I know quite a few people watched the State of the Union the other night. Whether you agree or disagree, the subject of the American Dream is very relevant to those of us raising children in this country. The big question we all have, is “Can it still be achieved?”

When we were growing up, we were all told that America is the only country in the world where a man or woman can be born poor, receive little to no education and yet, still be able to rise to the top and create any kind of life they choose. As long as they work hard for it, of course!
We all know that this is how John Rockefeller did it right? He didn’t even attend school until after the age of sixteen, yet after working as an assistant bookkeeper for a commission merchant and produce shipper for 4 years he started his own commission merchant company in hay, meats, grains, etc., and after ONLY a year made $450,000.00. This was a LOT of money in the 1800s! By 23 he opened his first oil refinery, became worth $55 million, and of course then became greedy and began monopolizing the industry.
Then we have Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s who dropped out of school at 16, began working at restaurants as a cook, and then went on to open the fast food chain Wendy’s, by the age of 37 (and was already a millionaire from his work cooking, running and reinvigorating KFC). I could go on about successful American’s who have no education and rose to the top, but research will show that the majority of people who were able to do this were all born before the 1970s. I know Mark Zuckerberg has recently done this, but he is FAR from being uneducated. He was going to Harvard when he invented Facebook after all.
I’m talking about successful people who didn’t finish HS, or maybe even Elementary school. If you study the amount of people who have done this, and became rich, it was FAR more abundant in the early 18 or 1900s than you will find today. I am NOT talking about actors, musicians or sports players either – I’m talking about people who have actually WORKED for the money they’ve earned! Of course, it was easier to do in the early 18 or 1900s since we didn’t have oil companies, or fast food restaurants, or well a lot of ANYTHING really. It was a LOT easier to corner the market on something when you were the first one inventing it. It still, however has been a possibility for some. Until 2007, or so, when it seems like the American dream was stolen away from us. So, now we are stuck with the question “HOW (and WHY) did this happen?” Well, there are a few ways, and here they are.
First, we’ve all heard about the housing crisis, but are you aware of how it began? Well, first off, people were consumed with greed, the housing market was skyrocketing making houses worth ridiculous amounts of money. Homeowners saw this as a chance to either refinance, take some of that money out of their houses, or sell their homes making hundreds of thousands of dollars off the sell, compared to the price they paid for the house. Loan companies were then giving mortgages to people who didn’t qualify for them and set them up with balloon mortgages, so they could afford them. A balloon mortgage is a short term loan that offers affordable payments and then balloons into higher payments after a certain period of time. This had been going on for years. Then, of course we have interest rates, which were dropped to an ALL time low. Sub prime loans, which are HIGH INTEREST loans were then lent to people who would have a hard time paying them off = we will loan you money to buy a house, and then take it from you, when you can no longer afford the payment.
When balloon payments kicked in people’s loans went from $800.00 monthly to $1600 monthly (for example) and these people couldn’t pay their loans anymore. Banks began to suffer an ended up closing their sub-prime mortgage businesses while laying off the employees who worked there. The banks also tightened loaning money to ALL businesses and Americans, interest rates began to rise again. Due to this, stores, production companies, construction companies, etc. stopped getting not only loans to further their businesses, but orders to keep their businesses productively making money. Then, as we all know, it was a downhill slide!

So, why am I saying the American Dream was stolen from us by bankers & politicians? Because it WAS bankers who created the mess. Politicians, allowed it and have done nothing to make sure it doesn’t happen again, including making the bankers responsible pay for the crimes they committed that crippled this country. No, they suggest we deregulate more so banks can have even more control over OUR lives, while they get richer, while they get promotions or promised positions, while the middle class disappears into the lower class and the poor become poorer.

So, how many people do you know that this has happened to? How many people do YOU know that have had the American Dream stolen from them by this tragedy?

Well, if you can’t think of one, allow me to introduce you to one – ME!
Well, my husband and I – he’s the one who earned it all t begin with. Here’s our story.

We moved out of Texas at 21 or so , seeing there was no real future for making any money for people under the age of 50, and decided to move to Arizona. Derik had already been working since the age of 14, and had established a good construction background, but the amount of pay they received was a joke, so we had to do something.
So, why AZ? Well, I had previously lived there and had family there, and after debating his home state (NJ) or my choice (AZ) we decided to go somewhere where snow would NOT be an issue.

We moved with ONE car, full of any and everything we could fit into it. After a few days there, Derik (my THEN BF) got a job working with pools, and I got a job as a server. We stayed at a friends place for a few weeks, and then got our own place. I was going to school and working, and Derik got a better job with a construction company. We lived this basic way of life for 2 years, changing residences to better areas, changing jobs for more money. ALWAYS moving up the ladder quickly – I became manager of several bars, Derik became the foreman of several construction companies and began taking side jobs here and there for extra money.

After getting married, we decided we were ready to start a family. We also decided Derik had enough clients doing side jobs and investors interested in flipping houses with him that it was time to venture into starting our own construction company. We OFFICIALLY began in December of 1999. I had my first baby in February 2000 and the business was doing so well, Derik finally got a truck of his own, and I was able to stay home.

ONE YEAR LATER, Derik had made his investors so much money they decided he deserved a bonus. They bought us plane tickets to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, put us up in an amazing resort for almost a week, and gave us spending cash to enjoy while we were there. It was FABULOUS!!!!!!!!
We bought a house and moved in and we were only 26 years old – we THOUGHT we had the world by the balls – or at least the Phoenix market! 😉 lol

I then had my second child in May 2002, and we decided we should start investing some of the money we were making. We weren’t into the stock market, so we looked at other options. Well, we had been told the real estate market was a SURE fire way to make money. We were already technically doing that anyway, so after researching a few years, that’s what we did.
First we invested in vacation property. We were always taking vacations so we had quality time with the kids. Running a business is hard and takes sometimes every minute of every day, and family can therefore suffer at times. We decided taking vacations a few times a year was a good way to incorporate family time and helped to resolve this issue, so that’s what we did. Vacations can be very expensive though, so we figured vacation properties were the answer. We made a set payment every month and then didn’t have to worry about a place to stay when we were ready for vacation time. Not only that, but they constantly gave us free trips to other places, free rental cars when we got there, discounts on activities – we LOVED IT!!!!!!
We then bought a 40 acre ranch up North where we planned on building our future retirement home to enjoy ourselves when we got older. We bought a trailer to put on it so we’d have a place to stay when we visited, bought a generator so we’d have power and started planning putting in a well. We started going up once a month, started planning where we’d build our home, started designing what we wanted it to look like – it was going to be PERFECT!!!

In June of 2006 we went to Hawaii (free from our vacation ownership of course) to celebrate our 10 years together as a couple. By the second day I was already looking at real estate there and was ready to MOVE! I had NOT realized how badly I was missing the beach and wanting to be back on it. When we got back home we decided to try and make a change. We knew there was no way we could take our business with us. We were established by word of mouth and quality work in Arizona, NOT Hawaii. So I began applying Derik for construction jobs, with absolutely no luck.
Unless you live on the island already, you can just about forget about solidifying a job over the phone. After a few months we realized it wasn’t the right time for our Hawaiian dream, so we decided to have a house built. We put our house up for sale and began the new home building process. It was a guaranteed SUCCESS, all houses were selling lightning fast and the real estate market was hot.

EXCEPT, when WE decided to sell, it began falling! We sold it fast anyway – a month or so into the process………..or so we thought! The people we sold the house to ended up not qualifying and backed out, so we started over. This time, we refinanced, took money out of our house to complete the remodel we had started doing after we moved in. We went room by room over the 7 years we were living there updating but hadn’t got to either bathroom, or the main living room, so we finished everything, including our 12 ft deep diving pool. We THEN put the house back on the market. THIS TIME it was going to work!

At the same time, jobs were starting to slow down. We weren’t getting as many calls as we used to and were staring to get worried. For the first time in 8 years we had to advertise. We got a few jobs, but nothing like we were used to. Since we were a SMALL business (being only my husband that worked – small businesses by government standards are MORE than 50 workers and less than 500 workers – I know makes no sense, but it’s true – look up small business) we could get no loans from banks, so we would run up a credit card (or THREE) while completing a job, then pay them off when the job was completed. The jobs were getting farther and farther apart though, so that meant the money was too, the house wasn’t selling, we were having a new home built and we were STRESSED OUT – or so we thought. We hadn’t seen the beginning of our stresses to come.
To make a long story short, the house never sold, we never moved into the house we had being built and Derik had to find employment with a local construction company. I got a full time job, we moved out of our house, went through bankruptcy and eventually decided to move to the complete opposite side of town to start over.

Three months after moving and getting settled my husband lost his first job EVER!!!!!! NO BIG DEAL we thought, he’s always been able to find employment fast. Meanwhile we had to go on unemployment and collect food stamps, while I worked FT, so we could feed and shelter our family. We received a WHOLE $265 weekly from unemployment and less than $300 monthly for food. After THREE months, Derik FINALLY found a new job. We were SO relieved – we thought this was finally the end!!!!
A month or so into his employment he totaled his vehicle, so we were down to one. I was now forced to take a taxi to work and back so he could drive all over town for his job. We bought a hoopty a few weeks later to save ourselves from cab fare and things seemed okay again. About a year later however, Derik got laid off AGAIN!!! We had to move because we could no longer afford the house we were living in. We were now on unemployment and food stamps again. This time however, Derik was unable to find work for 9 months or so, in which he decided to go back to school for Firefighting. Not that we ever thought he’d get a job as a firefighter, but it was a dream he never sought after, so we figured what better time? Besides, watching a man who has lost everything he has worked so hard for delve deeper into depression because he can’t provide for his family any longer is no way to live – we had to do SOMETHING, for BOTH of our sanity (and marriage) sake!

So there we were – we went from making six figures to $25,000. We were BELOW poverty line. We were in a terrible state. All Derik’s previous construction contacts were either unemployed, bankrupt or working small wage jobs just to survive. It wasn’t JUST us. Even the millionaire who sent us to Cabo lost everything and had to have his 70 year old wife come out of retirement and go back to teaching. The world we had built was GONE! We realized we would never get it back, and although we LOVED Arizona and it was the only home our children ever knew, we knew we had to reach out and look other places if we wanted to get out of the rut we were in, so I did.

I began applying Derik for government jobs across the United States. Made it a PT job for myself, which wasn’t easy between working FT and going to school FT. Everyone I told that this was what I was doing would sneer at me, like it was the most ridiculous thing EVER! I applied everywhere, even Texas, which we didn’t want, but it didn’t matter WHERE we were – as long as he could work again.After a YEAR of me applying him, my time finally paid off. He had been referred into 6 different positions, (2 in Tx + 2 in Hawaii & 2 in California) but hadn’t been able to make the final cut to get any of them, until NOW. The BEST part about it – it was in California, a state that I had been dreaming of moving to since I can remember! lol

Here we are, almost 3 years after moving and after going through 2 government furloughs are doing great. We have each other STILL, our 2 wonderful children, California and a family that couldn’t have been MORE supportive through ALL OF IT! We BOTH work FT and still don’t make what we used to. I’m not complaining, I’m just stating it for how it is.

Over the past 6 years, I have CONSTANTLY heard people complain about other people who ‘live off the system’, yet rarely do I hear people complain about politicians getting rich off of the system they created. And just so you people who complain about this know, most of the people ‘living off the system’ are people who PAID INTO THE SYSTEM, just as my husband did for 20 years until he had to use it. If you are really concerned about where the money in this country goes, look at the bankers and politicians because they are the ones living FAT off of it. NOT THE POOR!

So, why do I say politicians and bankers stole the American Dream? Because they DID – they created the recession of 2008 and are now continuing to punish the middle and lower class by taking away any chance they may have of surviving their fall.
I’m stating that bankers and politicians did this to US, and not just to us but to MILLIONS of other Americans. Since then, they have cut unemployment benefits, food stamps, welfare and ANYTHING else they can so they can so we get less while they line THEIR pockets with money. They will do any and everything they can to keep us down – they created this mess in the first place, now we’re supposed to suffer more, while THEY GET RICH!!!
To anyone reading this,
If this has happened to you, you are NOT alone, and if you keep your head up, you too can rise above.

If this has NOT happened to you, then you have NO IDEA what it’s like to lose everything and start over and over again. Don’t be so quick to judge those who are suffering as well. For you never know when it just might be you! I know I NEVER thought it would be me.

I will NOT teach my children the American Dream is dead, but I WILL teach them about how they are TRYING to steal it from us with everything they have. I WILL teach them not to trust these people and most importantly I WILL teach them that they can do or be anything they want to be – as long as they TRY!

Also, PLEASE try, try, TRY to remember, they can only win if you let them. We CAN overcome everything they throw at us and rise above. In the end, it’s not WHAT we have that matters anyway………..it’s WHO WE HAVE!!!

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