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The lemonade stand and the American dream

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Avatar for aniruddhasen
Written by   178
4 weeks ago

Imagine that you are a young boy in fairy land. One day you decide to sell lemonade.  So you take out a table from your home and place it by the road, you buy some lemons and sugar, get water, ice and glasses from home. On a card board you write Lemonade 50 cents.

Your shop is ready and on the first day you get 3 customer, the next day you get 5 and your customers keep in increasing. Within a month your business is going on very well with lots of customers every day. To top it all the cost of lemons has come down, now you get 5 lemons to a dollar instead of 3. Now you are a making a lot of money out of lemons.

Seeing you other kids of your neighborhood start their own lemonade shop. You don’t mind as business is flourishing and there is space for more shops. As a magic new people keep showing up for lemonade and the price of lemons keep dropping. The kids realize that it is impossible not to make money here. Only the lazy and incompetent types won’t take this opportunity. Slowly a culture develops in the community. Many are selling lemonades 12 hours a day and the others one cannot able to sell even for 6 hours. The people create narratives about the successful ones and the not so successful ones.

Image: unsplash.com

The kids get the message- you get what you deserve or you deserve what you get. If they want to get something then they will have to work harder or smarter.

As time goes by the word spreads of this magical lemonade neighborhood and customers keep coming from far off places. Kids from other neighborhood come and set up shops here. The kids believe that this place is something special, the neighborhood of opportunities.

But slowly things start to change. Some Japanese kids have developed something that gives double the lemon juice from each lemon. Some poor Chinese immigrant kids are undercutting the price to get more customers. Now the successful vendors are buying the less successful ones. So now there are a few dozen rich owners instead of hundreds of independent owners. These rich owners now, to cut cost are paying lesser wages to the workers.  

Slowly it becomes obvious that they are earning lesser money than before though they are working harder. The law of diminishing marginal return sets it. The economic reality sets it but the beliefs and culture developed so far stays the same. So now the blame game starts as belief overshadows the reality. The bigger kid owners blamed the small owners for the misfortune. The hardworking small owners blamed the rich kid owners for high jacking the business. So this way the battle lines were drawn between factions. The assumptions remained, though the world had changed.

The above story sums up the dream of the lemonade land of opportunity- American dream.

The land of exceptional

For long the Americans thought themselves as exceptional. For 300 years people magically reached the dreamland. Whereas other parts of the world went through various ups and downs during the period, America with its well educated and industrious people, vast land and natural resources and being bound by two oceans, were protected from the consequences of what was happening outside of it.

By virtue of the fortunes of this unlimited land, cheap labor, unlimited innovation and geographic isolation, the American dream was created. The American dream is simple to explain. Anyone can be successful with hard work, determination and ingenuity- and only success matters.

The stagnation of that dream has been silently undercutting the dream but was not recognized. Most statistical analysis points out that the present generation is worse off than the previous generations. The older generations blame the new ones for being too self centric, but that is not the full truth. The present generation the most educated and productive but they are also the most underemployed or unemployed because there are very less jobs for the middle class. Now about 25 percent of young people with a college degree are without jobs or are not looking for any.

Image: unsplash.com

What was the strength earlier is now becoming its weakness.

  • No more land. As America started to run out of land it started attacking other countries like Philippines, Cuba, and Guam. After the world wars it realized that there is no need to conquer other lands. During the cold war era, it just lends its money to poor countries and bought stuffs real cheap. It was a type of extortion- you open up trade for us, let our corporations work from there and use your resources and cheap manpower or get shut out form the world and stay poor. This worked for many years as many countries accepted it and in return America promised to protect them from communism.  But slowly these economies also developed and now are no more willing to be exploited easily.

  • As education and living standards improved, America was not a land of cheap labor. The big corporations shifted their base outside America and took advantage of the cheap resources and labor there. The American niche is now limited to defense, aviation and IT.

  • With innovation, automation, AI and information technology, lesser jobs are being created. Millions of jobs have been lost to it which will not come back. Not only the service industry but the manufacturing industry has also become less human centric and more machine centric. Though the US manufacturing sector may have doubled in last 30 years but the employment generated is 75 percent of what it used to be. These jobs have not been stolen by the immigrants but by the improved technology.

The lemonade party is almost over now. The markets are contracting. In fact now millions of educated Americans are living from pay day to pay day and they are not happy about it. Now less people are going ahead because of hard work and more people are going ahead because of family connections.

This is the antithesis of the American dream.

Remember the beliefs of the lemonade stand kids. The American dream of

  • You get what you deserve

  • People are worth what they achieve

  • encouraging people to feel justified in exploiting others

These beliefs will now haunt the younger generation of Americans.

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Written by   178
4 weeks ago
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Comments

People are worth what they achieve... but sometime that speech is wrong

$ 0.00
2 weeks ago

That is consumerism culture.

$ 0.00
2 weeks ago

An excellent description of the situation. The american dream is dead.

Automation and AI will destroy even more jobs. A few specialists will still be working in highly paid jobs, but a great many people will be living on the poverty line. This is a huge problem for Western consumer society, because the economy needs paying consumers. I see very dark clouds on the horizon.

$ 0.00
4 weeks ago

With time, change is required. Otherwise history has seen so many great civilizations perish. Thank you sir. It seems the random rewarder did not like my lemonade. And yours is the only 👍 I got.

$ 0.00
4 weeks ago

If governments do not act very wisely, I fear unrest, riots and street violence in the future.

Please be patient, this is a RANDOM rewarder.

$ 0.00
4 weeks ago

Oh lemonade.. I love that drinks

$ 0.00
4 weeks ago

👍

$ 0.00
4 weeks ago