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Middle-class dream
Readers' Views No 295, Q2 2013

Ironically, the biggest challenge now for the US middle class may be contending with the potency of the "American Dream" internationally. President Obama starkly captured this prospect in a graduation address. His audience was black but the message was clearly and accurately aimed at all young Americans who have learned how to make excuses: "We've got no time for excuses–not because the bitter legacies of slavery and segregation have vanished entirely; they haven't," he said. 

"It's not because racism and discrimination no longer exist; that's still out there. It's just that in today's hyper-connected, hypercompetitive world, with a billion young people from China and India and Brazil entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything you haven't earned." The "American Dream" of endlessly rising incomes wherever immigrant families first landed was a caricature. Intelligent US Americans of every generation worry about the future–theirs, their kids', and their country's–as well as want to get ahead. American risk-takers were invariably careful calculators.

—Les Horswill, posted on www.oecdobserver.org


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©OECD Observer No 295, Q2 2013