The days of Marilyn Monroe used to be the symbol of the American Dream. Those days are long gone, and for many, the ability to dream has become a dream in itself. In over two years of recession, enormous sums have flowed into corporations, but not into the pockets of Americans in need.
“If you took the 1.4 trillion dollars that were initially spent just to bail out the banks, and you had redistributed that money among all the millions of Americans who were having trouble paying their mortgages and who had just lost their jobs in the year or two – each one would receive a check for 350 thousand dollars,” said editorial columnist and cartoonist Ted Rall.
But that money is nowhere to be seen for 1 in 7 Americans living in poverty.
“The American Dream historically has been the ability to own a house, may be a car, to eat what you wanted to eat, to get a little vacation, and to be able to save a bit of money,” said Economist Max Fraad Wolff from The New School in New York.
Millions do not have homes, do not have jobs, and simply do not have dreams any longer.
“What dream? It’s survival,” said Kian Fredericks, who is unemployed.
Kian is a single mother struggling in New York, who has been out of work for more than a year now.
“Unemployed people want jobs. There is one in five, one in eight applicants for every job. I don’t know what people want you to do,” she commented. “You can’t invent a job, right?”
Kian said her dreams have turned into a constant worry to stay afloat.
“My dream would be to be able to pay my rent on time, frankly and not just have to stress every, every minute,” she said.
While some of the lucky few have been able to avoid the stresses of a recession, according to official numbers, unemployment increased marginally to 9.2%. But many experts have said that number may actually be closer to 20 percent.
THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — JUNE 2011 Nonfarm payroll employment was essentially unchanged in June (+18,000), and the unemployment rate was little changed at 9.2 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment in most major private-sector industries changed little over the month. Government employment continued to trend down.
“I just heard a report that they freed up seventy thousand jobs. Where are they? Can you send one over here?” said Sahai, who is struggling in the down economy. “I feel like I am looking for jobs that don’t exist anymore.”
The poverty is even more shocking considering the advantages the US has historically enjoyed.
“The United States is the richest country in human history in terms of its general wealth, and yet it has had more poor people than any other rich country in human history,” said Professor Norman Markowitz of Rutgers University.
For the majority of Americans the loss of prosperity took place recently.
“It’s changed a lot in the last two years because of the broken promises of Obama,” said journalist Jerry Mazza in New York.
It is the priorities of the government that are now often blamed for the shattered American Dream.
“54 percent of US federal tax dollars go into the military. 19 percent is just paying off the interest on old wars that are over and we are not fighting anymore,” said Rall.
While officials engage in their own games, many Americans have been left to mend their broken realities and dreams by themselves.
“Our government stole the American Dream; I think that is what the bottom line is. Our own Government did it and we as Americans let them do it. It’s really sad,” said Fredericks.