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The American Dream Begins to Fade

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted December 1, 2009



picket fence


I’m bothered as I sit here poking at the keys. From where I sit, the America dream—as I know it—is fading fast for far too many young people.

You see, I work all day in an office full of 20-somethings. They are a diverse bunch. They’re smart and they work hard.

But the one thing they all have in common is they are stuck on a ladder with no where to go. Buried in debt from student loans and various other sources, they are trapped in time unable grab the next rung.

Among them the most common refrain is: “I can’t”

They would like to further their education…but they can’t.

They would like to buy a house…..but they can’t.

They would like to buy a car….but they can’t.

They would like to have children….but they can’t.

There’s more to the list…but you get the picture.

Of course, when you look at their list of wants you realize that what they want is no different than what everyone else has wanted at one time or another.

The difference is in their world it’s a lot harder to attain-if not impossible in some cases.

The reason for this is pretty simple: The cost of their dreams can’t be met with their incomes and adding more debt for them is not much of an option.  

Everything single thing on their list and then some simply costs too much. As a result, they go without.

That’s why large numbers of them are returning to the nest…

From the New York Times by Sam Roberts entitled: Economy is Forcing Young Adults Back Home in Big Numbers Survey Finds

“For more young adults, there is no place like home for the holidays, and for the rest of the year, too. Ten percent of adults younger than 35 told the Pew Research Center that they had moved back in with their parents because of the recession.

They also blamed the economy for other lifestyle decisions. Twelve percent had gotten a roommate to share expenses. Fifteen percent said they had postponed getting married, and 14 percent said they had delayed having a baby.

In the Pew study, 13 percent of parents with grown children said one of their adult sons or daughters had moved back home in the past year. According to Pew, of all grown children who lived with their parents, 2 in 10 were full-time students, one-quarter were unemployed and about one-third said they had lived on their own before returning home.

According to the census, 56 percent of men 18 to 24 years old and 48 percent of women were either still under the same roof as their parents or had moved back home.

A smaller share of 16-to-24-year-olds – 46 percent – is currently employed than at any time since the government began collecting that data in 1948.

Meanwhile, the portion of adults 18 to 29 who lived alone declined to 7.3 percent in 2009 from 7.9 percent in 2007, according to the Current Population Survey.

A decline that big was recorded only twice before over three decades, in the early 1980s and the early 1990s during or after recessions.”


This is madness I tell you. And if I was 20-something I would be ready to take the streets.

Someday I imagine they will.

You see, this is what happens when you send jobs overseas and bury people in debt.  After all, in the long run consumption has nothing on production.

By the way, don’t think for a minute that those “cheap” goods from overseas don’t come at a significant cost. In reality they have cost us plenty.

Related Articles:

The Shrinking Middle Class

Baby Boomers . . . or Baby Doomers?

The Student Loan Bubble Bursts

The True Cost of “Cheap Goods” 

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