Yes, unless you were born with means or have already made enough to last several lifetimes, this GOP is stealing the American Dream out from under your nose.

Immigrants that hoped for a better life in America, along with other minorities find themselves in a country that is unwelcoming, unsafe and bitterly disappointing. For the rest of the striving masses, things are no better.  The demise of programs to provide medical care to children, family members, your spouse and yourself have already been negotiated among thieves, with the skim divvied up between rich scoundrels around the world. Nevermind you could lose your health and meet a terrible demise.

With the cruel, backward-looking policies of the GOP, young people hoping to go to college may only manage a high school diploma as the cost of education & books continue to skyrocket. That’s if you make it out of school alive because the NRA wants to sell a lot of guns and watch a lot of kids die. Student loan payments & loan interest continue to rise, tax deductibility for interest has been limited to $2,500 in the GOP tax plan, which is a pittance compared to the loan interest income made by the banks. Making education so costly enslaves the very people most likely to contribute to society by making sure they will never make quite enough money to break out of the cycle of poverty and can never stop working. Oh yeah, and did I mention the GOP wants to encourage more child labor?

People in “survival mode” cannot thrive in the long run. Thirty years without wage growth so rich people can get richer has turned striving Americans in to a paradoxically cynical & hopeful lot. We saw progress in many areas in the Obama years. He rescued the economy, and, much thanks to Hillary (CHIP), and yes, Nancy Pelosi (ACA), we began to see healthcare as human right in the U.S. (like so many other developed nations). It was now possible. But we’re cynical too. We see so much corruption in Congress, & elected officials only seem to represent people, organizations & countries that have loads of cash and are willing to throw it at them to get their “pet” legislation passed.

Like many of you, I have my own American Dream, but it’s beginning to look like more of a long-shot than ever. Years of financial upheaval have taken a toll. When the tax law passed, I was sick. I had a bothered mind. Bothered about the future of a promise I made to myself at eight years old. I swore to work for myself one day. My grandparents on my mother’s side were All-American.  Except that they were children of German immigrants. Look up salt of the earth, and you’ll find their pictures.

My Great-Grandfather worked on the railroad and his son hitched a few rides. My grandmother eventually succumbed to my grandfather’s pestering and married my boxcar-hopping “Lee”.  Lee joined the military, and after leaving, he decided to get a job with a military contractor, and eventually worked for General Dynamics / Convair in San Diego after training in the Midwest. Grams told me horror stories about the room they stayed in when he was in school. It was infested with bedbugs and it was indelibly pressed into my Grandmother’s mind. I had nothing but respect for both of my Grandparents, but I never wanted to work on a corporate plantation like they did. They led an honorable life, and I guess the sacrifices they made were worth it to them. But I wanted to make my own way.

My grandparents always worked hard. Always. There was nothing left after work and that went on until they both were about to retire. They never would have been able to make it these days. It makes me sad to see what giving their lives up like they did would have left them with if they were born a few decades later. I saw what it took out of them. They always colored in the lines, did the right things. But they might even be homeless today if they were born 50 years later.

There was an example of self-employment in my family. My uncle Mike worked for himself, and he and his wife Jeannie made their little printing business an honest, (if not lucrative) business. I admired that. Still do. They still managed to have fun with all the hours they put in and were a good example for me. After a few decades working for others, my mother started her own business and has been working for herself a long time now, too.

When my grandparents came up, you could get a job and work for that company your entire life and retire with a pension. Pssht. That hasn’t been true for a long time. After they retired, they got to go on a couple of vacations. It wasn’t long, however, before health issues stole back the freedom gained by retirement. My grandfather needed a quintuple bypass surgery, then after many years he had a stroke, which is what ended him. My grandmother had a quadruple bypass. Medical bills would have decimated them if it weren’t for the fact that they both worked union jobs all their lives and had retirement income and medical coverage for life. There is a recent Supreme Court Ruling that, if my grandparents were alive now, might have radically changed their quality of life.  If an employee has an arbitration clause in their contract, employers can now prohibit them from filing class action suits. This drastically reduces the strength of unions, and would undoubtedly have hurt my family. Maybe this change will hurt yours. If so, fight with all your might! Vote, vote, VOTE!

I still want to be my own boss, and I have a business but I’m not really quite breaking even yet. I have to work a job for wages too, and I wonder if I’m ever going to get up that hill.

Americans over the last thirty to forty years have experienced such wage stagnation, and short-term thinking among craven politicians has made “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” that much more difficult. The boots are worn out and leather is brittle. People with ideas, drive, desire, plans, fall into a deep hole instead of rising for lack of money & credit, instead of becoming successful entrepreneurs.

To personalize this, we all have our problems. It won’t stop me from working towards my dreams, but it would help if we had more compassionate and creative public servants in Congress to help make it a little easier on all of us to achieve our American Dreams.