THE NEW DREAM …

It’s a subtlety that’s easy to miss.

In fact, I don’t even think some people of color (of a certain generation) see it. It has taken years for me to see it. But Gladys Knight totally brought it to light for me.

The American Dream has always been something we talk about as a good thing, in this country. I always thought it was a good thing. I wrote a whole song about it. Now granted, I put a bit of a dark spin on it and I examined the idea that millions of people never achieved (or were ever going to) achieve the dream, leaving the listener to draw their own conclusions about said dream. Still, I think a country with its own “dream” is a pretty good thing. It’s a miraculous thing.

For years – centuries, in fact – the idea of “equality” was the idea that first: the dream was good. It was righteous. It was worth the time to pursue and it wasn’t a sin. We had a collective, social agreement that having opportunity and freedom and access, was the goal. We all agreed that it was not only fine, but encouraged, to chase your dreams and fly as high and as far as your talent and ambition would take you. There was a cultural consensus on this.

Hometown Boy Makes Good. That was the headline everyone was striving for.

Second: The Civil Rights movement was a movement to allow people of ALL races to participate in that promise; that dream. Martin Luther King Jr talked about it in terms of an un-cashed check they had showed up on the capital steps to cash. And the idea was to allow little boys who don’t look like me, the exact same opportunities as little boys who do look like me.

And you know what? In a lot of ways that check got cashed. The society did soften towards race and move and shift in its thinking and make allowances for “other” and promote the unlikely and celebrate the unusual and reward the unrewarded. America thought that its own dream was a good idea and that that dream simply needed to extend its promise to everyone, and all would be well.

A lot of people still think that’s what’s going on. I still thought it …until recently.

Listening to Gladys Knight talk about what an honor it was for her to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl, made the light bulb go off in my head. She still thinks about it the way I’ve always thought about it. She still sees America as a good thing. She still sees our national idea as something to aspire to. She still believes she has risen to something as an African America woman, being asked to sing on the biggest stage in the world. See, that was her struggle. Growing up, she wanted the same opportunities as Jo Stafford or Peggy Lee. She wanted to fully participate in the dream and not have to walk in through the service entrance. She wanted the same room service everyone else got. She wanted to be judged on her talent first, not her color.

So for her, singing at the Super Bowl means something has changed for the better. The fact that she gets driven to the game in the same limo they would send for Madonna (which …don’t get me started on how THAT National Anthem would sound) means we’ve gained ground and gotten closer to the dream Dr. King so eloquently talked about.

Most of us see that and cheer. Because we are still buying into idea number one: that America (and its dream) is basically good.

But the new breed of civil rights warriors are showing their hand. Many of those in the white dresses at the recent SOTU address actually reject idea number one. And that’s where the fundamental disconnect is.

Howard Shultz is reeling in confusion at the fact that he’s being destroyed for having achieved something. His company insured my special needs daughter for several years, by my wife only working there 20 hours a week. God bless him. He found solutions. And if he could talk people into paying 7 bucks for coffee, then why shouldn’t he enjoy the success? But THAT is where the new struggle is: identifying the core of the American Dream as a basic sin. And quite frankly …it’s terrifying.

Gladys Knight is of an age of people who would see her success as a blessing and a wonder. She sees the Super Bowl performance as something to aspire to. But the kids today, who espouse the new piety of collectivism and reject the very notion of acquiring wealth, see her as a relic from another time. They see singing at the Super Bowl as an opportunity to make a statement against the country. And if she didn’t use it as such, she was somehow betraying something. For her, it was a realization of the promised dream. For them, it was a platform to point out the absurdity of the dream.

See, it’s not about dreams, anymore. It’s about managing the herd. Socialists always remove the art and wonder from everything. Nothing great for any one person. Mediocre everything for everybody. That’s the new civil rights.

That’s the kind of thinking that will make you not stand up and cheer for record unemployment or higher GDP or people getting off food stamps. Because it means someone, somewhere is achieving. And that could lead to them soaring. And we simply cannot have that.

Progressives talk about rooting for the underdog and trying to give the downtrodden a hand up. Well, just know that if you’re the underdog, they absolutely cheer you on to succeed. But, God help you if you actually do.

 

R

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13 thoughts on “THE NEW DREAM …

  1. I was thinking about our new Senator from New York and her ideals of taxing those super rich people in their rich houses, driving their rich cars, and eating their rich food at expensive restaurants. And I know how flawed her idea is, mostly from reading about Warren Buffet and why he pays less in taxes than his secretary. And something occurred to me. Those that have amassed fortunes over generations know how things work. They helped set up the system. They don’t care if she manages to raise taxes to 90%. They already know how to keep making money, and never pay anywhere near what average Americans do. And it’s so obvious, that I’m surprised I didn’t even know about it. They invest in their towns.

    The interest income earned from most municipal bonds is exempt from all federal income taxes regardless of your tax bracket. This is the most significant benefit of municipal bonds and it is a characteristic unique to municipal bonds.

    All cities across the country float billions of bonds every year. I would not be surprised if very quietly the Warren Buffets of the world were not already invested in them. I’m sure all those at the very top just chuckle at the saber rattling of the new players. I would watch to see just what positions these new members of Congress are placed in. Can they effect change, or are the political elite just setting them up to fail in a manner that will prevent them from trying to wrest control again.

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    • Warren Buffet does NOT pay less in taxes than his secretary. That is a verbal slight-of-hand he used to create a sound byte. He pays a lower PERCENTAGE of INCOME TAX than his secretary, because most of his income is capital gains, which is taxed at a lower rate than the top bracket. Which means his secretary is probably making a lot of money to be in that bracket. Capital gains has already had taxes paid on it two or three times before it is actually “profit” which is the number he’s referring to. And it’s still WAY more than his secretary pays in actual dollars. This argument drives me insane because it’s always based on a false premise. Warren Buffet also is in a billion dollar tax dispute with the government. If he wanted to pay more in taxes all he has to do is fork over the money he says he doesn’t owe.

      As far as the super rich understanding the system, that is actually true. I aspire to understand those same systems and pay as little as possible to the federal government, every year, as well. So does everyone else. It’s called tax preparation. That’s why tax preparers look for deductions. Literally NO ONE is trying to pay more in taxes. Zero people.

      So we should create tax policies that account for human nature and that are not punitive to anyone. No matter how much money they have.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I had forgotten about Buffets percentage rate being lower. If they say 90% on income over $10 million he can choose to only take a $9.99 million dollar capital gain to avoid the higher rate. The majority of people in America are not telling their employer, hey could you pay me less for this year so I can actually take home more. I really feel for a young man in my office. He is working full time here and part time 20 hours a week so he can maybe buy a home, and he wants to get married. His income from both jobs pushed him up a bracket by $300 for last year, so now he owes over $1,000 in taxes. I said offhand maybe it would be better if you just worked one job, to which he replied “nope, my dad told me if you want something in life, you have to be willing to work for it, things are never just handed to you, without a catch”.

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        • You literally just put your finger on the problem with trying to get the rich with rate hikes; it affects everyone on their way up. So you end up working harder for sometimes less. Reagan realized all this when he was asked to do a movie in the 50’s and realized there was a 94% tax on any income he made above 200k. His rate at the time was 200k per film and he’d already made one that year. So when he talked to his accountant he realized that if he accepted the role, he would literally only be earning 6 thousand dollars to act in a 3-month film. It wasn’t worth the trouble.

          And that’s when he began to think about economics and how the government was standing in the way of things getting done, by having punitive tax rates. Kennedy understood this and lowered them in ’63. But it wasn’t until the dramatic shift in the 80’s, when the top rate came down below 30%, that economic expansion happened at a rate never seen in human history.

          I’m for the kid in your office. I would rather him get his house and put money away than him have to hand it over to a bloated bureaucracy.

          Liked by 2 people

          • He gives me hope for humanity. I think like most of the world, we see all the ones that make us wonder where did it all go sideways, then you see people like him, working to get ahead, and realize that he’s part of the silent majority that will quietly go to the polls and vote in a manner that benefits him, and his family and friends, and will just continue doing what he does every day.

            Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you! What we have done as the Generation of Gladys helping our children and making it easier, actually made it worse.

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  3. “It’s about managing the herd. Socialists always remove the art and wonder from everything.” That’s a mighty BIG stereotype there, which is a BIG part of the communication breakdown that is driving us apart.

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  4. Honestly, your analogy only works with a 1950’s pay and tax structure. In the 1950’s the average CEO to common worker pay ratio was approximately 30:1…today it is closer to 400:1. The American dream has been distorted by “trickle down” Reaganomics. George H.W. Bush was right it is “voodoo economics” and only works when there is deficit spending. Sadly, the Republican party is completely infiltrated by this voodoo now. The lie that the rich will reinvest their tax breaks into their companies and help the workers was completely exposed by the Trump tax cuts that did NOT return anything to anyone but upper-level management and stockholders. We have gone backward not forward no matter what the unemployment rates or wage levels are.

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