The so-called "American Dream" has become a sort of mystical ideal in recent years. Its meaning has been overinflated, and consequently it seems less attainable. Now, some believe the American Dream is never having to worry about money. Others think it's having a job you wake up and love to go to each day. An article today in the New York Times claims it's both. In fact, the American Dream is neither.
The article acts as a sort of human interest story of a family. One son graduated college in 2008. Like so many young adults his age, he is having trouble finding a job. The Times ultimately generalizes the point that young Americans who are a part of this generation may never attain the American dream. The Times explains his struggle:
The daily routine seldom varied. Mr. Nicholson, 24, a graduate of Colgate University, winner of a dean's award for academic excellence, spent his mornings searching corporate Web sites for suitable job openings. When he found one, he mailed off a résumé and cover letter -- four or five a week, week after week.
Over the last five months, only one job materialized. After several interviews, the Hanover Insurance Group in nearby Worcester offered to hire him as an associate claims adjuster, at $40,000 a year. But even before the formal offer, Mr. Nicholson had decided not to take the job.
Rather than waste early years in dead-end work, he reasoned, he would hold out for a corporate position that would draw on his college training and put him, as he sees it, on the bottom rungs of a career ladder.
Wait. You mean he found a job with the national underemployment rate at 16.5%, with no professional work experience, that paid $40,000 per year, and didn't take it because it wasn't exactly what he wanted? There must be some confusion here about the American Dream. The idea that every 24-year old lands their dream job straight out of college isn't the American Dream: it's a fantasy.