Terry Paulson

If Alexis de Tocqueville were to have written Democracy in America today, he might have shared an entirely different perception of America. He would have found too many of our citizens suffering from the depression of our age--"Learned helplessness." Rather than believing that they have what it takes to invent their own future and claiming the mantle of self-reliance and earned opportunity that made America great, they look to government for support.

America was built on "inalienable," God-given rights that for the first time in recorded history affirmed that all men are created equal. An individual's fate was not determined by who his father or country of origin was, but by his own freely chosen pursuit of his own ambitions.

In Thomas Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence, he used the word "property" instead of "pursuit of happiness." Americans wanted the freedom to apply their own talents, character and initiative to produce the unequal outcomes they earned in their own "pursuit of happiness." As a result, we've beckoned to those in the world willing to dream to come, work hard, and share in the limitless opportunities our country offered. And they came.

Americans railed against confiscatory taxes. They were a strong, confident people who unleashed the most powerful economy in history. They weren't enticed by the egalitarian spread of socialism and communism. They didn't hate the rich; they wanted to join their ranks. Why? Because they knew of millions who had bettered their lot in this great country.

While our mainline news focuses on negative news and what's wrong with America and many churches clamor for social justice and policies of redistribution, the American Dream is sold as an outdated myth! "Experts" say that "trickle-down" economics doesn't work.

But they can't refute the facts that a growing economy does raise all boats and that becoming "rich" in America is not a closed private club. Empirical evidence shows that people still move up and down the earnings ladder. Michael Cox and Richard Alm of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas published "By Our Own Bootstraps" analyzing the income of "poor" Americans over time.

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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