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New Survey Reveals That for Most the American Dream Is Unattainable

Reported by Marie Therese - April 22, 2006

Yesterday early in the FOX & Friends show they brought out phony, hyperactive Tom Adkins to pump up the folks with a blizzard of pie-in-the-sky mumbo-jumbo about the "booming" numbers of millionaires in the United States and the joys of starting your own business and making a fortune. The show ended three hours later with the sad truth: The American Dream is on its last legs.

Adkins is a former rock 'n roller, former conservative blogger, current Re/Max real estate agent and the husband of equally hyperactive FOX News Business Contributor Brenda Buttner. In his prior reincarnation as The Common Conservative he wrote long-winded, offensive apologias for anthing and everything right wing. (You can click these links to read a sample of his prose stylings: American Jews: Why Are You Still Liberal?, Go Yankees My New Favorite Team, We called them traitors ... and everyone laughed)

He appeared on FOX & Friends dressed to the nines in a black and silver cowboy costume. I thoroughly expected him to slap his leg with his black hat and shout "Yee-haw"! Since he was reporting from Houston, it was clear that he had adopted what he thought was local garb. However, he looked like a city boy desperately trying to "go country" to impress his marks - er- clients, none of whom, I am sure, took him seriously.

Adkins was interviewed by a jovial Judge Andrew Napolitano on the topic of the big increase in the number of millionaires last year. The Spectrem Group reports that there are 8.3 million households worth at least $1 million and tht 800,000 of those people became millionaires last year.

Tom Adkins was on call to answer the question "How are all these new rich people making their money?"

ADKINS: "It's not just real estate. Because the economy is doing so well - just a little tip for everybody out there. We are now in the middle of THE strongest economy in world history. This economy is better than Bill Clinton's economy. Better than Ronald Reagan's economy. This economy is so strong and so powerful that people are makin' a lot of money all over the place. And they're not makin' it getting a job working for the corporation.* They're making' it the way capitalism always makes great wealth and that is they're starting their own businesses."

NAPOLITANO: "OK. So the one way people get rich in a booming economy is to start their own businesses. What are good businesses to go into today, if you want to start a second career or if you're just starting out?"

ADKINS: "Wow! That's a fantastic question because, seriously, the economy is so broad and diverse, you can almost find anything. If you - if you could tell me anytime, pick one segment, I could pick a thousand segments. You could pick anything. You could pick - look - you could start tomorrow morning. You could decide 'I'm going out and start a trash collecting business' and you could make a million dollars doin' that. You could say 'Tomorrow I'm gonna start a new makeup line' and you could make a million dollars doin' that. If you're gonna try to pin down one specific thing, it's almost impossible 'cause the economy's - the growth right now is so broad and so strong that there's not one segment that's specifically doin' better than anything else."

Adkins (whose words ran together, as though he had ingested a massive dose of caffeine) went on to claim that the 4.7% unemployment figures that we have right now are "real " figures as opposed to the fake 4.7 unemployment numbers under President Bill Clinton.

ADKINS: "But we found out later that they [the Clinton administration] weren't tellin' the truth about growth. They weren't tellin' the truth about revenues or growth and that's one of the reasons we had a little mini-recession heading into - right before 9-11."

NAPOLITANO: "We just got ten seconds. Did the tax cuts help?"

ADKINS: "They MADE this happen! Look. There's a rule of thumb. Very easy. If you cut taxes, the economy grows and it grows faster than the national debt."

Three hours later, in stark contrast to Adkins' gushing ode to the American economy, David Wallechinsky, Contributing Editor for Parade Magazine, previewed the rather depressing results of his magazine's latest survey, which will appear on Sunday April 23rd in newspapers across America.

Parade commissioned an independent research company to "survey Americans nationwide about their finances and outlook for the future." What they discovered is truly sobering and does not bode well for the economy.

Wallechinsky said, "The American Dream, traditionally, is that you work hard and your life will get better and better and you will be able to set your children on to an even better path and then, when it's time to retire, you'll be able to pay your bills and relax and not have to worry about it."

He then delivered the bad news: "What we're seeing is that, now, with the middle class, income is stagnating. It's actually gone down the last four years. And we asked people 'Do you think that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer?' A majority in every single economic class said they did believe the rich are getting richer - even the rich said that." He continued, "Why are the rich getting richer? It definitely has to do with the tax laws which I have to say I've benefited from so I know it's true."

Wallechinsky went on to discuss the survey, which queried Americans with incomes ranging from $30,000 to $99,000 a year.

Here are a few of the statistics he revealed:

* Median household income is down 3%

* Middle income household income is down 1.5%

* The cost of a college education has gone up 25% in the last 4 years.

* 89% of Americans believe businesses focus on investors

* 39% have had cuts in overtime and raises

* 51% have had health care cuts or cost increases

* 89% believe that businesses have a responsibility to their employees and the community

* Over 33% worry about job loss

* 81% said businesses make decisions based more on concerns about stockholders than employees

* 57% believe the middle class is decreasing

* 52% think they're better off than their parents were

* 48% beleive they are worse off than their parents were

* 74% take personal responsibility for their financial success for failure

* 56% think things will be worse for their children

* 80% believe the American dream is still possible.

That last statistic got to me.

That American Dream, crafted so lovingly and carefully in the movie studios of the 30s and 40s, that world of white picket fences, strong men, resourceful women, energetic, bright children, that world in which hard work, a good heart and the Constitution could stand against all enemies, is under serious assault by the policies of the Bush administration.

That Dream has been reinvented many times and graced thousands of movie screens for half a century. Initially, it was the creation of a group of Eastern European immigrants, immensely grateful for the chance to live in a country where anyone - even an uneducated refugee from Russian pogroms and Nazi hatred - could become the owner of a successful business.

The "American" Dream is, in the last analysis, not American at all.

It is, more aptly, the Immigrant's Dream, a vision of hope and optimism, a total belief that Americans play fair and are rewarded for it.

It's what my Swedish and Irish ancestors risked much to achieve.

Sadly, it looks like - in the brief span of five years - George Bush has done what the Great Depression, Hitler, Stalin, Nixon, Kruschev, Breshnev, Mao Zedong and Osama bin Laden could not do.

He has put the American Dream on life support.


* Note at 7:00 PM EDT 4/22/06: There was an error in the transcript here. The word "not" was inadvertently left out of this sentence. It has been corrected. Sorry, one and all. I know it really changes the meaning. - MT


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