The Great American Dream

January 26th, 2014

In a recent interview for his blog, the author Richard Godwin asked me:

“How do you view the Great American Dream?”

The American dream has evolved over the last three decades into an American nightmare. Success and getting ahead have always been an important part of the American dream but today success and getting ahead are almost exclusively measured in terms of money. Our culture, media and government have all become dominated by powerful corporations and the aims and values of these corporations. By law, corporations are required to put profits for their shareholders over all other considerations, considerations like the welfare of their employees, the effects on the environment of the corporation’s activities, the effects on society in general of their activities. Success is defined exclusively by monetary considerations. And it is these values that the corporate media spreads into our TV sets, computers, schools and households.

Most of the current sicknesses of our society, dis-functional and absurdly overpriced healthcare, the breakdown of the family, huge inequalities of wealth, the waste and obscene inefficiency of our defense and spying apparatus, can be attributed directly to this perversion of the American dream to focus exclusively on monetary success. Our health-care system, the most wasteful, corrupt, and inefficient in history, is the most blatant example of a system that in our country, unlike most all other developed nations, is run by businesses for profit and, as a result, is a catastrophic failure. Since the Obama-care continues the reliance on the profit motive in much of its structure it will continue the catastrophe. Think what a different healthcare system might develop if all hospitals were non-profit, with limits on executive compensation, limits on specialists reimbursement, limits on how much a drug might be marked up from its cost. But any limitation on compensation for anyone at anytime goes against the “American dream” of letting everyone get as rich as he or she can.

The American dream used to include concerns for community, the environment, the family, the nation in general. No more. Now it is all about money. And the whole world is suffering as a result.

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