The American Dream. That one fixed point on the horizon of possibility that all Americans, native-born and immigrant could believe in, and strive for. Though it looks a little different for all of us, you’ll see the same threads for everyone that yearns for it- soil, family, peace, plenty.
For those of us who value self-sufficiency and privacy, we often envision a patch of land that is ours, all ours, a place where we can mind our own business and enjoy waking up to a new day in the freest country on earth after a life of hard work and discipline, each day better than the last. A place where we gather friends and family to us on important occasions or no occasion at all. Unbothered, unprodded.
Sadly, this classic portrait of the American Dream is no more, or at the very least now comes with a ton of fine print behind it. It is my opinion we are far less free than we have been even in the recent past. The New American dream is closer to waking terror, and in the following essay I will take you on a tour of it.
The following piece is a little different from my skills-based, philosophical or mindset content you are used to seeing reader. It is half observational missive and half jeremiad, a chronicle of the decay of the “good old days” according to Charles.
I want to address this strait away so it is not a lingering question as you read through the article: I love my country, I care about my countrymen and I pray that our leaders will do right by their constituents at all levels of government. I do not want to see the great experiment we call America fail, relegated to the dustbin of history as a comparative curiosity next to the longest-standing of empires from the old world.
All that said, I am calling it like I see it. Every generation has its challenges, true, but I see trouble brewing within our borders and among the patchwork we call a culture that is certainly reshaping society, if not the fabric of our country.
The following is from my own thoughts and observations. I am not quoting any sources, experts or anything else. It is a work of opinion, mine only, and does not reflect the opinions or beliefs of the owners and proprietors of this site or anyone else.
The American Dream That Was
Not so long ago, the American Dream seemed so real you could peek just around the corner and touch it. A man could expect to get a job, put his head down and hustle, and then retire with a nice gold watch and pension. Get a nice, cheap, piece of land and build a castle or any of the plentiful and well-made houses available anywhere.
Our currency, though no longer backed by gold or another precious commodity, had not yet been subjected to rampant inflation and inept governmental policies that would, if not capsize, then seriously rock its value. Your cash went farther, and you could tell.
Government corruption was surely around back in these halcyon days, but even moderate violations of law and ethics would see weasel politicians ousted or incarcerated, and if that didn’t happen you had best believe that their constituents would remember come voting day.
Ideologies that were publicly toxic to the American way of life existed but were the province of our foes save for a few radical adherents here at home, the twin doctrines of theft and poverty, communism and socialism were bywords for The Enemy. Public admission of adhering to either would see you ridiculed by peers or laughed out of more garrulous company.
With the de-escalation and end of The Cold War, the greatest lurking threat to the West and perhaps the world, in the form of a nuclear holocaust, subsided. America had certainly seen its veneer of bright-eyed optimism scoured somewhat, but by and large most Americans felt our country and countrymen to be the good guys.
We certainly had more privacy back then, too, as opportunities to intercept communications were patently limited by the nature of technology not too many decades back. The expertise needed to accomplish any clandestine methods of collecting data more complicated than simple eavesdropping was considerable. Much of your personality and intimate relations were your business unless you lacked the sense to keep from blabbing to every clackbox and gossip in town.
Generally, the attitude was you could believe in your own, mostly sovereign corner of the USA to make your own. And you could, more or less.
The New American Dream
Today, the essential vision of the American Dream seems like quaint advice from grandma and grandpa; like it never really happened, or was ever real. Many of us will grind away at soul-crushing jobs ever at risk of being outsourced. The idea of a pension, or retirement at a modest age, is laughable.
The American dollar, the once almighty greenback, is no longer backed by a gold standard, and relentless meddling by the Federal Reserve (a farce con job if there ever was one) and systemic government meddling and subsidizing now sees a dollar buy a quarter’s worth from only a few decades ago. Everything from milk to gasoline to ammunition is far more expensive.
Corruption at the Federal level has become so widespread it is in essence the New Political Way, a game of knives and lives with the lives and livelihood of the average American people being only so much grist for the mills on Capitol Hill. “Honest politician” is now an oxymoron so dense and pure it may collapse into a black hole under its own density. Scandals, suspicious activity, and borderline treasonous behavior that would have seen our grandfathers roll tanks on the Capitol are now perpetrated round the clock with nary a peep of opposition.
There are two kinds of people in America: big people and little people, and the law only corrals the little people into subservience unless a big person, an elite member of the political class or one of their orbiting supplicants must be sacrificed by the body of their peers for expediency, or to slake a call for vengeance grown too tumultuous by the vox populi.
What is worse is we are all criminals waiting to earn the ire of some powerful and influential foe: the sheer amount of laws on the books in the U.S. today, and draconian interpretations of them means that we are only ever a misstep away from seeing some scumbag attorney truss us up as malcontents or worse.
In some places you cannot choose to live off the grid, far, far away from the pre-packaged, intrusive and consuming march of the Corporate and Government idols of this cold era. You cannot catch rain to use; it belongs to the municipality. You cannot generate your own electricity with solar panels; there are hazards or it might fool the local energy consortium. You cannot forgo sewer and compost your waste; the health board says that isn’t sanitary. You don’t even truly own your land; if you do not pay the property tax on it and kiss the ring of the government your land will be seized and sold at auction or ransomed back to you.
The horrid ideologies of death and failure that have seen millions across the globe die or be put to death have taken root and are flourishing in the minds of our young people thanks to those wretched sops who nurtured the seeds back in the 1960’s and later secured positions of influence over impressionable minds.
The Cold War may be over, but the legacy of communism lives on. It is a bitter irony that that same ideology has started simmering a civil cold war here at home, one that sees the battle lines of political partisanship widen daily. Where once polite discourse and even abject disagreement did not make for tense living in close quarters or ended relationships we regularly see both riven straight down the party ticket. Those who abstain from politics or simply do not have an opinion are often tallied as lacking the will or backbone to support the Cause of the Day, and orphaned socially.
We are seeing politically motivated vandalism, harassment and rioting reach a tempo and intensity heretofore unimagined by anyone too young to have seen the civil rights movement firsthand. These are instances that most Americans watched on TV and derided as the hallmarks of other, less civilized cultures abroad. Glass houses and all that, here we are.
While the chances of a slam-bang-roll-the-tanks World War has diminished precipitously in the last couple of decades, and the chance of a serious nuclear exchange between superpowers has cooled drastically, the existential threat of proliferating atomic as well as chemical and bio weapons casts a shadow over all acts of terrorism and many smaller conflicts. The chances that any belligerent “going big” could mean thousands dead and enormous swaths of built-up areas uninhabitable or destroyed with no real way to defend against such attacks is chilling.
Privacy is as outdated a concept as the telegram in the New American Dream; not only do people voluntarily carry around an autonomous wiretap in their pocket or purse, but they install them throughout their home. These machine eavesdroppers do not get tired, and don’t need to ask permission; just by clicking mindlessly through those boring EULA agreements you skip when you boot your shiny new device for the first time you have given their masters permission to do so.
Entire lives are uploaded, collated, sifted, shared and sold for pleasure and profit between parties, everyday, in an effort to sell you something, tailor advertisements to your demographic or just to keep tabs on potential troublemakers. Your picture, vital statistics, biography, hopes, fears, everything. Anything you choose to upload to cloud storage essentially belongs to someone else. Sure, you don’t have anything to hide. Sure, you don’t care, you still believe people are basically good and won’t abuse this info. Sure. Right. Sad fact is, once data hits the networks, it is always there. Like a bullet, there is no calling it back. Everything sticks, like a fly in amber.
Everyone used to worry over Orwellian police state measures. Many preppers are still preparing for an invasive police state. The poor fools; the police state is here, has been here, ever since we traded privacy for convenience and freedom for “security.” Remember: every single law, every regulation, every feel-good, knee-jerk piece of legislation is a pair of handcuffs waiting to click closed on someone. Maybe you.
Today, it is still possible for you to get that little plot of land, and the little house with the white picket fence, but it is going to cost you. Your privacy can be maintained, but you’ll need to give up a host of modern conveniences to even begin to make that possible, and it is no guarantee of success that is for sure. You are still free to live as you want, so long as you get all the requisite permits, licenses, permission slips and sign-offs from everyone’s favorite uncle.
In short, the American Dream is alive and well, just so long as build it according to government and local regulations.
That’s the state of the New American Dream today, reader. At least according to Charles. It is my sincere hope that you will endure, that you will persevere in the face of increasingly laborious regulation, a vastly corrupt and self-serving government apparatus and corrosive societal norm shifts to carve out your little slice of heaven. It might be excruciating, it may even prove impossible in the current climate, but it is your birthright as an American.
With a little luck, skill and tenacity we may yet weather our current woes, even if only to keep the fire alive, for the next generation who may burn away the corpulent malaise that is so woefully sickening our great nation.