Taxing the American Dream: An Unequal Path to Prosperity

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The American Dream: Taxation’s Toll on Prosperity

We all dreamt of money, being rich, owning extravagant cars and houses, and being married to a prince or princess as a child. Everyone desires a perfect life. This Dream is known as the American Dream, which is the belief that an individual will be successful in life if one works hard. For decades, achieving the American Dream has been an ideal for many Americans. Some may view The American Dream as having a white picket fence, while others believe it’s becoming a celebrity. The idea anyone can achieve financial stability through hard work is the American Dream.

However, Americans are lagging behind; Joseph E. Stiglitz further explains how the distribution of the American tax system is not fair for those striving to obtain the American Dream. The nature of economics depends on the stability of the state. The economic stability of Americans is at stake. Stiglitz reports that about 6 out of ten Americans believe the tax system is unfair, according to Joseph E. Stieglitz. Stieglitz goes further in-depth and discusses how the American tax policy targets those who are indeed of financial help and not the ones who can already support themselves financially. Due to the unfair distribution of taxes in America, many of those who seek or are in desperate need of financial help are being taxed more than the individuals who are considered rich, barely paying tax at all.

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Chasing the American Dream: Financial Barriers and Hope

A tax is a monetary financial charge by a governmental organization in order to fund various public expenditures. A failure to pay, along with evasion of or resistance to taxation, is punishable by law. Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. However, the burden of paying taxes has been distributed unfairly in numerous ways over the past decades. Stiglitz reports, “The richest 400 individual taxpayers, with an average income of more than 200 million, pay less than 20 percent of their income in taxes – far lower than mere millionaires, who pay about 25 percent of their income in taxes, and above these earning a mere 200,000 to 500,00 dollars”.

Stiglitz’s evidence includes more than just facts and data about individuals making 200 million versus 500,000 thousand; he’s implying those who make less money in American society or have a hard time supporting themselves financially pay a higher percentage of taxes than those who are financially stable or rich. He explains how rich individual taxpayers are only paying a small percentage of their taxes compared to those who are far lower than millionaires who have to pay a higher percentage of tax due to their lack of financial stability.

Furthermore, Stiglitz reports that 116 of the top 400 earners paid less than 15 percent of their income in taxes. Once more, he provides factual data supporting the fact the less money you make in American society, the higher percentage of taxes one individual will have to pay. Due to the unfair distribution of taxes, many Americans believe that the American Dream, by definition, is the ability to obtain financial stability through hard work and dedication, no matter what social status an individual comes from.

Beyond the White Picket Fence: The Unequal Quest for the American Dream

However, many do not have the same opportunities, financial and family support. Sadly, this is the case for a young girl named Robert; she is 18 years old and has tried her very best to obtain the American Dream but failed to do so. Her parents split up when she was merely in preschool, and she grew up in a broken and impoverished household. Robert did not grow up in the safest environment as well. She faced constant abuse and became consumed in the world of drugs in high school, ultimately making bad decisions.

Robert’s story is truly heartbreaking, and Robert D. Putnam goes further in depth about how Robert is only one of the hundreds or even thousands of children facing this dilemma over the past decades in Port Clinton. Putnam explains, “By 2011, the child poverty rate along the shore in upscale Catawba was only a one percent fraction of the fifty-one percent rate of the few hundred yards inland”. Putnam’s evidence shows how those in poverty who do not have the same opportunities and support as others may have struggled to obtain the American Dream.

On the other hand, a young boy with an identical background story to Robert’s was still able to obtain the American Dream even through the impoverished life he grew up in. Joseph grew up on the port side of town and worked two jobs to keep his family afloat. He worked seventy-plus hours, and he and his dad were unable to afford a car. Through hard work and dedication, Joseph was able to apply for financial aid in college.


  1. Stiglitz, J. E. (2012). The price of inequality: How today’s divided society endangers our future.
  2. Putnam, R. D. (2015). Our kids: The American dream in crisis. Simon and Schuster.

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Taxing the American Dream: An Unequal Path to Prosperity. (2023, Aug 24). Retrieved from

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