Monday, February 23, 2009

Weekly Opinion/Editorial
by Steve Fair

Is the American Dream dead? James Truslow Adams first used the term—The American Dream— in his book The Epic of America that was written in 1931. Adams stated: "The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not necessarily a dream of famous cars, nice homes and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman would be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable—to live up to their potential—regardless of who their parents are or their station in life upon birth.”

To the pilgrims coming to America in the 1600s, The American Dream meant religious freedom-even though the new land wasn’t yet called America. In the 1700s, more settlers seeking the right to worship freely along with those seeking adventure and wealth braved the over three month journey across the ocean to the new world. In the 1800s and early 1900s, America’s industry and ingenuity attracted people from throughout the world-all seeking their piece of the American Dream. While their motivations might have been different, they were united in their goal to live a better life in a better country. America’s first immigrants believed in personal responsibility. They didn’t come to America to get on welfare rolls or to panhandle. They were the best and brightest in their mother country, but personal liberty had eroded in Europe and across the globe until these risk takers left their home to live the American Dream.

It appears the American Dream has become a nightmare. American-the country noted for rewarding personal responsibility and ingenuity- has now started to reward people who are reckless and irresponsible. President Obama has proposed a two hundred and fifty billion dollar program where taxpayers would pick up some of the tab for people who are behind on their mortgage. That’s un-American! America doesn’t reward irresponsibility. Let the lenders and their customers work it out. The problem is the mandating of bad loans by the Clinton administration forced some lenders to make bad loans.

This week, Obama proposed we bail out Citibank-actually buy 40% of the stock in the mismanaged company. What about the banks that made good loans? The ones that did their due diligence and wouldn’t make the high-risk loans? They of course will be forgotten. America is fast headed to a Collectivism state.

According to Jeff Landauer and Joseph Rowlands,"Collectivism attempts to see a group of individuals as having a single identity similar to a person. ... Collectivism demands that the group be more important than the individual. It requires the individual to sacrifice himself for the alleged good of the group." This is taught in college today as “teamwork,” but the stark reality is that true teamwork requires unselfishness on everyone’s part- not just a few. Obama’s mortgage proposal is socialism- pure and simple.

This “Robin Hood” mentality Washington Democrats are engaging in forgets one unmistakable fact- Robin Hood was stealing. As much as I love the story, the real fact is Robin Hood was a thief- a criminal. Sure we have those in our country who are poor and in need and those of us who are blessed with plenty should help the truly deserving. But it’s not government’s job to mandate citizens help their irresponsible neighbors. This type of legislation will encourage more irresponsibility.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “You cannot help the poor, by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak, by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity, by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up, by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man, by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage, by taking away men’s initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently, by doing for them what they could and should, do for themselves.”

James Adam’s definition of the American Dream didn’t stop with the statement- a land in which life should be better, richer and fuller for everyone. He continued and added the dream rested on the initiative, ability, ambition or achievement of each individual. The American Dream of our forefathers may not be dead, but it’s on life support and with it’s death will go our capitalist way of life.

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