The Instigator
Con (against)
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The Contender
Pro (for)
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The American Dream is possible.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/3/2012 Category: Society
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 10,199 times Debate No: 22544
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (3)
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Resolved: The American Dream is possible.

Currently with the many societal problems troubling the American people, there are some who say due to the struggles of economic, crime, and poverty for example the hardships shared by many take a toll on their mental health and will. Today many young children even feel the burden of such hardships and grow up believing that life can not get better and that their dreams are impossible. Many anthropologists have written about the struggles with in the realm of poverty and education in the Book "Ghetto Schooling". Discussing such topic of poor instruction, drug addict parents, and the high crime that surrounds their neighborhoods finding show many things about the culture of poverty impedes their drive to succeed in life.
For example the city of Camden New Jersey recent show statically for the year 2009 that 75% of children under the age of 5 and roughly 35% of ages 15-24 are living under poverty conditions. The later age group it is the important time of their academic careers to work hard to get into college in the hopes of a promising future. With incurring such difficulties to ensure that they have the basic necessities to live and usually drop out of school to work for additional income to the house household. The idea of making out of the ghetto and achieving their dreams seem highly impossible.

The American dream is not possible for all due to societal issues.
Ghetto Schooling: A Political Economy of urban Educational Reform By Jean Anyon


First, thanks to my opponent for such an interesting topic: Resolved: The American Dream is possible.

I argue that it is possible; she argues that it is not.

My opponent did not define "American Dream" , so I will proceed with a definition by James Truslow Adams, 1931:
The American Dream means a better, richer and fuller life for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement, regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.

In other words, the above definition means "upward mobility that is possible through hard work and determination".

By the way, something else that my opponent failed to define was the word "possible" . One of the definitions I present is: "Capable of being achieved" . A second definition also pertinent to this debate is: "of uncertain likelihood" . A possibility is not a guarantee. For the American Dream to be possible it does not have to be a guaranteed outcome but rather something with uncertain likelihood of occurrence.

Con cites the following elements as impeding the possibility of achieving upward mobility:
  • The economy
  • Crime
  • Poverty
  • Poor education
  • Poor parenting

However, none of those elements prevent a person from improving their life, within the scope of their achievements and abilities. If needed, I can quote stories of people who succeeded despite the economy, crime, poverty, poor education, and less than ideal homes. None of those elements are unprecedented in the history of the United States either.

The "culture of poverty" , that Con mentions, is not so much a feeling resulting from the above elements, but a feeling experienced by Americans, because they benchmark present USA against USA a few decades back. On
the other hand, many of those who look at the United States from the other side of the border, compare today's USA with their present countries, and still consider it the land of prosperity, freedom, and opportunity.

Debate Round No. 1


As Pro mentions this is the land of opportunity for all, but it is not reality. Most Americans in this current economic times have lost their jobs, homes and financial stability. Thus making the American Dreams, that they hold whether it be simply to be an accountant, teacher or doctor for example harder and most times impossible to do. Their is an article that was recent published in Forbes magazine titled " If I were a poor black kid," by Gene Marks were perfectly states that societal views on the culture of poverty.

"And I would use the technology available to me as a student. I know a few school teachers and they tell me that many inner city parents usually have or can afford cheap computers and internet service nowadays. That because (and sadly) it's oftentimes a necessary thing to keep their kids safe at home than on the streets. And libraries and schools have computers available too. Computers can be purchased cheaply at outlets like TigerDirect and Dell's Outlet. Professional organizations like accountants and architects often offer used computers from their members, sometimes at no cost at all.

If I was a poor black kid I'd use the free technology available to help me study. I'd become expert at Google Scholar. I'd visit study sites like SparkNotes and CliffsNotes to help me understand books. I'd watch relevant teachings on Academic Earth, TED and the Khan Academy. (I say relevant because some of these lectures may not be related to my work or too advanced for my age. But there are plenty of videos on these sites that are suitable to my studies and would help me stand out.) I would also, when possible, get my books for free at Project Gutenberg and learn how to do research at the CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia to help me with my studies."

Here as Marks states, the thoughts of most Americans that those in poverty have a chance to make it out but means of academics. Some, if not all remarks do require hard work and dedication which all children have in this environment to make it out. So if they don't have the tools they need they should write to account firm to see if they can use their computers? Really? What Marks is saying no clearly not reasonable to an 8 year old. His mother will after working two jobs will help her child by calling local firms that will help out with a computer, in what universe! Those living in poverty lack the culture capital- social know how about how society works, for example applying to college. The chances of upward mobility of all these kids is impossible. If the American dream is possible it is the same as saying that their would be no poverty in world. How can you measure a person hard work and say that will bring them into a place of upward mobility. Most families if not all living in poverty stricken places have multiple family members working to make ends meet. So does that mean from that they can achieve their dreams? Simply some people are privilege to chase their dreams and some are not.

Another recent article that I read "45 Sings That American Will Soon..." also stated that," 'According to the New York Times, approximately 100 million Americans are either living in poverty or in "the fretful zone just above it".' For those in hardship how can you go after your dreams if you can even afford to put a roof over your head and food in your mouth?

Oscar Lewis was the anthropologist that first coined the phrase "The Culture of Poverty" in 1966.
"Conversely, as the poor have been characterized as shiftless, mean, sordid, violent, evil and criminal,so other
students point to the irreversibly destructive effects of poverty on individual character
and emphasize the corresponding need to keep guidance and control of poverty projects
in the hands of duly constituted authorities. This clash of viewpoints reflects in part the
infighting for political control of the program between Federal and local officials. :The
confusion results also from the tendency to focus study and attention on the personality of
the individual victim of poverty rather than on the slum community and family and from the consequent failure to distinguish between poverty and what I have called the culture of poverty."

Since the publication of the term it has been used by government officials repeatedly when it comes into the education reform. It is used as a way to describe as urban areas in a way to ensure in some many square miles that will contain the issues that surround these people. How can we as fellow Americans say these people have the same opportunities as us? Especially when most Americans would never go or live there, but yet are ready to say "They can make it too."

Conclusion: The American Dream is impossible.


After reading con's post that includes a quote, by Marks, that favors my point, I have come to the conclusion that Con's main issues are the culture of poverty and lack of education. I say that I have come to the conclusion, because Con's style of debating is mainly copy-paste with hardly any elaboration on the subject.

I would like to remind all that as Pro, all I have to show is that the American Dream, that is, upward mobility according to ability and achievement, is possible. Not likely, not probable, just possible.

Are poverty and lack of education, an impenetrable barrier against upward mobility?

No they are not. Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Michael Jordan, Mary Kay are examples of people who succeeded without a college degree and some even without a high school degree. The link below has 100 examples of success without education. I am presenting another link of rags-to-riches stories. Keep in mind that those are extreme examples of people who, without money or education, reached millionaire status. How many stories have not been written about regular people who improved their lives through skills and determination who are not famous millionaires featured in articles?

It's true, the economy is suffering, but the key elements for upward mobility are still there:
Impressive GDP despite the economy
Purchasing power
Market size
Political stability
Legal framework
Relatively low cost for starting a business

Those are all ingredients that will allow an entrepreneurial person upward mobility. If the big corporations are failing, small and medium enterprises are not. More than 60% of new jobs are created by small businesses with more than 27 million new small businesses (less than 500 employees) in the US. Those small businesses have a success rate of over 69%, one of the highest around the world.

The American Dream, a result of determination, entrepreneurial spirit, and hard work, is alive and well.
Debate Round No. 2


In response to Pros statements of my previous arguments "copy and pasting," is providing evidence that clearly represents my argument and how American society, as well as Pro sees the upward mobility. The American dream is clearly not possible for all Americans and the media outlet provides great evidence to it. Why should I elaborate on texts that clearly states my argument?

Pro uses such examples of the upward mobility of a few famous people. My argument is what about the rest of the American people? As philosopher Harry Frankfurt argues that some people have more freedom then others, case and point, upward mobility some have the opportunity and some don't. Simply providing a few examples of a few people such as Bill Gates, does not provide an argument as does education and culture of poverty being a barrier to upward mobility or the American dream. Yes rags to riches stories happen, but the argument is the American dream being possible for all Americans. So then I ask Pro what are the barriers to upward mobility/ American dream? Why then are a large number of Americans just making ends meet or living in poverty? Most people answer with their lazy or its their fault but they are wrong!

As for the statistics provided by Pro in regards to the economy I do not see a current unemployment rate of 8.3, showing how entrepreneurship being alive and well. The growth or improvement to the numbers in small business will not fix such a problem or provide an impact on the economy.

The American dream is not possible for all.


Anayansi forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


lmeyer forfeited this round.


Anayansi forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


lmeyer forfeited this round.


Anayansi forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Anayansi 4 years ago
I have my first argument ready but I will post it either late tonight, or ealy tomorrow. After accepting, I realized that there is a timing problem. I am leaving for the mountains tomorrow, (where we have no internet) for Easter weekend, and I am afraid that I may not come back in time for posting the second round. So when I post my argument, I kindly request for my opponent to delay posting her answer as much as possible to give me time to come back.
Posted by TheDiabolicDebater 4 years ago
Definitely. The word "possible" makes it too easy.
Posted by Zaradi 4 years ago
Easy win for pro.
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