Author Topic: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?  (Read 21423 times)

SwordGuy

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #100 on: December 18, 2014, 09:37:13 PM »
Yep, for about 400 years people have been coming here from elsewhere to make a better life than they had where they came from. 

And, of course, since "The American Dream" is a total myth, they have almost all completely failed.

I'm not quite sure how they all failed since Americans are among the wealthiest people in the world, but some of you are obviously particularly wise, so I'm sure this discrepancy from the storyline won't unduly trouble any of you. 

Even folks who come here illegally have managed to thrive and make a better life for themselves and their families in the old country.
Of course, somehow, I'm sure that actually proves "The American Dream" is a myth, somehow.

Are things tougher than they were in the 40s thru the 80s?   If they weren't it would be an awesome miracle.   For those of you who actually know what went on around the world from 1939 to 1945 (that would be World War II for the Americans among you), you might be aware that much of our industrial competition had been blown to bits.  Huge portions of foreign industry that hadn't been destroyed was in economies that were totally disrupted for decades.   

Despite the fact that our economy is totally crippled and the American Dream has been proven to be totally bogus, Americans have bigger and nicer houses than their parents or grandparents.  They have more homes with electric power and indoor toilets with real plumbing.   They have more cars and TVs.   More stuff in general.    Again, this huge bonanza of prosperity clearly proves the American Dream is totally a myth and always has been.



StashDaddy

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #101 on: December 19, 2014, 06:57:40 AM »
Income inequality?  Upward mobility?  zzzzzzzzzzzzzz  Those are just buzzwords from Complainy-Pants people. 

To all of the more liberal folks on here:  I realize that part of being human is empathizing with other peoples' "suffering", but do you think that the people "suffering" had SOMETHING to do with their condition?  Do you think they make different choices in life that prevent them from getting ahead?  Come on, people--lets stop ENABLING poor life choices!

Listen, we already have the greatest equalizer in the history of civilization--free education!  If you want to become wealthy, its pretty easy.  And this is true no matter how poor/ghetto the school you attended.  Study hard in class, study even harder OUTSIDE of class, get good grades.  If you get good grades, you can take your pick of colleges, and you can take your pick of challenging majors that lead to high-paying jobs.  The problem is the culture of the poor in this country does not value their free education, and they don't try hard in school or life. 

Grimm

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #102 on: December 19, 2014, 07:23:23 AM »
Income inequality?  Upward mobility?  zzzzzzzzzzzzzz  Those are just buzzwords from Complainy-Pants people. 

To all of the more liberal folks on here:  I realize that part of being human is empathizing with other peoples' "suffering", but do you think that the people "suffering" had SOMETHING to do with their condition?  Do you think they make different choices in life that prevent them from getting ahead?  Come on, people--lets stop ENABLING poor life choices!

Listen, we already have the greatest equalizer in the history of civilization--free education!  If you want to become wealthy, its pretty easy.  And this is true no matter how poor/ghetto the school you attended.  Study hard in class, study even harder OUTSIDE of class, get good grades.  If you get good grades, you can take your pick of colleges, and you can take your pick of challenging majors that lead to high-paying jobs.  The problem is the culture of the poor in this country does not value their free education, and they don't try hard in school or life.
Agree 100% with your perspective.  I'm continually amazed at the number of negative, whiny, losers I come across who do not realize the opportunities they have, recognize how easy it is to make better choices, work a little harder, and take advantage of those opportunities.  Instead, I see people who do not value their education, put almost no effort into schoolwork, choose to slackoff instead of putting effort into getting ahead, and project negativity and a defeatist attitude.

I avoid those type of people at all costs and surround myself with exactly the opposite type of people. 

Mykl

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #103 on: December 19, 2014, 07:26:14 AM »
Income inequality?  Upward mobility?  zzzzzzzzzzzzzz  Those are just buzzwords from Complainy-Pants people. 

To all of the more liberal folks on here:  I realize that part of being human is empathizing with other peoples' "suffering", but do you think that the people "suffering" had SOMETHING to do with their condition?  Do you think they make different choices in life that prevent them from getting ahead?  Come on, people--lets stop ENABLING poor life choices!

Listen, we already have the greatest equalizer in the history of civilization--free education!  If you want to become wealthy, its pretty easy.  And this is true no matter how poor/ghetto the school you attended.  Study hard in class, study even harder OUTSIDE of class, get good grades.  If you get good grades, you can take your pick of colleges, and you can take your pick of challenging majors that lead to high-paying jobs.  The problem is the culture of the poor in this country does not value their free education, and they don't try hard in school or life.

Um, there has been plenty of evidence posted in this thread that tells you that becoming wealthy is not "pretty easy."

If I'm a "complainy-pants" for understanding this and knowing that there are a great many very good reasons for why someone might be stuck in the poverty trap you're a cold, unfeeling, dense, small-minded conservative who could do with getting out of the house and getting some life experiences that show you that it's not all sunshine and roses out there.

dude

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #104 on: December 19, 2014, 07:31:18 AM »
Yep, for about 400 years people have been coming here from elsewhere to make a better life than they had where they came from. 

And, of course, since "The American Dream" is a total myth, they have almost all completely failed.

I'm not quite sure how they all failed since Americans are among the wealthiest people in the world, but some of you are obviously particularly wise, so I'm sure this discrepancy from the storyline won't unduly trouble any of you. 

Even folks who come here illegally have managed to thrive and make a better life for themselves and their families in the old country.
Of course, somehow, I'm sure that actually proves "The American Dream" is a myth, somehow.

Are things tougher than they were in the 40s thru the 80s?   If they weren't it would be an awesome miracle.   For those of you who actually know what went on around the world from 1939 to 1945 (that would be World War II for the Americans among you), you might be aware that much of our industrial competition had been blown to bits.  Huge portions of foreign industry that hadn't been destroyed was in economies that were totally disrupted for decades.   

Despite the fact that our economy is totally crippled and the American Dream has been proven to be totally bogus, Americans have bigger and nicer houses than their parents or grandparents.  They have more homes with electric power and indoor toilets with real plumbing.   They have more cars and TVs.   More stuff in general.    Again, this huge bonanza of prosperity clearly proves the American Dream is totally a myth and always has been.

Exactly, Swordguy.  But the naysayers say it ain't so, so it must be true.

Mykl

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #105 on: December 19, 2014, 07:33:50 AM »
Yep, for about 400 years people have been coming here from elsewhere to make a better life than they had where they came from. 

And, of course, since "The American Dream" is a total myth, they have almost all completely failed.

I'm not quite sure how they all failed since Americans are among the wealthiest people in the world, but some of you are obviously particularly wise, so I'm sure this discrepancy from the storyline won't unduly trouble any of you. 

Even folks who come here illegally have managed to thrive and make a better life for themselves and their families in the old country.
Of course, somehow, I'm sure that actually proves "The American Dream" is a myth, somehow.

Are things tougher than they were in the 40s thru the 80s?   If they weren't it would be an awesome miracle.   For those of you who actually know what went on around the world from 1939 to 1945 (that would be World War II for the Americans among you), you might be aware that much of our industrial competition had been blown to bits.  Huge portions of foreign industry that hadn't been destroyed was in economies that were totally disrupted for decades.   

Despite the fact that our economy is totally crippled and the American Dream has been proven to be totally bogus, Americans have bigger and nicer houses than their parents or grandparents.  They have more homes with electric power and indoor toilets with real plumbing.   They have more cars and TVs.   More stuff in general.    Again, this huge bonanza of prosperity clearly proves the American Dream is totally a myth and always has been.

Exactly, Swordguy.  But the naysayers say it ain't so, so it must be true.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anecdotal_evidence

Quote
The expression anecdotal evidence refers to evidence from anecdotes. Because of the small sample, there is a larger chance that it may be unreliable due to cherry-picked or otherwise non-representative samples of typical cases.[1][2] Anecdotal evidence is considered dubious support of a generalized claim; it is, however, perfectly acceptable for claims regarding a particular instance. Anecdotal evidence is no more than a type description (i.e., short narrative), and is often confused in discussions with its weight, or other considerations, as to the purpose(s) for which it is used. This is true regardless of the veracity of individual claims.

I'm happy that you're observing that some people are successful.  Not a single person is saying that success is impossible.  What is being said is that upward mobility is not so good that we should brag about it, because compared to other places it's just not very good at all.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2014, 07:38:28 AM by Mykl »

StashDaddy

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #106 on: December 19, 2014, 07:41:24 AM »
Mykl, Wikipedia has some words for you, too:

Quote
In a negative sense, "enabling" can describe dysfunctional behavior approaches that are intended to help resolve a specific problem but in fact may perpetuate or exacerbate the problem.[1][2] A common theme of enabling in this latter sense is that third parties take responsibility or blame, or make accommodations for a person's harmful conduct (often with the best of intentions, or from fear or insecurity which inhibits action). The practical effect is that the person himself or herself does not have to do so, and is shielded from awareness of the harm it may do, and the need or pressure to change. Enabling in this sense is a major environmental cause of addiction.[3]
A common example of enabling can be observed in the relationship between the alcoholic/addict and a codependent spouse. The spouse may attempt to shield the addict from the negative consequences of their behavior by calling in sick to work for them, making excuses that prevent others from holding them accountable, and generally cleaning up the mess that occurs in the wake of their impaired judgment.[citation needed] In reality, what the spouse is doing may be hurting, not helping. Enabling can tend to prevent psychological growth in the person being enabled, and can contribute to negative symptoms in the enabler.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enabling

Mykl

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #107 on: December 19, 2014, 07:46:04 AM »
Mykl, Wikipedia has some words for you, too:

Quote
In a negative sense, "enabling" can describe dysfunctional behavior approaches that are intended to help resolve a specific problem but in fact may perpetuate or exacerbate the problem.[1][2] A common theme of enabling in this latter sense is that third parties take responsibility or blame, or make accommodations for a person's harmful conduct (often with the best of intentions, or from fear or insecurity which inhibits action). The practical effect is that the person himself or herself does not have to do so, and is shielded from awareness of the harm it may do, and the need or pressure to change. Enabling in this sense is a major environmental cause of addiction.[3]
A common example of enabling can be observed in the relationship between the alcoholic/addict and a codependent spouse. The spouse may attempt to shield the addict from the negative consequences of their behavior by calling in sick to work for them, making excuses that prevent others from holding them accountable, and generally cleaning up the mess that occurs in the wake of their impaired judgment.[citation needed] In reality, what the spouse is doing may be hurting, not helping. Enabling can tend to prevent psychological growth in the person being enabled, and can contribute to negative symptoms in the enabler.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enabling

Right, and the difference is that your position is based on a fallacy.

If you're going to try to insult me, at least do so intelligently.  "Enabling" doesn't even begin to describe my position.  A simple understanding that things aren't "pretty easy" for everybody isn't "enabling" laziness or whatever your cruel outlook on society actually is.  It's simply understanding that the United States is not a meritocracy, the rules aren't set in favor of hard work and effort, even if you can scrape your way up if you're lucky.

StashDaddy

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #108 on: December 19, 2014, 07:48:26 AM »
Quote
It's simply understanding that the United States is not a meritocracy, the rules aren't set in favor of hard work and effort, even if you can scrape your way up if you're lucky.

You're right--since all those poor kids who worked their ass off in school and got Straight A's are forced to accept minimum wage jobs at Walmart.

Mykl

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #109 on: December 19, 2014, 07:54:33 AM »
Quote
It's simply understanding that the United States is not a meritocracy, the rules aren't set in favor of hard work and effort, even if you can scrape your way up if you're lucky.

You're right--since all those poor kids who worked their ass off in school and got Straight A's are forced to accept minimum wage jobs at Walmart.

Uh, I don't know whose argument you're trying to support with this.  Have you never met anybody in that exact situation?

Yes, opportunities exist to help people with the next step of their education.  But what happens if every single individual qualifies for that assistance?  Does everybody get free college education or do they come up with some other way to weed people out and then assholes tell those straight A students who didn't qualify that they should have worked harder?

StashDaddy

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #110 on: December 19, 2014, 08:06:10 AM »
Haha, that would be a great problem to have.  And we can worry about this FICTIONAL problem if it ever comes to it.  Unfortunately, we are nowhere near it now, with most American kids not really giving a damn about school, and, in fact, wanting to beat the shit out of the few kids who DO try hard in school.

Do you also worry about the sun dying out?  The collision of our galaxy with Andromeda?  All matter torn apart from the expansion of the universe?  BECAUSE THESE ARE NOT THINGS LIKELY TO HAPPEN IN THE LIFETIME OF OUR CIVILIZATION!

Sofa King

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #111 on: December 19, 2014, 08:08:48 AM »
  I realize that part of being human is empathizing with other peoples' "suffering", but do you think that the people "suffering" had SOMETHING to do with their condition?  Do you think they make different choices in life that prevent them from getting ahead?  Come on, people--lets stop ENABLING poor life choices!



I concur.


But this will never happen.  There will NEVER be any personal accountability. Especially if the people who keep making bad life choices keep shitting out baby after baby when they can not even feed themselves.  The more they are irresponsible and the more they breed the more $$$$$$ the government will give them.  This will never change and things will never get better.   

Mykl

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #112 on: December 19, 2014, 09:14:16 AM »
Haha, that would be a great problem to have.  And we can worry about this FICTIONAL problem if it ever comes to it.  Unfortunately, we are nowhere near it now, with most American kids not really giving a damn about school, and, in fact, wanting to beat the shit out of the few kids who DO try hard in school.

But it isn't fictional.  Take ROTC programs and military academy programs as an example.  There are always more qualified applicants than they have money to support.  Telling someone rejected from an ROTC program to "work harder" to get that opportunity doesn't help if the person was disqualified because their eye-sight wasn't good enough, or they weren't tall enough, or some other bullshit they have zero control over.  Telling someone who didn't get an Air Force Academy slot to "try harder" doesn't help when most of the slots were taken by legacy applicants (children of prior Academy graduates).

Hell, right now even enlisting in some branches of the military isn't a dependable way to scrape ahead and frequently it has nothing to do with how hard you work or how smart you are.

The attitude that people can't get ahead because of "personal responsibility" or "lack of effort" is just ridiculous.  The "I tried hard and it worked out for me attitude" is stupid because it assumes that every other person's situation is exactly like yours, and it's not.

MDM

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #113 on: December 19, 2014, 01:24:48 PM »
But it isn't fictional.  Take ROTC programs and military academy programs as an example.  There are always more qualified applicants than they have money to support.  Telling someone rejected from an ROTC program to "work harder" to get that opportunity doesn't help if the person was disqualified because their eye-sight wasn't good enough, or they weren't tall enough, or some other bullshit they have zero control over.  Telling someone who didn't get an Air Force Academy slot to "try harder" doesn't help when most of the slots were taken by legacy applicants (children of prior Academy graduates).

Hell, right now even enlisting in some branches of the military isn't a dependable way to scrape ahead and frequently it has nothing to do with how hard you work or how smart you are.

The attitude that people can't get ahead because of "personal responsibility" or "lack of effort" is just ridiculous.  The "I tried hard and it worked out for me attitude" is stupid because it assumes that every other person's situation is exactly like yours, and it's not.
Anecdotal evidence works both ways.

Yes, "legacy" admissions policies go completely against merit-based principles.  The colleges that use them do so in the hope of getting more donations from the parental alumni.  At least, that's my opinion....  Note that not all colleges use legacy criteria.
 
Picking one specific school to say "not everyone can go there" is, however, merely anecdotal.  There are a large number of perfectly good - even very good - universities from which to choose (if one wants to go that route).  So "all those poor kids who worked their ass off in [high] school and got Straight A's" won't get into one single college, but if they select from http://www.forbes.com/top-colleges/ (and are realistic based on http://www.stateuniversity.com/rank/act_75pctl_rank.html) the likelihood of success is very high.



AustralianMustachio

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #114 on: December 19, 2014, 06:26:16 PM »
This pretty much sums up my problem with the idea of the American Dream, European Dream, or whichever Dream you care to mention

http://www.ted.com/talks/alain_de_botton_a_kinder_gentler_philosophy_of_success?language=en#t-413574

Quote
It is probably as unlikely today that you will succeed to the level of Bill Gates in the 1970s, as it was to rise to the ranks of the French aristocracy in the 18th century, but the problem is it doesn't feel that way. It's made to feel, by the media and other outlets, that if you have energy, a few bright ideas, a garage, you too could start a similar company

The problem with the idea of a meritocracy is that if you believe the people with the hard work, talent and energy deserve to rise to the top, on the other side, and in a far more nasty way, you believe that the people at the very bottom of society also deserve to be there.

In the middle ages if you met a very poor person, that person would be described as an "unfortunate." Literally someone who had not been blessed by fortune. Nowadays, typically in the United States, if you meet a person at the bottom of society that person may be referred to as a "loser"

I will support any politician left or right who has great meritocratic ideas. However I believe it is an insane proposition that we will ever make a society that is genuinely meritocratic. It is an impossible dream. There are simply too many random factors. Accidents, accidents of birth, illnesses etc, we will never get to grade people as they should be graded
« Last Edit: December 19, 2014, 06:30:57 PM by AustralianMustachio »

SwordGuy

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #115 on: December 19, 2014, 07:35:11 PM »
This pretty much sums up my problem with the idea of the American Dream, European Dream, or whichever Dream you care to mention

http://www.ted.com/talks/alain_de_botton_a_kinder_gentler_philosophy_of_success?language=en#t-413574

Quote
It is probably as unlikely today that you will succeed to the level of Bill Gates in the 1970s, as it was to rise to the ranks of the French aristocracy in the 18th century, but the problem is it doesn't feel that way. It's made to feel, by the media and other outlets, that if you have energy, a few bright ideas, a garage, you too could start a similar company

The problem with the idea of a meritocracy is that if you believe the people with the hard work, talent and energy deserve to rise to the top, on the other side, and in a far more nasty way, you believe that the people at the very bottom of society also deserve to be there.

In the middle ages if you met a very poor person, that person would be described as an "unfortunate." Literally someone who had not been blessed by fortune. Nowadays, typically in the United States, if you meet a person at the bottom of society that person may be referred to as a "loser"

I will support any politician left or right who has great meritocratic ideas. However I believe it is an insane proposition that we will ever make a society that is genuinely meritocratic. It is an impossible dream. There are simply too many random factors. Accidents, accidents of birth, illnesses etc, we will never get to grade people as they should be graded

Didn't read the article but have no quarrel with the ideas expressed in the quote.

The Declaration of Independence, which is a bedrock formative document in the USA, has this to say:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Please note that "being happy" is NOT one of the certain inalienable rights.  The PURSUIT of happiness is such a right.

I listen with amazement to people who say the American Dream was ALWAYS a myth and that it isn't easy to go from being poor to being middle class.   Was it somehow easier when folks went into the wilderness where there were no roads, no towns, no support network, hostile (rightfully so!) natives, no doctors, etc., and hacked a farm out of the forest?   

I don't go shopping in the malls all that much but I really didn't think it was all that hard by comparison - not even on Black Friday - which hardly ranks up there with being a member of the Donner Party.

Is it easier to do well if your parents did well before you?  Yep.  It's generally true.  And it's pretty much always been true throughout the history of the world.   Unless your parents were in the ousted bunch after a rebellion, of course.   

Is it easier to do well if you are born handsome or pretty, or with parents who raise you right and teach you useful life skills?  Yep.  That's generally true.  And it's pretty much always been true throughout the history of the world.  Unless you were born handsome or pretty and your city just got sacked, because then you got to be some rich person's sex toy.

Has it been easier in the USA before now?  Of course.  Boom times are always easier and these aren't boom times. 

Has it been harder in the USA before now?  Absolutely! 

Has it always been hard to go from the bottom to the top?  Absolutely!

Has it always been hard to go from the bottom to the middle?  Yes.

Could we make it easier for folks to get from the bottom to the middle?  Yes.

Is giving people money the way to do it?  No.  It will just make them lazy, dependent and complaisant.  They will consistently want more for doing less and feel less and less appreciative for the assistance they get.   

How about making college educations free?  (Or at least subsidize them to the 90% level?)    Sounds great. 
We pay for the first year.  If the grades are a C average, we continue to pay.  If the grades are below a C average, we don't.   Once the student gets their average back to a C, we start paying again.   

How about making day care free to parents who are working or in school?    Sounds great.  We'll get larger middle class families and poor families will have a much easier time improving their situation. 

How about not paying people who could not afford to raise children when they got pregnant to have more children?  How about fining them instead?  How about giving the children to people who can afford to raise them.   After all, as so many of you have argued, it's not fair to children to be raised by parents who lack successful life skills!   How about making it extremely inexpensive and fairly fast to adopt children who don't have parents so those kids get a better lot in life?

What about health care?   Well, with those huge medical school bills gone and some reasonable tort legislation in place to prevent crazy malpractice award amounts, we could get medical care much more affordably.  Those are the two biggest drivers for high medical costs.


ChrisLansing

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #116 on: December 19, 2014, 10:56:47 PM »
Haha, that would be a great problem to have.  And we can worry about this FICTIONAL problem if it ever comes to it.  Unfortunately, we are nowhere near it now, with most American kids not really giving a damn about school, and, in fact, wanting to beat the shit out of the few kids who DO try hard in school.

But it isn't fictional.  Take ROTC programs and military academy programs as an example.  There are always more qualified applicants than they have money to support.  Telling someone rejected from an ROTC program to "work harder" to get that opportunity doesn't help if the person was disqualified because their eye-sight wasn't good enough, or they weren't tall enough, or some other bullshit they have zero control over.  Telling someone who didn't get an Air Force Academy slot to "try harder" doesn't help when most of the slots were taken by legacy applicants (children of prior Academy graduates).

Hell, right now even enlisting in some branches of the military isn't a dependable way to scrape ahead and frequently it has nothing to do with how hard you work or how smart you are.

The attitude that people can't get ahead because of "personal responsibility" or "lack of effort" is just ridiculous.  The "I tried hard and it worked out for me attitude" is stupid because it assumes that every other person's situation is exactly like yours, and it's not.

Do the military academies give preference to legacy applicants?    Just wondering. 


Well, aren't we all human?   Aren't we all actually quite similar?  Don't we share a common culture (in the US) ?   Doesn't that mean what works for one is very likely to work for others?     

Is it not true that many of the poor engage in behavior not likely to help themselves?   And if so, isn't it reasonable to suggest a change in behavior might change their outcome?

MDM

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #117 on: December 19, 2014, 11:31:07 PM »
Do the military academies give preference to legacy applicants?    Just wondering. 

Yes, at least as of 2006.  See http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a462454.pdf (doctoral thesis for a U. of Florida grad).
Quote
there is little practical difference (and no statistical difference) between legacy and non-legacy admits at the Air Force Academy.
Figures 2-1 and 2-2 emphasize the similarity between legacy and non-legacy admits.





Paul der Krake

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #118 on: December 20, 2014, 03:48:23 PM »
Joshua Kennon's latest post addresses some of the points discussed in this thread. Give it a read, I love when he writes like this:

http://www.joshuakennon.com/power-compounding-student-loan-debt-communism-stealth-wealth/


ChrisLansing

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #119 on: December 20, 2014, 05:15:39 PM »
Joshua Kennon's latest post addresses some of the points discussed in this thread. Give it a read, I love when he writes like this:

http://www.joshuakennon.com/power-compounding-student-loan-debt-communism-stealth-wealth/


Thank you for the link.  That was interesting and it looks like a good site to visit again.   

Nords

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #120 on: December 20, 2014, 08:40:39 PM »
Do the military academies give preference to legacy applicants?    Just wondering.
Yes, although it varies by the military service.  By "legacy" they mean "children of any members of the armed forces of any rank"-- not just academy grads.

For example, here's the section of federal law for "legacy preference" of applicants to West Point:
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/4342
I've quoted a few of the many options of that law, which should be read in its entirety by anyone considering West Point, but here's the highlights:

Quote
(1) 65 cadets selected in order of merit as established by competitive examinations from the children of members of the armed forces who were killed in action or died of, or have a service-connected disability rated at not less than 100 per centum resulting from, wounds or injuries received or diseases contracted in, or preexisting injury or disease aggravated by, active service, children of members who are in a “missing status” as defined in section 551 (2) of title 37, and children of civilian employees who are in “missing status” as defined in section 5561 (5) of title 5. The determination of the Department of Veterans Affairs as to service connection of the cause of death or disability, and the percentage at which the disability is rated, is binding upon the Secretary of the Army.
[...]
(b) In addition, there may be appointed each year at the Academy cadets as follows:
(1) one hundred selected by the President from the children of members of an armed force who—
(A) are on active duty (other than for training) and who have served continuously on active duty for at least eight years;
(B) are, or who died while they were, retired with pay or granted retired or retainer pay;
(C) are serving as members of reserve components and are credited with at least eight years of service computed under section 12733 of this title; or
(D) would be, or who died while they would have been, entitled to retired pay under chapter 1223 of this title except for not having attained 60 years of age;
[...]
(c) The President may also appoint as cadets at the Academy children of persons who have been awarded the Medal of Honor for acts performed while in the armed forces.
(d) The Superintendent may nominate for appointment each year 50 persons from the country at large. Persons nominated under this paragraph may not displace any appointment authorized under paragraphs (2) through (9) of subsection (a) and may not cause the total strength of the Corps of Cadets to exceed the authorized number.

USNA:
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/6954
My daughter was eligible for a Presidential appointment under 10 U.S. Code § 6954 b(1) because (1) both of her parents are retired military (it only takes one) and (2) she met the admissions qualifications.  She would've had to compete against 99 other candidates.  When the USNA Candidate Guidance Officer was in Hawaii on a recruiting trip, he met with her to discuss these options.  During the interview it became clear that he had an appointment letter in his briefcase ready to give to her, so they apparently were tracking the top 100 and had prepped letters for those who made the cut.  When she was accepted by Rice University on a NROTC scholarship, she turned down the USNA appointment.

USAFA:
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/9342
« Last Edit: December 20, 2014, 08:42:28 PM by Nords »
Author of "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement".   All royalties (and writing revenue) donated to military charities.
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fa

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #121 on: December 21, 2014, 08:55:21 AM »
As someone who has lived, studied and worked in both Europe and the US, I can tell you from personal experience that the American Dream is alive and well.  It is easier in Europe than in the US to achieve a sort of "middle class" life (although "middle class" in Europe is a lower standard of living than in the US).  It is growing past the middle class to upper middle or upper class that is nearly impossible in Europe.  The  equalizing "tall poppy seed" policies make it virtually impossible to get ahead.  So you stay in the middle class.  In the US, the business climate and tax policy is much friendlier to growing into the upper middle and upper class.

I grew up in the middle class.  Pursuing the American Dream allowed me to grow into the upper class.  This simply would not have happened in Europe.  Period.  There is no such thing as a "European Dream" when it comes to exceeding the middle class.

How is the american middle class standard of living higher than the european one, in your opinion? (just curious, for my experience I would have said the opposite). Besides that, meh, I think the mindset in Europe might be different (what's "upper middle", compared to "middle"? Is that measured in income? And at what level of income would you put the bar? Or is it measured in expenditures? (in that case, are we on the same forum? the one by MMM, who tells you anyway that you spend too much, and have too much, and that you'd be as happy spending 50% of your income or less...)

Sorry for the late reply, but I missed the response.  To answer your questions:

-the average income in the US is significantly higher than in Europe.  On occasion, articles are published on this topic in financial newspapers.  I recall about a 20% difference.  That information is readily available.  No shame in that.  It isn't a competition.  The average income in Europe is plenty for a decent living, as it is in the US.

-the social safety net in most of Europe makes it easier to get by without working.  That is what I meant with my comment that it is easier to be middle class in Europe.  I am talking about Northern Europe here.  The US is less generous for people who don't want or can't work.  It always surprises me how the tax code levels out the after tax incomes in Europe, much more so than in the US.

-I think of upper class as income level as compared to the average, i.e. the right side of the bell curve.  You can set the cut-off anywhere you want.  My upper level income does not make me any better or superior than others.  However, my after tax income puts me very much on the right side of the bell curve.

-I have worked very hard to be where I am financially.  Nothing was ever given to me.  I did not inherit any money and did not win the lottery.  The US tax code allowed that to happen.  European egalitarian tax laws make it very difficult to be upwardly mobile, so reaching an after tax upper income level is nearly impossible.  If I would have worked just as hard in Europe, I would be far less financially secure because of the tax laws.  Besides the tax code, US laws are more favorable to starting a business and hiring employees.  Doing both is an almost essential part of attaining an upper income level.  The US has always been the land of opportunity, not the land of envy.  That helps those who are determined to improve their lot in life.

-by "upper class" I meant a very high income.  Having a high income does not imply an inflated lifestyle.  My lifestyle is very modest and I detest waste.  I believe that I belong in this community.  A high income does not disqualify me from Mustachianism.

All of this to say that hard work - working hard and SMART - can lead to great financial success in the US.  Even coming from a modest background.  I am an example of that.  That is the definition of the American Dream.  It is very much alive.

The days that you could enter the middle class by having little education but working in a high paying blue collar job are gone.  Those jobs have gone to China.  In that sense, the Dream is gone in all of the develped world.  MMM achieved FI by being a software engineer and intelligently managing his life.  He did not go out to try and find a factory job in Detroit right after high school.  MMM himself is a great example of the American Dream come true.

Albert

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #122 on: December 21, 2014, 09:32:46 AM »

Sorry for the late reply, but I missed the response.  To answer your questions:

-the average income in the US is significantly higher than in Europe.  On occasion, articles are published on this topic in financial newspapers.  I recall about a 20% difference.  That information is readily available.  No shame in that.  It isn't a competition.  The average income in Europe is plenty for a decent living, as it is in the US.

-the social safety net in most of Europe makes it easier to get by without working.  That is what I meant with my comment that it is easier to be middle class in Europe.  I am talking about Northern Europe here.  The US is less generous for people who don't want or can't work.  It always surprises me how the tax code levels out the after tax incomes in Europe, much more so than in the US.

-I think of upper class as income level as compared to the average, i.e. the right side of the bell curve.  You can set the cut-off anywhere you want.  My upper level income does not make me any better or superior than others.  However, my after tax income puts me very much on the right side of the bell curve.

-I have worked very hard to be where I am financially.  Nothing was ever given to me.  I did not inherit any money and did not win the lottery.  The US tax code allowed that to happen.  European egalitarian tax laws make it very difficult to be upwardly mobile, so reaching an after tax upper income level is nearly impossible.  If I would have worked just as hard in Europe, I would be far less financially secure because of the tax laws.  Besides the tax code, US laws are more favorable to starting a business and hiring employees.  Doing both is an almost essential part of attaining an upper income level.  The US has always been the land of opportunity, not the land of envy.  That helps those who are determined to improve their lot in life.

-by "upper class" I meant a very high income.  Having a high income does not imply an inflated lifestyle.  My lifestyle is very modest and I detest waste.  I believe that I belong in this community.  A high income does not disqualify me from Mustachianism.

All of this to say that hard work - working hard and SMART - can lead to great financial success in the US.  Even coming from a modest background.  I am an example of that.  That is the definition of the American Dream.  It is very much alive.

The days that you could enter the middle class by having little education but working in a high paying blue collar job are gone.  Those jobs have gone to China.  In that sense, the Dream is gone in all of the develped world.  MMM achieved FI by being a software engineer and intelligently managing his life.  He did not go out to try and find a factory job in Detroit right after high school.  MMM himself is a great example of the American Dream come true.

I agree with you mostly, except the bolded part. You would be less rich, but just as financially secure because of better government provisions for old age care and education and less likelihood of losing your income. By the way were do you draw a line for "very high income"? When someone writes that I never know what exactly to think…

No one talks about a European dream, not at least for native born people, but EU is very much a promised land for immigrants from the Middle East, Russia, Africa etc. Also for East Europeans moving to richer Western and Northern countries. Perhaps many would choose US if they could, but usually they are not in a position of being so picky… 

Albert

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #123 on: December 21, 2014, 09:37:11 AM »
By the way if you somehow do become very rich (I'm talking about 8 figures and up) in EU without being born with it then there is one thing you can do that is not available for Americans - go live in Monaco (except for French) or Switzerland and slash your tax obligations to minimum. None of the European countries tax citizens living abroad. Of course by doing that you also lose state benefits, but at those incomes you needn't care.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2014, 09:56:46 AM by Albert »

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Re: Is the American Dream nothing but the "Great American Myth"?
« Reply #124 on: December 21, 2014, 09:48:55 AM »

Luck and determination plays a major role in achieving the American Dream. Going deeply in debt for a ridiculous major in college does not help. Credential inflation is making it harder for people to climb out of the hole. The more education one needs the more debt is acquired.

Skyhigh