Is the American Dream Dead?

I just read a blog on the new book by Suze Orman called The Money Class, due out in March 2011.   According to the blog, Suze believes that the American dream of owning your own home, working in one job and retiring at age 65 is dead.   I disagree - I don't  believe that really is the true American dream.  I don't think that particular version ever showed up in American society before the advent of baby boomers and home loans - i.e. about the 1940's or 1950's.  I think we owe that particular version of the American dream to the banks which also brought us junk bonds, the Savings and Loan debacle and the current situation with home mortgages. 

I believe the real American dream is about opportunity.   For some it was and is the opportunity to practice your religion free from persecution, for others it was the freedom of opportunity to start a business and make a living or buy a farm.   I think if we asked our parents, grandparents or great grandparents why they came to this country - it wasn't to own a home, work in one job for your entire career and retire at age 65. 

The Declaration of Independence states "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."  That is the real American dream.   And I believe it comes in a lot more flavors that just owning your own home, working for someone else your entire career and retiring at age 65.  And I believe that this has always been true, even in the 1950's.

Not to belittle the joys of owning  your own home - but it isn't the be-all and end-all of life.   Working for someone else is also not everyone's dream and never was.   Which, if you think about it, is a very good thing.   Someone has to take the risks and start the companies that drive the economy and  hire all those people.

I think opportunity is still alive and well in America if you are willing to work hard and work smart.  If anything, there is more opportunity for those who are willing to open their own businesses and embrace change than there ever have been.

Owning your own company also provides you with lots more opportunity than working for someone else.  Flexibility, higher incomes, chances to grow and change in areas you are interested in and meeting many more people than you would working for someone else.

It's really easy to see the downsides of being unemployed - but self-employed is far better than employed in my book. 

Now on to retiring at age 65 - Considering that life expectancy is now around 80 - 85, who wants to spend 20 years doing nothing.  The concept of retirement might make sense at 75 or 80, but if you really love what you do, then it's better for your health to keep working.  So maybo work part time instead of full time. Or look into a second or third career?  

I think it's a good thing that those ideas are "dead".  They were right for a few people, but not everyone. 

Certainly not me.   I don't intend on ever retiring and I'm on my third career and working for myself, not someone else.  I work 25 hours a week, and spend the rest of the time with my family and my horse.   I no longer work 60 hour weeks working for a large company with little or no control over my hours. 

That's my "American Dream"

What's your "American Dream?"