The American Dream is a belief firmly rooted in our culture that anyone – regardless of race, gender, or circumstances of birth – can achieve prosperity through determination and hard work. That belief has led to our nation’s success and made it a beacon for people the world over.
Unfortunately, in recent years, the American Dream has been exploited by the wealthy and the powerful to serve their own self-interests. By encouraging you to believe that their success is the result of hard work, they have convinced you that you, too, can be a billionaires or, at very least, a multi-millionaire. All you have to do is work hard and vote to protect their wealth from extraordinary taxes.
But the reality is that most billionaires like Donald Trump achieved their wealth through a combination of luck, unethical or illegal activities, and by inheriting it their families. Indeed, very few Americans will become billionaires. The vast majority will struggle just to make ends meet. Nevertheless, the idea that you, too, can be obscenely rich is persuasive. So many Americans continue to vote against their self-interest by voting for those who propose tax cuts that benefit only the powerful and the wealthy.
Want to know why we can’t afford to rebuild our infrastructure? Why your child can’t afford the tuition of a college or university? Why your children are likely to be worse off than you? It’s because you’ve been conned into supporting tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthy.
While you struggle to pay your taxes, the people you admire pay a much smaller tax rate than you. And many don’t pay any taxes at all. Many have hired skilled tax lawyers who help them hide their wealth in shell corporations in places like Bermuda, the Caymans, Luxembourg and Panama. Some of the wealthy don’t even have to go to those lengths. They simply invest in shell corporations located in the on-shore tax havens of Delaware, South Dakota and Nevada. Didn’t know those tax havens exist? That’s because you don’t have the resources to take advantage of them.
And those multinational corporations that promised to create more jobs if only you cut their tax rate? They used the money saved from their lower tax rates to buy back their stock and pay their already wealthy executives bigger bonuses. Some are still stashing their international profits off shore until they can con you into supporting even larger tax cuts.
Don’t be angry at them. The wealthy and the corporations are just doing what they always do – finding ways to make more money. Instead, be angry at yourself. It is your own greed – the idea that someday you, too, will be obscenely wealthy that has led to the current situation. After all, you’re smart. And you’re willing to work hard. But the reality is that you have a better chance of winning the lottery – 175 million to one – than becoming a billionaire by creating a Microsoft or a Facebook.
In other words, you’re being played for a sucker. If you really want to succeed, look to the example of the greatest generation – the generation that survived the Great Depression and World War Following the war, the soldiers then came home to build the American middle class. They taxed the wealthy in order to build roads and all of the things we take for granted today. Executives were content to take a modest salary in order to make their corporations stronger. Unlike today’s generations, they didn’t consider themselves exceptional. They weren’t given Cs for just showing up in class. Most were proud to refer to themselves as just an average Joe or an average Jill. They didn’t expect to become wealthy. They just wanted to work hard, earn a good wage, live comfortably and make things better for their kids than themselves.
For them, that was the American Dream. I believe it should be enough.