July 10th, 2014
10:39 AM ET

What I'm reading: The cost of the American Dream

By Fareed Zakaria

“Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, in announcing a new policy to provide employees with a college education, declared: ‘In the last few years, we have seen the fracturing of the American dream,’” argues Howard Gold in USA Today.

“In fact, three-quarters of Americans polled by the Brookings Institution in 2008 said the dream was harder to attain.

They're right to worry. An analysis by USA Today shows that living the American dream would cost the average family of four about $130,000 a year. Only 16 million U.S. households – around 1 in 8 – earned that much in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”


“ISIS fastened on to the Sunni power networks of Saddam’s army and Ba’ath party, supposedly dismantled by the U.S.-led occupation, and the tribes, hostile to jihadi totalitarianism but now more aggrieved by the Maliki government,” writes David Gardner in the Financial Times. “While sectarianism is not religion, it does have the power to resurrect the zombie ideologies of Osama bin Laden and the Ba’ath – and even get them to work together.”

“The Shia, after centuries on Islam’s sidelines, finally have something to protect. It is not just about preventing a repeat of 1801, when Wahhabi marauders from the first Saudi kingdom sacked Kerbala and other Shia shrine cities. It is about 2003 and the rise of the Shia after the invasion of Iraq, which helped Tehran forge an axis of power from Baghdad to Beirut.”


“Erbil is a haven. Business is thriving and the various religious and ethnic groups coexist peacefully,” writes Fergal Keane in the New Republic. “If you wanted a happier dream of Iraq, this is the place to visit. Walk the markets and listen to the soulful voice of Chopi Fetah drift across stalls from the loudspeaker in the spice shop, drink sweet tea in the shadow of the ancient citadel and wait for the latest news from the front. So tranquil and tolerant is Erbil that Sunni fighters are coming here for rest.”




soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. bobcat2u

    A newsboy was standing on the corner with a stack of papers, yelling, "Read all about it; Fifty people swindled!” Fifty people swindled! Curios, a man walked over, bought a paper, and said, "Hey kid, this is an old paper, where’s the story about the big swindle?” The newsboy ignored him and went on calling out, "read all about it; Fifty-one people swindled!”

    July 10, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
  2. chri§§y

    Lol cute @ bobcat.

    July 10, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
  3. jgreen52013

    President Obama/Council of Economic Advisers:

    The late Peter Drucker advocated that no CEO’s salary should be greater than 20 times that of their lowest paid employee.

    Switzerland recently expanded on this concept, but would limit the CEO’s salary to no more than 12 times that of the lowest paid employee.

    Naysayers waved and flailed their arms in objection under the “free market” concept, claiming that a CEO’s salary should be solely the province of the Market, i.e., determined by the Market, and that artificially setting a CEO’s salary would result in a “brain-drain”—which also assumes, among other things, that a CEO would always opt for the higher salary….[is driven solely by GREED]….

    And, of course, given that it became law, as proposed by Switzerland—i.e., theoretically universal law—where would they go?

    The larger point, here, is the “free market” concept—i.e., what we currently “believe”, is solely the province of the Market [sacred ground]—even when this “belief” is detrimental to the Market….

    For instance, the most pernicious belief in America, today–indeed, throughout the OECD is the belief that:

    “The market can provide anybody wanting a job, with a job”….

    For one, this has never been true [with our Welfare system in America, alone, as consummate proof]….

    But since the mid-1970’s, when the world economy underwent a major paradigm shift—the Market has been less and less capable of creating enough jobs—

    And given “automation”, alone—going forward into the 21st Century the Market creating enough jobs is becoming exponentially less and less true, daily….

    And yet, to this day, our policy makers stand on one foot and then the other….as year after year goes by in a resulting sluggish recovery—entrenched in the “belief” that the Market will create all the jobs we need…..if we just wait long enough…..[and based on a specious “free market” argument]…..

    Also ignored, is that the Market thrives when we have a robust, employed, consuming workforce….

    The over-arching point is that the Market is INCAPABLE of creating enough jobs in our 21st Century economy—and the “belief”, above, is preventing us from finding a solution to pervasive unemployment in America.

    Please see Pro-Market, deficit-neutral: HR 1000/THE NEIGHBOR-TO-NEIGHBOR JOB CREATION ACT, Amazon/Kindle

    Jim Green, Democrat opponent to Lamar Smith, Congress, 2000

    July 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
  4. palintwit

    Q: What's the difference between Sarah Palin and a three toed sloth?
    A: The sloth doesn't have shrill, shrieky voice that can break glass.

    July 10, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
    • So True

      Don't forget that a sloth actually has a purpose in life.

      July 11, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
  5. chri§§y

    Ty, ty, ty @ jgreen52013...finally someone else is supporting what i have been posting here regularly!!

    July 10, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
  6. Haly

    This is our dilemma–we have no leaders with character, ethics, and integrity. All elections are about keeping power and making back room deals–nothing focuses on national priorities or national security anymore. To have someone like Obama in the White House that is so weak, lazy, inept, incompetent and malevolent our country can't survive. Having the best CIA, NSA, and Homeland Security can't save a country that has a lawless moron for President.

    America isn’t what it used to be. As a graduate student in my mid-twenties in NYC, here is what I know: I plan to graduate, get a decent job (thankfully my field is not in the toilet like so many others), live in a small house, minimize the number of possessions I have, pay off my student loan debt, save as much as I can for my children's education and my retirement, pay my $350/month health insurance premiums and my $23/month auto insurance premiums (thanks Insurance Panda). I won't have the big suburban house, the fancy cars, the extraneous material possessions. Gifts will be experiences with loved ones, not things. Vacations will be camping, not at resorts.

    My generation is looking at a very different reality than we were promised by our parents. In some ways, it's a disappointment. In other ways, it seems a lot healthier than a life of excess.

    July 10, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
    • banasy©

      Well, Bush is no longer President, so the lawless moron is gone.

      July 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      I disagree with anyone who says that President Obama lacks character, ethics, and integrity.
      Perhaps you disagree with the President on issues.
      I agree that the USA is not what it once was. That does not mean that our country could not reverse its direction and fly again.
      The mentality of our people would have to change back to one of personal responsibility and independence.

      July 10, 2014 at 8:25 pm |
  7. chri§§y

    In your 20s? Yet you have such a pessimistic atti tude about our POTUS? What is your opinion about the previous POTUS?

    July 10, 2014 at 3:32 pm |
  8. chri§§y

    And a very good outlook you have about material things! Quite surprising for someone your age! Thats a good thing! And camping is a way more fun vacation experience!

    July 10, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
  9. chri§§y

    Lol @ banasy i was thinking that blogger may have been confusing the past with the present POTUS. That or he/she may be "parroting" the parents views!

    July 10, 2014 at 3:58 pm |
  10. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    Let a CEO make anything he can get.
    Let everyone else make anything he can get.
    There is no reason to expect an economy to guarantee a job for every person who wants a job. Some citizens cannot do anything worth money, or worth enough money to set it up as a "job."
    Last night I attended the funeral of a man, loved by all in his community, who suppoted himself by working several part-time jobs. The church was packed, and he was called a great man. I knew him, and he was. He was not rich.
    The American Dream is not for every person to be rich. In America, each person has a CHANCE to become rich.

    July 10, 2014 at 4:35 pm |
  11. Allan Kinsman©

    I always thought the "American Dream" was an individual point of reference. Some say it is a house with a white picket fence. Some believe it is a balanced government, one out of debt, one that is better managed. Some believe as I do that you would be given a chance to make it, an equal chance. I don't think it is important to be rich but I firmly believe it is important to bring value for the opportunities to live. To help lift up those that you live with to educate and to be educated because a world will run it's own way if people let it. As many would say has. The american dream is a bunch of individuals learning the how and the why of finding a way to all live together so we can turn our minds and energies toward surviving not only ourselves but a very harsh universe.

    July 10, 2014 at 5:48 pm |
  12. chri§§y

    I agree @ Alan! And a great many people are NOT given an equal chance simply because there are just not enough jobs out there!!!

    July 10, 2014 at 6:54 pm |
  13. chri§§y

    Amen @ Joey!!!! Theres my hero! Lol

    July 10, 2014 at 9:15 pm |
  14. chri§§y

    And you know what? I think that is precisely WHY conservatives DONT like Obama. Because he DOES have integrity and he DOES care about the people. And they cant find any real dirt on him like so many others before him. Thats why they keep trying to manufacture some. Even if its at the expense of this country!

    July 10, 2014 at 9:19 pm |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      Right, @ chrissy.
      If they realy had dirt on Obama, it would have been exposed long ago.
      He is really tough in not reacting to so much hatred.

      July 10, 2014 at 9:53 pm |
  15. chri§§y

    I so agree @ Joey! A lesser man wouldve folded by now! It truly amazes me how he can still have a sense of humor AND a smile after all the garbage theyve thrown at him! Were it me, with my Italian/Irish upbringing...i woulda been kickin @ss and takin names by now lol!

    July 10, 2014 at 10:15 pm |
  16. chri§§y

    Just kidding on the last part but i seriously doubt i wouldve takin a second term of that abuse! Lol

    July 10, 2014 at 10:17 pm |
  17. Retired Military

    There are plenty of serious issues with this President and his administration. The compliant mainstream media has only perpetuated and further enabled the over reach of power we now see in the Executive branch of government by not seriously investigating and performing their role of keeping politicians in check. These numerous "phoney" scandals, too many to list, are overwhelming the average American. The President's approval ratings are the worst they have ever been. He is now being called the worst President since WW II and this is a result of legitimate polls. The President's credibility is certainly at issue. He is losing the support he once had. His integrity is an issue. He knew in 2009 that his promise to keep your doctor and your healthcare provider was not true, yet he continued the false narrative through the 2012 election. I hoped he would have done better because he is our President. I am disappointed and disillusioned with the decisive politics.

    July 10, 2014 at 11:12 pm |
  18. chri§§y

    Good evening @ Retired Military. I really wish all US citizens wouldve read the initial ACA proposal from the POTUS prior to all the garbage instilled by Congress. After they ADDED 190 plus pages it was no longer AFFORDABLE!!!! Hence we now have the IHCA=inflated healthcare act!

    July 11, 2014 at 12:05 am |
  19. chri§§y

    So it is us, the citizens, that should have the lawsuit against CONGRESS...instead of Republicans sueing Obama! I guess they havent suffered enough self imposed public humiliation...they want to add more! What i would really like to know, is why isnt Common Sense a prerequisent to running for Congress? And sorry if i spelled that incorrectly but you catch my drift! And furthermore why would they think its acceptable to us taxpayers for them to waste more of our taxdollars on this frivolous attempt at appearing to know what they are doing, by sueing the POTUS?

    July 11, 2014 at 12:36 am |
  20. Kick out Germans

    Germany is endangering American Dream and American Freedom. We should kick out German businesses, instead.


    July 11, 2014 at 8:22 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      German productivity is not the cause of the USA's economic disaster, and no Olympic swimmer made me a slow one.

      July 11, 2014 at 7:04 pm |
      • Non.Germans

        No, not German productivity, but: Germans play one hard anti-american game, their secret gestapo mafia is killing Americans and destroying American businesses.

        July 12, 2014 at 6:20 am |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        Oh. And then the Germans won't let us throw fastballs back at them?
        Compete, compete, compete.
        We used to beat them, you know.
        What changed between us and the Master Race?

        July 12, 2014 at 9:19 am |

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