Around the Institute

“The American Dream: Is it lost? Can it be regained?”

November 3, 2012

Not even a week after Hurricane Sandy, more than 80 Socrates guests gathered at the Roosevelt House for an evening reception with opening remarks from Walter Isaacson, followed by a conversation on the American dream with Jack Goldstone and Hedrick Smith, moderated by Elliot Gerson. The next day 30 participants, including members from Aspen France and Aspen España spent the day discussing the ability to rebuild the American dream.

The strength of the U.S. middle class as producers, consumers, and economic drivers ¬has long been critical to the American national identity and to U.S. economic growth. Today some 90 percent of Americans self-identify as “middle class.” However many middle class Americans today feel beset by stagnant wages and salaries, job losses, the increasing burden of paying for their own retirement and health care, and are vulnerable to new economic insecurities from technological change and globalization. Is this just a temporary setback for the American workforce or is the dream of a better life for Americans and their children moving out of reach? What changes in U.S. policies and the American business ethos have contributed to the waning of the American Dream and how can we rekindle it? Can new economic and labor policies open new frontiers for progress? This seminar will examine the prospects for the American Dream to be restored, and how the upcoming elections may shape the future.