These observations were posted to a discussion on Bill Moyers Journal blog on the topic of restoring political controls over predetory lending and usery laws.
From a casual observer short on education.
Was the american dream ever anything that 'was' sustainable, or was it a marketing ploy.
We should refresh our recollection of some of the words of this nations founders. One of real significance in reference to this situation facing america now comes from John Adams
"Our constitution was made only for a moral and a religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion."
As a result of several supreme court decisions in the late 40's through the early 60's, which had no basis in precedent, bible based morality could no longer be a part of the educational establishment, as it had been since the beginning of this country. So there should be no surprise that the moral restraints that had a role in critical institutional practices up to the 60's fell by the wayside in short order.
" there were lobbyists and special interests rummaging around on Capitol Hill, but both ethics rules and personal morality kept members of Congress from being bought off by a couple of seats to an event or a six-figure campaign contribution." Charley James
However, before that, going back a half a century, could we really have ever expected the american dream to have survived at the hands of a political system that was extremely one-sided. Disenfranchising large portions of the population paved the way for laws which allowed abuse of power and thwarted the constitutional rights of anyone who stood in the way of certain aspects of growth for this country. Much can be said about laws that prevent people from pursuing their desired way of life, but when laws were written that prevented a person from conducting efforts at gaining economic well being, outside of the "permission and monetary structure" of local regulation and federal requirements, the slop got a deep layer of grease and we've been sliding on it ever since. At the bottom of that slop awaits the reward of everyone who lives by fear, because it is fear that gives greed its walking orders. People who want to preserve their foothold on wealth often make and suggest laws that prevent others from competing with or challenging their foothold, or at least create ordinances to harass people who would dare to practice alternative lifestyles or try to live free of the traps built into the society. Built in? Yes! the american dream, as it grew into a lust for affluence, grew into materialism, to be capitalized on at the expense of the newly independent family structure which did not exist in as wide a fashion as in the 50's and and before. The desire for all the things that have now become the economic burdens of the growing work force created a new artificial standard, despite the warnings for moderation from our elders. Those things are not bad in themselves except for what they can cause when those desires are motivated by a fiction that ownership will fulfill the american dream, when in reality it is more likely that it produces servitude to your possessions or the financiers that made ownership possible, a potential nightmare. At the moment when living in a communal relationship with parents and other family members became uncool, even laughable, america bit into the bait and the hook was set for the next wave of the industrial revolution, mass consumerism, at levels far beyond financial capabilities, or reality for that matter.
The road to today's problems has been paved by many different stones but the one that troubles me the most is that of being prevented from the pursuit of economic well being because of laws that prevent us from freedoms experienced in the early america's. Who back then would have ever imagined that america would become the place where you could not buy or sell or own without jumping through certain governmental and institutional hoops. The american dream may be, in reality, a well concealed trap for people who mock age old warnings to the lovers of money and abusers of their neighbors.
The solution is multifaceted but it may be best started by a return to a government for the people and laws to protect us from the people who do not accept what is implied by "love your neighbor as yourself". zdp