Review of The American Dream: How the Free-Market Economy is Eroding It and What We Can Do to Restore It

The American dream is not dead.  If the United States acts quickly to reverse the tide of economic degradation in our economy...the dream might live on for our children and grand-children.

Have you lived the American dream?  Don't you want to see the dream stay alive for future generations?  Cammisa has written a book that provides a good thumbnail sketch of the major problems. Read the book...recommend it to your friends...get your elected officials talking.

Let's not perpetuate the American nightmare.  Comments always welcome!

Happy Friday,
Available at
The American Dream: How the Free-Market Economy is Eroding It and What We Can Do to Restore It [Paperback]
By James V. Cammisa
220 pages, $14.95
ISBN-13: 978-1463526115
Review by Steven King, MBA, MEd

An opportunity to live in America used to be synonymous with living a dream: suitable employment, a nice house, and a guaranteed retirement.  Since the economy took a horrific downturn in 2008, the idea of the American Dream is being reinterpreted. What happened to the dream? How did governmental interests trump the desire for equitable progression in this country?  Has the desire for individual success paved over the corporate responsibility for the dream?

James V. Cammisa has purported an answer with The American Dream: How the Free-Market Economy is Eroding It and What We Can Do to Restore It.  In this wonderfully written account of what has happened to the American dream, Cammisa points out how the dream has actually been shaped by every generation of Americans. In the past, America was characterized by puritan ideals and hard work.  Her greatest days included an opportunity for anyone, regardless of culture, to become someone.  Until the 1970’s, Americans enjoyed an unprecedented level of growth and opportunity in this country.

Then, it all changed.

Between 1973 and 1975, an oil embargo plunged America deep into the woes of recession. Since 1973, the bottom fifth of families have seen their income fall by an average of 0.2 percent per year, while the bottom 40 percent have seen no growth at all. Sadly, during a time where the “common man” has been losing income, the top fifth of families have seen their income rise by 1.1 percent per year.  Clearly, the economic divide started to worsen then and has come to a head in our lifetime.  Nearly every week a new story breaks the airwaves about corporate greed and the current theme of “Taking Wall Street Back” is evidence that Americans are fed up.

As special interests soared, Cammisa shares how deregulation of industries only hurt the collective cause of this country. Such deregulation helped catapult America away from financial security. Then, deregulation gave way to globalization—which only made the world market smaller—and has meant companies were forced to streamline operations in light of new world markets.  To comply with demands, companies have reduced employee workforces, exported jobs overseas, and have cut pensions and retirement possibilities. Such a reaction has crippled the American dream.

This reviewer enjoyed the positive spin the author put on the problem—he does not leave us in quandary of despair.  If America will do the right thing by rethinking current policies, he believes that the dream can be restored in this country. Cammisa purports that four safety nets are essential for living the American dream:
1)      Educational opportunities for all
2)      Good stable jobs at good wages
3)      Universal healthcare
4)      Secure retirement
Other countries have done far better with some of these safety nets than has America. Cammisa asks, “Why don’t we study what they’ve done right and incorporate it in our country?”  I couldn’t agree more—the only net we have made significant movement upon is universal healthcare with the Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Obama.  Sadly, this plan will inevitably be shot down by either new legislation or with the passing of the guard to a new political administration.

Cammisa’s chapter on the Restoration Agenda hits the nail on the proverbial head and should be read by every politician.  America has endured for too long as a collection of individuals—it is time for the natural “give and take” mentality to grow among a group working together toward a common goal.  We do not want the American Dream to become the American Nightmare—and sadly, that is the trajectory on which our current policies are taking us.

If you want to live the dream and pass it along to our children – read this book and use your voice to vote—to ensure our leaders get the picture before it is too late for us all.  Perhaps writer Eldridge Cleaver sums up the sentiment adequately: “I feel that I am a citizen of the American dream and that the revolutionary struggle of which I am a part is a struggle against the American nightmare.”


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