Is the American Dream attainable? My intelligently pessimistic side says no. My willingly optimistic side says yes.
The more pessimistic approach is rooted in the fact more than one American Dream exists. And they mostly wither when placed against reality.
One dream, for example, is rooted in beliefs about labor and upward mobility, the dream contained in the oft-asked survey question: Do you think the American Dream — that if you work hard you’ll get ahead — still holds true, never held true or once held true but does not anymore? The best data we have suggests that over the last 40 years upward mobility has stagnated significantly. Further, this data suggests that America fares far worse than other developed nations.
Along these lines five years ago today I had the opportunity to participate in a discussion
about MLK Day with Marc Steiner, Mina Cheon and Mike McGuire. I think it was the first time I met Mina, and the first time I’ve sat down with Mike.