by Madeleine Kando
I come from a pampered country, a country that I call a ‘flopsy bunny’ nation. Many countries in Northern Europe are 'flopsy bunny' nations. We saw the French protest not too long ago, because their government wanted to raise their retirement age to 62! I do admire the French tradition of taking their demands to the street, but many of us here in the US were scratching our heads and wondering on which planet the French thought they lived.
Americans, you see, are hardworking, no-nonsense, pragmatic individuals. Their history is one of survival. Words like ‘pampered’, ‘lazy’, ‘spoiled’, don’t come to mind when I think of ‘Americans’. The reason they are like that is complex, but I suppose one of the reasons they work hard is that they think they can get ahead. They can improve their lives.
Unfortunately, this has turned into an illusion. The American Dream is dead. This simple expression, ‘The American Dream”, was alive and well for decades, when millions of foreigners came here in order to pursue it. But the definition of the American Dream is that "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone”, not just for the few.
The American Dream has turned into a nightmare. Americans work harder than ever. Women and wives work, not by choice but by necessity. Since there is no paid maternity leave in America, women barely have time to plop out their babies before they have to go back to work.
So what happened? What changed? If you work hard, spend energy doing something, like assembling a car, writing software, cleaning a restaurant.. aren’t you producing something? Who benefits from the value of that product? Shouldn’t it benefit the person that spends all that energy producing it by giving him money for his labor so that he can buy some of those products?
The American Dream turned into a nightmare when hard working Americans started to get paid less and less. They produced more because they worked harder, but they got paid less.
Since Americans are humans, they need shelter and food to live. They need a car to go to work. So the only thing they can do to just live, is borrow money. That’s fine and dandy as long as you are able to pay back the expensive money you borrow. But then the housing market collapses and your collateral vanishes overnight.
People get frustrated. You feel cheated. You see the government bail out the banks who lent you that expensive money while you have to foreclose on your house. No wonder you get angry. You get angry at the government. You don’t realize that you are barking up the wrong tree. Because, after all, if your salary had been adequate, had been a true reflection of what your labor is worth in a free market, you wouldn’t have had to borrow money in the first place.
That is what I call ‘The Amerian Nightmare’. Slowly the earnings of Americans went down, even though the economy grew. It grew, but only for a small portion of the population. The super rich got richer. Like a balloon with a blockage: all the air got stuck in a tiny part of the balloon while the rest is being asphixiated.
Gone are the days when the hardworking American had bargaining power. Gone are the unions. The idea that one of the jobs of the Government is to protect citizens against the excesses of capitalism never gets talked about. Let’s be honest, Government SHOULD redistribute some of the wealth in a capitalist society. Redistribute it by offering affordable education, affordable health care, affordable housing.
All we hear is ‘Government is too big’. The Government is blamed for everything. After the latest mid-term elections, things have gone from bad to worse. With this new Republican majority in the House and so many seats gained in the Senate, we will see even more inequality in this nation. What blows my mind is that it is the hardworking American that I so admire that has voted to put the very people in power that will tighten the noose around their necks even more. leave comment here
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
by Madeleine Kando