Redefining the American Dream

80% of U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty, or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.

The America dream is alive and well for some, but mostly for those who who are smart enough to learn the skills that pay well – skills such as coding, apps, finance, engineering, math (STEM). For those of more modest intellectual means, the ‘American dream’ will remain elusive, as part of the broader post-2008 ‘hollowing out of the middle’ theme. In the post-2008 economy, the Bell Curve is more relevant than ever, in that some people may not be smart enough to fully participate in the recovery, which could explain the surge in entitlement spending to bring these people ‘up to speed’, similar to a remedial class. For example, if you want to be a writer, which is a job that typically doesn’t pay that well, you need the ability to write well, which according the the normal distribution of IQs would exclude about 80-95% of the population. While the literacy rate in America is high, ability drops off considerably once you go beyond the very basics. Good-paying jobs for the middle of the Bell Curve are becoming increasingly scarce, the result being a lot of dull/average people who can’t find decent employment for long stretches of time. Although a considerable amount of wealth has been generated since 2008, times are still trying for many.

From my article, The Smartist Era:

In his controversial but prophetic 1995 book The Bell Curve, Charles Murray attributes wealth inequality to cognitive stratification and the difficulties that the increasing complexities of modern life present to low IQ individuals, resulting in the delamination of society into a cognitive elite (which we call smarties) and everyone else. This couldn’t be more relevant today. Never before have the socioeconomic benefits of being smart and rich have been so great, or the disadvantages of merely being below-average been so grave and intractable. Perhaps we should take heed or at least acknowledge the prescience of Murray’s writings, instead of being so quick to dismiss it as ‘racist’.

There also shouldn’t be a single ‘ideal’ of the American Dream, but a ‘dream’ that varies according to IQ. For those on the left side of the Bell Curve, their dream could be as simple as watching Netflix, tweeting, or posting pictures on Facebook. For many people, these activities bring much enjoyment and are respectable and attainable life goals. Maybe they can work at fast food, Walmart, and other low-paying service sector jobs – but if salaried employment is not available, there is always temp work in the ‘sharing economy‘. But even passive consumption – be it updating your status on Facebook, streaming a TV show, or taking a selfie on Instagram – creates economic value, maybe more value than an overpaid job. For smarter people, who make up the bulk of the ‘creative class’, their ‘dreams’ could be more complicated such as home ownership, making a lot of money, scientific research, publishing, or retiring early.

Related: Billionaire: Your life is going to stink