Author Topic: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?  (Read 21386 times)

FoundPeace

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Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« on: December 10, 2014, 07:42:29 AM »
Last week I had some training for work in Spain. We were a fairly international group (I was the only one in the group from the US). We were learning about the way people approach work and things surrounding it from other countries. I learned a lot about how to avoid stepping on anyone's toes when leading an international group of people. It was a good training, but I wasn't sure about how I felt about one thing the instructor said.

The instructor said that the US is probably about a 7 on the scale of hierarchy (Denmark is a 1 because nobody cares about hierarchy and everyone is treated equally and has an equal chance; Saudi Arabia is a 10 because where you are in the hierarchy determines what your life will be). Also, people from cultures where hierarchy is important are happy to with where they are in life and don't care to change it. When I brought up that in the US we are all about bootstrapping, he told me that that the “American dream” was nothing but the "great American myth."

I know that it can be hard for some people to pull themselves out of poverty in the US, but I still think it is possible. Yes, it doesn't work if you have medical issues (or a few other issues), but it is possible. We obviously have some problems with health care in the US (when the WHO ranked us we came in at #38 for care and #1 for the most expensive).

Am I just naďve? I managed to pull myself up by the bootstraps, but did I just get lucky?

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this. Maybe it is just because this guy said that this is the “great American myth” in about the same way a hard core atheist says anyone who believes in God is deluding themselves.

What do you think? Is the American dream nothing but a myth?

Spork

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2014, 07:53:32 AM »

caveat: I've been lucky.  I wasn't "born rich" ... but I also can't say I've ever "pulled myself up from my bootstraps."   


My take on this is different than what you proposed.  My take isn't "how easy is it to pull yourself up."  My take is that we forget exactly how comfortable we are on average to start with.(see **)  We complain about shrinking middle class.  We complain about poverty levels.  And these may be things to worry about.  But we tend to forget just how high our standards have become.  What is today's middle class was bordering on "wealthy" 50 years ago.  Things we consider necessities today were considered luxuries (or didn't exist) in the not so distant past.

I think the American Dream becomes myth only when we realize just how freaking lucky we are to start with.  There are plenty of immigrants and wannabe immigrants that are still dying to become "our poor" because they have seen real poverty.



** yes, some people have it bad.  I know.  But this is far from "the norm" and not what I am addressing.
Some will sell their dreams for small desires
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MissGina

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2014, 08:01:11 AM »
I think the American Dream is whatever you want it to be.

Having had both my parents immigrate to the U.S. in the late 70s, and then send both of their girls to college without loans/debt and own a home debt free, was their American  Dream come true.

As for mine, sure I may not have a luxury car or drink Starbucks because they are not in my American Dream. The house and the education however I was able to obtain because of disciplinary and delaying gratification and that was mine.

I guess I sit with the thought that whatever the mind can conceive it can achieve. Might not happen on your timeline, but with daily discipline and never giving up, you can achieve it.

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LibrarIan

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2014, 08:14:36 AM »
While this may seem pessimistic, I would tend to agree with the sentiment that the dream is indeed a myth. We can all probably point to anecdotal evidence of individuals who have risen above poverty (or fallen from great heights into poverty). However, anecdotal evidence isn't what we as rational humans base our worldviews off of - or at least it should definitely not be as this kind of evidence does not allow for trends or systemic root causes. As the evidence suggests, it is increasingly difficult to move out of poverty in which you were born into the middle class or higher. That being said, I feel that someone way up the chain has done a stellar job of making many people believe that the American dream is alive and well. This still seems to be a widely held belief.

I'm sure income inequality is not an unfamiliar term given the news as of late. That issue in particular, which I believe is nonpartisan, is a major contributing factor to the dream becoming a myth. Basically, too few people are having a few too many good times way up at the top with all that cash and it's becoming an economic issue that's affecting millions of people. For more information, I highly recommend the documentary Inequality For All which I checked out from my local library but I believe is also on Netflix.

dude

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2014, 08:27:40 AM »
Totally disagree.  I'm living it, my brothers are living it.  We grew up in the lower middle class, parents divorced when I was 12 (brothers were 11 and 7); single mom high-school dropout worked her ass off (got her GED, got a FT job, got squat for child support from our dad, who was a deadbeat dad for long stretches) and did the best she could for us.  Mom re-married about 5 years later to a union carpenter who was laid off 3-6 months a year.  And we not only survived, but flourished.  Look, Barack Obama came from pretty meager beginnings as well, as did Bill Clinton.  I think it's probably a little tougher if you're a person of color born into poverty, and yet, it happens every day.  People, by hook or by crook, escape those limitations and thrive.  I don't know why some do and others don't.  But for damn sure, the American Dream is still out there for anyone willing to work hard to achieve it, and America is still the world's best place for opportunity.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2014, 08:42:46 AM »
... he told me that that the “American dream” was nothing but the "great American myth."

That statement is total BS!

If there is one country in the world where anyone (even an immigrant) can not only make a living, but become rich, it is the US.

This is the one country, where what you can do, trumps who you are or of what color/race etc.

I am living this American dream!

Grimm

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2014, 08:56:13 AM »
Where was the instructor from?  I think that person's position is pure BS. 

I have traveled extensively and it's my view that the American Dream is still very much alive.  I would be hard pressed to cite any other country that has so few barriers to move from one class to another.  Let me use my personal experience as an example.

When I was about 4 years old my father was put in prison.  He got out a few years later but died when I was 8.   My mom was left with 5 kids ranging in age from 5 - 12.  She had several low-paying jobs such as short-order cook and bartender while I was growing up, and she was rarely home.  So, in a sense we raised ourselves.

I took on many jobs when I was in middle school and high school so that I could buy clothes, a car, pay for insurance, and have spending money.  Some of my strongest memories are of waking at 4:30 a.m. so that I could open up the bakery where I was supervisor and baker, go to school from 8:30 to 3:30, attend wrestling practice until about 6:00, and then go to the mall where I was a security guard.  I would lock the mall at 9:00 and then go home and study.

Despite that, I put in a solid effort at school and finished 1st in my high school class of 607.  With absolutely no adult guidance I chose and applied to a college, attended orientation entirely on my own, moved to a distant city entirely on my own, and graduated in 4 years with a very good GPA.  I also worked at the bakery and for an accounting firm throughout those 4 years.

Before graduation, once again, entirely on my own I signed up for interviews, was offered several jobs at the big accounting firms, selected one, and moved to Chicago to begin my career.  I quickly realized Silicon Valley was the place to be, and arranged a transfer to San Jose.  I worked for a series of high tech companies and accumulated significant wealth along the way.

In my early 40's I decided to get off the treadmill and ratchet things back.  Surprisingly, my skills have been even more in demand since then, and I could easily have taken CEO jobs since then, but have consciously chosen to remain at a VP level instead so that I have a better work/home balance.

So, I would like someone to list any other countries where something like this could have happened?  I'm at a loss to list even one.  The opportunities are here, but it seems to me many people are unwilling to make the hard choices and make the good decisions to take advantage of them.

benjenn

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2014, 08:57:41 AM »
I disagree, too.  I grew up incredibly poor... didn't even realize how poor we were, honestly, but looking back as adult I can see it was pretty bad.  As one of 7 siblings, I've had the most success financially but part of that was because of the choices I made.  Today, at 50, I make over $100K per year.  26 years ago when I went to work at this same company, I made $20K.  I could wait and retire in 8 years with a full pension (51% of my salary) but hubby and I have chosen instead to retire the end of next year (we'll be 51 and 52 then), debt free.  Only old by MMM standards.  :)

Hubby grew up living in a trailer park and he makes more than I do plus has his Air Force retirement on top of that already.  I would say we've definitely lived the American Dream.
FIREd and loving it on the beautiful Gulf coast beaches!

Mykl

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2014, 09:06:47 AM »
I think it depends on what you define the 'American Dream' to be. 

If it is Bill Gates level of success....  I would say that's cherry picking, because odds of realizing that dream are probably worse than the odds to win the lottery.  Out of the hundreds of millions of United States citizens the number of people who achieve that level of success is statistically insignificant.

If the dream is to achieve a solid middle class standing and a comfortable life, then yeah it's still alive.  But I don't think that means we shouldn't still try to raise the bar for those who are struggling in poverty, because the United States is not a meritocracy and sometimes the reason someone is stuck in the poverty trap has nothing to do with the effort the put forth.

ADK_Junkie

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2014, 09:07:17 AM »
I think it's both a Myth and a Dream that is still alive.  It depends on who is looking at it. 

In terms of income mobility, the U.S. is falling relative to other developed nations (i.e., those in Europe, Australia, etc.).  But we are still light years ahead of most developing nations.  In most developing nations, graft and corruption are so rampant that it negatively affects their ability to operate as a meritocracy and income mobility suffers.

For example, I know that both the Swiss and Dutch tend to think of themselves as the best/smartest humans on the planet (a subtle form of racism).  And while they are meritocracies, they would prefer to do business with themselves.  As an outsider, say an Asian or African immigrant, I think it would be tougher in Europe than the U.S. 

For most immigrants from the developing world, the U.S. is probably the best place for their chance at achieving the American Dream.  For most immigrants from the developed world, they would be giving up very strong safety nets in coming to the U.S.   I, for example, am tied to my job until FIRE since my family depends on me for health insurance.

I personally do not think that immigrants are trying to get into the U.S. to sit on their arses.  Instead, they are looking for a better life whether it's to escape violence, escape corruption, or to create a better life for themselves and their offspring. 

So, for the average European, the American Dream may seem like a myth.  For the poor in America, the American Dream may seem like a myth given the poor opportunities (i.e., education) offered.  But for many in the world (including the American middle class), I think the American Dream is an ideal and it is still a powerful motivating force.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2014, 11:23:42 AM by ADK_Junkie »

RetiredAt63

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2014, 09:46:35 AM »
Re social mobility, yes I am sure it is there in the U.S.  But there are other mobile countries.  Canada is mobile (at least in my experience with family, friends and colleagues). Australia, I think, is mobile.  And I met someone in New Zealand who had immigrated from Wales, because she found Wales to be very hierarchical and NZ was not, she loved it there.
Plus some countries seem to be "flat" in that the income disparity from low to high is a lot smaller, so mobility is just not as big an issue.  Both Canada and the US seem to be moving to greater disparity.

I thought this was interesting - available for lots of countries
http://geert-hofstede.com/canada.html
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http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/meetups-and-social-events/ontario's-own-camp-mustache-2017/ - MEET US THERE!

partgypsy

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2014, 09:48:58 AM »
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_mobility

According to a number of measures, we do not do as well as a number of other countries in economic mobility, and our economic mobility has decreased over time.

but we are not the worst. Especially considering immigrants coming from a war torn or poverty-striken countries, Us is a much better bet than many other countries, and our borders are more open compared to countries who score higher than us.

Luck12

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2014, 10:08:17 AM »
Totally disagree.  I'm living it, my brothers are living it.  We grew up in the lower middle class, parents divorced when I was 12 (brothers were 11 and 7); single mom high-school dropout worked her ass off (got her GED, got a FT job, got squat for child support from our dad, who was a deadbeat dad for long stretches) and did the best she could for us.  Mom re-married about 5 years later to a union carpenter who was laid off 3-6 months a year.  And we not only survived, but flourished.  Look, Barack Obama came from pretty meager beginnings as well, as did Bill Clinton. 

Anecdotal evidence ain't shit!   Nobody is saying it's impossible but economic mobility is less in the US than many/most other developed nations, esp those in Europe.   There are sources/data that indicate this.  I can't believe in this day and age some people still cling so strongly to the irrational belief that the US is at the top for economics and social mobility.  I guess it's like religion, you just gotta believe despite all evidence to the contrary! 

Also amusing to see the usual types patting themselves on the back for becoming rich.   Fuck the overall data and evidence.  Since you made it rich, all is fair in the U.S., right? 

I don't quite go as far as George Carlin but he did once brilliantly and comically say "They call it the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe in it". 
« Last Edit: December 10, 2014, 10:17:55 AM by Luck12 »

slugline

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2014, 10:22:07 AM »
Just because other countries have also succeeded with their iteration of the "American Dream" does not mean it's dead in America. It should be encouraging to see opportunities spreading, actually.

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2014, 10:39:41 AM »
Asking about whether the "American Dream" is achievable to MMM's audience probably won't get you results representative of America.  We're all optimists here.  Personally, I have pretty much achieved the American Dream after growing up in poverty, but I know that most people in poverty will remain there for their entire lives.  I consider myself very lucky, because I was able to get enough financial aid from the government to go to college and that's what lifted me into the middle class.  On the negative side, I had to borrow a lot in federal student loans to be able to complete my schooling and that has prevented me from doing some other things I would like, such as buying rental property and investing more. 

It's probably unrealistic for most people to try to achieve the American Dream, because, let's face it, everything is a bell curve.  This isn't Lake Woebegone and the kids aren't all above average.  Instead of focusing on stuff that's unachievable, they can set more realistic goals, so they don't beat themselves up about not having what the Joneses have.  No more five bedroom house in the suburbs with a two car garage.  Survival and an emergency fund are more important.

Luck12

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2014, 10:51:58 AM »
Just because other countries have also succeeded with their iteration of the "American Dream" does not mean it's dead in America. It should be encouraging to see opportunities spreading, actually.

Again, it's not dead, but it sure isn't good.  Social mobility hasn't changed much over the years and that is not good.   From article below, "For children who are born in the second fifth of the income distribution, those who might be categorized as working class or lower-middle class, the probability of moving up to the top quintile has fallen significantly. For someone born in 1971, it was 17.7 per cent; for someone born in 1986, it was 13.8 per cent."

http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/social-mobility-hasnt-fallen-what-it-means-and-doesnt-mean

Prairie Stash

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2014, 11:01:59 AM »
You answered your own question. If you have medical issues or other issues...right off the bat you're agreeing (or at least acknowledging the argument) it's not possible for everyone. Isn't the American dream for every American citizen regardless of race, religion, sex etc.?

Secondly, all the anecdotes from people saying they did it so everyone else can, do you think you couldn't have had the same success in other countries? Was it your own personal character or the country you were born in? If you were born in Canada into poverty you probably still would have succeeded, because of who you are not because of your citizenship. Sure it's possible in the US, it's also possible in other countries, but in which country is it easiest? I think all those people with anecdotes would have flourished in Canada (or in European countries).

One dream for everyone, no exceptions. Many countries already have this, does the U.S.?

mak1277

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2014, 11:10:42 AM »
If the American Dream is really dead, why don't people emigrate from the US to European utopia?

MDM

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #18 on: December 10, 2014, 11:42:49 AM »
Perhaps the person who said it was a myth is one of the "European upper classes" referred to in http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/lessons/american-dream/students/thedream.html:
Quote
What is the American Dream?
James Truslow Adams, in his book The Epic of America, which was written in 1931, stated 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 a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. 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."

I believe that opportunity exists, and that opportunity does not guarantee outcome.  Luck/chance/fate/karma (call it what you will) plays a part in everyone's life, for better or worse.

OutBy40

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2014, 11:48:02 AM »
What do you think? Is the American dream nothing but a myth?

Honestly, I have never really understood the concept of the "American dream".  I suppose it always had something to do with home ownership and finding your own little piece of this earth to live on and enjoy - or something like that. 

There are so many opportunities in this country that it's literally tough to count.  If somebody wants success bad enough, they will succeed.  I don't care if they were born into wealth or born into poverty, if you want it bad enough, it'll happen. 

The problem?  For every opportunity, there is also an excuse.  Excuses are what keep poor people poor.  Bad decisions.  Poor motivation.  Horrible work ethic. 

Whatever the American dream actually is these days, I don't think it's changed a bit. 
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mancityfan

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2014, 12:26:14 PM »
I was born and raised in the UK, moved here around 25. This country has been very good to me. I do think the American Dream is alive, but it is "at risk". Access to healthcare coverage has impeded social mobility in this country, and that is very harmful to progress. IMHO there is not a group of people on this Earth that have a stronger work ethic than Americans. There is still plenty of opportunity, this is a vast country with great resources, and its people are most certainly one of its great resources. Americans are risk takers. Maybe the remnants of that frontier mentality from previous generations, and the hunger and drive of wave after wave of immigrants. If someone in this country states that they are going out on their own to start their own company/business, this is accepted as the norm. This is absolutely not the case in many other places in the world.

Another point coming from the UK. When you open your mouth there, people make judgements about class and position based on your accent. This has improved, but is still the case. In this country I could run into someone wearing jeans and a t shirt speaking in a broad accent, and it would not surprise me if they were a millionaire, and it would not matter a jot.

Mykl

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #21 on: December 10, 2014, 12:30:58 PM »
Another point coming from the UK. When you open your mouth there, people make judgements about class and position based on your accent. This has improved, but is still the case. In this country I could run into someone wearing jeans and a t shirt speaking in a broad accent, and it would not surprise me if they were a millionaire, and it would not matter a jot.

That can be true in the US to a certain extent, but it doesn't sound like it is to the same degree.

Morfas44

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2014, 12:43:11 PM »
I'd say of any country America is the most qualified to be a place to pursue your "dream" because of the opportunities here. You can be successful no matter your race (try going to Japan or South Korea if you're not ethnically from there and becoming successful), you have a great ability to achieve wealth (again, try going to Saudi Arabia and working your way up to becoming an oil sheik), you have the worlds best universities to study at, you have some of the most fertile land, you have access to pretty much any climate/living situation you want (mountains, coast, plains, rural, farm, city) you have the protection of the greatest military ever to exist on earth, and you have great freedoms (try being gay in Africa, insulting the government in China, or doing anything in North Korea).

If you're looking for opportunity I think America is unrivaled but you have to work hard. If you're looking to freeload, there are other countries for that (I'm not putting down these countries I'm just saying their safety nets are better, I think America's safety net isn't as robust as it could be).

Some countries do better on some measures (infant mortality, life expectancy, health, obesity, deaths from violence) and America needs to work on those things.

Peony

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #23 on: December 10, 2014, 12:44:17 PM »
If the American Dream is really dead, why don't people emigrate from the US to European utopia?

Because most Americans can't get European work visas. To get anecdotal again, if I could legally be in Denmark, I'd be there in a heartbeat.

Prairie Stash

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #24 on: December 10, 2014, 12:45:15 PM »
If the American Dream is really dead, why don't people emigrate from the US to European utopia?
They do. They also move north of the border, I work with an american. You don't meet them when you're living in the US...

Morfas44

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #25 on: December 10, 2014, 12:50:42 PM »
If the American Dream is really dead, why don't people emigrate from the US to European utopia?
They do. They also move north of the border, I work with an american. You don't meet them when you're living in the US...
Sorry to have to say that I'm judging hardcore anyone that claims to have emigrated from the US because of lack of opportunity.

Terrestrial

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #26 on: December 10, 2014, 01:11:34 PM »
To me, I don't think the 'American Dream' means you are entitled to any set standard of life, nor that it is any kind of a guarantee that there is class equality.  In it's purest terms I think it means that people still have the opportunity to make what they will of themselves and are able to be socially mobile without huge roadblocks standing in their way that make it impossible...it doesn't mean it's going to be easy, just achievable for those who work hard.  And to that end I'd say the US is among the better places to live.  Nobody tells you what job you 'will' have, being born in a barrio or a corn field doesn't mean that you are mandated to stay there for the rest of your life, anybody is free to go to college, and you can marry who you want regardless of race, as of recently even if you are both men/women.  This doesn't mean people are 'guaranteed' to be successful or achieve a certain level of lifestyle/wealth, or that it's not much harder for some than others, just that they are available to families who reach out and grasp them. 

My parents were born about as low as you can get on the 'social/economic ladder'.  My father was 1 of 9 children on a farm in rural south dakota and was born in a 3 room cabin....he shared a room with his 5 brothers and was working on the farm since he could walk for their very poor family to even survive.  My mother is an orphan from Vietnam who came to this country as a war refuge with literally just the clothes on her back and the extent of her English skills being limited to phrases from popular American songs playing there on the radio.   Mostly by working incredibly hard, holding down jobs, not being proud and not considering things to be 'beneath them', not giving a crap what other people though, not paying others to do things they could do themselves, and being frugal, they were able to florish into a solidly middle class family.  Not rich, not poor, but comfortable...and the middle class in America lives better than probably 80% of the world's population, so already I'd say that's achieving the dream for both of them that seemed far fetch from such humble origins.

In just one generation both of their children are extremely well educated, my sister is a physician and I have an MBA and work in business, with solidly upper middle class salaries....no, still not rich.  But I married another person from a nice middle class family, no passed generational wealth to speak of, our jobs are decent but not fancy (my wife is a teacher)...and by the time my children are old enough to go to college their parents will have been millionaires for a decade. 

All that progress in America within 2 generations.  No huge 'breaks' were required, there's nothing overly special about our family.  Just the willpower for my extremely poor parents to decide they wanted better, work hard for it, educate their children on how to work hard, and send them out in to the world with a little encouragement and the right skills, attitude, and approach to life to keep progressing higher. 
« Last Edit: December 10, 2014, 01:22:59 PM by Terrestrial »

2lazy2retire

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #27 on: December 10, 2014, 01:27:27 PM »
... he told me that that the “American dream” was nothing but the "great American myth."

That statement is total BS!

If there is one country in the world where anyone (even an immigrant) can not only make a living, but become rich, it is the US.

This is the one country, where what you can do, trumps who you are or of what color/race etc.

I am living this American dream!

BS - most developed countries offer the same opportunities - what is with this county always wanting to be the f@cking best, is it not ok to be good for someting and agree that the other guy over there is not bad either - f@cking erxceptionalism bollox

Morfas44

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #28 on: December 10, 2014, 01:29:45 PM »
... he told me that that the “American dream” was nothing but the "great American myth."

That statement is total BS!

If there is one country in the world where anyone (even an immigrant) can not only make a living, but become rich, it is the US.

This is the one country, where what you can do, trumps who you are or of what color/race etc.

I am living this American dream!

BS - most developed countries offer the same opportunities - what is with this county always wanting to be the f@cking best, is it not ok to be good for someting and agree that the other guy over there is not bad either - f@cking erxceptionalism bollox
Ok but most other countries don't have the best universities in the world, the most innovative companies in the world, and the most scientific research to get involved in. Is it essential to go to the US? No, but the US excels in all of those areas.

2lazy2retire

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #29 on: December 10, 2014, 01:31:34 PM »
I was born and raised in the UK, moved here around 25. This country has been very good to me. I do think the American Dream is alive, but it is "at risk". Access to healthcare coverage has impeded social mobility in this country, and that is very harmful to progress. IMHO there is not a group of people on this Earth that have a stronger work ethic than Americans. There is still plenty of opportunity, this is a vast country with great resources, and its people are most certainly one of its great resources. Americans are risk takers. Maybe the remnants of that frontier mentality from previous generations, and the hunger and drive of wave after wave of immigrants. If someone in this country states that they are going out on their own to start their own company/business, this is accepted as the norm. This is absolutely not the case in many other places in the world.

Another point coming from the UK. When you open your mouth there, people make judgements about class and position based on your accent. This has improved, but is still the case. In this country I could run into someone wearing jeans and a t shirt speaking in a broad accent, and it would not surprise me if they were a millionaire, and it would not matter a jot.
" I could run into someone wearing jeans and a t shirt speaking in a broad accent, and it would not surprise me if they were a millionaire, and it would not matter a jot." - so long as its not a hoodie


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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #30 on: December 10, 2014, 01:37:34 PM »
If the American Dream is really dead, why don't people emigrate from the US to European utopia?
They do. They also move north of the border, I work with an american. You don't meet them when you're living in the US...
Sorry to have to say that I'm judging hardcore anyone that claims to have emigrated from the US because of lack of opportunity.
What would you call moving for a better job? Apparently the opportunity for better pay and work encouraged him to leave the US. Have you lived in other countries where you can meet other ex-pats? The IRS recognizes that Americans move overseas all the time, can you accept that without judging?

I'm not saying the US doesn't have opportunity, opportunity exists in every country! Some countries just have easier access for their people. The debate is weather some countries have easier opportunity for their people to move to higher social classes, while recognizing all countries have opportunity to some extent. If you feel threatened compare the US to North Korea (I'll concede in every instance the US is better than N. Korea, you're not exactly setting the bar high by that comparison), if you feel confident then compare the US to Denmark, England, Canada, France, Germany etc.

Take education as an example of equal access for all. Reference all the threads with horrific debt for a bachelors degree and all the comments about crushing student debt. Some countries you can get free education, some you pay large amounts. Where does the US fall in the spectrum? Does every person have equal access to education without regard to income level? Do people choose their school based on affordability or by which school accepts them? If you or anyone you know were accepted into Yale would you decline because of the cost? Lots of other people in other threads trash the choice of going to Yale/Harvard etc. because it's too expensive for the average person. It's bewildering from my perspective reading those threads, it's hard to believe that's an accepted norm.

2lazy2retire

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #31 on: December 10, 2014, 01:37:55 PM »
... he told me that that the “American dream” was nothing but the "great American myth."

That statement is total BS!

If there is one country in the world where anyone (even an immigrant) can not only make a living, but become rich, it is the US.

This is the one country, where what you can do, trumps who you are or of what color/race etc.

I am living this American dream!

BS - most developed countries offer the same opportunities - what is with this county always wanting to be the f@cking best, is it not ok to be good for someting and agree that the other guy over there is not bad either - f@cking erxceptionalism bollox
Ok but most other countries don't have the best universities in the world, the most innovative companies in the world, and the most scientific research to get involved in. Is it essential to go to the US? No, but the US excels in all of those areas.

Jaysus - you could'nt resist could you -the best at everything, are you brainwashed to believe this sh1t in school or what?

mak1277

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #32 on: December 10, 2014, 01:39:18 PM »
... he told me that that the “American dream” was nothing but the "great American myth."

That statement is total BS!

If there is one country in the world where anyone (even an immigrant) can not only make a living, but become rich, it is the US.

This is the one country, where what you can do, trumps who you are or of what color/race etc.

I am living this American dream!

BS - most developed countries offer the same opportunities - what is with this county always wanting to be the f@cking best, is it not ok to be good for someting and agree that the other guy over there is not bad either - f@cking erxceptionalism bollox
Ok but most other countries don't have the best universities in the world, the most innovative companies in the world, and the most scientific research to get involved in. Is it essential to go to the US? No, but the US excels in all of those areas.

Jaysus - you could'nt resist could you -the best at everything, are you brainwashed to believe this sh1t in school or what?

Is it brainwashing when it's true?  Do you dispute the statements in the post you quoted?

The_path_less_taken

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #33 on: December 10, 2014, 01:51:18 PM »
I think the American Dream is whatever you want it to be.



Ditto.

Although I think most Americans are 'keeping up with the Jones' and believe every sucky television commercial they have ever seen. And are literally incapable of discerning the true difference in a "want" versus a "need".

2lazy2retire

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #34 on: December 10, 2014, 02:09:20 PM »
... he told me that that the “American dream” was nothing but the "great American myth."

That statement is total BS!

If there is one country in the world where anyone (even an immigrant) can not only make a living, but become rich, it is the US.

This is the one country, where what you can do, trumps who you are or of what color/race etc.

I am living this American dream!

BS - most developed countries offer the same opportunities - what is with this county always wanting to be the f@cking best, is it not ok to be good for someting and agree that the other guy over there is not bad either - f@cking erxceptionalism bollox
Ok but most other countries don't have the best universities in the world, the most innovative companies in the world, and the most scientific research to get involved in. Is it essential to go to the US? No, but the US excels in all of those areas.

Jaysus - you could'nt resist could you -the best at everything, are you brainwashed to believe this sh1t in school or what?

Is it brainwashing when it's true?  Do you dispute the statements in the post you quoted?

I dispute any suggestion that the US is the only place where one can be upwardly mobile. As for the US having the best Universities, any studies I've seen also list a lot of UK/Canadian schools in the top 100 and lets be honest how these things are measured is questionable anyway. But the issue is how affordable are your best universities to everyone on the upwardly mobile ladder in the US as opposed to students in Europe or elsewhere.
I'm not knocking the US, but for the love of God get f@cking over yourself with this need to be number 1 at everything, its extremely f@cking annoying.

mak1277

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #35 on: December 10, 2014, 02:20:12 PM »

I dispute any suggestion that the US is the only place where one can be upwardly mobile. As for the US having the best Universities, any studies I've seen also list a lot of UK/Canadian schools in the top 100 and lets be honest how these things are measured is questionable anyway. But the issue is how affordable are your best universities to everyone on the upwardly mobile ladder in the US as opposed to students in Europe or elsewhere.
I'm not knocking the US, but for the love of God get f@cking over yourself with this need to be number 1 at everything, its extremely f@cking annoying.

Nobody in this thread has said it's the only place you can be upwardly mobile...or the only place with good universities. 

You're complaining is sounding an awful lot like sour grapes too.

FoundPeace

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #36 on: December 10, 2014, 02:32:59 PM »
I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who got a bit upset by this statement.

The instructor was German and couldn't stop praising Denmark and the Netherlands. Those are great countries, but I think a part of what America is about is the gamble. Yes you can make it here and be wildly rich, but it can go the other way too. In Denmark and the Netherlands, things are extremely flat (doesn't Denmark have about 70% taxes?).

I kinda regret not saying something to the instructor, but the class was mostly filled with Europeans--I'm pretty sure that only the Brazilians and the Costa Rican would have agreed with me.

2lazy2retire

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #37 on: December 10, 2014, 02:33:49 PM »

I dispute any suggestion that the US is the only place where one can be upwardly mobile. As for the US having the best Universities, any studies I've seen also list a lot of UK/Canadian schools in the top 100 and lets be honest how these things are measured is questionable anyway. But the issue is how affordable are your best universities to everyone on the upwardly mobile ladder in the US as opposed to students in Europe or elsewhere.
I'm not knocking the US, but for the love of God get f@cking over yourself with this need to be number 1 at everything, its extremely f@cking annoying.

Nobody in this thread has said it's the only place you can be upwardly mobile...or the only place with good universities. 

You're complaining is sounding an awful lot like sour grapes too.

Was wondering when the "jealous of the US" card would come out - the quote I originally responded to said exactly that, but if your not bothered to read I'm not bothered to repeat it.



Luck12

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #38 on: December 10, 2014, 02:34:35 PM »
I echo the "what the fuck is up with everyone thinking the US is #1 bullshit" thought.   US is one of the better countries to live in, but there are many problems here:   We have much higher crime rates, lower social mobility, worse health outcomes, worse medical insurance/cost system, higher working hours, etc than other advanced nations. 

People here are brainwashed to believe they'll be rich some day.  That's the reason you have so many poor-middle class people voting right wing.  It's like they get personally offended if you dare raise the the top tax bracket a few %.   That's the downside of American optimism.   

mak1277

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #39 on: December 10, 2014, 02:37:01 PM »

I dispute any suggestion that the US is the only place where one can be upwardly mobile. As for the US having the best Universities, any studies I've seen also list a lot of UK/Canadian schools in the top 100 and lets be honest how these things are measured is questionable anyway. But the issue is how affordable are your best universities to everyone on the upwardly mobile ladder in the US as opposed to students in Europe or elsewhere.
I'm not knocking the US, but for the love of God get f@cking over yourself with this need to be number 1 at everything, its extremely f@cking annoying.

Nobody in this thread has said it's the only place you can be upwardly mobile...or the only place with good universities. 

You're complaining is sounding an awful lot like sour grapes too.

Was wondering when the "jealous of the US" card would come out - the quote I originally responded to said exactly that, but if your not bothered to read I'm not bothered to repeat it.

I read that initial quote a little bit differently than you, but I see your point.  I read it more as, "the US is the best place for..." not "the US is the ONLY place for...".


2lazy2retire

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #40 on: December 10, 2014, 02:39:26 PM »

I dispute any suggestion that the US is the only place where one can be upwardly mobile. As for the US having the best Universities, any studies I've seen also list a lot of UK/Canadian schools in the top 100 and lets be honest how these things are measured is questionable anyway. But the issue is how affordable are your best universities to everyone on the upwardly mobile ladder in the US as opposed to students in Europe or elsewhere.
I'm not knocking the US, but for the love of God get f@cking over yourself with this need to be number 1 at everything, its extremely f@cking annoying.

Nobody in this thread has said it's the only place you can be upwardly mobile...or the only place with good universities. 

You're complaining is sounding an awful lot like sour grapes too.

Was wondering when the "jealous of the US" card would come out - the quote I originally responded to said exactly that, but if your not bothered to read I'm not bothered to repeat it.

I read that initial quote a little bit differently than you, but I see your point.  I read it more as, "the US is the best place for..." not "the US is the ONLY place for...".
Ok you win the US is the best

BlueHouse

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #41 on: December 10, 2014, 03:00:26 PM »
There are so many opportunities in today's world.  I don't know how my grandparents did it -- back in the day, I think you just jumped on a boat and hoped for the best.  Nowadays, you can research and start a business from your own living room.  You can get free money and people will tell you how to do it.  You can go on the internet and find a group of people who are willing to tell you exactly how to get rich. 

I'm not sure it's the "American Dream" anymore.  Welcome to the Internet Dream. 
Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand

MoneyCat

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #42 on: December 10, 2014, 04:39:22 PM »
If the American Dream is really dead, why don't people emigrate from the US to European utopia?
They do. They also move north of the border, I work with an american. You don't meet them when you're living in the US...
Sorry to have to say that I'm judging hardcore anyone that claims to have emigrated from the US because of lack of opportunity

It's probably easier to become rich in the USA, but it's probably a heck of a lot easier to be middle class in Canada.  They have far fewer worries than Americans and the typical Canadian is much more comfortable than the typical American.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #43 on: December 10, 2014, 05:41:13 PM »
This is certainly the land of opportunity.

You don't have to go to college, around here if you want to take up a trade you can make better money than most college grads. There are plenty of jobs for those who are willing to relocate, train, and work hard.

I myself do not have a college degree albeit a few years of college education and my position has potential for low 6 figures after one year.

There are many ways to "make it" its not that difficult for those with half a brain and a good work ethic.
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swiper

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #44 on: December 10, 2014, 06:05:24 PM »
If the American Dream is really dead, why don't people emigrate from the US to European utopia?
They do. They also move north of the border, I work with an american. You don't meet them when you're living in the US...
Sorry to have to say that I'm judging hardcore anyone that claims to have emigrated from the US because of lack of opportunity

It's probably easier to become rich in the USA, but it's probably a heck of a lot easier to be middle class in Canada.  They have far fewer worries than Americans and the typical Canadian is much more comfortable than the typical American.

How about that polar vortex eh? ;)

SwordGuy

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #45 on: December 10, 2014, 06:27:31 PM »
Take education as an example of equal access for all. Reference all the threads with horrific debt for a bachelors degree and all the comments about crushing student debt. Some countries you can get free education, some you pay large amounts. Where does the US fall in the spectrum? Does every person have equal access to education without regard to income level? Do people choose their school based on affordability or by which school accepts them? If you or anyone you know were accepted into Yale would you decline because of the cost? Lots of other people in other threads trash the choice of going to Yale/Harvard etc. because it's too expensive for the average person. It's bewildering from my perspective reading those threads, it's hard to believe that's an accepted norm.

First of all, the myth of crushing student loan debt is exactly that.  A myth.  Median student loan debt is less than the median new car price - and people pay for those new cars in a few years.  And they celebrate buying those cars on Facebook!   

Yes, some people have huge student loans and no job prospects just like some people have high credit card debt and no appreciable income to support it.

Don't buy into the whining of people with piss poor planning.

Second, it's my understanding that lot of European countries decide whether someone will be going to college part long before the student graduates from high school.    It's a lot easier to keep costs down for those allowed to attend when a lot are not allowed to attend.  In the US, anyone can attend college.  (Even people who should never have graduated from high school.)

Third, I was complaining about things in the US some years ago to a friend and colleague who was from another country.   He told me I was dead wrong.  He and I had started publishing a small technical journal we had written using the midnight copier at work.  (It was work-related and was beneficial to our employer, fyi.)

"In America, I hand this journal to someone and they judge me on the quality of what is in it.  Where I am from, they would not take it out of my hand.  I would have to establish my right to publish such a journal before they would even look at it."

"When things are wrong here, it gets talked about and something is tried to fix it.  If that doesn't work, it gets talked about some more and something new is tried.  Where I am from, nothing is ever talked about and nothing is ever fixed."

"This is a great country."

 


MKinVA

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #46 on: December 10, 2014, 07:17:49 PM »
I'm not trying to be fresh, but are there poor people in Denmark? I mean with everything you are given by the government it seems that the jumping off point (getting on your own feet) is a lot higher than it is here in the US. People are talking about coming from families with 7 kids and their mother working herself to death to feed them. In the Netherlands you would be given enough food for your children.

ChrisLansing

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #47 on: December 10, 2014, 08:25:29 PM »
My take is that the American Dream is alive, but not quite as easy as it used to be. 

When I graduated HS ('75) one could still walk up to the gate at an auto factory and ask for a job.   (Wish I had the sense to do that)    10 years later one would have a spouse, 3 kids, 2 new cars, a nice house in the 'burbs, and a vacation cabin "up north"  (Michigan speak).    All one had to do is be willing to show up for work every day.   One did not need any special (MMM) money management skills to achieve this.   Just spend as fast as you can earn.   

The dream is still achievable, but it's not as easy as taking a factory job (or some other unionized blue collar work) and spending your money.     It will take some skills (not necessarily college)  not just a willingness to work.     It will also take some money handling skills.   Job stability isn't what it once was, and the skill development doesn't come w/o cost.   

Growing up we lived a solidly middle class life in the 'burbs, and my dad was blue collar, as were most of the neighbors. I don't know what was wrong with the "system" we had in the 60s and early 70s.   Seems to me that a well paid workforce, even those who just screwed parts onto cars as the came down the line, made for a robust economy and a good quality of life for lots of people.    People with special skills, above average drive, or greater intellect had plenty of opportunity and could do even better than the average Joe.   

With the dream harder to achieve, not as many people are going to succeed.   

tracylayton

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #48 on: December 10, 2014, 08:33:49 PM »
My take is that the American Dream is alive, but not quite as easy as it used to be. 

When I graduated HS ('75) one could still walk up to the gate at an auto factory and ask for a job.   (Wish I had the sense to do that)    10 years later one would have a spouse, 3 kids, 2 new cars, a nice house in the 'burbs, and a vacation cabin "up north"  (Michigan speak).    All one had to do is be willing to show up for work every day.   One did not need any special (MMM) money management skills to achieve this.   Just spend as fast as you can earn.   

The dream is still achievable, but it's not as easy as taking a factory job (or some other unionized blue collar work) and spending your money.     It will take some skills (not necessarily college)  not just a willingness to work.     It will also take some money handling skills.   Job stability isn't what it once was, and the skill development doesn't come w/o cost.   

Growing up we lived a solidly middle class life in the 'burbs, and my dad was blue collar, as were most of the neighbors. I don't know what was wrong with the "system" we had in the 60s and early 70s.   Seems to me that a well paid workforce, even those who just screwed parts onto cars as the came down the line, made for a robust economy and a good quality of life for lots of people.    People with special skills, above average drive, or greater intellect had plenty of opportunity and could do even better than the average Joe.   

With the dream harder to achieve, not as many people are going to succeed.   


Totally agree with you. I did pull myself up by my bootstraps, but am watching my kids work a whole lot harder to pay for car insurance, rent, etc. than I ever did. People also had a better chance of making it without a degree 30 years ago. We just don't have the good manufacturing jobs available that we did back then.

MB1443

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #49 on: December 11, 2014, 05:00:23 AM »
Part of the problem is that stastics about the US are flawed because of the number of African Americans in this country.  That drags down income, mobility and education.  Comparing the success of recent imigrants from India vs american born African Americans is remarkable. 

Also, Europeans tend to hear a lot in the media about how everything sucks in america.   Most seem surprised I have healthcare.  They are blown away if they find out my high salary.  The US offers a very cheap but high standard of living.