Friday, February 15, 2008

is the American Dream still alive?

I just came across an interesting article about a college grad, Adam Shepard, who decided to test the viability of the American Dream: he left a supportive home and family with only $25 to his name, aiming to accomplish the following within a year:

1. have a furnished apartment
2. buy a car
3. have $2500 in savings

The result? Success. In fact, he ended the experiment early because of a family crisis, having gotten the apartment and the car, and having saved not $2500 but nearly $5000.

An interesting line from the article:

The effort, he says, was inspired after reading "Nickel and Dimed," in which author Barbara Ehrenreich takes on a series of low-paying jobs. Unlike Ms. Ehrenreich, who chronicled the difficulty of advancing beyond the ranks of the working poor, Shepard found he was able to successfully climb out of his self-imposed poverty.

The sky's the limit, so don't limit yourself. (You might say I'm preaching to myself as much as to you.)



Anonymous said...

Fascinating article. I'm tempted to buy the book.

I thought it was interesting how the interviewer tried (whether out of personal skepticism or to represent the skepticism of readers) to downplay his achievement by pointing out his privileged background. But I think the guy hit the nail on the head: it's all about attitude. Yeah, some people get dealt crappy hands, but some people decide that they're not going to let life piss all over them. There are people who've had it far worse than I've ever had it, and they've become bigger successes. It's encouraging to know that a "can-do attitude" still works.

Cappy said...

Don't worry. Hillary Clintoon's coming to my town, and she'll tell us what to think. Um, yeah.

John B said...

Pointing out his background was a significant question, I think, particularly because I wanted to see how Shepard answered it. He must have given it some thought over the course of his experience.

I thought the fact that he was young and healthy was pretty significant, and they mentioned that he was college athlete. I've never done day labor, but my friends have, and it's physically very demanding.

Also, I haven't read Ehrenreich's book, but I was under the perception that it was about the difficulty of progressing beyond point that he had arrived at. Home ownership, marriage, kids, etc.

At any rate, I would like to read it. I've been keeping NICKEL AND DIMED in the back of my mind for a while, and if I get around to it I'll definitely follow it up with this one.