Sunday, February 15, 2009

What's Happened to the American Dream?

I haven't posted in a bit because I don't know what to say. I'm still in denial, a little bit. I've known we were in a recession for some time. I got laid off last summer, if that doesn't make you look around a little bit, what else would? My attitude about working is totally different. Not going to jeopardize a paycheck now, over anything. But we are still getting hit with it.

And this isn't about US. This is about the people around us. I don't know how much longer until my friends in the auto industry are really going to get hit. Some have taken packages to leave, some have had pay cuts.

But our favorite restaurant went out of business. It also happened to be the restaurant that we sold most of our eggs to. So yes, we are buried in eggs. But it's not that. It's the great people that owned that restaurant, and the folks they employed that are now jobless. And it was a great restaurant that now isn't there for our community. And it was a GREAT restaurant. I haven't even gone that far into town since it happened, because I don't want to see the place dark, with a for lease sign in the window. I can't stand it. I know it still hasn't hit me. We talked to them about how we can save it. I won't put details here - but we wanted to help save it. Not because we sell eggs there - but because it was a piece of our community, someplace Larry and I loved to go for good food, good beer, and making friends. And that gathering spot is gone now. How can we get it back? How can we turn it around so that folks can look forward to the American Dream again? I think it might be gone. We tried to give it away like a door prize, and ended up in a break down of the financial system. When did we stop trying to work hard for it, and when did working hard stop being what it took to get it? How do you get it now? Or don't you...

They have said that my generation is the first generation that won't make more money than our parents did. Oh, yeah, well...I believe that. Especially in my case. I never expected to make that kind of money. But they also called us Generation X folks SLACKERS. I don't think so. I'm working my tail off at a full time job and a full time farm. I pay my taxes, my social security - and the money I pay will pay for my father to have benefits when he retires (which he already has) and that money will be LONG GONE before it's my turn to have a piece. When I graduated college, I was smart - I worked hard, invested my money in retirement funds. Now that those days are over, I watch my retirement accounts dwindle into nothing, I work every month to make sure that mortgage is paid (a 30 year fixed one, by the way) and I work to raise my own food on my own farm, because that's my NEW retirement package. My NEW American Dream isn't about having a big house and a fancy car - it's about knowing I have food to eat, today - tomorrow and years from now. Funny how a recession, and seeing businesses close up shop can make you change your priorities from comfort and convenience, to having basic needs met, and being satisfied with how you are meeting them.

I hope this isn't the death of the American Dream. I hope we can all still find self reliance, independence and freedom in this great country of ours. I think we might just be shifting gears as to what that looks like. It's just too bad that people are suffering so much now. I hope some day my favorite restaurant can come back. Nothing will ever replace it. My tummy says so, but so does my heart.