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The American Scream

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Adam Witherspoon

English 100

Prof. Talarico

The American Scream

        America, the mighty and beautiful. A land filled with so much gold and riches beyond any other country in measure.  A landfill of new “hope” and opportunities to the citizens of its doctrine. One has always been taught to work hard and achieve the “American Dream.” The white picket fence, family of four with the stay at home wife. The truth is this phrase has long vanished from modern American ideology. We are now entering what I’d like to call the American scream. Since the progressive intellects of the 1800’s onward, the working class has accumulated our nations oceans of riches. Trillions upon trillions of dollars. We built our nation from the ground up, shouldn’t we have some sort of economic stability? Shouldn’t we as the power source to our wealth be compensated througouly?   Every day we stand closer and closer on to the edge of economic and social destruction. If something doesn’t get done fast the land of the free that was once so beautiful will turn horridly ugly. The breaking point is now and the mighty roots of capitalism will the thundering force behind the working man’s demise. Complete and utter obliteration. It takes real eyes to realize the cancers capitalism has created. Someone who does not turn their back to narcissism and the evils of extortion. The rich are truly getting richer and the poor get are getting poorer. A generation ago, nearly any body with a hard work ethic and uncanny determination could make it in America. If you graduated from high school, you were virtually guaranteed a full-time entry level job with a wage that could sustain the cost of living. Better yet, if you happened to be lucky enough to become a college graduate you were guaranteed a high class job, salary and full benefits. This simply is a fantasy our past can only rejoice on.

        The old conservative adage of blaming the poor for their mistakes has only allowed the broader half of America to internalize the very own shame that the system itself has created. In Barbra Enrenreich’s essay, “The Shame Game,” she draws the reader’s attention on how and why the system possess extreme risk to social brainwashing. Corporations want to inculcate this sort of narcissist propaganda because, “the ultimate trick is to make people ashamed of the injuries inflicted upon them.” They want us to feel like it’s our fault that we are stuck in this ever-present perpetual flux they have thrown us in. It’s our fault that we don’t have enough money to sustain a life. It’s a system of “-domination in which mocking judgements of the dominant are internalized by the dominated.” In other words, the working man is being taken advantage of right in front of our eyes but we tend to rationalize the situation because, “this is the way it’s supposed to be.” Should we bear the blame? Shouldn’t we be putting the blame back on the people that created the problem? Some see the problems and ask the right questions, but a majority of society doesn’t. Media outlets and corporations have even cashed in on this shaming industry; career coaches, motivational speakers and business gurus all with the common blinding message as to why you are failing at attaining wealth. “IT’S YOUR FAULT!” This intolerant way of thinking daunts us because we accept the shame so easily. Ehrenreich wants the reader to truly open their eyes to the situation at hand and to stop rationalizing and asking the wrong questions. We as the worker should be the last ones to shame, rather let’s put the, “shame on CEOs who make who make eight-figure incomes while their lowest-paid employees trudge between food banks. Shame on congress for leaving us with an unemployment insurance program that covers only a little more than a third of the laid off.” We must wake up and shame the aggressors of this on-going dilemma; we as the working class have a lot less we should be ashamed of, rather we should start making the puppeteers that run the system feel shameful instead.

        In the essay, “Show me the Money,” the author Walter Mosely defines the American class structure into three sets of groups. The poor lower class, the working middle class and the leisure class of the wealthy. According to a Pew Research Center study, 47% of Americans are classified in the working middle class, almost half of our population. In spite of this fact, 9 out of 10 Americans like to identify themselves as being included in the middle class in some way or another. This is mind blowing that 90% of our population likes to think they are in the middle class when a majority is surely not. In fact, 43.5 million Americans live in what the Census Bureau considers as under the poverty line. Most of middle-class Americans, “-live on the edge of poverty, saying to themselves that they are doing alright.” This is what they want us to think as wage-slaves to unfulfilling corporations. In the long run, “This fantasy, more than any other confusion, hobbles us.” The working class man likes to think he is doing alright, when at any moment the state of his economic well-being can fall to the depths of anguish and heartache. This smugness that we carry only blinds us. We are not asking the right questions because of the comfortability of the perpetual flux of our economy. Corporations of America aren’t holding up to their social standards and responsibilities; the greed and evils of capitalism have deprived us from accepting that, “if any person of any age suffers from poverty, then our whole country bears the shame.”

        The unjust practices of capitalism and extortion of workers has even inched its’ way into the crevices of the academic world. During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s colleges experienced a wave of minority attendance. Because of this rapid increase of enrollment, universities decided to cut the budget rather than fund it. More and more colleges started hiring part-time adjunct professors to replace full-time faculty, all the while, hiring more and more school administrators. Because of this, the world of business has transcended the realm of higher education into detrimental depths. Instead of an enlightment for knowledge for this new wave of students, the overall standards were lowered.  Colleges pay adjuncts horrible wages and offer zero incentives, but are these administrators really cutting cost? In my opinion universities are more so just blatantly cutting corners. This has been an on-going problem with the education system through recent years and financial gain and the greed of these very prestigious institutions is to blame. These institutions are virtually devaluing higher education through worker extortion. Most of the time, adjuncts cannot sustain a living from teaching part-time, many are forced to take on a different profession all the while balancing the duties of a professor. With that being said, the level of teaching will differ dramatically from the full-time professor to a part time adjunct. Simply because the, “continued use of adjuncts is destroying the integrity and value of higher education.” Put it this way, adjuncts are paid a fraction of what full-time faculty members make and receive zero benefits. Do you think an adjunct would perform the necessary actions to become a better teacher, by researching theories outside of the classroom and developing academic publications to further their knowledge on the subject at hand? Certainly not! As a student, it is necessary that we receive the very best education we can! The added amounts of adjuncts in the academic world only deflate the value of education. Why should students alike have to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a part-time professor that puts in a part time effort? Certainly not all adjuncts fall into this spectrum but many do. You see, the world of education is a business. The main goal of a business is to cut costs and make money, simple economics. Colleges around the nation are currently cutting full-time factuality and replacing those very jobs with adjuncts. Schools are hiring more and more administration jobs than ever before. Shouldn’t we be hiring more and more of the best teachers we possibly can to better ensure our nation’s future instead of diluting higher education?



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