Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Hypocrisy of Hope: How Obama’s vision of hope will destroy the American Dream

Note: I posted this back in April 2009 but had to remove it. Although the President has not been able to see his vision realized, this post addresses what that vision is.

The American dream has inspired hope in the hearts of hundreds of millions since the United States was formed. Scores of immigrants have swarmed its shores hoping for a better life. Even today many people risk their lives just for the chance that they can improve their circumstances. President Obama has even written a book about how to bring the American dream back to its glory; however, his socialist vision for America will not bring back the American dream but destroy it.

The American dream is the epitome of hope. It is the hope that one can improve his or her station in life. It is the hope that one can make the lives of his or her children better than one’s own. It is the hope that hard work will bring rewards. The American dream inspires, motivates, and drives us. It is not the guarantee of prosperity but the undeniable hope for it.

My father grew up on a small chicken farm in the country and my mother grew up in a low income, single parent household. Both of them struggled to get an education and raise a family. My parents were not content with their situation in life and worked hard to improve their circumstances. Through their hard work, I was able to live a comfortable and safe life. I am a product of the American dream. This year I will graduate with a Masters in Accounting from one of the best accounting schools in the nation. This is all because my parents and their parents believed in the American dream. I also believe in the American dream but I have lived in Germany, which is a country void of all such hopes.

I lived in the eastern part of Germany or the part that was controlled by the Soviets until 1990. The people who live in this part of Germany have experienced both communism and socialism. During my time in Germany I talked to and interacted with the people from all walks of life. I talked to them about their lives, families, goals, and dreams. Each person I met was in a different situation, but all were similar in their want of hope.

One man I knew had been unemployed for ten years and was living comfortably on welfare. The welfare even provided him with funds to vacation in Tunisia. Another man I met had been unemployed for two years and would not accept employment because he made more money on welfare. I also knew an illegal immigrant from Cameroon who came to Germany to make enough money to bring his family out of Africa. The German Government gives him an apartment, TV, food, and clothing. It however does not allow him to work nor does it send him back to Africa.

All three of these people are unemployed and being completely supported by the government and none of them have any hope that their situation can be better. These stories are very typical of the people I met in Germany. Of course I did not only meet unemployed people but people who are employed have little hope of improving their situation because they are paying taxes for all of these government programs. They are stuck in mindless jobs and have lost all hope for improving their condition.

This kind of hopelessness is seen in the productivity of the work force. While I was volunteering at the German Red Cross, one of the employees suggested that we worked “as if we were dead.” She saw no advantages to working harder. I had grown up with the idea that the harder I worked the more rewards I would receive but these people only knew how to do the bare minimum. Since there is no hope for a better job there is no reason to work hard. The worst part is that this hopelessness is ingrained into them at an early age.

When young people in Germany turn twelve, they are tested and someone decides if the children are smart enough to go to college. If the kids make the cut, they will continue in school until grade 13 and then proceed to a University. If the children are not chosen for higher education, they will be separated into a different kind of high school that only goes until the 10thgrade. From there these kids will join a job training program for one year where they learn skills for one particular job that they will be doing for the rest of their lives. These children will never be offered a college education presumably because the government cannot afford to offer everyone a free ride. These students learn at age twelve that hope dies young.

But everyone is healthy and few are extremely poor. The merits of socialism should not be minimized. People who need the most help are given it. What is important is that socialism is not the same as the American dream. The American dream has been about the hope for upward mobility with the risk of downfall. Socialism brings the exact opposite, no hope for a better life and no risk of a worse one.

Recently there were protests in France because young people did not want to be fired for being poor employees. Basically employers in France cannot fire someone unless they have done something extremely bad. Ineffectiveness, laziness, and ineptitude are never grounds for termination in France or in many unions in the States. This combination of ultimate job security and promotion based on seniority leads to mediocre performance and absolutely no hope that one can improve his or her situation through determination alone.

The government funds most of its programs through high progressive taxes. This means that the more money one makes the higher ones tax rate will be. This simply causes one to stay in his or her current economic situation even though he or she is making more money. This of course does not take into account inflation in which case you might even be making less. What kind of hope does a tax system like this instill in the hearts of the people? What is the motivation to make more money if it cannot improve one’s quality of life? Why work hard if the government is going to support you no matter what you do?

But everyone is still healthy and some are well educated. The merits are undeniable and beneficial but the costs are more than just high taxes and mediocre standards of living, it also costs people the hope that inspires them to overcome. So what would America be like under a socialistic system? Just like every other country. There will be nothing special about America, nothing inspirational, and nothing hopeful. We will all be just mediocre people working mediocre jobs living in mediocre apartments with mediocre ambitions. But we will all have health-care, few will be poor, and those smart enough to qualify will be well educated. The American dream will struggle to survive but will ultimately die in the myopic compassion of socialism.