We Need a New American Dream

by free electron on October 30, 2008

With all of the economies falling every which way, and with energy prices causing havoc with everyone’s budget as it fluctuates from $4 a gallon to $2 a gallon and who knows when it will uncontrollably jump up again, one of the few things we can do is assess where we are.

America got here by spending. We can’t get out of here by spending. We spend because somewhere in our mythology the American Dream got changed. Now the American Dream is all about making sure our kids can have more stuff than us. That their material well-being is better than ours.

Unfortunately, all of the stuff in the world won’t make you happy.

But, and I know this from long experience making mistake after mistake…

A good marriage can make you happy.
A productive job with a livable wage can make you happy.
Time with your kids can make you happy.
Having real friends can make you happy.
Not having to worry about money, because you don’t overspend, can make you happy.
Learning about stuff can make you happy. Whether it is 19th century Europe, or how football is played, being engaged can make you happy.

A fast computer does not make you happy.
The latest HDTV, not so much.

I want my kids to be happier than I have been. I want my kids to be sane, grounded, self-directed. I don’t want them to be millionaires, or to live in mansions, or to have a fancy SUV or two in the driveway. I don’t want my kids to have an oppressive mortgage or to be forced to work for higher pay in a job they despise.

What would all that do for alternative energy? First, the need for energy would drop as the number of worthless products are not bought. Two, if people can work jobs they love (or at least feel productive in), wouldn’t they rather work in green technologies instead of destructive ones?

And three, wouldn’t this whole place be just a little nicer to live in, if everyone was indeed happier?

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