Guest Post: American Dream Now Fantasized In Mandarin

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Ben Tanosborn

American Dream Now Fantasized in Mandarin

Oh, irony of ironies!  We have been accusing the Chinese Mainlanders for years of stealing Americans’ intellectual property with predictably inscrutable results.  Now that they have come into possession of the American Dream – some might say, lock, stock and barrel—will our embassy in Beijing present the latest rulers of the Mao Zedong dynasty – Mao Tse-tung to those of us who still romanize Beijing as Peking – with a formal complaint… asking perhaps, to have our Dream back or, at the very least, have them forgive most of the 1.2 trillion dollars which the United States owes them?
A cool trillion for a concept which is not now, nor has it ever been, patentable would be quite a windfall, but it would not save America, a society in economic-inequality free-fall.  And until we pinpoint to the reasons why we are in free-fall, we won’t be able to find the ring of logic that will allow the opening of our parachute and a safe landing.

For years some of us have been preaching that the so-called American Dream, if it once existed, was then appearing as nothing more than a myth.  Ronald Reagan, touted as the great communicator, articulated this myth quite well making most everyone feel hopeful and proud, while at the same time spreading the most perverse moral disease that can confront any modern day society: the cult of inequality – an inevitable result from the infamous trickle-down economics and the homage to greed.  And, for three decades, that’s what we have been living in the United States: a morbid growth in inequality either sponsored or condoned by the leadership in the White House, all following in Reagan’s footsteps: the two Bushes, father and son; Bill Clinton; and now, our fizzle-savior, Barack Obama.  The truth is that Americans have been fed by both parties the Great American Lie, while at the same time being humored with the placebo of the American Dream.

Needless-to-say, those of us who have expressed criticism of both the Democratic and Republican establishments, were being referred to as prophets of doom.  It made very little difference that the signs of that ever-growing separation between the haves and have-nots were being manifested in everyday life.  We were critics in a society sedated and brainwashed by predatory capitalism, which put us in either ridicule or linked us to unpatriotic behavior or even treason.  But, finally, a professor from Columbia University and Nobel laureate, Joseph Stiglitz, has come out with a book, The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future, which statistically, and deductively, confirms what was obvious to us all along… without any powers of clairvoyance.

Recent census data and statistical bits from news reports are constantly underlining for us the state of our economy and more importantly the status of our society.  And the numbers are grim: half of the nation is in poverty or near-poverty, and the distance between haves and have-nots has widened to an abyss.  It isn’t just income inequality that has created this abyss, but opportunity inequality as well.  Upward mobility, once the cornerstone of an American cohesive society, is almost non-existent today, due mostly to inequality of access to education and a tax system which obscenely favors the holders of capital over those who produce the goods and services in the nation.

What I find remarkable in Stiglitz’s book is the assertion that the highest level of inequality among the advanced industrial countries is right here, our own proud and lied-to United States: in access to education or class mobility.  According to Stiglitz we have become the rear, where once we proudly stood in front.  That’s definitely not what Americans want to hear or read, but the professor’s conclusions, well supported by statistical data, are less intended for economic or political rapprochement, targeted instead to addressing the inequality problem that could take the US to a two-class society, a true third world economy.  Nothing unpatriotic about warning us!

America once stood as the first land of opportunity and diversity in the largest economic market – that allowed large numbers of individuals to attain success and gain upward class mobility.  Unfortunately, in a global economy that’s no longer the case, but there are several emerging economies, nations rich in natural and/or human resources, where many individuals can experience economic success and upward mobility… what we might call their “American Dream.”  We should be honored to have the American Dream become the generic term for Brazilians, Chinese, Indians, Russians and others.

By all means, let those people in China who make a great many of the products we consume, fantasize achieving “their American Dream”… they are more prone to attain it than we, in the United States of America, are.

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Silver Bug's picture

Sadly the american dream has suffered a major setback, due to the corrupt banksters and their greed. America will rise again. That is for sure.

dlmaniac's picture

Everything has a limit, including people's expectation and living standard. When you go over the edge you meet mother nature (or perhaps bitch nature) and fall. 

It's just a matter of American dream running into a wall of Darwinism.

hbjork1's picture

A few decades ago, in my laboratory days, when an  experiment would fail, one of the guys would repeat that old saw; "Mother Nature is a bitch".

My response to that was always that "Mother Nature is not a bitch but she is a jealous mistress".  "If you would seek her favors, you must pay absolute attention to her."

So what is mother nature telling us?  Every individual is obvously going to have there own opinion on what is pathalogical and what isn't.  ABut nd we are all prone to base our fundamental views, either positive or negatively, on very early life experiences.  it's increasingly obvious that the people at the highest levels are "overdriving their headlights".   Or put another way, not able to get their minds around the risk that their actions are engendering.  There is no fix for the difference in climatic and geographic differences,  We are all, to a greater of lesser extent, shaped by our early years.  We do get programmed early to approach many of life's needs and problems in different ways.The parents value system (and IMO climate) have significant influence on the way that people think.   We can see, rignt now, the differences between the conservative financial approach of the Northern Europeans and the deLiberal" financial approach of the Southern Europeans.  And that involves only money.  They are free to pursue their separate legal systems. e today in the US is not hard.  Our national problem is obesity, not starvation.  There is usable housing but it must be maintained.  TB,  Polio and Malaria as threatening diseases have been virtually eliminated here.  I had a high school English teacher that was a Polio survivor who went about with braces on her legs  (Try negoating on crutches  sometime with one leg tied up.)  And, in the case of FDR, there are actually people dumb enough to be concerned about the sex life of a man who couldn't get out of a wheel chair unassisted and could not walk on his own. 

Back in the real world, it is fashonable to blame the "Baby Boomers".  But, IMO the pevious generations had faults as well.  Greenspan was not a baby boomer.  Merton was not a baby boomer and Madoff (the extreme risktaker) was not a baby boomer.   Some people, perhaps overusing drugs and overdriving their headlights, seriously diminished their own later life but that is their personal problem.   

The only thing that can change that is to get a national attitude adjustment, and it appears that one of those is on the way as Uncle Sugar chokes on unsupported financial obligations. When belt tightening measures become the fashion, we will know that it is time start selling gold.  

Scretary Chu sounds excited about about current project discoveries and news of things that are going to made in the "world of the very small".  He is probably right about some of the work going on.  Thw work being reported in places like "Science" is verrrrry interesting.

resurger's picture


The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position." -

-Historian and writer James Truslow Adams in his 1931 book Epic of America.

Alas, now if you have the $$$ then you are worth something...


Harlequin001's picture

was it ever any different?

BooMushroom's picture

I am so fucking tired of people bitching and moaning about money inequality! We're not going to be equal. Ever. Most of the people here are going to have a shit-ton more money than I do, AND THAT'S OKAY!!!

The point of the American Dream is supposed to be equality BEFORE THE LAW, such that if Jenna Bush breaks the law, she should get the same punishment as my redneck neighbor. Within that framework, people can succeed based on effort, thrift, and foresight.

We fail to obtain the American Dream in the same measure that we fail to treat everyone as equal under the law.

Corzine, bitches!

Freddie's picture

Ivy League Gangsters - Yale/Harvard - Bush 1,2, Clinton, and the Islamic.

Hope and Chains.

Disenchanted's picture






This silly bitch must be an Islamic too, eh Freddie?

Jumbotron's picture

"America will rise again. That is for sure."

History exists if only to prove that statement a lie.  Every culture, civilization and empire has failed...some to absolute exinction.....others to a fragment of their former glory.

The one thing everyone can be sure of is that America will not buck the historical trend.

slaughterer's picture

"Fizzle-saviour":  he did his best fizzling in the Choomwagon.  

Blkhat117's picture

"thats why they call it the american dream cause you have to be asleep to beleve it"

George Carlin.

mrktwtch2's picture

tell us something we dont already know..

Maos Dog's picture

Starting with Regan, really? 

Not with Nixon closing the gold window? (That's where inequality really got hot and heavy! Look at adjusted wages since then!)

Not with LBJ's "Gun's and Butter"?

Not with FDR's Welfare State?

Not with the Start of the Fed and Income Tax?

Effin moron I gave you a 1

BKbroiler's picture

yes, really.  

Until Reagan, government spending was under control.  He wrecked shop.  I mean, it's super cute how you list all the democratic presidents who did things you don't like and blame it on them, but reality's a bitch.  

Maos Dog's picture

Are you stupid or just can't read?

Nixon, who gets most of the blame imho, was a REPUBLICAN

READ THE EFFIN CHARTS if you don't think the worst started with Nixon.

I recommend a wage growth chart adjusted for inflation since 1970, GIYS

Dr. Engali's picture


"Are you stuipd or just can't read?"


The democrat good republican bad and republican good democrat bad crowd only understand one's the other guys fault.

BKbroiler's picture

Regarding Nixon, I fucked up, you are correct.  People defending Reagan gets me all wound up.

I blame Reagan and Clinton for advancing globalization at America's expense, which to my mind is the true reason we are in such bad shape.   What is frustrating is this idea here on ZH than any president who did anything for the public at large is a demonic socialist.  

SeattleBruce's picture

"the true reason we are in such bad shape."

--Banksta/crony corporate systemic greed working its will through politicos for generations.

--Public ignorance - dumbing down of America (see any TV Guide)

--Public apathy - victim mentality

Hard to say when the last fairly independent POTUS was, but at this point, they're just a figurehead for the failed status quo illusion duping the US citizenry.  I do think there are lots of good Americans (name your country) still out there (must be among 313 million people), but it's pretty tough for us to make changes with the casino markets/political games completely rigged against us.  Best thing to do is stack gold and silver, garden, farm, and engage in real economic activity (produce something, add value to a process.)

Ron Paul may have represented a good shift back toward some kind of sound money - and maybe still will (2016?)

victor82's picture

Possibly Theodore Roosevelt, who got the Sherman Act passed. You notice the Federal Reserve Act only passed once he AND Taft were safely out of power and Wilson, the nation's first truly state capitalist President, was in power.

Woodrow Wilson, aside from being a virulent racist, did everything he possibly could to transfer power from the states to the Federal Government. What Wilson did to dissenters and to War opponents (such as Norman Thomas, for example) made Richard Nixon look like a choirboy.

Offthebeach's picture

How do you think the then Dutch Pilgrims got financing, for Plymouth Colony? Or our timber, minerals, cattle of the west or JP Morgan finance American railroads and locomotives to China? Globalization has been around ten thousand years before Christ. LBJ trashed the dollar and the US couldn't meet gold debts to governments ( FDR had previously told us Muppets to stuff it) Anyway, Nixon basically did to nations what FSR did to us serfs.

11b40's picture

Nixon sent Kissinger to suck up to China, ended the gold standard, and also gave us wage & price controls

Reagan ushered in Greed is Good and started making it popular to goof on the poor welfare queens, while the Savings & Loan hucksters started looting the Treasury.

The water has been circling the bowl for a long time, but we are getting nearer the the bottom.

HungrySeagull's picture

That is called the event horizon.

And a simple phrase...

"So solly, no monee."

victor82's picture

To Reagan's great credit, the S&L banksters were prosecuted by his attorney general and regulators like Bill Black.

There have been no prosecutions of banksters under Obama because at this point, the banksters own both parties.

The dry rot started with Nixon closing the Gold Window, however. That much is clear.

jonan's picture

who do the "moderates" blame? themselves? haha

t0mmyBerg's picture

Agree.  I also gave it a 1.  There IS a problem with growing inequality, though I would suggest that there is less a cult of inequality than a benign tolerance of it in a liberal society, such as the US perhaps once was.  But the underlying and usually unstated premise that we therefore need the government to step in to make it right, is total nonsense and the opposite of what is needed.  Reagan also said that when you hear the words "We are from the government and we are here to help" you should run away as fast as your legs will carry you (or something like that). 

The one (OK there were probably several but I will mention 1) thing Reagan did that continues to reverberate negatively is jump on the Deficit spending bandwagon.  He did it for an ostensibly good purpose, to defeat the worldwide spread of Communism by spending it to death.  And as a result of that, Dick Cheney came to actually believe that "deficits don't matter".  And as he was the Shadow President, in the 2000's we took a step function up in deficit spending.  The problem is that Dick Cheney was right.  "Deficits don't matter" - until they do.  Oops.

Raymond K Hessel's picture

There's a growing inequality in the US because Americans take their kids to six different travel little leagues and forgive them if they can't get an A on their math exams.  Meanwhile, all of the engineers are being raised in Asia.  

Good luck with that.  

How the hell are we supposed to be the leader of innovation when everyone in this country is majoring in communications, psych, or anthropology?

Survey says, "We're not".  Thank you Mr Dawson.

Panafrican Funktron Robot's picture

Financial engineering is the only thing that matters, and that has no nationality.  It's the money masters, not the "I'm really fucking awesome at building cool robots or bridges" masters.  Who do you think has benefited from the "rise of Asia", Mr. Gupta or Mr. Cho the brilliant motherfuckers making $18K a year (in USD) despite his masters in electrical engineering?  We can shake our "math 'n science education!" fists all we want, but the actual solution is a drastic reduction in quality of life, until such a point that $18K a year in USD is actually considered "good money" in this country.  Why the fuck would a global conglomerate hire an engineer in the US, given what they have to pay?  

It is a given that globalisation is here, will expand, and we humans in the US will accept beans 'n rice lifestyles.  There is no fix to education that is going to cure the fundamental problem that US citizens are just too damn expensive.

Socratic Dog's picture

Agree.  $18k will buy about 75,000 pounds of corn at retail prices for chicken food.  That's about 200 man-years of survival calories.  I year's labor buys 200 years of food.  If that isn't enough to live on, and live well, then something is wayyyyy out of kilter.

Seems to me the thing that allows the distortion is modern finance.  Take that away, and all the bullshit is stripped off.  A man on $18k would be a wealthy man.

CPL's picture

He would have been once 70 years ago.

CPL's picture

He would have been once 70 years ago.

BooMushroom's picture

At Walton Feed, $18k buys 13 years of food(deluxe) or twice that for the basics. You can't survive too long on JUST corn. But that's an interesting thought - work for 1 year per decade for food...

t0mmyBerg's picture

AH, an issue near and dear to my heart.  You are right.  I once heard Mark Hurd (somewhat disgraced former head of HP) speak at the Economic Club of Chicago on this topic.  I then wrote a piece on my blog about it, oh wait I cannot mention my blog here - right.  Anyway, the idea I expressed in that largely aphoristic piece was that we have a dearth of people being guided ino the sciences for 2 reasons mainly.  The first is that the incentive structure in America has developed in a warped way.  The second is that culturally, with the development of technology that appeals mainly to our sense of sight (TV, other visual media), we have been drawn into a sort of cult of personality where the things people see that are cool and to which they aspire are things that are flashy like sports and acting.  Problem is not too many people can compete in those arenas.

If you are mathematically gifted, with the financialization of our economy, you are more likely to achieve a lifestyle that mimics sports stars and movie actors if you take the job at Goldman than if you take the job at Sandia or Raytheon or HP.  I have a cousin who works at Livermore (Physics PhD from IAS at Princeton) and has eschewed the Wall Street thing, not for lack of offers.  He has a strong will.  He does not live a rock start lifestyle though he could have.  For the rest of us, maybe the teachers you had sucked or maybe you somehow came to believe you could hit .400 or you had ripped abs and liked the look of your own picture.  Anyway, there is no easy solution in the media age.  Kids in asia will probably suffer the same fate as and if media comes to play a large role in their lives.  Bottom line is I blame it all on the invention of TV.

SeattleBruce's picture

"Dick Cheney came to actually believe that "deficits don't matter"."

Along with all other establishment political wonks, at least over the past 41 years.  As you say, they don't matter til they do - and that would be right about now.  Starting in Europe, Japan, and spreading soon to the good 'ol US of A.

gaf12's picture

Maos Dog:
Agreed.  The "dream" has been under attack since the very first progressives first defined what it's supposed to be, and then began chipping away at its real meaning over 100 years ago.  For those who think Progressivism is a Democrat problem - many would point to Teddy Roosevelt as one of the earliest of them (McCain's favorite politician... ugh).  Progressives are on both sides - Lindsey Graham, Newt Gingrich, etc. 

And can we shut up about income inequality already?  At least call it what you mean = class warfare, and admit that your solution is marxism. 

Half of the nation is in poverty or near-poverty?  Americans don't know poverty.  I'll caveat that with the word "yet".  Oh, it's coming, but for now, our poor have multiple televisions, cell phones and vehicles.  Contrast our poverty with South America, Africa, and/or Asia.  Or more specifically, Brazil, China, India, and Russia (from the article above).  They know poverty. 

And the American Dream isn't "economic success and upward mobility" - that's a fabrication.  The American Dream is the ability to pursue happiness.  When the government gets in the way, the American Dream dies.  When they cozy up with corporations, it becomes more difficult be become an entrepreneur.  The dream isn't about upward mobility - that's exactly what a progressive or fascist want you to think = "stay in your job, play nice, and wait for your position upgrade."  The capitalist and freedom seeker says, "find your passion and make your own way.  You don't need the government to realize your dream".

GCT's picture

Spot on Gaf. More class warfare coming our way and it is fucking getting old.  I was a dirt poor mfer and I dug myself out of it a long time ago.  I am an old fart now and the true pursiut is happiness and doing something you have a passion for.  To be honest the nanny government is what is destroying the country.  I think it goes back alot further with Woodrow Wilson and the fed myself.  We can lay blame on whoever we like but in the end look in the fucking mirror.  The government will give you a carrot and then take it all away just as fast and they gave it.  Coming to the USA after this Euro shit settles.

I am sick of all the class warfare myself. All all they mean to say is we want to get the rich fuckers first, so we can come after the normal folks after we justify the ends.  The next bunch of crap coming is we taxed the rich, now it is your turn.  Trust me they want it all!


Moe Howard's picture

Stop confusing the Utopians with logic and reality. They have their dreams, too, and you shatter them.

SeattleBruce's picture

"Contrast our (US) poverty with South America, Africa, and/or Asia.  Or more specifically, Brazil, China, India, and Russia (from the article above).  They know poverty. "

Approximately 13 million people die of hunger and hunger related diseases annually.  Many of these are children.  That's abject poverty and the US doesn't know about it.  There are hungry people in the US, and there is relative poverty, and there is certainly a poverty mindset (victim mentality, et al).   But I totally agree that Americans don't know real poverty (yet.)

ZackAttack's picture

Every bit of this was inevitable once Nixon closed the gold window.

HungrySeagull's picture

Just squat on the gutter curbing in the district where gold and silver/Diamonds are traded.

You might find good living on a few scraps.

WALLST8MY8BALL's picture

If you look closely at the bottom of the American Dream you will see a sticker that says "Made In China"

JR's picture

And if you look closely and investigate you will find that those manufacturing advances and innovations and patents in China could best be described as Made in the USA.

High_Pockets's picture

...made out of HFCS from the U.S. shipped on a Danish owned Korean made vessel powered by an engine made in Finland that runs on oil....