Monday, December 8, 2008

NPR has started a series called "American Moxie: How we get by" about how Americans are coping with the recession. It seems like there's only been one segment so far, about a farmer who is selling his cattle because as fuel prices rise and cattle prices remain stagnant, he's losing money on them.

I think it will be an interesting series, but I have some concerns about the title. I think the American Dream has often been misinterpreted to mean "if you work hard enough, you can do/be anything." I think that is a nice, but empty idea in our current system. It takes more than "moxie" to get ahead in America; often it takes inherited wealth, in the form of money from your parents or even in the connections they have made. I think the idea that the average Joe can pull himself up out of poverty has often been used by rich and powerful people to absolve themselves of either directly helping people or putting in place a system in the playing field is leveled. To me, the phrase "all men are created equal" requires us to protect and help our fellow man so that they can have the same opportunities that the rest of us do. It does not mean that we should be left on our own, out in the cold, to duke it out for ourselves.

1 comment:

dra said...

That's a really great, succinct expression of a real truth (or what I believe to be one any way).

I also think that a lot of the people who go around preaching that idea are people who themselves are the lucky beneficiaries of a period of time in American history that made the "American dream" more accessible to people willing to work hard and pull themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps--but they forget that it wasn't just their hard work and some well-placed luck--it was the result of a whole host of liberal-minded government policies (GI Bill, etc.) that made it possible for them to so. It seems though that such people have almost entirely forgotten that fact as they now preach the doctrine of cold-hearted libertarianism.