The question of equality has always been an ongoing issue for human society (Friedman). Descending from the animal world, we were supposed to inherit their proclivity for the struggle to obtain the dominant position. However, in the course of the evolution, we managed to create humanistic values that proclaimed tolerance and equality to be the core principles which should serve as the ground for any civilized community.
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There were numerous attempts to create an ideal society where these qualities would be cultivated, but they failed. Inequality has always been one of the integral aspects of our world, and since ancient times the situation has not changed. Besides, the USA with the American dream was supposed to provide all citizens with the same opportunities for their personal and professional growth. However, like any other attempt of this sort, it was doomed. Observing the great gap between a common American and a representative of a privileged class, we could state that an outstanding wealth inequality exists and there is a tendency towards the further deterioration of the situation.
At the moment we live in a society that differs from the same as the 20th century greatly. The fact is that the end of the previous century was characterized by numerous events that could not but alter the existed world order and introduce new patterns that became central to many communities. The increased speed of globalization along with the rise of international corporations resulted in the concentration of money and power in the hands of these corporations owners.
Nowadays, 1% of people own about 80% of the global capital when the rest of the population content themselves with the remaining part (Shapiro 23). The given statistics are also applicable to the USA as at the moment the gap between different members of society is as huge as it has never been. The combination of these factors results in the appearance of wealth inequality and the lack of opportunities for common people to evolve and gain great capital.
In such a way the main idea of the American dream that presupposed equal opportunity to all Americas is corrupted and does not exist anymore. The constantly increasing gap in incomes and quality of life could be used to prove this statement. When some individuals become “rich at the expense of the poor” (Friedman), others become even poorer.
There are several reasons for the current wealth inequality. At the very beginning, “all Americans used to be in roughly the same economic boat” (Reich 208) as they “rose or fell together” (Reich 208). However, significant changes in the structure of economic relations between states peculiar to the end of the 20th century resulted in the appearance of new opportunities to gain giant incomes.
Individuals who already possessed some economic power used their privileged position and engaged in the process, ignoring the interests of people deprived of an opportunity to use the same sources of income. Additionally, the nature of the capitalist society presupposes the increased rivalry and dominance of one class at the expense of another (Shapiro 54). For this reason, “we are now in different boats, one sinking rapidly, one sinking more slowly, and the third rising steadily” (Reich 208) and those who can alter this pattern will never do it because it will destroy the ground of their wealth.
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Thus, the lack of equal opportunities for all citizens in the USA could be proved by the fact that the government consists of multimillionaires who use their money as a lever of power and tool to achieve an outlined goal. The current president of the USA could be considered a bright example. Possessing billions of dollars, he was able to attract attention to his person and make people vote for him. However, previously he was not known as a great politician. In case a common citizen of the USA wants to become a President, in the same way, he/she will fail because of the lack of money and opportunities available to a rich person. This example demonstrates the great inequality of opportunities available to representatives of different classes in the USA.
Thus, individuals are not free to act in their way anymore as “when people are free, they can use their resources most effectively and you will have a great deal of productivity, a great deal of opportunity” (Friedman). Besides, many barriers slow down the evolution of a person, his/her career, business venture. Owners of the capital are not interested in the appearance of powerful rivals and, being able to impact the domestic policy and decision making, create barriers that could hardly be overcome without significant investments.
For this reason, there are not so many opportunities for a common person in the USA, and the current model of the distribution of wealth contributes to the further preservation of the same pattern to provide the rich with an opportunity to earn even more money and obtain new opportunities.
However, there are opponents of the given idea who state that the American dream remains topical and there are numerous opportunities for really hardworking people who are ready to face all challenges that come not from the privileged class but the imperfection of the existing system. There are numerous examples of people who managed to become powerful and rich just using opportunities available to a common American citizen. These are Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc. These people created corporations that became extremely powerful and preconditioned the further evolution of society.
They also embody the main idea of the American dream as they managed to achieve their goals and inspire people with their activity. For this reason, the admirers of the Americans dream topicality state that there are still numerous opportunities available to a person, the only thing is to be able to notice and use them.
Yet, these examples do not show the real state of modern society. First, these people managed to carve out a niche that was not known before and characterized by low rivalry. Additionally, the rise of their companies was observed in the 20th century when the situation was less crucial. At the moment, the unfair distribution of wealth results in the creation of a unique situation when a limited number of people have funds that are not needed as this money is not spent on new opportunities.
Moreover, the concentration of power within a charmed circle creates a dangerous situation when they interfere with the majority of events that determine the existence of the state and its course. For this reason, the current tendency will preserve and the situation will become even worse.
Finally, when speaking about wealth inequality and the American dream, it is crucial to touch upon the core system of values that served as the basis for the creation of the US society. People always called it the land of opportunity because of the existence of the chance to earn money and improve social status. However, the adherence to the capitalist model of the development and its excessive use resulted in the creation of a new image of the USA characterized by an outstanding rivalry and lack of opportunities for common people. This fact evidences that capitalism in the form it exists nowadays could not be explored anymore as it results in the increasing gap between different social classes and the further differentiation of members of the American society.
Altogether, at the moment we could observe the great wealth inequality peculiar to US society. People are deprived of a possibility to benefit from the usage of giant sums of money and suffer from the lack of opportunities for their personal and professional growth. The given tendency could be considered rather dangerous as it creates the basis for the further differentiation of members of the society and appearance of the biased attitude.
Moreover, it undermines the ground of the American dream, a concept that had been taken as a central one for centuries, and eliminates even the slight belief in the creation of a fair society where tolerance and equality will become the core values. In case the problem is disregarded, the situation will become even worse, and the collapse of the state could be observed. For this reason, the current capitalist model should be replaced with a new more modern one.
Friedman, Milton. “Free to Choose.” Free Republic. 2006. Web.
Reich, Robert. The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism. Vintage, 1992.
Shapiro, Thomas. Toxic Inequality: How America’s Wealth Gap Destroys Mobility, Deepens the Racial Divide, and Threatens Our Future. Basic Books, 2017.