped me to understand complex subjects that have a direct impact on my life. Often, these subjects are only given a brief mention on major news networks, with little or no attempt at giving the viewer a clear understanding of the subject matter. Today, I watched your program interview with Barbara Ehrin Reich. This lady was impressive in the way that she went about proving something that has been hinted at for several years. Her direct approach, a product of her scientific training, really hit home with me. It pains me to think that many of us, especially those in low paid service sector jobs are undergoing a slow financial strangulation. Your program made clear only what I vaguely suspected. I work in an environment where people do not reveal how much they make, but they do occasionally mention how tough it is to make ends meet – and these folks are all college graduates. Your interview with Ms Reich sheds light on how our way of life has changed and continues to change. I know that it is the result of many years of misguided public policy, public policy that holds the prosperity and well being of the powerful as more important than the prosperity and well-being of this nation’s people. When is our government going to realize that big corporations are multinational and hold no allegiance to a single government or its people? The interests of the United States do not necessarily coincide with the interests of large business, but should always coincide with the interests of the American people. As an American citizen, I have been very unhappy with the leadership of this nation for the last 6 years. It has not served the people of the United States. It seems to serve a different master and should be fired!

    For the woman who was a whistleblower you must go to your Congressperson. They can help you and re the age discrimination file a complaint with the EEOC and also tell your Congressperson.
    Best wishes.

    Dear E,

    Hang in there. It sounds like you should stay away from your parents. Don't despair. There is no reason why you can't be somebody, make something of yourself and even run for office. Many people have done it before you.

    I hope that you have good friends. If not make them.

    I don't understand why you stayed in that situation when you were a teenager. There are people who could have helped you.

    Get going, E. There's a new life waiting for you out there.
    Best wishes.

    I would like to continue to thank Bill for his real journalism. I would also like to thank Barbara for all of her fine journalistic research.

    But I am inclined to respond to a post by Timothy Hall. While he is right about the intellectual divide, he is mistaken about some other things.

    How do you explain the outsourcing of thousands of information technology jobs to third world countries like India and China? Certainly you are not implying that the I.T. field is devoid of educated and highly skilled technicians? Or are you forgetting that corporations have simply found it more convenient to say that they must compete with one another by seeking the lowest common wage earners that just happen to be citizens of countries that value education? And what about airline corporations that lay off thousands of mechanics and then outsource that work to third world countries in Southeast Asia and Central America? They are doing the same work, are they not? But for what kind of pay? Wouldn't you like to think that it is sufficient once you board the next jetliner that you fly on? And please do not tell me that the Dreamliner is the epitome of how globalization works. This aircraft is being touted as the most fuel efficient commercial aircraft ever. Really? How do all of those parts come together to make an jetliner? They have to be flown all over the world to a central location for assembly, thus using even more jet fuel than is really necessary. Fuel efficient? This is the best that engineers and corporate bean counters could come up with, right?

    You are correct in stating that not enough people are obtaining an education adequate enough for the current marketplace. I will have to agree with you on that point.

    But what about factory workers and mill workers? Just look at the quality of the products coming from our Third World "business partners". The craftsmanship and quality of those products are terrible. That is part of the plan. Cheap and expendable products have to be continuously replaced. That is how the Big 3 automakers operated for decades. And we all know where that got them? Can our environment sustain such a wanton exploitation of natural resources while we "evolve" into a post-industrial era? I think not. The Earth is not an infinite source of natural resources with our current technologies.

    Are we to rely upon capitalists alone to bring a new enlightenment via education alone to address the problem of non-economic value of workers who do not meet your criteria as to be valuable to the marketplace?

    How do people obtain such a necessary and vital education as to afford them the benefits and rewards of a highly technicial or intrinsically economically valued profession? They are usually supported by a well paid family. But how does a family put a child through college when their wages have to compete on a global scale with people and economies that are part of communists dictatorships or banana republics?

    I read "The End of Work" by Jeremy Rifkin. I also read "The World is Flat" by Thomas Friedman. Even they had to update and revise their observations after the real world had its say.

    Unfortuantely, there are so few Americans who are informed voters and pay attention to what is really going on. The fact that G.W. won a second term shows how so many Americans can be and were duped. They had enough info on G.W. by the 2004 election.

    VALUES?? What values? Lying, corruption, greed and incompetence. Doesn't the public see that what Republicans stand for is more for the fat cats and the rest be damned. When we will you who can't see this wake up?

    The only way we can take back America and revive a middle class and raise the standard of living is to vote for the Democrats the next time. The Republicans don't even want to raise a minimum wage which is still lower (adjusted for inflation)than in the 1970s.

    If the majority of Americans don't vote next time or see tha light we will only continue to go down hill and be dominated by a very few pernicious, selfish and greedy fat cats.

    Sadly, we are on the cusp of a new feudal society under the emergent corporate warlords and other owners of wealth that hasn't been seen since the Magna Carta was offered as an alternative to that very model of social order. Not just our country, but much of the world is engaged in the class war initiated by the the wealthy and their agents. They have made it a global struggle.
    In the United States their agents have grown in number to include not only the Republican Party leadership and news media, but the electorate itself.
    Its complacency has won for an unprecedented number of the Americans the reward of serfdom as was articulated by Barbara Ehrenreich on Bill Moyer's Journal. It has in turn won dictatorial power for the representatives of the wealthy whose stated agenda is to stay in power and accumulate more wealth. Witness the "K Street Project".
    The number of people in poverty in this country is creeping back up to the pre-Kennedy/Johnson level of nearly 40 million. It stands now at about 37 million, as published in Newsweek (July 30, 2007), after having been nearly halved, to about 23 million by 1968.
    At least in that time, and until 1980, there was a strong and very real middle class that voted its selfish interests and that no one had seriously thought of dismantling. Now, things are very different. The middle class has been taught to vote against its interests in favor of electing those who purport to hold the "values" that are just like theirs. But, these people actually are only pandering to the voter's personal and deeply held spiritual commitment. They seek to accumulate, on behalf of the wealthy elite, the temporal wealth and power that once belonged to the middle class voter. Religious leaders in this country have not yet put an end to this major channel of corruption, and those devious individuals have been elected to public office. The erosion of the middle class, now in its last stages, is a testimonial to this.
    It is quickly becoming an ineffective voting bloc and economic force. People with lifelong careers are becoming commodities. They no longer have a voice. Many have joined the unskilled work force. Unemployment is low, but the ranks of the working poor are swelling. There is no longer an educational insulation from poverty. Seniority is an antiquated term. For many of you who have chosen to read this comment, YOU are next, if the collective YOU does nothing.
    Please, write to your congresspeople now. Demand that hearings for the impeachment of the leaders of this rogue government begin immediately. We must ask them today.
    Ask that they forgo their vacation for our sake, and get this done. In return, we will offer them our support for their courage and commitment. Our congressional representatives only need to overcome the fear that has infected their ranks, first among the Republicans who fear inevitable reprisals from their leadership, but also the Democrats, whose leadership itself fears a backlash from an uninformed and complacent electorate. Let's show them that we are not so and help them to find their courage. We may not hold as much wealth, but at least for now, we have the numbers.

    Bill,
    Thanks for having a great show. You are the only news program that is reporting on real issues. All other news programs are reporting on crap.

    Keep up the great work.

    Im sorry Mrs Harris but if you think things are worse now then they were in 1905 then you must not know much about history.

    The life of coal miners and steel workers was terrible. The lives of Slaughter house workers and textile workers was horrific.

    To say that the lives of people in 1905 were better then today is so far from the truth as to be almost funny.

    Dont get me wrong I agree that the present group of leaders are a bunch of war profiteering corporate thugs but that doesnt mean that the nation as a whole has not seen progress. Civil Liberties, unions, education, have all gained major ground in the last 100 years.

    We just need to get back on track and remove the cancer that is the bush regime.

    My gawds, I want to plotz after reading here. All these victims of the system -- so branded by their reckless grammar and spelling without a clue --who are nonetheless defending it in one way or another should be shaken until their teeth rattle! Wake up, Guys! We're wearing the result of three decades of unbridled corporatism in all its fascistic glory.

    Mr. Moyers and Ms. Erhrenreich weren't this blunt, but they GET IT. We regular folks were better off in 1905 than we are now. Yeah, check the statistics. The average wage of one breadwinner then could better support a family than two parents slaving their asses off can do now. This is no accident. It has been achieved by design. We, the majority of Americans, have ONE enemy: rampant corporatism, which is quite distinct from capitalism. It's causing everything that's wrong -- from syphoning billions out of our wallets every week into those of war profiteers to the collapse of our infrastructure to our actually subsidizing the export of our own jobs. For pity's sake, wake up.

    I agree Art, the question I have is how do you redistribute the wealth when the wealth is controlled by 3% of the population.

    You talk about industrial and post industrial economies but the truth is that very little has changed in human history when it comes to who controls the wealth.

    Call them Kings, call them Presidents, call them Dukes, call them CEOs. Its all the same a small group of people
    distrbuting the wealth as they see fit.

    In the end who ever collects the most does all they can to keep it.

    The life for the average human has always been full of hardship and toil.

    I am not justifying whats going on I just don't see it as a new phenomenon but rather a continuation of the status que.

    In your interview with Nichols and Fein, I have a few thoughts..

    If George Bush, Rumsfeld, Chainey, and the others in power right now had as children been caught for shoplifting, and the shop owner had forbidden them from being allowed to ever enter the premises again, these rascals might have learned a valuable lesson for life; unless that is, if someone else hadn't told them "That's life. You win a few, and will also loose a few."

    That attitude drives their daily lives it seems - and got them where they are today. Certainly, we need to punish them - is impeachment the answer though?

    I want to see them hung in the public square for high crimes against humanity, but let's not confuse our national desire to punish these creeps with impeachment - impeachment will only have a divisive effect on the country at this late stage.

    Instead, I want congress and the Senate to do all they can to restrain this administration while it's still in office (for now) as best it can, to prevent them especially in their lame-duck period from completing the final execution of their obvious designs to galvanize US hegemony across the middle east by attacking Iran, granting immunity to their friends an cronies here in the states as more and more of them will be faced with crimes in the next year or so, to complete their program of destabilization across the middle east and Africa, end to spread globalization in as many ways as they possibly can, with the time they now have left in office.

    I am sure they intend to build a Gordian knot - one that will take decades to untangle, even if the next administration ends up to the far left of this one.

    Their designs are insidious.

    We should punish them, severely, not through impeachment proceedings, but through the criminal courts.

    The disappearance of the middle class is not the result of a conspiracy by the corporate elite. Rather, it is a natural consequence of the evolution from an industrial to post-industrial economy.

    From the end of the 19th century until very recently, workers of average intellect and creativity could provide real value to the economy through their physical ability to shape, assemble, store and move products. With the advent of globalization and the post-industrial economy, however, all this has changed. Now, repetitive mundane tasks can be performed almost anywhere in the world, at a much lower cost. More important, real economic value is now created through one's ability to utilize intellectually complex knowledge and skills. It's no wonder that the economic divide in this country is falling right along an intellectual divide. With each passing day,the incomes of high power scientists, engineers, IT specialists, MBAs etc. are far outstripping those who are less able to contribute to the new economy.

    In response to the growing national angst, our so-called leaders resort to the old nostrum that the solution to the problem is to increase the education and skills of the workforce. This babble rests upon the idiotic assumption that someone who is quite at home in a textile mill or furniture assembly line will be equally capable of mastering subjects such as molecular genetics or multivariate statistical analysis in order to meet the needs of the new economy.

    The reality is that a very small proportion of high school graduates attain advanced education in mathematics, science, engineering, finance etc. Even if that number could be increased by a factor of 2 to 4-fold, the vast majority of new entrants into the labor force would be ill prepared to add significant value to the economy.

    So, the real issue boils down to a re-examintion of the intrinsic i.e., non-economic value of average people in order to redress the growing economic disparity between the intellectual haves and have nots.

    My parents kicked me out of the house when I was 15 years old and I was forced to drop out of school and get a job.

    So at 15 years of age I got my first full time job as a bakers assistant and rented a small room to live in.

    Since then I have washed dishes; I ran a recond store; I was a janitor at Sea World; I was a security guard: I was in the Army ( honorable discharge); I was a Bartender;I was a Bouncer and Bodyguard; I was a Bank teller; I was a Lab Technician making DNA; and I worked in information systems for 14 years.

    I was laid off during the dot come bust so for the last four years I have returned to school and have almost finished a Computer Engineering degree from a State University.

    The reason I say all this is to show that things arnt all that bad here in the United states.

    While its true that we have alot of problems its also true that if you work hard you can do many things and go many places and live a good life.

    I can't tell you how many times I have been on the ragid edge of survival with less then 50 dollars to my name or how many times I have wondered why I was even put on this planet but no matter what has happened people have always been there for me helping me when they could and teaching me how to live life to its fullest.

    If this nation was really so bad I would have given up long ago but its not. We give everyone that wants one the chance to get an education. There is a job for anyone that is willing to work hard.

    For me the American dream is as individual as its citizens and what we as a nation need to do is create the infrastructure so that those dreams can be achieved.

    At the same time its up to the individual to put in the time and effort, if you think like a victim then you are a victim.

    I am not a fan of the present executive branch and I think the war in Iraq was a terrible mistake but lets not forget that this nation has survived much and if we the people would just get to work on fixing these problems we can get back on the road to fullfilling dreams.

    "Nickled and Dimed" just has to be a hit musical; the title song brought tears to my eyes. Due to difficult circumstances, since the Reagan era my life has followed the course Ms. Ehrenreich experienced, with accompanying improvements actually measured in nickels and dimes. To truly appreciate the agony of such workers, add on the responsibilities of a parent, and a single parent at that, given that is the condition of very many of our low paid workers in this day. The best observation I heard in this excellent interview was that every job requires great skill, intelligence, energy.

    There was one benefit to this ordeal - best expressed by the following quotation from Lao-tse:

    "He who knows he has enough - is rich."

    Those who make do on very little are the real life of this planet.

    I now watch as my son, burdened by college debt, attempts to gain the skills necessary to join a renewable energy work force that so far does not exist. With my approval he turned down lucrative weapons lab employment - I am so proud of him.

    On that 'memorable person' poll, I vote for Barbara also. Talk about the silent majority - she certainly speaks for us.

    Barbara is dead right regarding the plight of minimum wage earners. I see many of them in my students struggling to earn a degree at a large state university.

    As a fan of Upstairs, Downstairs, it's clear to me that what we have in America is a slightly updated (but not much better) form of "service".
    In 1905 England, those in service had a place to sleep and food on the table everyday, plus medical care when required. But -- their pay was a pittance, their personal lives were closely regulated, and they often had to endure insulting remarks from their upperclass employers. Women in service were often subject to sexual assaults from their employers or other male servants, and were usually blamed for any "problems" that arose.

    Are today's "service" people any better off? I don't think so.

    Kudos to Barbara -- I'm looking forward to seeing her musical Nickels and Dimes.

    Corporate wealth keeps people from knowing and embracing real freedom of choice. As former British MP Tony Benn said, “Choice depends on the freedom to choose. And if you’re shackled with debt, you don’t have the freedom to choose. People in debt become hopeless, and hopeless people don’t vote. There are two ways in which people are controlled. First of all, frighten people, and, secondly, demoralize them. An educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern. They don’t want people to be educated, healthy, and confident because they will get out of control. The top one percent of the world’s population owns 80% of the world’s wealth. It’s incredible that people put up with it. But they’re poor, they’re demoralized, they’re frightened, and therefore they think perhaps the safest thing to do is to take orders and hope for the best.” Ms. Ehrenreich reminds of the beauty of our democracy, when she asks us to remember the wonderful past examples of people working together to make change. It is time to take power away from the fat cats and give it back to the people.

    First of all I would just like to thank Bill Moyers for consistently bringing light onto the "Dark Ages' of the U.S. mass media.

    The question he asked last night (August 3rd 2007), of Barbara Ehrenreich was perhaps the core question that goes to the heart of everything else. He asked if she has been called a 'Marxist', for her exposee.
    In fact, Marx perhaps understood Capitalism better than anyone else. Capitalism is an immoral and an amoral system, by itself. It brings on incredible suffering to vast portions of any population that it imposed over, along with obscene wealth to some.

    The only way to keep its devastating side effects under control is by a strong political counter force, i.e. by 'Big Government'; which is the expression and the will of the people.
    Capitalism, on it its own quickly become a 'Brazil', while with the Checks and Balances' of a Socialist oversight, it can become a Scandinavian State.

    Every other explanation of any one of our problems, is simply a sideshow.

    Dream? no.
    Nightmare? yes.

    Bush has damaged our
    consitution more than
    nixon. bush lied
    to start a war of choice.
    He deleted civil rights
    in collection of intelengecy;used made-up fear to stop our citizens from exercise our
    duties and rights. Bush
    intendes to makes us less
    free. Bush can not be
    allowed to continue placing
    hiself over the rule of law. I recall 7 president
    and Bush fears me more
    than any other .

    Here's the thing. The people that should be in leadership that could make all the difference won't get there. Why? Because those of us that really grow up with hardship can't talk about it. The press and America really don't want honesty. They want someone to say it's okay. Everything will be better tomorrow. Isn't that what it really comes down to. America has no integrity or acutual honesty. I'm talking about the basic stuff. If your mad say your mad. You shouldn't be sued for it or told to be politically correct. Being 'PC' is a cop out. Anyone really got a friend out there that doesn't turn around and judge you behind you back. Hell, I'm 31 and my Step dad says he thinks he's better than me. He used to be a Scoutmaster, member of city council, and a rotarian. He lies about smoking to my mom, oh she's nothing to brag about either. The real thing is that as an adult they don't care to see me for who I have become. My brother and I were really good kids and stayed out of trouble, our parents were stricy. They were also selfish. Too busy partying in their 30 and 40 to realize that the babysitters kids were sexually molesting us. And I was raped when I was 19. My mom (who was in denile and still is because she was a social worker and she didn't have family problems. Oh and a social work really meanss an employment specialist)That why I went to school with bruises all the time and they tried to call me a runaway when I would put up with them beating me at age 16. No one that could do anything would help. And as a single parent in the military they wouldn't leave me alone. The military wouldn't tell them to leave me alone and when I don't return there phone calls I get some nasty messeges. They even tried to sue me for my son when I had done nothing wrong, from six states away, and at least the judge was prior military and saw through it. So ask yourself. Despite what I think about health care and the basic standard of living that is missing and other problems you wouldn't vote for me because I have experience life. You are a hypocrite America. The ones that need the most and can do the most are left to suffer siltently in shame waiting to die to be done with the humiliation and the lack of being "worth" being alive. And if you really think that these tradgeies don't happen, well my mom didn't know until I was 30 and even then she could on focus on herself. She materialistis too and as she made more money she was gone more and has become even more materialistic. She would rather look at her stuff than put pictures of her grandchildren on the wall of her new house. As for my step dad well I have no respect for him, he says he's better than me and can't let go of typical child behavior, calling me a liar, mom too, and this is the guy who lies about drinking, smoking, dipping. He also has two DUII. The sad thing is, I didn't have it as bad as many others unfourtunatly. And as the push increase to be gone from family, rely on schools and babysitter to be the family for our children they will suffer more for it. Parents are in denile, selfish. The thing is is that if we left consumerism behind, became the parents of our children again and refuse to put up with working to buy crap that we don't need for our children and to falsley convince ourselves that WE ARE FINE maybe we could turn this country, world around. We truely are selling our soles and our children's. So someone like me with this type of life would never make. People don't want to know the truth about what their selvishness and consumerism is really doing to everyone.. Employers,,,,my being sexually molested is just as much your fault as the one that did it, my family, and anyone else that ignored me. You would also be schoked to know that my mom sent someone to my house that I told her not to, she says that she didn't hear me tell her that he tried to rape me. And when I made a comment to my step dad as to what I thought of his nephew when I was a teenager, he promptley pulled off the road and beat me. He never asked why. And when I told my mom last year not even an apolgy. My step cousin had tried to rape me. Wake up America

    Ms. Ehrenreich

    Thank you for being a voice for the lower class service industry. You hit the truth about missing one day and hoping to put food on the table. It is for this reason that I and the majority are lost from democracy. We can't afford to sit in a picket line. Did you know that Oregon and other states are an "At will employment state". You can loose you job over anything with no notice. How can you stand up and fight when you can't pay for rent or put food on the table. Heck I'm a 10 yr Navy vet, honorable discharge and I can't get state health insurance. Why, I'm not pregnant or an immigrant and I'm a full time student over age 27. So much for serving your country. Even more than not having a job and get by is not having medical coverage. We loose billions of dollars a year in lost productivity just from illness or allergies. Our children suffer and those we ask to watch them suffer. And to employers and the military why do you not understand that if your children are sick no one will watch them. So in the military you get written up and in the civilian side you get fired. Employers have a responsibility beyond making money. Besides what did we expect when our nation cares more about sports than spending time and their money on their family. What did you think was going to happen. We are a nation of lost priorities and broken basic dream and shackled democracy.

    -THE DEATH AND BIRTH OF YOUNG PATRIOTS-

    We live in a land where to be free of poverty is not the right of all, but a gift to a few, and little more than a dream falling ever, ever away from the reach of many. For this land of great opportunity and freedom, most of us have picked the wrong places to live, and the wrong mothers to be born to, or so this is what I hear whispered to me each day by my nation until I beg and cry to hear my homeland’s voice no longer.

    No one said life would be easy, and I never expected it to be. I prepared myself to dream small and have come to seek what I once thought the right of any working man: I only wish for a family of my own, a roof over my head, and fulfilling work that is just enough to free me of the fear of living in poverty.

    I am told that though my spirit is willing, my hands do not know enough to do such work. Kind and wise voices tell me that the key to finding one’s way in the beginning is to learn a little more each day, heap praise upon myself, and do the dance of words and connecting so that others may know my name and see me as something more human than he who is without work and ever looking for it.

    But I see that my dancing is not quite right, and my posturing not enough. I have not done good enough work to connect myself to the world. So then, I must work harder in this dance. But then for all this effort I must expend upon the dance, why can I not instead spend my efforts on simply doing the work that I seek?

    Many will shun me, call me disrespectful, and say simply, that I have not worked hard enough. They would be right. But I say it is a hard thing to wake every day and fight for work that leads to nowhere. To feel that at every moment, I am nothing, because I did not study the things that a marketplace wants most at the moment—little things, that any one of us could learn but only on the condition of the much money and much time spent that so few of us have—to feel this at every moment gives even greeting the new morning the same dignity of a slave’s labor.

    It is a hard thing to rise up and go to work in a land of opportunity where the work that I am so deemed worthy of is not enough to have a family, or even a roof over my head. It is the hardest thing to rise up to the morning and go to work to only at the end of the day’s toil, still be poor.

    They will say that I have no respect for this land upon which I live. I must be thankful, they would say, that I am not one who toils as a slave of modern times in the bowls of broken factories. I should be thankful, for I could have been born the dark-skinned son of a beautiful nation raped by the world. I should be thankful too that I am not a farmer who must take his bountiful harvest to a market that says, even when great masses starve, that there is still too much food in the world and all the farmer’s toil is worthless. I must be thankful that I am not as that poor farmer who must listen to this market, do his best work, and then go home to starve. I must also be thankful, they all would say, that I do not live in a land where I must fear for my life every day, and where the only opportunity for the young to learn even just the joy of the written word; to live in a place where the only road to worth in the world and have a life; is to become a foot-soldier fighting someone else’s bloody war of ideas. I must be quiet and humble and thankful that I do not live in any of these other lands. I should be happy with just my fear of poverty and the destitute that I soon may face because I could have been born to a land of much harsher struggles. But loving a land because it is the lesser of all the evils is no love at all, and makes for a poor patriot.

    Out of necessity, and because there will be nothing else left for me to do, I will stand up and ready myself for revolution. And yet as I say this with the zeal of a young warrior, I do not know where to march or who to fight. If I could find all in one place what is wrong with my homeland, a place so dear and so foul, I would stand and face it, even if it stood as a being ten feet tall. I would stare into the thing and let it know with my eyes and heart in tears and aflame, that it is only the will of a higher power who holds me back from flailing my little body unto it, clasping its neck, and wringing its soul with my bare hands. Whether I would kill the thing in that moment, or if I were strong enough not to, I would ask it, roar unto it all the same, “Why am I worthless?”

    If a spirit of fire would come to me in my darkest hour now and say, “I will give to you all the little things you wanted, fulfilling work and fair pay, a home, and a small family to fill it…” If he came to me in my darkest hour and said “I will give unto you all the things you could not have in your homeland if you do me this one task.” “Go forth, stand before the whole world and declare you hath forsaken your homeland and have for her in your heart, only the deepest hatred.”

    To this, I do not know how I would answer, and that alone is enough to make our forefathers shed tears and ask of what this land and we have become.


    ECONOMICS & SELF INTERESTS = THE WEALTH OF NATIONS.

    Lets face it! In this society, and in this world, economic interest coupled with political support are what drive the priorities of this society - this world society; although not every society is or has been like this. Take for instance those Native American societies that did not believe in private ownership. That land and land use was a matter of communal right and responsibility. This is such a foreign concept to our beliefs in property and property ownership that it is almost incomprehensible and impracticle, but it had been done. What changed that was the Western pursuit of self interests - private ownership and captitalism.

    As Barbara Ehrenreich points out the successes that are highleted in the business news about the rise in the stock market which coupled with mergers and acquisitions, underline the priority of profits at the expence of someonelse. CEOs are the quintessential examples of the winner take all, king of the hill, capitalism is King mentality.

    Shurely no one remembers slavery(although I am only four generations removed)but it doesn't take much study to realize the enormous wealth that was generated not only from owning slaves, but from slave trading, shipping, insurance, banking, etc. All this at the expense of someone else; generations of someonelse. At one point the wealthy plantation owner and South Carolina Sen. James Henry Hammond coined the phrase, as the result of the enormous profits he earned (earned is such an honest word)and the economic influnce the Southern United States had on markets around the world as the result of cotton wrote to Sen. William Seward of New York, "Cotton is King." We refer to the basic concept of "at the expence of someone else" when we talk about out-sourcing labor to other countries around the world. Even if we cannot remember slavery the effects and experiences of the NAFTA agreement should not be a distant memory. How do the rich get richer? Cheap labor! Cheap labor for a country that has become accoustomed to a minimum wage and benefits that allows this essential guarantee to be side stepped by a company's claim that it is not making profits is burning the dynamite at both ends.

    Not all companies are guilty of throwing its employees into the grips of economic depravation and destitude, but those companies are not representative of the colossal profits everyone seems to be pursuing on Wall Steet. Public beware! As the shift in focus of editorial news moves from the war in Iraq and the price of oil to the problems of global warming big business will find a way to link our pursuit of individualism to either doing something good for the environment or to minimize our "carbon footprint." Environmentalists have for years been making that argument, but there was no money in it. Can we realy reduce our "carbon footprint" without outsourcing and degrading American labor? I challenge any company to find some profit in that. We should remember that the real profit that companies profess is the willingness of consumers to spend their money. It is a two way street and although consumer protection is legislated and designed to provide redress consumer discretion is left to sit on the highway of dreams like an old billboard that hardly anyone seems to notice is there.

    I was disappointed that so little was discussed relating to Barbara's latest book about dancing in the streets. Really, even though food and shelter are essential they alone do not make life worth living, and there hasn't been any dancing in the streets in America since the 60's. Wake up America, we lost the revolution for love rather than war 40 years ago, and now we have become slaves to consumerism thanks to conservatism - thanks a lot for nothing Ronald Reagan!

    Barbara Ehernreich is right. We are becoming a banana republic economically. The people need to wake up and stop believing the horseshit about the current economy that they're being fed by the wealthy investor class and the MSM media and politicians in thier cash-lined pockets.

    Could this polarization be partly due to the immense flood of immigration going on right now in America????

    Things have gotten much worse for average folks over the last thirty or forty years.

    With irrefutable history showing the G.I. Bill and other government spending in the citizenry, infrastructure, or the commons were instrumental in creating the middle class dream after WWII, I'm amazed that We The People have allowed this shift of wealth to the very top and disinvestment in our country.

    Thank you, Barbara & Bill for all the work you do on behalf of the disenfranchised masses and our quickly eroding democratic republic.

    We have so few voices in the mass media, thank goodness for "internets"!

    Just listened to your talk with Clive James and was enraptured. Such intelligent and articulate conversation I thought had disappeared in our coursened, sex ridden, celebrity worshipping culture. Where are there more such as you and Mr. James? How do we return such enlightenment to our everyday lives? Thank you for a wonderful program.

    It is so refreshing to find intelligent conversation on television. Bill Moyer's show is the diamond in the rough.
    I study US torture and brainwashing experiments on US citizens that came out of MKULTRA research. Currently there are 2,000 US citizens that are tortured daily and brainwashed using Dr. Ewen Cameron's techniques that the major free press will not talk about. This has to truly be the highest priority in any legitimate democracy.

    It is so refreshing to find intelligent conversation on television. Bill Moyer's show is the diamond in the rough.
    I study US torture and brainwashing experiments on US citizens that came out of MKULTRA research. Currently there are 2,000 US citizens that are tortured daily and brainwashed using Dr. Ewen Cameron's techniques that the major free press will not talk about. This has to truly be the highest priority in any legitimate democracy.

    another good job, bill. why not get to the real crux of the matter and do some stories about why the rest of the world hates the US gov't and "system". bring on the author of "overthrow", amy goodman, arundahti roy, robert fisk, and any number of citizens familiar with our economic hit man practices, "vulture" capitalists, and desire to "own" the world, including it's water.

    keep stirring things up, keep informing people. as molly said just before she died....keep bangin' on those pots and pans, otherwise this darkest of interregnums will not end.

    The beautifully written comments here, bleak though they may be, are an impressive testament to the power that lies within the American people to understand their world and take charge of it.

    Regular folks of all kinds are getting close to the breaking point, and when they reach it, one can just sense that they will act with calm authority to reposess the world... we've all got to get ready, and study up!

    Since I watched your program featuring Barbara Ehrenreich, and based on her research and journalistic writings concerning the chasm between the super rich and the working poor in the USA, I believe that she is one of the most important women of the 21st Century.

    Oh, American dream? Yes, I recall reading about it somewhere. The American nightmare of endless war, pointless development, and endless football scores is more to the point, isn't it?

    What surprises me is how indifferent the Christians I know are to the problem of low-income jobs. When I count for a radical, something is wrong. I have begun to withdraw from the activities of my mainline church because I do count as a radical in that community.

    Retired I now work part time as a sales associate (clerk) at J. C. Penney. I earn a tad less than eight dollars an hour. Some people who work in the store earn less than I earn. I suppose the work has some aspects of “flow” to it but I have little respect for the company for which I work. It’s a shuck.

    I do hope eventually to be able to work for Costco part time. It is hard to see how J. C. Penney is any better than Wal-Mart. I recall that James Cash Penney was a right-wing Christian ideologue.

    Today, I think the American Dream is too much about what we can get out of our system for our personal enrichment, with very little, if any, emphasis on how we can build communities that create a society that manages our vast wealth fairly and productively. And I think that the words "fair" and "productive" could really benefit by some updating.

    I am a baby boomer. For my entire adult life, the American Dream has been focused on personal enrichment, regardless of how that enrichment affects our own disadvantaged, the people of foreign lands, or even how that personal enrichment has increased the numbers of our own citizens who can be characterized as at-risk, for any one of a number of reasons. Our current Washington administration epitomizes this ME FIRST attitude to such an extent that I can't imagine it can be outdone by increased ME FIRST thinking in future administrations. Maybe this will ultimately prove to be a good thing, in that it will awaken in more of us a longing to establish sustainable national goals that respect individual human lives and the global environment that holds us.

    I'd like to see new economic models coming out of our universities and think tanks, models based on something other than consumerism, which has characterized our society now, to national and international detriment, for half a century.

    Thanks to the negative influence of media advertising, our children and grandchildren increasingly define themselves by how much stuff they are able to buy and put on display for others to judge their "success" by. This national malaise is not something that can, or should, be counteracted by religion. It should be addressed by innovative leadership committed to developing new national civic goals.

    Thanks for all your hard work, Mr. Moyers, through your PBS show. And keep it up. I just don't see anyone replacing what you do yet.

    I whistle-blew and was fired and blacklisted. As an older single woman, I am now permanently unemployable, it seems. I can be eliminated from consideration on so many "fronts": overqualified really translates into "we don't like you, you're too old, you have integrity which means you don't follow blindly, you think independently, your allegiance is to the customer, you're too ugly, etc.
    Employment at will is really employment at whim, and employers can pull so many punches that what they do to people is legal murder. I am financially ruined - can't sue because to do that would mean that every future employer would know the details and consider me too risky and not blindly obedient. My career went out the window with the blacklisting and defamation which is never provable - innuendo, rumor and off the record networking among employers.
    Workers are no more than slaves at best.
    The American dream became a night terror years ago. It's lost, and I don't think anyone will get it back.
    The governed are oppressed by those elected and appointed. Elections are rigged, corporations rule.
    Everyone is guilty until they prove they are innocent and even then, it's the luck of the draw.
    We live in a police state.
    The media conflates vitriolic and inflammatory rhetoric with news.
    Healthcare is affordable and accessible only to the wealthy.
    90% is now the majority underclass, and the other 10% live in gilded cages.
    We have a de facto state religion of Jesus-baiting fundamental Christianist extremists.
    The Constitution is up in flames, and Congress shrugs.
    Two tyrants control the White House, and Congress protects them.
    American Dream?
    I wish.

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