Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The American dream

From page A4 | January 08, 2014 |

For President Obama the American dream seems to be to take from those who have spent their lives working, saving and paying taxes and giving their money to those who are merely whining. This means doubling Medicare payments for those above a certain income level. It means giving Obama phones — free cell phones with 250 minutes — to millions, including the homeless. It means taking away health care from 6 million who bought the insurance policies on the open market. It means charging the young and healthy more than the old and chronically ill. It means raising the cost for seniors on the Medicare Advantage plan and trying to eliminate their plan altogether.

For Democratic pollster Jim Moore it means building a winery on his Camino property without having to pay impact fees.

For Bill Center it’s no more subdivisions, no matter how well designed they are and how near to the core of facilities.

For Jack Sweeney it’s more commute buses and maybe a light rail extension to El Dorado Hills.

For Supervisor Ray Nutting it’s ripping up the railroad tracks west of Shingle Springs to make a hiking trail. Who needs light rail?

William Damon, an education professor at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, identified who originated the term, the American dream:

“But as James Truslow Adams in his 1931 history ‘The Epic of America’ wrote, it was ‘not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream 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.’ It was the freedom to seek and pursue one’s own path. Most important, it was freedom to follow one’s conscience without constraints from government authorities.”

Immigrants past and present know exactly what the American dream is, starting with those Americans who emigrated to California and Oregon Territory by wagon train, or by ship and continuing with those who flooded Ellis Island in the 19th and 20th centuries and those who crossed our southern border. Or those who arrived from India, China or Japan. These are the people who have kept the frontier spirit alive. These are the people daring enough to come to a new land and learn a new language and become part of a new culture.

We know they are ambitious and wish to make a good living. Some do very well. But the real attraction of the American dream is not free cell phones, wider highways, better transportation or free contraceptives. As one youthful immigrant from India told Damon: “I think  that it comes back to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and the fact that if you really have a dream and you work hard, you can achieve it.”



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