Growing up in the 70’s I recall the powerful influence of a generation of Americans who had endured three wars; World War II, Vietnam, and Korea. They had seen the enemy, and the consequences of allowing tyrannically dictators to go unchecked. These Americans lost sons and daughters defending the freedom that America enjoyed. They knew the benefit of living in a land where freedoms like speech, press, worship, privacy, and the right to bear arms were protected under the Constitution.
The protection of these freedoms is essential to the God given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Once, we were a nation who stood firmly upon those principles, recognizing the imprint of God on every man, woman, and child.
Slowly, the pursuits overcame the principles which undergird them. Personal liberty at the expense of others became more important than successful negotiation of peaceful coexistence for all. Freedom and liberty moved from the realm of reality, to the halls of ideology and political rhetoric. The pursuit of happiness became the overriding principle in the lives of men, women, and children.
Now, we live in a country where both parents work outside the home, not just to provide for the necessities of life, but to ensure the ownership of HDTV’s, IPODS, cell phones, and high-speed computers. As those willing to compromise family and values changed the market, prices rose.
The willingness of some Americans to sacrifice time, family, and quality of life to have more of everything pressed the American middle class. They faced a moral dilemma. Keep up with the Jones’s, or allow yourself and your family to be ridiculed or labeled lazy for failing to pursue the New American Dream: Wealth, Wealth, and Happiness.
Soon many families were faced with both parents working outside the home to make ends meet…or was it to make life easier? Was it to pay for home, food, clothes, and utilities, or to be able to upgrade to cameras with more megapixels, buy bigger T.V.’s, indulge in designer clothes, and eat out more often. Luxury redefined necessity in the minds of many Americans. Want replaced need as a measure of the standard of living.
Economic models are skewed because creditors in the U.S., have ignored the foundational principle of economics. Resources are limited. Many Americans believe they can spend unlimited amounts of money, borrowed money, on credit cards. Financial bankruptcy results when it comes time to pay the bills. Everyone loses. Prices increase to cover defaults. Finance rates increase to cover unpaid credit.
The economy suffers, while most Americans continue to blissfully buy, buy, and buy.
There is nothing wrong with money. I like money; however, it seems the foundations of our country have been turned on their head. No longer is life about family, friends, community, charity, and hospitality. Life is about getting ahead.
Look to the internet for proof. One of the consistent number one searches on the internet is “How to Make Money.” Included in the responses will be “How to Make Money from Home Doing Nothing,” “Make Money without Working,” “Make Money While You Sleep, “and on and on ad nauseum. The New American Dream wants more, and demands something for nothing.
It is every individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There has never been any guarantee of success, or that you are entitled to have it all. What you are entitled to is the freedom to pursue whatever you want in life, but you may fail. That’s real life.
However, it is time we get our country corrected and refocused. Money must cease to be the driving force. In politics the hunger for power and more, more, more must also be put in check. Only then will we be able to stop the downward spiral of America and American values.
Heed the age old warning: “The love of money is the root of all evil.” Look around and see if you think America is driven by the love of money and power. If it you see it too, let’s work to change it for America and for our children.