The American Nightmare

I am not a professor. I am not a historian. I am not an anthropologist. I am not an economist. I am simply an American citizen. I am growing increasingly more aware of the system in which I have become desensitized to and I am seeing this ugly picture unfold daily to an exponential degree. In the richest country in the world, one might assume that issues such as poverty, homelessness, hunger, poor health care, or debt would not be able to exist. Welcome to my country. Along my journey, I have seen one side of the coin in real life and the other side of the coin through the media. I will let you make that distinction on your own. The picture is becoming more and more clear that for some to live the American Dream others have to live the American Nightmare.

There is an accepted belief that people who work hard are the ones that make all of the money. As a result, logic says that people that don’t have money are the ones that aren’t working hard. In my lifetime, I have experienced the exact opposite. I have seen people work multiple jobs for years upon years and barely be able to afford the essentials. I have also seen people that can literally live the rest of their lives on vacation if they choose and never have a worry in the world. Cue in the American Nightmare.

The nightmare doesn’t come from having to work hard because I wouldn’t argue that rich people don’t work hard. I would argue that through their privilege they have been educated on how to work hard mentally and not physically. The nightmare comes from working hard and not being able to afford basic health care for your child. The nightmare comes from having to work overtime and neglecting your family’s needs just so they can have a roof over their head. The nightmare lies within the idea that working hard will get you into that rich fraternity where you can now rest at ease knowing that your family will be taken care of and your future isn’t up in the air as long as you work yourself down to the bone. Cue in the American Dream.

The American Dream is a beautiful thing. This is where you can live in a nice neighborhood, own your own house, eat healthy, have leisure time to spend with your family, invest, and experience the things that money can offer. This place does exist. But it only exists for a certain group of people and it has nothing to do with the amount of hard work that is factored into the equation. The main factor in being able to live the American Dream is that someone else has to live the American Nightmare. Take a second and place yourself in this scenario. Imagine the life that you are living and think of the person that is either living the dream thanks to you or is living the nightmare to enable you. The problem lies within our economic policies that ignore our extreme inequality and the problems we will face if we remain ignorant to it.

Comments 71

  1. James Finnegan

    What is rich? That may depend on where you live. Rich in Kansas barely pays the bills in NYC. What is poor? Lack of education, drug addiction, etc. I have lived both sides of the coin and can say that some of the richest people I know have little money and some of the poorest people have money and little else. It is all relative.

    Bottom line, work smarter not harder. In this day and age of the internet, ANYONE can educate themselves and rise above the station they are born into. I don’t believe in Socialism as your post hints toward. I believe that the main problem is that we have become a spoiled and lazy society of people who feel that they are ENTITLED to the American dream just because they live here. I have witnessed this from the big company bailouts to the social service system. People who do not work hard for the American dream don’t respect it. Whether you were born with a silver spoon or food stamps, the only way to be rich in EVERY sense of the word is to earn it. Thank you for your post. I welcome any response you may have.

    • James, I apologize for the delay but with my schedule it is hard to respond as fast as I’d like. Thank you for the respectful engagement.

      I agree that people who work hard and earn what they deserve appreciate it more. My problem is that with the way the system is set up, working hard doesn’t always grant you that life in return. It is becoming less and less possible to achieve that level of comfort for those at the bottom. Some of the hardest working people I have ever met are financially stressed. I think the way wealth is distributed in this country is backwards. The people that physically create the wealth are the ones that get the least of it. The people that are in charge of the process are the ones that reap the benefits from the sweat of the employees. I think capitalism is a good thing but I also think that it tends to breed greed and inequality. And if the system won’t grow a conscious and correct itself, it is up to the people to demand a change in the system. Whether you call it socialism or communism, we need policies that empower people to get ahead. I just read that our Congress just passed a motion to send billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine. If we don’t have money for US citizens, I think it’s a slap in the face to send it to foreign countries. If we do have the money but have reasons why we don’t spend it at home, let that conversation be heard. Our leaders are not held accountable for their lies and distorted logic. The system, in my opinion, favors a certain class of people while leaving the rest to figure it out. That to me is the American nightmare.

  2. Dwyer Jones

    I just turned 59 years old, and my lifetime of work experience has taught me that “hard work” is NONSENSE unless you are running your own business. Working for other people is worthless because the people that run the business, the people who make the decisions, DO NOT notice anything worthwhile that any of their salaried employees does because they do not care. What business owners really want from employees is for them to work to build the resale value of the business so it can be off-loaded to the highest bidder, and employees’ job security or rewards be damned, or left to the tender mercies of the new owner(s). Why do you think that pensions, bonuses, raises, promotions, and other performance incentives for employees have mostly disappeared over the last 30 years? Well, if you were planning to unload your business to a buyer as soon as you can get its purchase price high enough, why would you bother to motivate employees to believe that they can achieve long-term employment? AMERICA IS A SCAM, folks.

    • Timothy Rhyme


      I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for sharing. I think it is vital to understand this. Slavery 2.0 is going strong and we are blind to the big picture. Debt. I think the only way we will be able to see any real change is to practice real democracy. It’s a shame that in the “freest country in the world” we are the less democratic. Public opinion doesn’t matter anymore. It’s all about the money.

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