The Vanishing American Dream
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What had once been the American dream has become an elusive myth. But how can the economy report positive growth while so many suffer? And how do we reverse their trajectory?
The American Dream is perhaps our nation’s single commonly-held belief. It represents the opportunity to improve our economic standing generation upon generation, whether from poverty to comfort or beyond, with hard work. From Horatio Alger to Oprah Winfrey, the American Dream gives us collective hope.
The prevailing economic analysis for 2019 portrays a humming economy, one that should be able to support a path to prosperity for anyone willing to do their part. But in reality, traditional economic measures like the unemployment rate and GDP are masking a crisis for millions of lower- and middle-income families. For them, economic injustice has never been greater. They struggle to afford health care, housing, and education as they work jobs that cannot provide the chances they need to reverse this downward slide.
It’s easy enough to offer prosaic explanations for the decline of opportunity: Factories closed. Globalization pushed corporations to send the jobs overseas. Racism abounds. But for those who really want to understand what’s going on, those more superficial answers only prompt more thoughtful questions.
To begin to answer those questions, Gene Ludwig invited some of the most sophisticated minds from across the political spectrum to gather in a closed setting at Yale Law School in the spring of 2019. They included policy makers, journalists, academics, and business leaders—without media or scripts.
The Vanishing American Dream documents this rare, candid conversation and offers a forum on solutions to revive the Dream for all Americans.