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The Burden of Debt and the American Dream


The original definition and essence of the American dream was that all Americans of ability and achievement should enjoy a fuller and richer life. It stated that the achievement of the American dream which included success, wealth and fame had to come through thrift and sheer hard work. In the recent past, though, the true essence of the American dream has suffered a severe erosion that renders it simply as a get rich quickly analogy (Warshauer, 2002). This has led to the evolution of very seductive, but elusive strategies that leave the seekers not only devastated, but also utterly disillusioned. Game shows on Television that offer a million dollars, lotteries that are as well big-jackpot among many states and highly promissory law suits are but a few examples that have landed the American in a state of readiness for instant wealth. The good old ways of 'rags to riches,' through the very application of intelligence and honest hard work is disappearing especially among the young people.

The story now is that everyone wants a rather easy route to escape the responsibility of living to personal actualization through individual achievement. What then happens to a people that love nothing but a easy life? Poverty is likely to crouch in and cause some rather uninteresting outcomes. The major undoing is that most Americans have easy access to credit facilities, a thing that well suits the lifes of those who want instant provisions. The outcome is debt. Debt and more debt eventually piles up to dangerous limits. This research attempts to explain the relationship between the erosion of the American Dream, the original, with the consequent burden of debt that have crippled 'the lovers of a easy life!'

The root cause of the problem

As noted above, any one in America is capable of achieving financial success and considerable social mobility if through hard work, frugality, and self-sacrifice they allow the cause of the traditional American dream to take place. It is indeed the legend of 'rags to riches' that the American dream is built. On a special report titled The American Dream published by Forbes,  David M. Ewalt and Michael Noer emphasize the point that America is diverse mixture of culture that immigrated into it to form the great United States (Ewalt & Noer, 2007). Madeline Albright, who served as the 64th U.S. secretary of state describes the American dream as 'the sense that one's individual optimism and hard work will make rightful returns for they are a part of a society that allows them to be or to do whatever they want. Indeed very true, as most Americans are aware of the freedom they have been accorded, not only to be, but also to do and dream. The misconception that enters, therefore, is the thing that destroys this very important concept.

America has always been described as the land of infinite possibilities. The hope and praise that has been instilled in the Americans by former leaders such as Abraham Lincoln has been the adhesives that hold together such a cohesive yet so vulnerable a society. However many have still abused this important advantage that is God given and decided that they'd rather engage in ways that are at best described as short cuts. Many who have abided by such tenets have always found that their ends are good, for it is very clear in the American system that dreams do come true.  Even though a patchwork of different cultures form the American way of life many are given an equal advantage that prescribes that they have an equal chance of realizing their dreams (Warshauer, 2002). .

The government is also a contributor of the debt problems in the United States. According to Addison Wiggin, the government may as well be destroying the American dream (Wiggin, 2011).  One would not be wrong to speculate that the American middle class is debt full that they are drowning in it. With adjustments for inflations done the debt burdens for middle class families is nothing but appalling. For instance, there was a 33.1% growth of debt burden for a family that earned around $ 45,000 in the years between 2001 and 2004. Bankruptcies are increasingly become a common household phenomenon (Weller, 2006).

The source of these problems is not hard to pin point as everything in the US is very transparent. The years between 2001 and 2004 experienced a rather slow income and the data to this is available for the public eye. When the economy slows down, it does not mean that the issues that form a base of the American dream change. This include housing, educational expenditure especially the loans, as well medical expenditure and increasingly rising transportation costs. Family budgets get very much fixed, and the increasing need to work two or three jobs arises. The people who do not keep up end up finding themselves in massive debts.

This means that the American dream, and its realization, recedes even further (Weller, 2006). The misconception may be that the debt problem is a direct result of credit card debt as many are prone to overconsumption. The truth is that home investments and education have recently experienced dramatic increases and hence has increased the need for heavier borrowing.  At a time of a weak economic growth, debt must increase since it is almost impossible for Americans to live without the loans for housing and education. Hence this middle income families are bound to make more borrowing that they would have had it been a few years ago.

There was once a time that anyone who called themselves American was very proud of it. Now, though, everyone that is asked, even across the media, people seem to very pessimistic about the greatest country in the world. Every journalist and blogger seems to be writing so much about the great challenges that the country is increasingly faced with . The Debt burden is perhaps one of the main issues that suffer the greatest acclaim. And the blame is squarely fixed on the government. Even though Washington is to blame, the Americans need not forget the very habits that have led to this horrible situation. 

The debt problem, according to Paul Krugman of the New York Times, does indeed seem scary. But there is hope in that despite the present slack, a possible economic growth in the next decade will see the debt problem increasingly sorted (Krugman, 2009).

The problem of debt may never really be completely wiped out. However, the issues that aid its presence and continued torment on the people of the United Sates can be relooked at. As Americans pursue the American dream of a better life and financial liberty, they all ought to be careful and sensitive to the fact that debt beckons. Hard work and effective debt management ought not only to be instilled, but also upheld and taught from a tender age. The spirit of the American dream will never die if the Americans themselves learn to take responsibility over their expenditure and debt incurrence.

 For some, the American dream remains just a dream, which a mentality that should be purged. It is amazing how very savvy television producers and marketing executives have become so engrained in the core of the very American dream.  The very possibility of striking it rich, which they understand very well, truly enthralls many Americans. The proliferation of millionaire game shows has not come by chance. It is designed to make winning seem easy to cause people to love a quick buck, in essence forgetting the true tenets of the American dream. Achieving the American dream through such means is indeed far from being as true, if easy. It obvious that the chance exists; as some have made it but a majority fall on the way side and indeed lose themselves to debt burdens if gambling was involved.


The question now begs how a balance is to be attained in this endeavor to achieve the American dream in this era of instants. Americans ought to learn self reliance. Game shows, promises of lottery millions and such other simple possibilities of making money ought not to be taken as a replacement for truth of the American dream that specifies hard work as a key component of achieving financial as well as social freedom. Debt holds one a prisoner of the one to whom they owe. And it is therefore necessary that it should be avoided at all costs.

Everyone in America wants to achieve the dream of financial freedom, as they respect that fact, they should not adopt an 'achievement by all necessary means strategy.' Americans ought to be better planers and excecutors of plans that daily lead them to a better way of life, not the easy ways that draw them towards debt every passing hour. Finally, the American dream is a possibility, and can be attained by anyone. The only qualification is that they ought to work at it. With so many opportunities in America, it would only be rude to oneself not to achieve.

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