The Shattered American Dream

By tamara on

American DreamAs most people know, I have had a long-standing career on Wall Street. I chose this industry because I was enamored by the idea of Wall Street and truth be told, I was driven by money. I grew up in a family that struggled financially and I knew early on that I did not want that. I was tired of being poor and was willing to work hard to get what I wanted.

My story is an example of the American dream. I am essentially a first generation American born to immigrant parents. I put myself through college and over the last twenty years, have worked tirelessly, in a career where the hours are long and grueling, the competition is fierce and the pressure can be insurmountable.

But in the wake of success, I have encountered a fair amount of animosity regarding my achievements. Instead of commendation and pride, I receive criticism and at times even hostility. And this hostility is not only directed towards me personally, it is general hostility towards the rich – the upper and upper-middle classes.

This attitude has made me realize that there is real anger about the class divide in this county. We are becoming a society of the Haves and Have Nots. This becomes more evident as the economy continues to waver and it will become worse with the policies of the current administration. But worst of all we are becoming a society where the underpinnings of the American Dream have a negative connotation and successful people are villainized.

Is that what we really want for America? I for one, want to live in a country where there is abundance of opportunity and the success of one will not diminish the opportunity of another. There is plenty here for everyone. And must remember that all ships rise with the tide – the more people that succeed the more our society prospers.


  1. The question about financial equality is far more complicated. In this country you can start as a homeless person and become a bilionare. Greed in all its forms drives this country more than any other. Generosity in all its forms is also interwoven in our fabric. And we are a very generous nation. As individuals and as a country we give money and support to causes we believe in or in many cases its done for financial gain. After all giving money to charity is better than giving it to the IRS.

    Our biggest problem regarding inequality in this country is the corruption and access money provides. This problem divides our country down ideological lines. Some examples include the split decision of our Supreme Court to allow unfettered corporate donations to politicians. The amount of money in our political system guarantees unfair advantage to the highest bidders agenda. Look further down the food chain and look at how certain industries have kept better technologies and innovation from invading their space. Example Big Oil and alternative energy. We could be well down the road of sustainable energy production but the right wing and the Exxons of the world won’t have that. Go further down the line and follow the story of Tesla. Two years ago no one in the industry really cared about their technology or business model. Now thanks to Gov Christie and other corrupt politicians the Auto industry is pushing hard to make selling Tesla’s illegal in NJ because the auto industry views it as a threat to their profits. Now before you start crying for the poor auto dealers ask yourself how many poor auto dealers do you know? Owning a car dealership puts you in the uber class of earnings so of course the pressure to not rock the boat is enormous. Lets go further down the line and look at how private schools and donations affect grades and access to higher education down the line. Do you think a B student with the exact same resume from a poor school district has the same opportunity as a B student with rich parents who donate significantly to the school?
    Have you heard of the Texas kid who used the Affluent ZA defense when he killed three people while driving 3 times over the limit?
    So what do we do in this society? In my opinion coming from parents who passed way to early is you live life every day and you try to be the best person you can be. We all need money to survive and if you love what you do you will eventually make money doing it. It may not be Wall Street or Car Dealer money but you will feel fulfilled.

    • Andrew thank you for taking the time to comment. It’s hard to have a debate about free market capitalism with a socialist, but I will try.

      I think you are confusing incentives provided by free market capitalism with greed but there is a distinct difference. Companies such as Apple, Tesla and Disney were born out of capitalism which fosters creativity and innovation because the concept of “reward” inspires the human spirit. It is why you didn’t see companies like these spawned out of the Soviet Union.

      Companies like Exxon, Chevron and Ford were born out of that same Capitalism. The success of these companies allows them to provide their products on a global scale while allowing the American consumer to purchase them cheaper then any other country – and I’m sure that when you are at the pump filling up that gas guzzling RV you must be thankful for that.

      As for Tesla losing the right to sell vehicles directly, you are correct that the automotive dealerships are threatened by Telsa and this action is their attempt to maintain market share. And although it seems that the car companies are playing dirty pool they are working within the realm of the law. Direct auto sales is actually illegal in New Jersey – a law that was passed to protect the consumer. I don’t like the fact that Tesla was shut down either so I signed the government petition to help overthrow that law.

      Our country is not perfect, I know – but even with all its flaws it is still a great country and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Sure we have our issues, some corruption and inequality are among them but there still is tremendous opportunity – just ask Barack Obama.

      • Tamara- I’m not quite sure why you label me a socialist or feel the need to name call when I quite simply replied to your post with a view point based on facts. As you know I turned down working on Wall Street when I was 19 to pursue a path in real estate and quite frankly to be near the beach and surf more. As a lifelong entrepreneur and self employed individual I have never received one cent of social or corporate benefits. You and the right wingers feel the need to label everyone a socialist because you think it sounds bad. My passion for my sport allowed me to create a charity event that has in 7 years raised $1.9 million dollars for environmental and autism causes and been written up in The Wall Street Journal and NY Times.

        My view point is not that capitalism or money is bad but the power to corrupt and influence for your own agenda that is bad. This creates an uneven playing field and happens all around us.
        Capitalism and innovation has built this country and there are good corporate stewards and bad corporate stewards. Companies that

  2. I wasn’t name calling, I would have thought that based on your ideals you are self proclaimed socialist.

    I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings. I thought we were having an intelligent debate. I’ll tread more carefully next time.


    • Ah, yes the good old days when my brother and I would lob insults back and forth like a tennis match while you giggled in the background like a silly school girl, amused and entertained yet nervously hoping to stay out of the cross fire.

      I’m so glad that we have all matured since then-HA, HA! The important thing is we do it out of love and we truly do care about one another…

      ..And of course there has always been a special place in our hearts for you, Young Slywka!


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