Wednesday, May 13, 2009

the american dream is dying

The Trumpet | The American dream is fading. For many Americans, the idea is this: Simply survive. The borrow-and-spend-your-way-to-happiness model has evaporated. Now the harsh light of economic reality is pouring through the windows.

In its latest “Study of the American Dream” survey, MetLife reports that the country has “experienced major changes” that will likely leave “a lasting impact on how Americans achieve and sustain the dream.” The American dream has “once again been revised—possibly to a greater extent than could have been imagined just one year ago.”

Where previous generations generally defined the American dream as a combination of a good family life, home ownership, and a degree of financial security, the 2009 study found that the Americans dream now consists of an almost singular focus on financial security.

Paying the bills and putting food on the table has become the main concern for growing numbers of Americans. And more Americans define the dream not as a destination, but as a “never-ending chase.” The report’s executive summary states:

Across generations, the economic crisis has been a loud wake-up call for consumers. Economic concerns that arose in 2007—e.g., savings, job security, retirement shortfalls—have expanded dramatically over the past 12 months; cracks in the foundation of the American dream have worsened considerably. Concerns about the health of the American economy, inadequate personal safety nets and the erosion of corporate and social safety nets have left major portions of the American public—across all socio and economic demographics—exposed to financial hardship (possibly even ruin) on a scale not seen in most Americans’ lifetimes.

Americans are living on the edge. Half of those surveyed said they could only meet their financial obligations for one month if they were to lose their job. Almost 28 percent said they could not even last two weeks.

A whopping 72 percent of America’s population says it doesn’t have enough savings to last more than three months.