Monday, February 23, 2015

The American Dream

In “Hiding from Reality” Bob Herbert gives his opinion on how the American Dream is a fleeting concept.  He talks about the numerous steps the government has took in the past in the face of recession, and how it just continues to hurt children, the sick and the public school system. Herbert believes that America is in denial, and until ‘’we” as society address the various issues we have. Than nothing can be solved, and The American Dream cannot really exist.
In “Is The American Dream Over?” Cal Thomas summarizes Bob Herbert’s passage. Thomas believes that Herbert does not asses blame for why the American Dream is dwindling. Thomas believes that the government is dysfunctional and people shouldn’t place all their hopes and dreams in it. Thomas believes that individual initiative is how one should fulfill their dreams. In this case the American Dream. Thomas agrees with certain aspects of Herbert claims but offers more solutions to actually achieving The American Dream, and Thomas also gives a definition of what the American dream has been for many generations now.

In my opinion I believe that Thomas offers the best way to achieve the American Dream. Thomas said “ The rules are known to previous generations: studying and staying in school; achieving at least an under-graduate degree; avoiding drugs that harm your mind and body; getting married and working hard to stay married…”These are some of the few examples Thomas gives of the American Dream In our society, and how an individual can achieve it. Thomas’s main point is self-initiative. To get what you want or to solve a problem such as poverty people need to have self-motivation to fixing their economic situations. I also agree with certain aspect of Herbert’s argument. Herbert believes that the government continues to add taxes on various things and cut pension and health benefits, which does not help but hurts various people. If it has not worked so far why continue doing so at all? Herbert also believes that the public school system is suffering due to the fact of budget cuts. Herbert believes all of these things are being ignored therefor adding on to our nation’s poverty, and it can only be solved once we stop ignoring these issues. 


  1. You're backing a lot of the more agreeable points from these articles, which is fine, but I don't really think bears a whole lot of weight in the grand scheme of an argument as extensive as this one. You share the ideals of hard work, responsibility, etc. that Thomas offers and you agree with the (almost objectively bad) things that Herbert has to say about government practices, mostly with regard to taxation, public education, and the disregard for these issues.

    Brushing aside the fact that both of these articles were extremely lightweight and that they were pretty generalized overall, I have to disagree with Thomas's piece more than I do Herbert's. Of course no one is going to speak ill about the benefits of staying in school, getting a degree, and working hard—it's all very traditional and American. However, it's a silly and outdated motif of American history. We're left with older generations, many baby boomers, who are still convinced that all you need to do is 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps' and success will magically find its way to you. Of course the benefits are present, but to believe that you can tackle the immense issues plaguing a country of 300 million people with a little bit of elbow grease is nothing short of naive. Times change and people fail to catch up, that's all I see out of Thomas's little conservative rant. Everything about our social and economic landscape has changed in the last 30, 40, 50 years, and many social conservatives want a cut-and-dried answer to that issue—moreover, they want something to blame. Unfortunately for them, and for every other American, the issue is certainly more complex than a two-page article could handle.

  2. You believe that like Thomas, the American dream is attainable through self-initiative. If we follow his formula and look to past generations, focus on education, stay away from drugs, and work on our marriages as a society. In other words, in order to achieve the American dream, it is pertinent that we first become good citizens and good role models. Additionally, the government’s interference on things such as taxes, healthcare, and budget, notably cuts to the school system go against the American dream.
    Thomas is not incorrect in emphasizing the importance of institutions such as the education system, marriage, and the like. However, I do not believe that by following all these rules anyone can obtain the American dream. Thomas passionately delves into a romanticized ideal of the house, kids, education, and the white picket fence that most hope to achieve because in America, that image equates to success. However, he disregards and obstacles that Herbert so carefully point out such as, “budget deficits, wars overseas, in addition to economic and educational discrepancies. Herbert goes on to suggest that politicians do not necessarily make decisions with the idea of making a city or state a place for all to have equal opportunity to the American dream. Instead, decisions usually decisions follow the money in spite of harsh obstacles others may face. Even Thomas admits to government interference playing a role in the lack of achievement of the American Dream. However as with any governing body, not all parties affected by a decision can prosper from said decision.

  3. When comparing the two articles, you stated that the "self-initiative" idea within Thomas's article proved most effective to remedy the problems developing in the American Dream. These are extremely important virtues which enable the American Dream, but they do not fix the worsening problems with the American Society. The solution Thomas added to achieve the American Dream, also is flawed as it presents goals unobtainable to the entire population. The American population cannot be expected to acquire higher education and always reflect only virtuous values which will benefit future generations. Thomas presents an ideal society rather than solutions the actual American people can grow form. Solutions such as those purposed in Herbert's essay such as evaluation of the current declining situation in America offers the ability to correct the decisions such as overspending on warfare which caused the recession to begin with. Although both essays are flawed, I believe Herbert presents the most logical method of "resurrecting" the American Dream.

  4. After reading both of your arguments on both of the readings I do agree with what you have to say about both. But I am a little iffy about Thomas on how we have to rely on ourselves to succeed in this society. Not many of our nation has enough money to even support themselves, even if they do have a job because the government decides to raise the prices on everything, Which leads to Herbert who has a good point on how the government adds taxes, cuts health benefits, etc. that does not help many. And also how he talks about the schools and how they keep cutting budgets and the jobs of the teachers, that leads to lack of good education. They both have good points in their readings and I believe we should listen to both because they have good ideas on how we should/shout not rely on the government when it comes down to certain things. In my own opinion I do agree with the education part of the argument, even though someone is trying to get an education such as going to college not many can afford it and if they want to go they have to eventually be in debt to keep going to school. Because of such high tuition a lot of young teenagers decide to not take that route because they cannot afford it and they think the debt is not worth it.