Someone needs to tell American Family Insurance that there is a recession going on in this country. Why? Their recent advertising campaign includes the slogan “Your American Dream is Out There – Go Get It!” They have even created a website, http://longliveourdreams.com, that dares to claim that they think “you believe, too” in their dream.
Perhaps the executives at American Family did not watch the news last weekend. All major news networks ran stories about very vocal “Occupy Wall Street” protests occurring around the country, including in Denver, against Wall Street greed and the 1% of the population which reportedly holds about 90% of the world’s wealth. These 1%, not American Family, hold the American Dream in their back pockets, feeding us the illusion, at their leisure and for their entertainment, that we, too, can aspire to their abundance. When convenient, they parade out their members, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, to show us that anyone in this country can have their wealth, political power and privilege if we just dream bigger, work harder and pay more taxes.
What is the American Dream anyway? Two cars in the garage, home ownership in a safe and stable neighborhood where home values increase instead of decrease, 2.5 kids and access to excellent schools? Perhaps some also think the American Dream means wealth, fame and political power, and look to people who apparently came from humble means, like Schwarzenegger, former President Bill Clinton, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, as their role models. Yes, we can point to people in our culture who have made it big. But that’s not the reality for most Americans today.
Many of us can no longer afford to take stock in fairy tales and myths. Bankruptcy filings in 2011 are up and apparently still increasing:
Courts now see an average of 2,000 new filings a day — four times the number that were filed in November 2005 after the bankruptcy law went into effect, according to Chris Lundquist, founder of Lundquist Consulting, which tracks bankruptcy trends.*
As of September, 2011, the unemployment rate was 9.1% nationally for the “third month in a row.”** Many people, including myself, are not even included in unemployment statistics, so you can be sure that those numbers are actually higher than currently reported. Foreclosures are continuing at an “elevated” rate.*** In addition,
the number of Americans who bought previously occupied homes fell in September. Home sales are on pace to match last year’s dismal figures — the worst in 13 years.****
Many Americans are truly suffering, as 46 million Americans are living below the poverty level as of September 13, 2011.***** They cannot “go out and get” what is not really out there.
It’s not that we don’t want to believe in a dream of immense riches and a golden future – it’s that many of us cannot find it in the old paradigm definition of the American Dream. Without a doubt, American Family’s advertisements address the old paradigm. But they are sadly out of touch with the truth of mid-America’s situation. Corporations need to keep up with our current sufferings instead of asking us to search for something that does not really exist for 99% of the population.
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*”Bankruptcy Filings Soar Again,” Liz Pulliam Weston, MSN Money. http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Banking/BankruptcyGuide/BankruptcyFilingsSoaringAgain.aspx
**”U.S. Unemployment Claims Trend Lower But Still High,” KTVN/Channel 2-Reno.
***”REOs: Where Are They Now?” Carrie Bay, DSNews.com.