Monday, December 12, 2011

State of the American Dream

diane rehmThis post reviews the November 28, 2011 episode of the Diane Rehm Show on NPR

Most of this post will include comments made on the Diane Rehm show from November 28, 2011. I listened to the show while commuting, and then looked up the transcript from her show. I’m sharing the link to the transcript so you can read it for yourself. I suggest you go to the source at You will find it well worth your time.

Ms. Rehm Introduced her Topic

“Thanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. The doomsayers are proclaiming ever more loudly that America is in decline. They point to our fading economic power and the waning sense of America as a land of opportunity.”

One of her guests E.J. Dionne said in the broadcast:

“Well, I think it's a -- more than a passing ailment, but short of a terminal condition. I should begin by saying that my favorite line on America, which many of your listeners will be familiar with, was Winston Churchill's. He once said Americans always do the right thing after first exhausting all of the other possibilities. And we spent a lot of time lately exhausting all the other possibilities. I think the notion that we are in terminal decline actually speaks to what a high opinion we have of ourselves.”

“We've gone through these bouts of declinism in the past. I think this feeling is particularly strong now for a couple of reasons. One is we obviously are in a very deep economic downturn. Two, as the president's clip suggested, we've had a long rise in economic inequality, which has left a lot of Americans feeling that they can't do as well as they did in the past, and their kids won't do as well as they did in the present.”

Fewer and Fewer Low Trained High Paying Jobs

Her guest Dante Chinni remarked:

:Well, I think it's a good point to say that we're not in a terminal state of decline, which just sounds pretty awful. But what we're definitely in -- we're going through a period -- this is a pretty big shift we're going through. And I do think that they're -- the stuff that E.J. was talking about, particularly, you know, manufacturing jobs, a lot of these things are gone, and they're gone away for a while. And it's not just that we're losing jobs to China and Brazil and India. We're losing them to automation.”

“And, you know, so there are fewer and fewer of these jobs that were good jobs for people who didn't have a lot of skills and education. It allowed them to have a high standard of living and live the life they wanted. You know, we still have less than 50 percent of the population with even, you know, an associates degree, right? So what we really have to do is figure out a way to get all these people educated for what's coming next because you're going to have to have more education. You're going to have to have more skills.”

“And that gets increasingly difficult because college tuition costs are going up. I feel that we're at a point where we kind of have to look at all the things we have, all the structures we kind of have in the U.S. and determine whether or not we need to change them and how we need to change them...”

I’d like to discuss this topic more throughout the week. I’ve seen significant decreases in the middle class. While some move upward, too many descend into poverty. Before Wednesday’s post I strongly encourage you to listen to, or read, the transcript from the Diane Rehm show on November 28:

Wednesday we will explore this concept of education and training for the American Dream

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