Is the American Dream Dead?

When Americans feel like the future will be worse than the past, reactionary and socialist ideologies ascend.


Here are two stories about modern Americans' economic lives.

The first story is that the American Dream is dead. The cost of college is ballooning even as higher education becomes a prerequisite for an increasing proportion of white-collar jobs. Those jobs have become more important to the American middle class as manufacturing and many other forms of well-compensated blue-collar work disappear. The debt from obtaining this quasi-mandatory college education (especially at expensive, cut-throat elite schools where admission is statistically impossible) puts newly minted adults in a terrible position. They feel they cannot move forward with one of the major milestones of 20th century adulthood: homeownership. Nor can they afford to live in major cities with job growth, such as New York and San Francisco, where rents have been increasing and vacancy rates dropping for the last decade. Seventeen percent of adults say they cannot pay this month's bills in full. Feeling financially insecure, they defer childbearing, and when they do have kids they are stressed about how to pay for child care and education. Less-educated male wage earners have been hit hardest by these economic changes; as a result, they are struggling with unemployment, obesity, disability, suicide, and drug abuse. In extreme cases, this leads to "deaths of despair" and decreasing life expectancy. Some could be helped with medical interventions, but when they seek treatment, they're hit by a combination of rising health care costs (and attendant medical debt) and a confusingly opaque system. One-fourth of adults say they have forgone necessary care because they were unable to afford it. Government spending on health care, mostly for the elderly, is out of control, yet some elderly people are still choosing between filling their prescriptions and buying food. One-quarter of nonretired adults have no retirement savings or pension whatsoever. Oh, and now there's a global pandemic.

The second story is that modern Americans are living the dream. They have more education, bigger houses, greater employment options, and better stuff than ever before. Unemployment, which was just shy of 10 percent at the start of 2010, is now 3.6 percent. Real median household income recently hit a high of $62,000 per year. In February, Gallup reported that 90 percent of Americans say they are "satisfied with their personal lives." New homes in the United States are 1,000 square feet larger than they were in 1973; living space per person has doubled. Interest rates are low. More Americans than ever are obtaining college degrees, and those degrees are paying dividends: The lifetime net return for a typical college graduate is more than half a million dollars. Consumer goods overall are cheaper and higher-quality thanks to innovation and global trade, and per-capita expenditure on food has gone from more than 17 percent of disposable income in 1960 to just over 9 percent today. Health care is expensive, but 92 percent of Americans have insurance—and our ability to treat cancer, AIDS, and other diseases has improved tremendously. Zooming out, more people are healthy, well-fed, literate, and safe from physical violence than at almost any time in human history.

Both of these stories are basically true. Which one predominates in your thinking is a function of your temperament, your political persuasion, and your personal situation.

Market-minded optimists may be tempted to focus on the second story, especially if the goal is to fend off large interventions into the economy. The impulse is to say that the rumors of the death of the American Dream are greatly exaggerated and that people are simply mistaken about whether life is—on balance—worse in meaningful ways.

But it's important to take the first story seriously on its own terms, not least because it is the story that has completely dominated American electoral politics in 2020 on both the left and the right. While Democrats and Republicans disagree with each other (and among themselves) about how to solve those problems, they are not—for the most part—disagreeing about the list of problems to be solved.

One explanation for the gap between how bad things feel to a substantial segment of the population and how good certain economic indicators look is that many things are getting much better even as a few important things are getting much worse.

At right, you can see the sectors where things have gotten more affordable. You can also see where things have gotten more expensive—in some cases wildly more expensive. In recent decades, the incredible gains from the private sector have outpaced the costs of the burgeoning state, which is why overall economic data look pretty good. But these gains are not distributed evenly.

Some people will look at this chart and see a to-do list: Every one of the red lines, they presume, is a problem that needs to be fixed by the government. A different interpretation is that the red lines are caused by government interference. The blue lines are areas where consumers are benefitting from a relatively open global market in manufactured goods and technology.

Again, it's possible that both are true. The government has been meddling in those red-line sectors for decades, creating confused expectations about current and future prices, true levels of supply and demand, and more. Solving these problems will indeed require legislative and bureaucratic changes. But the palette of possible solutions should not be limited to sending in the feds with wagons full of money and rulebooks.

To seriously engage with the idea that the American Dream has become unaffordable, this issue of Reason delves into the question of how we got where we are today. In "Student Loans Aren't Working" (page 24), Deputy Managing Editor Mike Riggs looks at the role of federal subsidies in pushing up the price of college while destroying the ability of the market for education debt to assess risk. In "Can't Afford Your Rent? Blame Herbert Hoover" (page 32), Gallup economist Jonathan Rothwell goes back to the origins of residential zoning policy to explain a host of housing woes. And in "How Doctors Broke Health Care" (page 36), historian Christy Ford Chapin examines the way doctors, insurers, professional associations, and politicians created the United States' current confusing and cronyist medical system.

Bad things happen to politics when Americans feel like the future will be worse than the past. Reactionary and socialist ideologies ascend. The stories we tell ourselves about the problems we face have profound implications for the policy directions we take in the future. But there's much more to the story than what politicians and pundits are telling us right now.

NEXT: Brickbat: Made in China

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  1. Their doing their best to kill it right now. The longer these shut downs go on the more businesses and job will be lost.

    1. Its already too late. We are looking at over 25 million unemployed by end of the week. Even if the virus didn’t exist anymore and we opened up for business tmw your talking like maybe, maybe roughly 1/3 of those would be hired back. This is going to make 2008 look like an economic boom.

      1. I’m afraid your right. I’m still working, have no debt and a large emergency fund put back. Many people don’t.

        1. they cancelled the lively hoods of the most vulnerable among us but it will filter up. this economy is completely service/sales based and their are no sales happening to support, no ad revenue to spend, no reason to upgrade your software. They took out the bottom piece of the jenga tower and expect to just insert it back it when this is all over. It’s total lunacy.

          1. To be fair, what’s the alternative? Have people mingle and spread the disease?

            1. Why is this one or the other? this seems to be a common criticism. Look even if you relaxed the rules and allowed business’s to continue the level of hysterical fear out there would keep many many people in. Look at all the polling where 60% of people say they would be staying in no matter what the rules were. The gov has insured that these business’s will definitely fail. Has to be a middle ground. Also people are going to spread the disease no matter what in all likelyhood the goal is to spread out the hospitalizations not starve the virus out. Currently everywhere but new york the hospitalizations are only like 25% of where they were supposed to be at this time. This current trajectory is unsustainable.

              1. Look at all the polling where 60% of people say they would be staying in no matter what the rules were.

                You could also say that 40% of people would continue as if nothing was wrong.

                I don’t agree with government defining what is “essential” and what is not. It would have been much better to define certain businesses as “potentially dangerous,” like barber shops for example.

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              2. The powers that be never want to try a reasonable middle ground in a crisis. Look at 9-11 , 2008, for examples.

                1. Lefties, neocons, and Globalists realized that Trump represented America NOT being Socialist and might never be. All their efforts failed to complete the transition. In fact, America had their champion who was intent on rolling back major efforts with more and more Americans willing to engage in the roll back.

                  This cough due to cold came along when desperation was near its highest level for Lefties. They decided to take the gamble and nuke the economy. Democrats would surely win if our economy was in shambles. It worked for FDR.

                  Instead of Internment Camps for Japanese-Americans, Lefties would advocate every home in America be a prison. Some Americans fell for it.

                  Meanwhile 650,000 Americans die every year from heart disease. 10,000 might be the death toll as of today for Wuhanvuirus Yup. Only 10,000 in 2 months.

                  1. It is 10K in a single month, not two (3/6 – 4/6). And many more will die this month. The Wuhan coronavirus has afflicted people in 180+ countries in a very short period of time.

                    This is not a ‘normal’ anything, 1789. And it is not even remotely close to being over.

                    1. Maybe. Maybe not we’ll see. 10000 a month for a whole year is pretty bad, but than again 1.68 million people die of heart disease a year every year and how many people do you know that have died of that? That’s what also worries me there’s going to be a ton of institutional distrust and pissed off people if this goes on for months with “only” 100k people dieing.

                    2. It’s not 10,000 in a single month.

                      It’s since KungFlu was found in the USA. On JHU Sick Map, it’s 1/21/2020 with case #1.

                      Who cares if it’s not “over”. We are going back to our regular lives whether you like it or not.

                    3. Seasonal Flu/Cold affect every country in the World, every year.
                      Traffic accident deaths affect the World.
                      Heart disease deaths affect the World.
                      Cancer deaths affect the World.

                    4. 1789…My math says 10,677 in the last 30 days.

                      March 6th the number of US dead: 14
                      April 6th the number of US dead: 10,691

                      Newsflash: The death toll will be 6X-8X higher in 30 days time.

                    5. See, we are already into April, which makes it another month.

                      But we have your 10,677 death claim.

                      In 30 days 54,166 Americans died of heart disease. 650k/year. That does not include all the other causes of death.

                      This is hysterical fiction to nuke our economy and get all upset about 10,677 Americans dying of disease per month.

                  2. I never feel bad skipping past these blocks of text.

                  3. These people need to be dealt with. We will lose everything if we don’t. In the past when I’ve said that here I’ve excoriated for it.

                    Is everyone ready to admit this yet?

                    1. I’ll admit that you’re a fascist keyboard warrior. That’s about it though.

            2. That has been done for the ‘real’ flu, and worked out well enough. Some people got sick, some of those died. But the herd survived, and the economy too.
              When we declare the ’emergency’ over, and people are freed from the concentration camps of their homes, there will still be no immunity, and the second wave will sweep down upon us.
              What then?

              1. I saw something in the news about how this will become a seasonal thing. What then? Shut down the economy for four months a year?

                I sure hope they develop a vaccine for this thing. When people get hungry they revolt. When people living paycheck to paycheck aren’t allowed to work for a paycheck for months, they get hungry. You do the math.

                1. People need to wrap their heads around that this thing is going to kill tens of thousands in this country. Cancer kills millions, I don’t think it would be healthy to be living in total fear of dieing of cancer everyday all day. People need to live their lives, not a ton you can do to prevent this from going around in fact really there isn’t anything if it’s as bad as they say. Washing your hands and face-masks largely are a function of giving people the illusion of control over this they don’t significantly make an impact either way. We’d have to have a major cultural shift in how we interact to actually change the outcome here.

                  1. The mortality rate is what is frightening about this. As far as we can tell it’s orders of magnitude more deadly than the flu.

                    1. As far as we know yes, however we won’t ever know the real answer for years. We are working with flawed incomplete data at best. When Influenza deaths are measured, the variance of how many actually died from it vary 10’s of thousands from the high to low end, and that’s a virus we’ve study year to year since 1918. It’s just impossible to accurately track something like this in real time.

                    2. Yet many people get the virus and have little or no symptoms. Based on what I’ve read it seems anything that impacts respiration negatively (smoking, obesity) is a comorbidity that together with the virus is quite dangerous. Many people are fat fucks and many people smoke and vape.

              2. Then the media and politicians will ignore it, they’ll stop testing for it, and it’ll be part of the background of pneumonias that kill 50,000 Americans annually.

              3. The hysterics who tried to nuke our economy over a cough due to cold should pay dearly. I think they know the payback is coming as they are trying to keep this hysteria going.

                1. If this thing kills 80 thousand people, your’re going to have the vast majority of this country never knowing someone who was hospitilized yet alone died. this will breed conspiracy theories in the best case and possible civil unrest if the economics of this don’t pan out.

              4. What then?
                Go with the Swedish model

          2. I would say that you’re mostly correct Idle hands.
            There is a chance that American and foreigners needing to resupply can bring the economy back up to some higher level again but the damage is done.

            I do look forward to the reckoning that will follow when people realize that Lefty media traitors and politicians made this hysterical fiction way worse than it had to be. There is no reason that KungFlu could not have worked its way through the America population with some lightly symptomatic people taking a few weeks off to recover, the asymptomatic people working, and the severely ill dying or recovering in hospitals.

            I for one hope young Americans band together to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to pay for all this old people hysteria. Boomers no longer have a voting block majority.

            1. I think there’s definitely a chance we avoid a great depression for sure, but there is definitely a chance we are headed that way at a level of likelyhood I’ve hoped I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. I hope all the people who says the pent up demand when the restrictions get lifted will be proven right more than anything. More than anything I hope I am wrong. But economics of this country are driven by consumer confidence more than anything and I don’t see that rebounding for a while.

              1. The main reason that I don’t think this will end in any Great Recession is because this was a government caused business lockdown based on hysteria. Once the hysteria is removed, government removes the lockdown, then businesses open back up for the demand.

                …or we reach a tipping point and we devolve into Civil War.

                The Great Depression was caused by market signals and economic contractions where the government made it worse. The government caused this with lockdowns.

                1. the gov is going to cause a massive debt forfieture if this keeps up. Keep in mind the 2008 recession was caused by a like 12% mortgage default rate. There could be roughly 20-30 million unemployed for months because of this.

                2. Disagree.

                  Once government restrictions are lifted, the virus will still be here, and will probably spread like wildfire through the kindling we’ve been stacking by remaining barricaded away.

                  This social and psychological effects of this wilL take a very long time to recover from. People are still going to be scared. I highly doubt that restaurants, bars, and shopping malls are places people will want to be for quite some time.

                  The media should be destroyed, and the government should all be hung.

      2. We don’t actually have ANY ‘unemployed’.

        The whole media narrative about it–yes, the one you’re spreading by accepting it, is used to cause panic.

        We have an enforced economic shutdown.

        There is an enormous difference.

        No one is out of work because of mismanagement, or because wild speculation drove the market off a cliff.

        There is no underlying cause for this other than governmental edict.

        1. This is one BIG REASON why this strong economy can come roaring back. The only shackle causing unemployment is government. Once that chain is removed, people need to resupply and prepare for the next hysteria fueled pity party – Election 2020.

        2. This is an interesting perspective. Consumer confidence is not going to just ramp up over night though. 35 million unemployed will have not impact? Guy business’s are going to use this opportunity to cut fat and work skeleton crew to survive the economic woes. Those people aren’t going to just get hired back by the companies the second the ban is lifted. It doesn’t work like that at all. From my perspective the media narrative is this is just fine and dandy and things will be back to normal this summer. I don’t buy that. I more than hope your’re right though.

          1. As long as more and more Americans tell the lying media and politicians to fuck off. The companies were pushed to curbside takeout and working from home because of government.

            Once you crack that point where Americans have nothing, they will get violent. That is coming this week. It will be 30 days since this hysterical fiction started and Americans need to pay next month’s rent/mortgage for residential and business properties.

            1. At the moment banks and landlords cannot penalize people for inability to pay. Nobody is going to get thrown out of their homes.

              1. At a certain point this goes up the chain to someone who can’t put off mis-payment. Landlords have bills and morgages to pay too, this isn’t like a free month. there’s no such thing as a free lunch even in a pandemic.

                1. Yep. Just because government says residents can’t be penalized for non-payment doesn’t mean nobody will be penalized.

            2. Luckily, more and more Americans are telling government to fuck off.

              While driving around this morning, I see barber and salons open. People walking in parks. Chick-Fil-A drivethru is full around the building.

              1. On Google maps with traffic feature, Atlanta is experiencing traffic slowdowns as people go back to work.

                1. 1789, so you are in GA. Fortunately, GA looks to have a ‘minimal’ amount of death, as the current projection is ~3,400 deaths through August 4th. I hope it stays low.

                  I must tell you, this is not a typical experience in other states. Like my own, for example. The People’s Republic of NJ is projected to ~9,700 people dying.

                  You know, Dershowitz articulated a pretty good test: The Shoe on the Other Foot test. You might try that one sometime.

                  1. But Google Maps and rural Georgia are the benchmark for all of America.

                    1. Metro Atlanta is. We have more traffic than many big cities outside NY and LA.

                  2. It is obviously not just being around infected people that are causing certain areas to explode with cases.

                    Georgia has confirmed infected people and probably tens of thousands of infected without being confirmed. Atlanta is one of the busiest airports in the World. Yet our numbers are low.Why is that?

                    Hospitals have staff that have been around infected patients for months now with simple M95 face masks and there are few of those people infected. Why is that?

                    For some reason major cities with Democrats who run those shitholes have rates of infection and deaths like the rest of the USA yet they are unable to handle a few thousand KungFlu dead. Why is that?

              2. State is enforcing these shutdowns where I live, threatening pulling licensing if they see an unessential business operating. But there is still a large black market currently operating for the type of work you are describing.

        3. We have an enforced economic shutdown.

          This is not entirely accurate IMO, here is why. We have economic activity. Quite a lot of it in pockets like consumer goods (e.g. food, sanitizer, etc), manufacturing (anything medical), transportation (rail, trucking), and healthcare.

          There is economic activity, but it is in narrow pockets/sectors. I think what we will find, when this is all over and we have had time to dig into the data, is that the economic decline was not as bad as we thought. In sum, we will have a mixed picture.

          1. I hope your right. But no sector is removed from the pain of this. The economy doesn’t work like that, it’s all interconnected and an incredibly complex ecosystem. The second order impacts of this have yet to be felt but rest assured that’s already in the pipe.

          2. I think what we will find, when this is all over and we have had time to dig into the data, is that the economic decline was not as bad as we thought.

            Just keep telling yourself “It’s only a movie.”

  2. Sigh, you know what Idle Hands, it is all too easy to have a negative outlook. And completely understandable. Our country is in the middle of a severe crisis. Day after day, we are bombarded with negativity from an MSM that poorly serves the American people.

    One thing I have learned: You must never, ever give up hope. As long as you have breath in your body, there is hope. Remember that.

    I don’t know what the future holds for you and I, and our country. I hope and pray that normalcy will be regained at some point. In the meantime, there is no substitute for considered action. And you, along with every single American, can help. We do have it within us to directly influence the course of events.

    Follow the 30-days to slow the spread CDC guidelines: Self-isolate, wash your hands, do not touch your face, stay away from sick people. This is what you can do. And our emphasis should be on what we can do, and what we can control.

    You cannot control the Wuhan coronavirus, but you can control your response to it.

    Hang in there. Stay safe, and stay healthy.

    1. Good message. And your right being optimistic isn’t easy right now. I just think that the economics of this are being way under discussed or just hand waved away. We have fully embraced a tactic and strategy that’s never been tried on a scale of this magnitude from the same people who deny dieing patients medicine for the sake of the precautionary principle. It should be pointed out and questioned at every turn imho. I’m not advocating for people to go out and get this thing on purpose or anything, just trying to get people to understand the economics of what we are doing could very well lead to worst outcomes than if we did nothing. The politicians are playing roulette with a global depression and are papering over that with #inthistogether. It’s completely unserious and insulting to the business owners and people they employ. There has been no exit strategy proposed for this or timeline beyond a hashtag campaign and it’s just insulting to our intelligence. I have confidence we will get through this and being positive is very important, I apologize for hysterics but this conversation needs to be had.

      1. Idle Hands…you’re right = We have fully embraced a tactic and strategy that’s never been tried on a scale of this magnitude…

        What you’re thinking and feeling is normal. And you’re right, the conversation does need to be had….at the appropriate time. I would submit that conversation be tabled to May 1. We need time to address what is in front of us right now (a national emergency), and to formulate our thoughts based on our shared experiences.

        I have to tell you. There is nothing in my experience that has prepared me for this. It is scary AF, since I live in the People’s Republic of NJ. And it is pretty nasty right now. What I keep telling myself is to stay focused on doing the things I can do, and do them perfectly (e.g. 30-days to slow the spread guidelines). I attend virtual services via zoom, and this has been helpful. I keep doing things to keep advancing the things I know to be right and good. That helps.

        1. I have no problem with the optimistic take, and your right there is will be plenty of time to talk about this when we are in breadlines lol, I’ll take no pleasure however in saying I told you so. We’ll be fine.

    2. This is NOT a crisis except the hysterical fiction that the media and politicians are trying to propagate.

      Only 9,653 Americans have died in 3 months of this KungFlu. That is nothing compared to seasonal Flu/Cold, Heart disease, cancer, and traffic fatalities.

      Tell government and the media to FUCK OFF!

      1. Based on things I see on social media the people themselves are doing a good enough job of being hysterical without the help of the media or gov.

        1. Fair enough but government and the media are probably the cause. Maybe some people are hysterical on their own.

    3. “Follow the 30-days to slow the spread CDC guidelines: Self-isolate, wash your hands, do not touch your face, stay away from sick people. This is what you can do. And our emphasis should be on what we can do, and what we can control.”

      It’s 30 days now?
      It was 14.
      Will they go to 60 next, or just jump straight to 90?

      1. In KY, the lockdown (starting March 13) was lengthened from April 6 to April 20 sometime in late March, and now lengthened to May 1, a full month out. With talk that they’re going to extend this well in to summer.

        They’re not at all using the best info to make their decisions, they’re abusing the fuck out of the precautionary principle. And people are begging for even more restrictions and longer lockdowns.

        This is all going to end very badly.

        1. That whole thing about KY judges putting ankle bracelets on people who wont self-quarantine is ridiculous. It appears that Kentucky was not a fluke when a Democrat was elected Governor. Tyranny runs through that state.

          Cops have been lucky so far that Americans are not killing them yet. This tyranny will only work with some people and only for so long.

        2. I’m not allowed back to my workplace before July 1.

        3. If they try to push this out to June and beyond, there will be massive civil unrest. People won’t tolerate that.

      2. Nardz, really? Can we try it for 30 days and see how it works out before declaring defeat.

        Look, it is a completely true statement that each and every one of us can directly impact how long this takes through our individual behaviors. If we all do these things consistently (30-days to slow the spread), like our families and friend’s lives depend on our doing that rigorously (which they do), then this will end soon.

        This will be over soon. We will learn a lot from this experience.

  3. We’re probably fucked as a society because so many of you are too stupid or psychologically fucked up to see what a disaster Trump has been. Or not. It’s always been a crazy world.

    1. Donald Trump’s Cult of Personality Did This

      The autocratic political culture that has propped up the Trump administration has left the nation entirely unprepared for an economic and public-health calamity.

      Neither the tide of pestilence sweeping the nation nor the economic calamity that will follow was inevitable. They are the predictable outcomes of the president’s authoritarian instincts, his obvious incompetence, and the propaganda apparatus that has shielded him from accountability by ensuring that the public is blinded to his role in the scale of this disaster.


      1. See the problem with your terrible narrative is that it doesn’t square with the rest of the world, and most people see this.

        The United States is about middle of the road when you compare it to the rest of the world on a per capita basis. At around 1000 cases per 1 Million people and 29 deaths per 1 MM, our outlook is about average. We are right there in the cluster for tests, deaths and cases- better than France, UK, Spain and Italy (among others) and slightly worse than Germany (for deaths, not cases).

        So if this is a “Disaster” then it is a disaster for the whole world, and couldn’t possibly be caused by Trump (unless he has the power to make France a disaster right alongside the US).

        What is a disaster is people like you ghoulishly trying to make a crisis into an opportunity to slam Trump. According to worldometers the US has reported less than 9000 serious cases across the whole country. And yet people like you are spewing this noxious hate and specualation, suggesting that we have reached the end times with people dying in the streat.

        Stop being a part of the fucking problem. You can go looking for reasons to tar Trump later. Right now all you are doing is feeding into the hysteria because it meets your political proclivities to see people running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Like I said, it is ghoulish, and someone not completely deluded by their fantasy internet crusade would feel utter and complete shame.

        1. The goal was to get rid of Trump and everything he stands for. Resistance to Global Socialism.

          Unfortunately for Lefties, Trump is doing fairly well in this hysterical fiction. I must say, Trump has survived so much that the Lefties throw at him. Lefties really must be pulling their hair out.

        2. Nailed it. Thanks for writing all that so I didn’t have to. You said it better than I would have anyway.

        3. Well said, Overt, well said.
          The never-ending rock throwing from peanut gallery is not helpful and is pathetically childish.

          1. So true. We see that every fucking day during the Coronavirus Task Force daily briefing. The MSM just embarrasses themselves every day with their rude questions.

            1. I shouldn’t have been, but was actually shocked when the CNN reporter went after Trump for him encouraging trying Hydroxychloroquine and Z-pack yesterday.

              At this point if you’re not very optimistic about these drugs, then you’re really going out of your way to ignore all the initial results they are showing. I would say that they will feel really stupid in the future if they end up being as helpful as early signs suggest, but then I remember that they have no shame, and will pretend this never happened.

              1. I mean, the POTUS himself said…Look, what do you have to lose? If you’re sick, why would you not try? The MSM is just unbelievably bad.

                1. I had the misfortune of being around someone who was watching “the view” yesterday. One of those disgusting bitches said, “well, I don’t trust hydroxychloroquine, because what’s in it for trump? This president doesn’t do anything unless there’s something in it for him”. Wow.

                  The derangement is off the charts. I’ve never voted in my life, but I’m thinking about it just to spite bitches like that. The left is making sure there will be 4 more years.

        4. These lefty assholes are trying to blame a global pandemic on Trump, then they’ll turn around and say they don’t have TDS. It’s truly amazing to watch.

          1. Just remember this is the worse kind of desperation by Lefties.

      2. FFS, you’re a stupid piece of shit. The problem is all the faggot democrat governors and mayors. Like idiot Jay Inslee where I live.

        But progtards always have to blame others for the blood on their own hands.

        1. “progtards always have to blame others for the blood on their own hands”

          — Kind of goes hand-in-hand with insisting the monarchy king have full and unlimited dictation over all people. The left constantly wants to grow the size/scope of the federal government but are also the very clowns that blame the monarchy king for everything.

          I dare say its a very symptom of avoiding ALL personal responsibility for anything.

  4. The Dotard had the right idea – just blame the flu on China and Democrats and go on like usual. But the fucking lamestream media had to sensationalize the thing and turn it into a “pandemic” when it didn’t have to be that way.


    1. Hey Kiddie Raper, Trump didn’t shit down my state. That faggot progtard Inslee did.

  5. The stay at home party is starting to unravel. My state just announced the layoff, not stay at home at full pay, of 125 of their workforce.

    These folks were extremely comfortable thinking they would just get paid no matter how long it took. Well that was about 3 weeks.

    Get ready for this lockdown to end as more folks get less comfortable with staying on the couch, like the couch being repossessed.

    1. This will be the key. This stay at home hysteria faction vs the newly unemployed.

    2. Maybe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel? Local and national news has started reporting some feel-good stories of those who have recovered from ChiComVirus. The sooner the better this all ends, we can get back to individualism. See George Will’s latest column on the happy prospect that the end of such “wars” leads to a resurgence of anti-collectivism.

      1. People in NYC are fucked. For them the light at the end of the tunnel is New Jersey.

        1. The People’s Republic of NJ ain’t a hell of a lot better than The Big Apple. Not like it is a paradise over here. It is a fucking mess, with state authorities just incompetently executing testing.

          Phailing Phil Murphy is not doing a particularly good job on leadership.

        2. I favor the ‘Escape From New York’ solution for NYC. It’s what they deserve for their decades of supporting commie scum.

    3. which state is it if you don’t mind me asking?

      1. Penna. for local, Today Show for national.

    4. !00% of the people for the lockdown are all getting checks still.

  6. Unemployment, which was just shy of 10 percent at the start of 2010, is now 3.6 percent.

    I like how you chose your first value as the depth of the previous recession and then your second one as the point at the height of the just-passed bubble. That 3.6% number hasn’t aged well at all in the last two weeks. Try adding a digit to the front of it, not sure which digit though.

  7. The American Dream isn’t what it used to be.

    As Thomas Sowell has pointed out quite frequently, asking why we have poverty and war and all the many afflictions of the world as we know it is looking at things backwards – poverty and war and disease and scarcity is the natural condition of humanity and the real question is why some few people for some short period of history have managed to escape that condition. It’s unrealistic expectations brought about by a failure to appreciate what it takes to become wealthy and taking for granted the wealth you have.

    I believe Sowell was the one said when somebody commented on the homeless population in New York City sleeping on steam grates, washing up in public bathrooms and eating out of dumpsters that in truly poor countries there are no steam grates to sleep on, no public bathrooms to bathe in, no dumpsters to eat out of. The idea that you’re entitled to free healthcare, free college, a good job at good pay, decent housing and a decent life is utter nonsense. If you’re living in the United States right now, if you’ve got running water and electricity and a solid roof over your head, you’re among the richest people who have ever lived in all of history. Stop complaining that you’re not happy being among the top 5% because you think you’re entitled to be among the top .5%.

    The American Dream used to be having a little space to call your own, something anybody could achieve with a little luck and a lot of hard work, not this nonsense that pop culture has taught us that we’re all entitled to be rich and famous.

    1. I don’t think that can be said enough. When I hear people say they are looking for the causes of poverty and homelessness, I want to slap them upside the head. They should be looking at the causes of wealth, because poverty and homelessness are the default state of humanity. Instead they look at wealth as a bad thing, because of inequality or some other asinine notion of fairness.

      1. I agree with you and with Sowell.

        1. Ditto

      2. This. Same thing as race. the more you focus on it and try to convince people how big of a problem it is the bigger problem it becomes. Victimhood mentalities are poison.

        1. +10000000000000

        2. Everything is so terrible and unfair.

  8. It may seem like the American dream is dead. After all, Reason.com’s benefactor Charles Koch has seen his net worth collapse from around $60 billion (which is already too low) to under $50 billion. No hardworking person should have to endure such hardship.

    There is, however, a way out of this mess. All the country needs to do is implement the Koch / Reason policy of unlimited, unrestricted immigration. Combine that with a $0.00 / hour minimum wage, and the US will return to prosperity.


    1. There is, however, a way out of this mess. All the country needs to do is implement the Koch / Reason policy of unlimited, unrestricted immigration.

      Yeah sure OBL, sign us up for national suicide. Um…..no!

  9. Reactionary and socialist ideologies ascend.

    This is code for Anarchists?

    The media and the politicians incited this panic with hysterical fiction. Luckily, most Americans are not buying into this nonsense or America would have devolved into utter chaos. Unfortunately, enough Americans believe these traitors that we have 15-20 millions Americans unemployed that were employed in February 2020. Hopefully as the hysteria wears off, the economy can roar back in the next few months and most of those people will get their jobs back or new ones.

    1. Do you know what a proper noun is? Here’s a clue, not that you’ll get it. When you capitalize something it refers to a particular thing. Let’s take the word libertarian for example. When it is not capitalized, it is a general term referring to a philosophy of liberty, free economics, and limited government. When it is capitalized it is a particular thing, specifically a political party.

      So when you capitalize the word anarchist, you are implying that it is a political party. A political party that wants to abolish government? Do you know what an oxymoron is?

    2. Poor unreason sock trolls. unreason has nothing good to say, so they sock trolls have nothing good to say.

      Fortunately some of us commenting still do have good things to say.

      1. You really think you’re adding to the conversation?

        All you’ve got is “Lefties caused it all! Trump is awesome! Blame the Lefties!”

        Talk about nothing to say.

      2. If you weren’t so obsessed with lefties and imaginary socks, you’d see that I’ve added infinitely more to this conversation than you. Granted you’ve made more posts, but they’re all the same thing.

        “Lefties! Aaauuugggh!1!!!!1!”

      3. Poor unreason sock trolls like sarcasmic.

        1. yasafi

      4. Fortunately some of us commenting still do have good things to say.

        Dude, you said about two days ago that Trump is and always will be the greatest President in US history. Even without your willful ignorance on a variety of other subjects, you really have nothing useful or interesting to say if you actually believe that.

      5. Poor unreason sock trolls.


  10. It may not be dead but seems there are plenty of people who want to kill it.

    1. Lefties and Anarchists live by the notion that if they cannot have America then neither can you.

  11. Please post the referenced chart.

  12. You mean folks being forced into financial ruin might get a little testy? Go figure

  13. Reactionary and socialist ideologies ascend.

    Libertarianism is a reactionary ideology.

    1. If you consider Libertarianism nearly the same as Classical Liberalism, then Libertarianism predates Socialism and Communism.

    2. Libertarians are reactionary only of you define it as a hard-right conservative movement in opposition to progressivism (which unfortunately too many here do).
      Otherwise, there are those of us who are drawn to it as the ultimate expression of liberal thought.

  14. 90 percent of Americans say they are “satisfied with their personal lives.”

    yet all the attention goes to the squeaky wheels

    1. They are currently living better than any time in history, exponentially so. But there is always the Joneses

  15. The american dream USED to be getting that single family home, white picket fence, station wagon, 2.5 kids, dog.

    Now, everyone is entitled. They want the house, the boat, the RV, 60,000$ pickup truck for the husband, 50,000$ SUV for the wife; trips to disney every year, subscriptions to every cable package/sports package/streaming service, dinner out with the family once a week, multiple big screen TV’s in their home.

    Those happy with the standard american dream can still have it. But they dont want it. They want the Joneses “american dream”, they want to finance it all at high interest rates when they cant afford it.

    The basic american dream affords you comforts and luxury you couldnt imagine a century ago. Everyone just wants more.

    1. There is nothing wrong with wanting more.

      Many Americans cannot afford what they have and want, so massive debt load is a problem.

      1. Wanting more is wonderful, so long as one is willing to put in the work to attain it.

        The problem is everyone wants it, but very few actually want to EARN it

      2. Many Americans cannot afford what they have and want, so massive debt load is a problem.

        It’s almost as if people have been taught that personal responsibility is for losers.

    2. I just want a 2-bedroom for myself (bedroom and study). Even that is prohibitively expensive in most of the country (and affordable in places so remote it defeats one purpose of having a house).

      1. This is false. I have friends in many major cities. Chicago, San fran, Atl, Seattle, Charleston. They all say this, all the time.

        They also all want to be near downtown, in walking or very close driving distance to the best food, parks, etc. Its gonna cost ya.

        There are so many cities that you can live where you have some good stuff, but not all the best, and its many times more affordable. Geographic arbitrage. Its a thing.

        If you think a town is dreadful because you dont have 50 unique individual chef owned restaurants, and god forbid there are *gasp* CHAIN restaurants in town, then ya, nothing but the city is going to work for you. And ya gonna pay for it. Get over it.

        A “2 bedroom and study” is very affordable in so much of the country. Why do you think people move to the burbs? Or rural areas?

  16. I know prior to the virus there was that poll on the state of the economy which had somewhere around 70% believing that 2020 would be an improvement economically for them over 2019. Obviously that’s probably changed now

  17. “One explanation for the gap between how bad things feel to a substantial segment of the population and how good certain economic indicators look is that many things are getting much better even as a few important things are getting much worse.”

    A more fundamental explanation is that while common sense and common knowledge have always been disconnected from objective facts, we have largely lost any national optimism, both at the grass roots level and certainly on the big political and media stage. And once people are inclined or encouraged to see not just the downsides, but to think in worst case scenarios only, then everything must look dismal.

    On top of that, at least some evidence and analyses support the idea that much of our culture has been incubated in the nursery of fragility. These people, and yes mostly in younger age groups, now see themselves and their important values as frail, vulnerable, and teetering on the edge of existence. Witness the plaintive cries to save Democracy! Culture! Climate! (and now, humanity itself!).

  18. The American Dream is very much still alive. The problem for many Americans is that it’s not confined solely to Americans anymore.
    If people would stop comparing America relative to the rest of the world they’d find that they and theirs have far higher standards of living than their parents/grandparents did.

  19. Only transnational corporations are going to be able to survive this thing, which will fortuitously destroy their small business competitors.
    Congratulations Reason, you’re getting the world you want.

    1. This wont turn out well for the media elite.

    2. We can undo it. It will involve organizing and action. Plus a willingness to run the progressives out. America can’t survive their continued treason and sedition.

  20. Why is overall inflation a flat line at 59.6%? That’s a cumulative number over the time period – either show the trend or a point…

  21. As usual, people arguing over a term, without defining it.

    So, what IS the American Dream, and who is in charge of it?

    Here’s a thought, NEVER in the history of America has anyone suggested that the central government is in charge of our dreams.

    Until now…..

  22. When was it alive and at whose expense?

  23. “Reactionary and Socialist ideologies ascend”? They’re already here, and with barely a peep from the populace. Anything to be safe, or should I say appear to be safe.

  24. Is life really that difficult ? Just pass algebra 2, and don’t have a kid. Do those 2 things and your chances of falling into poverty are almost zero (less than 2%).

    People live their lives making idiotic decisions, and then blame the system when calamity hits.

  25. There is only one way that the American Dream will die, and that is if the population of our country becomes more liberal than conservative. Liberals seem to have the idea that a socialist type of government is the answer to everyone’s prayer, everybody gets treated the same way, weather they want to work for it or not. An economy just can’t work that way. The only one’s who really benefit from a socialist system is the people who work in government. That is an idea that really makes no sense whatsoever, because government makes nothing, it only takes. Government incentives laziness, it never lives up to the utopian dream that they say it will. There is a very good reason for that, because people in government are generally corrupt. It is even that way in our system.

    At least in a capitalist system, there is reward for anyone who works to make life a better place for all. You make a better widget, you make more money, you come up with a better way, you make more money. These people who work, invent, and produce, hire employees, they give jobs to people who are willing to work for it.
    A socialist system is doomed to fail, it has worked nowhere. Between socialism and communism systems throughout history, It is estimated to have killed over 100 Million to 200 million people. Those type of systems have killed that many people because when the populations of those types of government realize that they are subpar systems, and their not getting what was promised, they begin to revolt, and to hold onto power the people running those governments kill their adversaries.

    It really is that plain and simple, and liberals for some reason don’t see it for what it is. When the population sways that way, the American dream will be dead. Lets hope for everyone’s sake that never happens, but I don’t hold out hope that it will stay that way, the country has been leaning more liberal over the years, lets hope that changes.
    Right now though, the American Dream is alive and well. Does capitalism need some tweaks to it’s system, it sure does, because the economic balance in the country right now is way off the mark. The distance between the have’s and have not’s is too great,and is in deep trouble. Right now the people who have the most money and the rest of us is too great, that needs to change. That is a recipe for disaster, they can buy government, and that is what they are doing at the moment, and that needs to change.

    1. So the problem I see with libertarians is that they keep pointing out how important it is to be free and how we aren’t really as free as we could be.

      So when people complain about the nonexistent American Dream, rather than pointing out how the government has made it that way, they wax eloquent on the beauty of capitalism.

      Why is it that you aren’t taking advantage of the malcontent to point out how regulation, rent seeking, and credentialism are making it more difficult for people to make the living you are talking about?

      Why not use the discontent to push your political goals?

  26. Lily Hannah making over $9k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people say to me how much money they can make connected so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my existence. This is what I do… Details Here

  27. “median household income”

    There is the problem right there, “household.”

    It should only require a single breadwinner to afford to buy a house, raise a family, pay all the bills on time, be able to afford to pay “federal income tax”, buy a new car every few years, and still have money to hide away from the Conservative Donor/Parasite class in a “Socialist” creation called a savings account.

    Given the increase in productivity over the past few decades, those single breadwinners should also have the same purchasing power that they used to have (before the economic terrorists who hate us for the freedoms that strong unions, proper taxes on the Conservative Donor/Parasite class, and proper financial regulations gave us, launched their jihad against shared prosperity and the middle class) with only having to put in a 20 hour workweek.

  28. Elderly Americans should be so lucky as to not be able to afford their polypharmacy. They might just experience the consequences of skipping frequent visits to the doctor…health.

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