One of the few founding principles of the United States of America has died out. That ever-lasting American promise that hard work and the pursuit of upper level education would lead to wealth simply is no longer true.
With an evaporating middle class the wealth gap in the United States continues to grow while equal opportunity seems to recede. The sun has set on the American Dream and in its place comes the harsh new reality of the American Nightmare.
As a high school junior I fear nothing more than applying to college. My largest fear is not so much what school I will get into; it is how can I afford whatever school accepts me? Years ago going to college was the assurance of a stable job and a stable income in the years following your graduation. Now an enormous number of college graduates work minimum wage jobs and struggle to pay their student loans; college has become a money trap. With exorbitant tuitions even at state institutions how can a young aspiring individual ever hope to repay their student loans? The truth is colleges don’t mind throwing their dreamy eyed customers into an eternity of debt.
And what of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, cries the opposition, those technological pioneers whose success in the frontiers of computer programing has revolutionized the way we live. They worked hard and their efforts led to billions of dollars. Is that not the American Dream, cries the opposition.
There is a reason you can list off the top of your head the handful of innovative college dropouts who really made it. The reason is that there aren’t millions of heartwarming stories every generation in which people who come from impecunious beginnings go on to make billions of dollars. In fact, there are hardly any.
It’s becoming harder and harder to really “make it” in this country and it’s not going to be getting any easier anywhere in sight.
The heart and soul of America dies with the American Dream. We were once a country people flocked to from all around the world in search of prosperity, opportunity and freedom. The middle class is the manifestation of the American Dream. It embodies all of the wonderful things that have made America so unique throughout its history.
Now the middle class is vanishing and it’s quickly becoming true that you are either poor or wealthy in this country and there is no healthy buffer zone between the two.
That wealth gap only hurts opportunity in this country. It gives advantages to those families wealthy enough to pay astronomical college tuitions for all of their children.
It also makes it so much harder for people who are born poor to rise in the socio economic ladder, and it makes it so much easier for people who are born into the middle class to become poor.
The lack of socioeconomic mobility in this country, the receding middle class and the exorbitant prices of college education are quickly turning the American Dream into a nightmare.