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The American Dream

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Submitted By kitsune
Words 1533
Pages 7
Kristie Macias
Professor Savard
English 101
1 April 2015
The American Dream In 1931, James Truslow Adams published a book titled "The Epic of America". He states that the American dream is a "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." Throughout the years since publication, the American dream was something many families were able to achieve, that is until, perhaps, starting around 2008 when the "Great Recession" hit. Many Americans lost their jobs due to the country's fourth-largest investment bank going bankrupt. There was a job shortage, many Americans were laid-off, income was falling, and poverty was rising. Seven years have passed and slowly America has been recovering, but has it recovered enough for the American dream to be alive? For the average American the dream is perhaps a owning a house, car, children, a stay at home parent, medical insurance, vacations, and savings for retirement along with savings for college tuition. In today's society, the American dream is unobtainable because a stay at home parent is rare, bills are a struggle to pay for, vacations are rarely taken, most are not able to save for retirement because of debt, and many college students have to work while in school to pay off their college tuition. The American dream is in fact alive, but out of reach for the average American. In the article "7 facts that show the American Dream is Dead", Eskow states, "There was a time when middle-class families could lead a comfortable lifestyle on one person's earnings. One parent could work while the other stayed home with the kids." (2) Upon looking for the percentage of a stay at home parent for last year, the census states that 10 percent of children live with their grandparents, 79 percent live with one sibling, 15 percent have a stay at home mother, 0.6 percent have a stay at home father and 24 percent have a foreign parent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, both husband and wife employed was 47.4 percent, for a husband to be the only worker was 20.1 percent and for the wife to be the only worker was 7.8 percent. To achieve the American dream everyone works hard, but the fact remains that no matter how much someone works the cost of living is too high and families are still struggling. Education, housing, and transportation costs increase when someone enters the life of parenthood. College is another thing to look at. Eskow writes "Student debt is crushing a generation of non-wealthy Americans" (3). Of course college education is expensive, but how expensive is it? To attend UCLA, the cost of $33,325, the cost of tuition is $13,029, to room and board is $13,135, books and supplies are $1,599, and other expenses are $5,562. To attend USC the cost of tuition and fees is $48,280, to room and board is $13,334, books and supplies are $1,500, the estimated personal expenses are $1,000 and the transportation expenses estimate $580. To attend Berkley the cost of tuition and fees are $12,972, to room and board is 15,438, books and supplies are $1,230, the estimated personal expenses are $4,188 and the transportation expenses are $530. Finally, to attend Stanford is $44,184, to room and board is $13,631, books and supplies are $1,425, estimated personal expenses are $2,550, and transportation $665. These do not include the mandatory health fees and parking permits. Assuming and hoping a parent's child attends a university and obtains a degree is a heavy cost on the average American. Loans can be pulled out and co-signed but that just means there is more debt piling up. There is also the help from scholarships and financial-aid, but not every parent is able to pay for their child's tuition or student loan even with those aids. In the end, both parents have to work and perhaps the student themselves have to work part-time or study hard and obtain a job after graduation to pay off the loan. Eskow also writes "Most Americans are falling behind anyway, as their salary fails to keep up with their expenses" (2). Owning a house and a car is very expensive, to obtain those things Americans have to establish credit and pull out a loan. The main way to establish credit is to obtain a credit card and pay it off on time every month. Having bad or no credit is very difficult, which is why most banks suggest opening a secure credit card, or one can be obtained through the bank provider. Once good and enough credit is established, a person is able to own a house, but to own that house they must be able to pay their mortgage payments, gas, heat, water, electricity, and groceries. Owning a car adds onto the debt. Whether it is a used car or a new car, cars have to be well maintained. There is the gas bill every week or two and an oil change every three months. If one is lucky, the car works fine. Unfortunately, if the car is not brand new it will require a lot of fixing and maintenance. The average cost of a transmission repair can range from $2,000 or higher. The average cost of a new battery can range from $80 or higher, for a new light in the front or back of the car may range from $40 to $100 depending whether or not you need the bulb replaced or the whole headlight replaced. The cost for a new oil pump can range from $300 to perhaps $600, and of course, the cost of a new engine replacement is around $500 if someone is lucky. If the person is unfortunate, the engine replacement can cost up to $2,000. Now with all those bills are in mind, is the average American still able to save up for retirement and go on vacations? Eskow states "Americans who were planning vacations expected to spend an average of $1,180 per person. That's $4,720 for a family of four" (3). Assuming that there were plane tickets on sale, or the family of four took a road trip to the desired destination, they rented a cheap hotel or did a home exchange, that cost is affordable and worth every penny. The down side of it is the person has to have stable income and has to be able to get the time off in order to leave place A, venture off into place B for a week or two, and return to place A and still pay off any monthly bills. The vacation part is very possible, but how does that leave room to save up for retirement? The American dream is different for everyone. In the article, "Is the American Dream Still Alive and Well?" McWhinne writes, "84 percent of investors say they are optimistic and will reach the American dream." Obviously, investors would be optimistic; the rich are practically debt-free and are able to retire. This article says nothing about the average American and what their views on the American dream are. More than half of Americans believe that the dream died and fifty-nine percent believe that the American dream is impossible to achieve. Nothing is impossible. The dream is not dead or out of reach, it is barely alive and difficult to obtain. In the article, "Is the American Dream Still Alive?" Bob Miglani writes, "I recognize that while the American dream for some may have lost its luster, it still remains vibrant within me. It is in America that we have choices, chances and possibilities that my family didn't have in India" (2). For immigrants, being able to come to America is living the dream. There are more opportunities go to school, children are able to have better lives than their parents, and living in America does not include the dangers of drug cartels. Although they may view it as the American dream being achieved, there is a lot more than just opportunity. Minimum wage still does not fully support the cost of living, medical insurance is the amount of rent someone would pay each month, and attending college is easier said than done. Again, the American dream is not dead, just very difficult to obtain.

Works Cited Census, The. One in Five Children Receive Food Stamps, Census Bureau Reports. N.p.: Census.org, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2015. CollegeBoard, The. College planning. N.p.: CollegeBoard.org, n.d. Web. 1 Apr. 2015. Employment Characteristics of Families Summary. N.p.: Bureau of Labor Statistics, n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2014. Eskow, Richard. 7 Facts That Show the American Dream is dead. N.p.: Alternet.org, 2014. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.
McWhinnie, Eric. Is the American Dream Still Alive and Well? N.p.: cheatsheet.com, 2014. Web. 23 Mar. 2015. Miglani, Bob. Is the American Dream Still Alive? N.p.: bigthink.com, 2013. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.

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