Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday: What's YOUR American Dream?

The economy is in trouble. I know they've been saying this for a while, but I actually believe it now.

A friend's husband is getting laid off.

Another friend's husband has lost a third of his business contracts, and she is scrambling to make sure that the family can still get needed medical and dental services.

Others are afraid of losing their jobs, driving unreliable cars, and dreading a whole variety of unexpected expenses and income loss.

I received an action alert today from about the greed of Wall Street bankers taking big bonuses whilst expecting the federal government to spend taxpayers' dollars on bank bailouts.

Big bonuses.

The alert said "Sen. McCaskill was reacting to the $18.4 billion in bonuses that Wall Street bankers took home in 2008."

That's a whole lotta dough. It would pay for a lot of dental checkups or brake jobs.

What it comes down to, for me anyway, is nothing less than defining the American dream. Is it that anyone can grab as much as they can? That government should not get in the way of profit-making endeavors? That there should be no regulation of business? That this is a great country because a person can rise to a level where they make an obscene amount of money while others go hungry?

Um.....I don't think so.

I believe in the idea of one's fair share. And not the insane excess that some people have been taking and spending.

One of my friends recently sent me a picture of her taken at the FDR Memorial in DC. I totally love that place. It's full of beautiful natural stone and water and great bronze sculptures. I'm inspired by his quotes, chiseled into the stone. The one I've shared above encapsulates one of the reasons I'm a Democrat, and what I hope fellow Democrats believe. I'd love it if my fellow Americans all believed it.

What do you believe?


Robert A Vollrath said...

My Dream is that both criminal political systems come to an end in my lifetime.

My 80 year old mother's vote was stolen last election. I believe it was stolen by your party.

Its all pay for play. Both sides play that game.

Bee said...

That quote - I'm sure that Obama said something very similar. He was probably paraphrasing FDR. I, for one, am very heartened that he seems to want to level the playing field a bit.

Despite its idealistic leanings, America has always been about the Big Grab. There is great generosity on a personal level, but many, many don't want to see that generosity institutionalized in any way. (I'm not in agreement with them, but just acknowledging the viewpoint.)

It's very hard to stomach the banking bonuses, though. Now that bankers have learned so many ways to cheat the system, I think that some regulation is absolutely crucial.

Kathy Amen said...

Very well said, from one Dem to another.

bushtool said...

From here:

Though money is tight and everyone is holding on to their paychecks like they'll never see another one (a statement which, sadly, rings all too true for many), people have also never been so giving, so compassionate, and so focused on rolling up their sleeves, digging in and digging deep to help both themselves and those around them.

Don't believe me? How about the Gainesville couple who sold everything they owned on eBay in order to pay for their children's medical bills? They found a buyer -- for $20,000, no less -- but with one small catch...

The winning bidders assured Brittiny and Gregg that they will honor the terms and send the money. But...

"They informed us this morning that they do not intend on taking possession of the things. They're basically purchasing them and giving them back."

The purchasers, Keith and Donnia Blair of Fort Worth, told the Associated Press, simply, "We've been blessed," and "we saw an opportunity to help."

From bushtool: Because the media accentuates the negative, it is easy to forget there are decent people in the world doing good deeds.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Robert A Vollrath - I promise sometime I'll write about electoral reform - your comment relates more to that topic. For now, I'd be interested in knowing what you and your mother believe about the American economic dream. :)

Bee - You're absolutely right. On all counts. I think we as a nation need to engage in some soul searching about what you call the Big Grab.

Kathy - Thanks!

bushtool - thanks for this hopeful message! Very much appreciated.

Jen said...

Very very good post.

It's always got me how the Repubs would talk about Obama trying to redistribute wealth. Esp when Bush was doing that for the past 8 years. Why is it that there is a belief that all wealthy people deserve to get wealthier and poorer people deserve to be poor.
I for one, would gladly pay a little more in taxes for the chance of everyone having healthcare.. and I'm far from wealthy.

Bushtool - LOVE that story. There definately are still great people out there!

Jen said...

Robert - I interpreted your comment as saying that the Democratic party got your mom on board and that's how they "stole" her vote.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Thanks, Jen. :)

I think it would be interesting if we engaged other people in more philosophical discussions rather than simply focusing on the political party affiliation. If citizens can define their values, perhaps leaders will respond accordingly.

A system that replicates the sort of enthusiastic cheering on so many people do for sports teams (while booing the opposing team) really is not ideal. We need to think deeper! Well, not YOU, and sometimes not me, but definitely the general populace of this country do....

phd in yogurtry said...

The FDR Memorial is one of my favorites, if not THE favorite, and precisely because of quotes such as the one you show. What a stark contrast to the past 8 years, huh?

Our paper published an opinion piece written by Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (she's planning to run for Gov here) .. She declared FDR's New Deal programs a failure. We need more tax relief, she said. Yada, yada, yada. Some things on the right will never change.

Lisa said...

I believe what that stones says. And I want an America where that is our mission.

bushtool said...

Here is an article on The Kindness of Strangers which advocates for progressive taxation as a method to "provide for those that have too little". There are far too many who want to add to those "who have too much" not knowing by doing so we all are diminished.

Fantastic Forrest said...

PhD in Yogurtry - you got that right! Hutchison is just wrong. I really value the wonderful buildings of the New Deal's WPA like Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood. Yay, FDR!

Lisa - I'm glad to hear you feel that way. But not very surprised. You are good people.

bushtool - I love Katha Pollitt. Saw her at Wordstock 2 years ago and thought she was great. Thanks for the link to her article!

stephanie (bad mom) said...

You know what I believe. I would teach at my school for free because those kids need a boost into a positive future.

My American dream is for all of us to know what it's like to have plenty - of education, of food, of art, of imagination, of respect, of love.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Stephanie - I wish that all of America was like you. Then that dream would surely come true. XOXO