Sunday, February 17, 2013

Connections: "We Always Stood on Our Own Two Feet" and "Capitalism Hits the Fan."

     All three of the texts that we examined offer valuable insights about the dependence that Americans have on the system, as well as the reasons for their dependence. The video "Capitalism Hits the Fan" was very interesting and offered a lot of valuable information regarding the status of American society and capitalism. Based on this video, I would say that capitalism is a trap, not an advantage. Gone are the days of higher wages, and higher standards of living. The days of credit cards, high rates of interest, and sky-high debt are here to stay, and there is no way out of this debt anytime soon. As long as big business owners can continue to trap working-class people in pitfalls involving mortgages, credit cards, and the like, and as long as we are trapped in a culture that pushes us to consume, we will forever be trapped in debt.
     What few people realize, as Stephanie Coontz hammers home in her article "We Always Stood on Our Own Two Feet", is that on the way to middle-class status, Americans had ample support from the government. They were supplied with land, mortgages, and just about anything else they could need, although they would like to tell themselves they made it on their own. Because we as Americans are ashamed to ask for help or to acknowledge that we need help, we would rather pretend that we never had any help at all, even when it is obvious that we did. Coontz uses the example of her grandfather, one of the founding fathers of a small town in Washington State. He refused to acknowledge the fact that he survived by taking grain subsidies. Coontz gives several examples of American dependency. Many Americans don't see themselves as reliant on these agencies and never would, regardless of what proof they were given.
     A big theme throughout the article is that the poor are seen as taking all of the available charity, while the middle-class gets nothing. The people who are reaping the real benefits, of course, are the rich. We see this in the video. The rich set all of these opportunities for "help" up for the poor, who are so desperate that they have no choice but to take them. While the poor sink deeper and deeper into debt, the rich sit back and reap the benefits and get richer and richer.
     As long as we  live in a society where wealth and assistance are not balanced properly, and where we are constantly under pressure to consume, we will never be in a debt-free society.  

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