Does Anyone Believe in the American Dream Anymore?

The American Dream, for generations, represented the ideals of freedom, equality, and opportunity traditionally held to be available to every American, along with a life of personal happiness and material prosperity. It has been around since the time of our Founding Fathers. It became a reality to millions in the mid-1800’s during the immigration boom and Industrial Revolution. Families left the farms, stormed the cities and found employment that not only enabled their families to avoid starvation, but to thrive. Andrew Carnegie was perhaps one of the best examples of the American Dream at work during that time period. A poor Scottish immigrant, who despite his poverty, became the wealthiest man in the world. The American Dream offered every American hope for a better life. To former generations, that better life was defined as increased prosperity only possible by working hard and working smart. It was the dream that children would grow up to be happier and more prosperous than their parents; that each generation would be financially better off than the last.

It appears, however, that things have changed. The American Dream appears to have become redefined in the 21st century. The new American Dream is one which broadly defines “General Welfare” to include food, shelter, medical care and other benefits as the right of every American, as well as every non-American immigrant. The new American Dream denounces those who dare pursue capitalism and the creation of wealth. This new American Dream is redefining America at home and abroad.

I spent five years studying and analyzing the daily habits of over 200 wealthy individuals and over 100 poor individuals. I discovered, in my research, that the wealthy and the poor have vastly different daily habits. In fact, I tracked over 200 daily activities that separate the rich from the poor and found that these differences were responsible for income inequality and the wealth gap in America.

Dave Ramsey, a very famous radio host, posted a partial list of those 200 activities on his website titled: 20 Things the Rich do Every Day. Much to my surprise, his post went viral and received world-wide publicity. CNN, News Corp Australia ( one of Australia’s largest media companies) and hundreds of blogs and media sites throughout the world weighed in. CNN decided to go negative and portray the list as a slap in the face of the poor. Many of the media sites did likewise. Their facts and assertions were grossly inaccurate and intended to portray Dave in a negative light. CNN didn’t even get my name right. Clearly we had hit a nerve. For Dave, this was just another Monday morning, but for me it was my first exposure to an ideology that rebukes individual responsibility and, for some reason, despises the wealthy.

The United States has 422 billionaires, nearly four times that of 2nd place China. We have a 15.3 trillion dollar economy. We have a standard of living that is the envy of the world. Why?

We have the American Dream and other countries don’t. This American Dream exists because we are free to pursue unlimited prosperity. What fuels the desire to pursue the American Dream is the right to keep the wealth you produce. Property rights are fundamental to the existence of the American Dream and to the continued success of our nation. It was intentional. Our founding fathers built a nation around individual liberty and individual property rights. Without these rights, there would be no 422 billionaires, no 15.3 trillion dollar economy, no high standard of living. These rights are the very foundation of America. Liberty and the right to keep your property (wealth) have, for generations, separated America from the rest of the world. It is the reason America has been considered by so many around the world as “the land of opportunity”.

Yet there are those who only see the negative consequences of our free market system; the infrastructure behind this great wealth creation machine of ours. We are all bearing witness to a real-time seismic shift in America. This shift is represented by a growing minority intent on reducing income inequality through a systematic redistribution of wealth. And they are succeeding. Their weapons of choice are increased taxation of the wealthy and increased government entitlements.

There is just one major problem, however. Increased taxation of the wealthy makes absolutely no sense at all because it punishes those very American Dream Achievers who take a risk in pursuit of wealth. Our American Dream Achievers are the very individuals who start new companies and create new jobs. We need them. Now more than ever. When we punish the successful for their success, through increased taxation and government regulations, what incentive do they have to pursue wealth? The wealthy in America are not the enemy. We are biting the hand that feeds us all when we buy into the ideology that says wealth is bad. The pursuit of the American Dream is the pursuit of wealth. It is the engine that drives our economic growth. The pursuit of wealth is what made this country the greatest and most prosperous nation the world has ever known. We need to embrace the pursuit of wealth and stop condemning it. We need to reward the American Dream Achievers, not punish them.

This failed experiment of ever expanding government entitlements is driving our country deeper and deeper into debt. We simply cannot afford to fund the current level of government entitlements. It’s unsustainable as a nation. It puts our credit worthiness at risk. Countries around the world are growing more anxious every day at this burgeoning debt, fueled by runaway entitlement spending. The shoe that will drop, if we continue on this reckless fiscal path, will be the loss of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. When that happens the game is over in America. The discussion will not be about how to close the wealth gap, but instead about how to feed our families.




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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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  1. Having read many of the posts and articles last week, I am happy to see you addressing the facts here. It’s very interesting to me that some people are trying to say that you hate the poor and are calling “Africans lazy.” Crazy misrepresentations abound.
    I am so interested in this topic because I grew up in a poor neighborhood and saw the habits of poverty firsthand. After I read Rich Habits, it became so clear to me what was really happening and why things just weren’t changing.
    In reading so much of your material, it seems to me that it’s not the poor that you take issue with, it’s their daily habits. Change the habits, you’ll change the circumstances. Am I right?

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