The Downsizing of the American Dream

He began to talk about the things he wanted, his hallmarks of success in America: a Harley, a new camper, a family trip to Italy and that pool with the lazy river.

Tyler responded in turn by listing his own goals, which so many people in his father’s generation had considered guarantees. “Stocks. Bonds. A house. A car,” he said. He had been working double shifts as a waiter to boost his savings. He wanted to pay down his community college loans before transferring to a four-year college to finish his degree.

“Those are all good things,” Frank said. “Smart. Real practical.”

“You can’t be too safe or too smart about money with the economy now,” Tyler said. “I want to save up and make the smart investments.”

“You’ll make them,” Frank said, nodding.

“I want to have that absolute stability,” Tyler said.

“You’ll have it.”

This longread about a pool salesman’s dwindling business, and how the American Dream has segued from being prosperous to being stable, is excellent. There’s much to unpack from this story: How three generations view success, the volatility of owning your own business, and the complications involved when sending money to foreign relatives who view the U.S. as “a place of endless opportunity, where even the cleaning ladies got rich.”

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2 Comments / Post A Comment

acid burn (#113)

He lost me at Oh, and the idea that opportunity eroded for my generation? Only if you’re a white American man. In his lifetime, he points out, women and minorities have seen their economic prospects brighten considerably, especially in higher-earning fields like the law.

Oh, okay.

theotherginger (#1,304)

@acid burn this is why I find it hard to feel bad for men. I’m like, ok, you have damaging social constraints, and if they were removed it would be better for everyone. BUT who has more damaging social constraints? probably not the white, cisgendered men.

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