What Obama describes as the American Dream can seem a spare, fundamental aspiration, tailored for a campaign that looks to be fought over who is best equipped to safeguard the interests of middle-class Americans…
“If you’re willing to put in the work, the idea is that you should be able to raise a family and own a home; not go bankrupt because you got sick, because you’ve got some health insurance that helps you deal with those difficult times; that you can send your kids to college; that you can put some money away for retirement,” Obama said recently in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“That’s all most people want,” he said. “Folks don’t have unrealistic ambitions. They do believe that if they work hard they should be able to achieve that small measure of an American Dream.”
Exposure to the old Soviet Union is something that changed one’s perceptions of things, and that’s certainly the case here. My Russian rep remarked one time that it was possible to make a reasonable living in the old Soviet system, and that’s what came to mind when I heard about this speech. Of course, having a small business, to say nothing of a large one, was out of the question…until the system collapsed.
In some ways, the old Soviet system had one advantage. In the late years, Soviet people said that “we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.” In our corporatist system, there won’t be any pretending to work on our part, although there could certainly be a pretending to pay. That’s where this debt-driven “servile state” (HT to Hillaire Belloc) is going.