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Democracy and Equality - American Economy, the American Dream in the Land of Unlimited Opportunities

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Democracy and Equality:

American Economy, the American Dream in the Land of Unlimited Opportunities

As we may all know, the concept of the rags-to-riches myth is stemming from the vast and free opportunities of the United States of America. Even before the Declaration of Independence huge amount of people were flowing to the harbours of Western European cities, to enter a new world of golden oppportunities and chances by sailing to the New World. What was the cause of this? And what is the situation nowadays? Is this myth still in effect?

According to the travelogue of the Hungarian traveller called Бgoston Haraszty, the first question is truly easy to answer, and more or less we may be able to agree with his points.

He observed the Americans as a nation, which does not know the concept of insolvability. There are no lazy people, everyone does his or her own beneficial activity. One major point of Haraszty’s essay can be, that you cannot find any nobles there. (Course Packet, 59) In Hungary, the concept of the gentry evolved to a higher level, signalling not just the noble rank of a person, but his laziness, slothfulness and laxity, so in this aspect Haraszty was right.

He describes the positive features of the observable free market, where you can easily start your own business, and you can find no limitations, which would hold you back. (Course Packet 60) He also says that no monopoly of nobles can be seen, because of the lack of anachronistic laws. Ironically, this vision of Haraszty was totally false, as this vast freedom, was the condition under which the giant monopolies could evolve. In my opinion this is where the rags-to-riches myth collapses to pieces. The Americans cling to their rights to freely move up and down the income ladder.

Also, some people “suggest that mobility along the income ladder is serving as an antidote to inequality” (commondreams.org) I think this is a totally mistaken idea. Creating such freedom just widens the gap between “rags” and “riches”, even if it is true that you always have the slightest opportunity to move on this ladder upwards. The environment allows only to have just a few number of exceptionally lucky persons, who make their own fortunes. If all the people are so industrious and hard-working, why are there so few rich people? “There are now 313 billionaires in America” (money.cnn.com), while “the ranks of our nation's poor have grown by 4 million, and the number of people without health insurance has swelled by 4.6 million to over 45 million.” (alternet.org) “Income inequality is now near all-time highs, with over 50 percent of 2004 income going to the top fifth of households, and the biggest gains going to the top 5 percent and 1 percent of households. The average CEO now takes home a paycheck 431 times that of their average worker.” (alternet.org) “The United States is now the third most unequal industrialized society after Russia and Mexico.” (alternet.org) These data all support that Haraszty’s and several other people’s ideals were false in the past and America was heading in the wrong direction.

Haraszty thinks that there is an inner national fire in each American person to exploit the vast possibilities of the country. (Course Packet 60) A quote of J. P. Morgan also supports this inner spirit of Americans to chase and face success: „You can't pick cherries

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