Fine dell’American Dream?

Who I am
Joel Fulleda

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This article was inspired by "Repubblica delle Donne" on Saturday 22 October.

The journalist Vittorio Zucconi talks about the American dream, its maximum expression and its crisis. Z. states that this is not a good time for the American suburbs; “Robotic and fluffy wives rebel against their husbands; teenagers in high schools do it like never before, now more than their peers in urban ghettos, and this is news not a show; the little girls go to prostitute themselves in a hurry and stand in the toilets of the big shopping centers to find some cash to shop with and the police reports reveal it. And if the suburb is called Columbine, and it's in Colorado, there's even a worse risk than a hustler, you can get shot down by a barrage of machine guns.

"The reporter wonders what is happening to the American dream that in" those identical neighborhoods, behind the same red brick or white wood facades, behind the same lawns shaved like the heads of Marines, with the inevitable tufts of azaleas. " The invasion of the suburbs began in the 60s and 70s, “when for the first time the inhabitants became more numerous than those of the cities. The 180 million Americans who live outside the city today, compared to just over 100 million who can still be considered urban, had identified the American Dream with a comfortable, languid and reassuring existence under a roof of ownership, within an hour of commuting. from work by train or car.

The dream of religious freedom, of frontiers, of lands without barons and peasants, of well-being acquired with the hard work that generations of immigrants had taught their children. The dream of the middle class that exploded after the war, of that social stratum that earns more than the poverty line for a family of four, $ 30 a year, but less than those 100 that trigger the upper category was that. Not the wealth and mansions of the Rockefellers and Mellons, but the little house. The car in the garage, the TV in the living room, the kitchen with wall units and appliances, children on bicycles along the safe avenues, the absence of any classist feeling in the community where the clerk and the worker, the small professional and the carpenter earned more or less the same amount, bought the same cars, roasted the same steaks.

The big cities, Manhattan, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle were reserved for the very rich or the very poor. The American Dream was the Middle Class dream, the dream of half socks finally owning something, finally no longer tenants, but master of their own space. It was the explosion of the middle class that made the suburbs fortune and built the moral, political, and civil framework of America as we knew and envied it after the war. And it is precisely this scaffolding that creaks today and produces the malaise that film and show producers resell to those who feel them, because the people of the middle class are the class squeezed by the crisis of the upward mobile model of society, as sociologists say, society made up of escalators in one direction only, upwards.

For a few who still go up, many more now go down. Over the past five years, coinciding with the Bush presidency, one and a half million Americans have slipped down from middle class to poverty. With the blows of tax cuts that have enriched the rich and impoverished the non-rich by reducing social services that a few dollars more can certainly not compensate, the "apple", where the bulk of the people live in the condition of "middle class", is becoming the company in the shape of a "pear". The imbalance between the maximum and minimum wages of top executives and the last hired in medium-large companies has risen from 20 to one in the 250s to XNUMX.

The concentration of wealth has soared, and today 1% of the population controls 65% of national assets, leaving 99% elbowing for the rest. You save yourself by making debt to the cry of "load it" on your credit card. The consumer debts of private citizens exceed the GDP of Spain and to chase the dream of the house they have to mortgage their lives. A four-year university degree, an essential key to accessing the dream, now costs no less than $ 120 in a decent college. And in Levittown, (the first suburb built, near Philadelphia) where the most luxurious houses were selling in the 50s for $ 10.500 including the kitchen, the average of the last houses sold in September was $ 900.

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