The American Dream is fracturing and defragmenting: corporate consolidations, privatization and capricious war making are creating a new rich class and killing citizen soldiers daily. Fifty percent of marriages in America end in divorce. Congress is a ship of fools. Our bridges are falling down.
Yet oil companies are making insane profits while Americans lotto-scratch and blackjack their savings into nightmares, victims of reservations and the greed that backs them.
Traditionally, Americans have sought to realize the American Dream of success, fame and wealth through thrift and hard work. Historian and writer James Truslow Adams coined the phrase “American Dream” in his 1931 book The Epic of America:
“The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement… It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”
American Musical Chairs begins. Only there are many less available chairs in the circle and most are reserved!
A new reality for Americans and the planet at-large is coming down the pike: food scarcity, resource squabbles, dry water wells, hot gas for sale from your local mafia. The time is coming: A gated, segregated and prohibitive society where a few very mega-rich individuals own the rights to oil, agriculture goods and what is left of the banks as we know them.
Mad Max, Water World, Viva Las Vegas, Apocalypse Now. Ready?
How do we turn this dark dive around?
The New American Dream:
seven green goals
• Localization: Growing food and supporting jobs in the local economy first.
• Sustainable Profit: Profit making that creates Enrons and the housing crisis need to go. Sustainable profit factors in the actual costs of industry and agriculture, cradle to grave.
• Conservation / Recycling First: The landfill mentality must go. Products must be designed for 100 percent recycling.
• Pedestrian-Scale Neighborhoods and Cities: Unweaving and reconnecting ourselves to our neighborhoods with a high priority on integrated mass transit, walkable shopping opportunities and park space.
• Universal Health Care: It’s overtime to pull the “profit-only priority plug” out of staying well.
• A Peace Corps Experience for All Undergraduates: A semester abroad working with the world.
• Ending War: War is the knife in the back of our passing American Dream. We must end our hatred, economic-fueled killing in the name of “God and Country.”
William Paul is an Oakland resident and environmental activist.