“Few rich and a few poor:” The American Dream’s Harsh Reality

The American Dream isn’t what it used to be. The idea that any hardworking American can have a comfortable life just isn’t true anymore. There’s a spotlight on the wealth gap in the US — and a lot of thoughts on how to close it.

The Good Ol’ Days

Family in front of house
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The original poster (OP), Mike, remembers when America had a thriving middle class. Working folks like John, a mailman, could afford a home and support a family. Kids went to good public schools, and the streets were safe.

The Top 1% Decide They Need More

fizkes // Shutterstock

But at some point, the richest Americans decided they simply weren’t rich enough. They found loopholes to avoid taxes. They used their wealth to influence politics so that laws favored the rich. 

With all their extra money, they built factories abroad where workers had no rights. The American middle class lost stability and bargaining power as the elite grew richer.

The Rich Take Control of Media

Sad Man watching tv
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The ultra-wealthy bought newspapers, radio, and TV stations to keep citizens compliant. They fed the public propaganda that this lopsided system was good for them. They claimed the benefits would “trickle down” even as inequality grew.

Today’s Staggering Inequality

Rich business man
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The result is that the top 1% owns 40% of America’s wealth. Yet the bottom half owns just 2.5%. A CEO makes about 400 times an average worker’s salary. 

Thus, it takes John the mailman 50 days to earn what a CEO makes in one hour. Hard work no longer guarantees a secure life.

The American Dream Vanishes

nakaridore // Shutterstock.

The days of a strong middle class with opportunities to advance are gone. The system now favors the rich elite. For the rest, good jobs with benefits are scarce. Upward mobility has become a myth. The American Dream is dead for the vast majority.

With Work and Community, We Can Regain the Dream

RealPeopleStudio // Shutterstock.

Mike thinks the population can regain power if enough unite beyond divisive rhetoric. By organizing, voting, advocating, and educating, today’s unions and grassroots movements may grow into the force that resurrects the ideals of equal opportunity and fair rewards for hard work. There are always seeds of hope, progress, and redemption if we cultivate them.

Fix the Broken System First

Roman Samborskyi // Shutterstock.

Someone commented, “The government ‘system’ is broke [sic]. Take money out of politics first. This is the beginning. Not demonizing the rich, fix politics first.”

The Poor Vote Against Their Interests

Roman Samborskyi // Shutterstock.

“The problem is that many poor people on the right vote against their interests and worry more about the rich man’s pocket than their own,” another person said.

Revolution Won’t Come Until the Brink

shurkin_son // Shutterstock.

“The revolution won’t come until the people are starving,” a third person predicted. “Unfortunately, those at the top know this and will chuck just enough crumbs to stay on top.”

The New Populist Uprising

Group discussion
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Across the country, a populist movement is growing. Every day, citizens should come together and demand reforms that support the working and middle classes again. This new uprising should aim to close tax loopholes for the ultra-wealthy, break up corporate monopolies, and limit money’s influence in politics. 

The Power Lies With the People

Luis Molinero // Shutterstock.

Mike knows that the people have the power to take back control of our economy and democracy. Through civic participation, tough reforms, and public activism, we can override the interests of the wealthy elite.


Author: Christopher Alarcon

Title: Journalist

Expertise: personal finance, side hustles, time management


Christopher Alarcon is a journalist with a deep passion for personal finance. He has contributed to major online publications, including MSN, Wealth of Geeks, and Business Insider.