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American Dream, Is It Real Anymore?

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Reyginald Larose

Professor Cantor

English 201 Sec. J4

February 15th, 2016

American Dream, Is It Real Anymore?

America in her tender years everyone had the “American dream”, which was owning his/her own home due to his/her well-playing job, and if she/he were married maybe even having a family and sending their children to a good college. Jon Gertner, in his "What is a Living Wage" follows the campaign to increase the minimum wage to a living wage in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Chong Kim, Dennis Emmett, and Andrew Sikula Sr describe the changes happening in the workplace where there is little to no loyalty between employer and employee. William C. Murray and Adam Rostis described technology depended workers who usually cross the line between personal life and work life. The American Dream is universally known as home ownership, a decent education and a prosperous career. With the middle class shrinking as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, the American power and culture is on a decline due to the fact that priorities are declining because they are mishandled. A college education, something that everyone hoped to achieve is slowing down due to the fact workers are paid a minimum wage instead of a living wage while the cost of tuition goes up. Obtaining the "American Dream" is no longer obtainable without sacrificing personal time while working minimum wage.   

The idea of being a stay-at-home parent is distant memory, a thing in the past. Gertner sheds light onto this issue "'Our schools here don't do so well,' Montano told me, explaining that he believed higher-wage jobs would let parents, who might otherwise have to work a second job, spend more time with their children" (Gertner 5). There was a time when middle-class families could live a comfortable lifestyle on one person’s paycheck. One parent could work while the other was able to stay home with the kids. Kim, Emmett, and Sikula look at the same issue "To sustain the parity of household income for many couples, both partners now work; some individuals have two different jobs. Family members cannot spend as much time together at home, and consequently, many people believe that child moral development and emotional maturity are suffering"(Kim, Emmett, Sikula, 27). Due to the increase in some areas such as home costs (mortgage or rent), and education combined no increase in wages, mean that families who once used to be able to life off on parent are having a hard time to make ends meet. The luxury of being able to stay home longer than at work is no longer there. Some see parenthood has financially taking a risk. With both authors pointing out that parents are now sacrificing personal time for work time shows that getting paid a living wage matters. Parents sacrificing their personal time takes a toll on their children and both authors issturlate a decrease in the children's development.

Most Americans are accumulating debt at a rapid rate as their salary fails to keep up with their expenses. Kim, Emmett, and Sikula reflect on this "In America, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer (Mariotti, 1998). In addition, some argue that the massive middle class is drastically being reduced in size, with many of its members joining the economically underemployed and disadvantaged." (Kim, Emmett, Sikula, 31). It is becoming apparent that American households have become dependent on debt to maintain their lifestyles due to the fact they are not living of living wages. Gertner goes on to add on to this "Should an employer be allowed to pay a full-time employee $5.15 an hour, this argument went, if that's no longer enough to live on?"(Gertner 6).  Working full time while getting paid $5.15 with be discouraging to the employee and they cannot fulfill their needs off their income alone. Credits cards, bank loans are all maxed out as last resorts when bills are not paid or when money is falling extremely short. This is where term "debt-dependent economy" comes into play, nothing good comes from this term as it has a negative impact on the nation as a whole, and individual household as well. Accumulating debt and being paid minimum wage while working full time is putting the middle class at a disadvantage. No one can support his/her family off minimum and still have time for them or time for themselves. The demand for overtime is at an all time high as expectations are lowered while they accept longer hours. The class are moving away from lower, middle, and upper class to those who are taking on additional debt, and the rich.

Even during one's free day or time, is spent on looking for a second job, or if they are lucky, working a second job leaving no time for themselves. "A few months ago, Reyes told me, she was spending 86 hours every two weeks at two minimum-wage jobs to pay for her car and for college. Gutierrez, also in school, was working 20 hours a week at Blockbuster video for the minimum wage"(Gertner, 5). Students are now forced to work two minimum wage jobs to cover their expenses such as school, car, food, etc. With the cost of higher education increase year by year, it becomes just a "what if" they went to college. Tuition with the cost of books a housing on a rise it puts pressure on the parents to foot the term bill. You have to be rich to get a college education; that is, unless taking out loans and starting off your college years off with a mountain of debt. Pressure mounts on middle-class families as they have to work long hours that eliminates time with their families to pay for their children's education. FAFSA does not fully cover the term bill, and when neither parents are working with on living wage. Forcing parents to work two jobs or work long hours to either save money to repay future loans, and or pay the term bill out of pocket. The availability of scholarships and grants are diminishing, leaving students who were not born into wealth already are financially at a disadvantage. Murray and Rostis describe this issue perfectly "Pressures from stress are not confined to only one domain but instead occur in each of the separate domains we maintain. The two largest domains are work and family. When commitment to one role dominates and negatively affects the other role, it is common for conflict to arise"(Murray, Rostis, 252). Stress levels arise when one domain takes away from another and by doing so it can have a negative impact on the other role. Middle-class families already have lost the ability to have a stay-home parent due to both having to work to cover their family's expenses. Both quotes go hand and hand due to the fact that pressure and stress amount from middle-class families not having the luxury to be with their family/have time for themselves, taking away from one domain this will cause conflict. 



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