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The american dream
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| Words: 787 | Submitted: 03-May-2011
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Descriptionwhat is the typical american dream for people
Traditionally, Americans have sought to realize the American dream of success, fame and wealth through thrift and hard work. However, the industrialization of the 19th and 20th centuries began to erode the dream, replacing it with a philosophy of "get rich quick". A variety of seductive but elusive strategies have evolved, and today the three leading ways to instant wealth are large-prize television game shows, big-jackpot state lotteries and compensation lawsuits. In an article, Matthew Warshauer, Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University, examines why so many Americans are persuaded to seek these easy ways to their dream. Instant wealth has not always been a major component of the Dream. Americans have traditionally centered their efforts on thrift and hard work. During the Colonial Period, Benjamin Franklin counseled people on the "The Way to Wealth." Poor Richard's Almanac advised that "Early to Bed, and early to rise, makes a Man healthy, wealthy, and wise." The key to wealth was industry: "Industry pays debts," insisted Poor Richard. For many the goal was not extravagant wealth, but, rather, economic independence and the opportunity for social advancement through financial gain. Abraham Lincoln insisted that the greatness of the American North was that industry allowed all men to prosper.
In the midst of industrialization following the Civil War, many Americans experienced profound hardship in the changing economic landscape. They found solace in the tales of Horatio Alger, whose characters overcame adversity through industry, perseverance, self-reliance, and self-discipline. The “rags to riches" legend became a cornerstone of American society; anyone could succeed and achieve wealth if they worked hard. Many believed that hard work allowed one to not only achieve financial success, but, through that success, revealed God's grace.
The shift away from the traditional American work ethic corresponded directly with the rise of industry. Work values changed dramatically when the assembly line production and machine driven atmosphere of industrial America swallowed up skilled workers. As one critic noted, “consumed by desires for status, material goods, and acceptance, Americans apparently had lost the sense of individuality, thrift, hard work, and craftsmanship that had characterized the nation.”
The result of this shift in work ethic has actually spurred rather than lessened the people’s desire to achieve the American Dream. Yet the real difference is that the Dream has become more of an entitlement than something to work towards. Many Americans no longer entertain a vision for the future that includes time, sweat, and ultimate success. Rather, they covet the shortcut to wealth. Many who are engaged in work view it more as a necessary evil until striking it rich. This idea has been perpetuated by a massive marketing effort that legitimizes the message that wealth ...
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