Two Very Different Takes on the American Dream

Published by AlterNet, C. J. Werleman’s “Look at the Stats: America Resembles a Poor Country” presents a succinct survey of data that suggests that the American Dream is becoming an ever more remote possibility for more and more Americans. Here is an excerpt from the article [the full text of which can be found at http://www.salon.com/2013/12/10/look_at_the_stats_america_resembles_a_poor_country_partner/?source=newsletter]:

“America has become a RINO: rich in name only. . . . Not a single U.S. city is included in the world’s top 10 most livable cities. Only one U.S. airport makes the list of the top 100 in the world. Our roads, schools and bridges are falling apart, and our trains—none of them high-speed—are running off their tracks. Our high school students are rated 30th in math, and some 30 countries have longer life expectancy and lower rates of infant mortality. The only things America is number one in these days are the number of incarcerated citizens per capita and adult onset diabetes.

“Three decades of trickledown economics; the monopolization, privatization and deregulation of industry; and the destruction of labor protection has resulted in 50 million Americans living in abject poverty, while 400 individuals own more than one-half of the nation’s wealth. As the four Walmart heirs enjoy a higher net worth than the bottom 40 percent, our nation’s sense of food insecurity is more on par with developing countries like Indonesia and Tanzania than with OECD nations like Australia and Canada. In fact, the percentage of Americans who say they could not afford the food needed to feed their families at some point in the last year is three times that of Germany, more than twice than Italy and Canada.

“The destruction of labor has been so comprehensive that first-world nations now offshore their jobs to the U.S. . . . Foreign companies now see us as the world’s cheap labor force, and we have the non-unionized South to thank for that. . . . Average wages for autoworkers in the South are up to 30 percent lower than in Michigan.”

Providing a pointed contrast is the following is a news items distributed by International and Foreign Language Education Office of the Postsecondary Office of the U.S. Department of Education’s:

“University of Illinois National Resource Center (NRC): Institute Analyzes ‘The American Dream’”

“On July  2nd, 2013, Dr. Elizabeth Hanauer, the Associate Director of the NRC Center for Global Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign brought a group of international teachers on a study tour to Washington, D.C. It was the first time they served as a host for the Study of the U.S. Institute for Secondary Educators on behalf of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This intensive six-week Institute, ‘The American Dream: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of a Cultural Heritage,’ provided 30 secondary educators from around the globe with an interdisciplinary examination of what many call America’s most “enduring myth” – the American Dream.  The participants came from 25 different countries. Most of them were English teachers at the secondary level, but a few also taught civics or social studies. Structured around four sub-themes, the Institute offers informed lectures, workshops on pedagogy, panels and discussions with educators, government officials, and community residents, local site visits, and sustained engagement with the host community. Study tours to Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago and San Francisco connect to program themes of a culturally and geographically diverse America. A Curriculum Project provides participants with the resources to create their own curriculum scaffold for a course on American Studies. Additionally, the Institute provides a follow-on online course for Institute alumni to assist them as they develop lessons, units, and courses on American Studies for their students.”

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