Is The American Dream Really Dead?


Last month, a professor of economics at the University of California, Davis made some headlines by basically asserting that there is no American dream. It’s a myth. He crunched the numbers, supposedly disproving it. Hmm. My dad used to always say, “Did you ever hear about the statistician who drowned in a river, the average depth of which was 6 inches?”

KOVR-TV interviewed professor Gregory Clark about his findings. He declared: “America has no higher rate of social mobility than medieval England or pre-industrial Sweden. … That’s the most difficult part about talking about social mobility is because it is shattering people’s dreams.”

Yet America has many “rags to riches” stories. The rest of this article is dedicated to one such case.

Leo Raymond was born in a Faribault, Minnesota, farmhouse Sept. 24, 1921. That town is about an hour south of the Twin Cities. He was one of six children — three boys, three girls. The farmhouse didn’t have electricity when he was growing up, nor did it have indoor plumbing.

Leo had to walk to his one-room schoolhouse, which was a mile away. One of his sons used to quip, “He had to walk uphill, both ways.” But truly, he had to walk to and from school every day, even when it was really cold. One February, the temperature never got above minus 20.

Even though that one-room schoolhouse from first to eighth grade was so rudimentary and simple, he got a first-rate education compared with any modern education. His incredible abilities in math and grammar were made secure in that small room.

He was so sharp as a youngster that he skipped second grade, and his mother, a retired schoolteacher, decided to save what paltry money she could to help create a college fund for little Leo. One version of his obituary says that was “a good thing because he hated doing farm chores and couldn’t wait to shake the cow manure off his shoes and see what the big city had to offer.”

Leo became the first in his family to go off to college. He attended the University of Minnesota. This was in 1938, when he was 16. He graduated with a degree in economics in 1942.
Continues on BarbWire 

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