Is the American dream a myth?



Some scholars link the American dream to political regulations and affirm that due to poor public administration the American ideal has become a myth. However, I strongly believe that the American dream is a set of universal values that is rooted not only in the Americans’ lives but also serves as a reference of prosperity all over the world. This set of values is what has motivated American citizens and immigrants to work for a better life where liberty allows social mobility through hard work. In addition, a set of universal values such as freedom, pursuit of happiness and recognition can’t be dismantled by external factors such as the economy and political practices; universal core values are the cause of change and not the effect of political practices. King (2011, pp. 572) elucidates that in order to overcome economic downturns it is fundamental that the Americans remain confident and positive about the future. The author further explains that the conception of the American dream has modified and that acquiring excessive material wealth is no longer what people are aiming at. Instead, financial stability and saving for the future are the modern features of the American dream. This modest concept presented by the author shows how humans are capable of adapting and adjusting their goals in response to challenging external variables. It does not mean that the dream became a myth but is now composed of different perspectives.

Among the challenging external variables are income inequality and corruption. Krugman (2007, pp. 586) highlights the importance of reducing income inequality since it leads to social inequality and political corruption. Additionally, the author presents the results from a survey in which 61 percent of Americans agreed with the statement “people get rewarded for their efforts” in comparison with 49 percent of Canadians and 23 percent of French. One can clearly infer that even though income inequality has raised in the last two decades; Americans remain confident that working hard and preparing for the future are the best way of being accomplished. Nonetheless, I disagree with Krugman’s over-regulatory measures to reduce market inequality and align the American dream with the reality. Instead, I concur with McKey and Sisodia (2012, pp. 96) that income inequality can be reduced by practicing conscious capitalism. In other words, highly profitable companies can impact positively on society through a higher purpose other than profit itself.

The American dream is very much alive and actively working on different perspectives. As examples, Olsson (2003, pp. 606) denounces Wal-Mart’s cruel employment practices. Consequently, 67,000 employees sued Wal-Mart and got settlements totalizing over $ 50 million; besides that, many employees try to have their co-workers joining trade unions so they can get their salary increased. Wal-Mart’s employees are not in a comfort zone; they are working towards better salaries in order to achieve some financial stability. In contrast, the Whole Foods Market founded by John McKey is a symbol of a high profitable company impacting positively on society. The American dream is materialized on the company’s mission of offering the highest quality products at affordable prices. The enterprise’s main goals is the satisfaction, delight and Nourishment of all stakeholders, not only shareholders.



 McKey, J. Sisodia, R. (2013) Conscious Capitalism: liberating the heroic spirit. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.

 Graff, G. Birkenstein, C. Durst, R (2012) They Say, I say. New York: Norton & Company