Dollars and Sense: Money and American Identity Essay
The sense of the dollar as it is interpreted in the daily American life and the overall culture forms the main stay of this discussion. The American culture is as old as the history of America and it is shaped by the daily events that have undergone many changes over the years. Using the definition of culture as the overall way of people’s life in society, the sense of the dollar borrows heavily from the meanings that the society has attached to it. The American dream which again is defined by the culture is responsible for the desire to acquire more money in order to achieve the American status.
The way in which the American identity is shaped through the use of money and how it is expressed through the use of money will also be explored. It is evident that the identity of the Americans is dependent on wealth, power and class which are all determined by money, the dollar. In the exploration of the American dream which emphasises on the state of having and not having money, the losing and the desire to have money will be brought into this view. Through the American dream, one loses only lose
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He argues on the achievement of nation’s identity that is liberal in an effort to reduce the problems that are associated with bad capitalism (Garry 5).. The works of Gerhard Falk on Football and American identity relates to the film titled “The Million dollar baby” will be explored as it involved its major character who were struggling to realize their dreams in sports (Boxing). The works of Henry Ford as well as Nickel and Dimed will be reviewed. The last two sources are some of the readings that are given in class (Ford 14).
The ways in which the identities and relationships are defined through money and possessions will be looked into. The nature of ideals of justice and equity and how they function within (and against) the capitalist ethos will be discussed. At the end of this exploration, the insights into the ways in which money circulates and functions in America should be portrayed. The nature of wealth acquisition in the bid to achieve the coveted status in the American society and the impacts that may have on the general society will be the main purpose of this analysis.
In return, the spending and consumption modes of the respective students and the sources of income should be portrayed. This will enable the subjects to see how such concepts translate into routine, daily transactions, as well as formations of identities and relationships. In the modern world context, money has been put in the fore front by every nation and America portrays this impact greatly. Through the desire to have money people gave done evil and ills to people which have been affected through the modes of capitalism that the economy of American has adopted.
The sense of the dollar has been inflicted throughout the daily lives of the America since it is the medium of exchange that the country mainly uses. This context seeks to explore on the sense and the importance of the dollar in the lives of the many in America. In the statement of James Caesar in June 3, 2008 on Bradley report as portrayed in the website http://www. bradleyproject. org/bradleyprojectceaser. html, the sign of the dollar is interpretive of American national identity and unity. It is with no doubt that America is diversified.
The perturbing aspect is that she is not a victim of tribalism and ethnic clashes as seen in many other countries where its people are different in culture and beliefs (Caesar). On the back side of the American dollar is the image of Great Seal. In addition, an eagle whose beak has a banner reading “E Pluribus Unum” to mean from many one” is present. It also implies “from diversity unity. ” This has been fostered as the national motto of the Americans and are viewed responsible for the unity that in turn has enabled free of conflict diversity.
Bradley project according to James Caesar poses two major stances on the attitudes of the Americans towards the national identity. The argument on the first stance seeks to identify whether the national identity is a concept shared by the Americans on the basis of culture, values and beliefs (Caesar). The responses that were gathered reveal that in every ten respondents selected for the study, approximately eight and/ or more answered in the affirmation of this proposition.
In spite of the fact that there is the existence of a variety of cultures as well as ethnic groups in America, the assertion that that there is uniqueness in the culture of the Americans which dictates the meaning of being American was supported by more than two thirds of the respondents. The argument on the second stance portrays the worry of the Americans that the common identity does not support unity. In response to this survey, 63% of the respondents revealed their fear that the shared national identity was at its losing ends.
According to them, the common American identity was growing weak while the unity was threatened by the forces of capitalism and the fight to realize the American dream. In this bid, people have grown selfish for their own good and all what is portrayed as in the works of Henry ford is self love. Further in support of the sense of the dollar and the uses of money in defining identity in this context, the cultures has shaped the individuals to live, age and die in a particular way. For instance, at the age above thirty five years, the worries are based on what an individual leaves behind for the following generations.
This is in terms of treasures which portrays the American sense of national identity. The values in the American society vary with age. 57% of the Americans between the age of 18 and 34 are portrayed to have many doubts probably because they have not yet achieved their dreams as per the American culture. On the contrary, 80% of those who are above the age of are open hearted in giving the treasures they have accumulated over the years to the education sector to support the learning of all American citizens irregardless of their ethnic identity.
Further in this study, 96 percent of population selected for the study nods to the importance of future America in its all aspects ranging from political, education and in business. They culture of the American society is future oriented. This is to imply that they do everything with the aim of creating a better tomorrow for the generations yet to come. In an effort to create equity in all spheres of development, national identity is achieved but further to these there is a notable crisis in its identity.
This is because, no matter how much they try to create a universal identity through the support of national forums, there is still distinctions in the social class and possessions of wealth. Otherwise, if all people were equal, there would be no rich or poor people. According to Wolfe in his article titled American Anomie: Money and the American Dream The words of Plato are quoted as follows, “Virtue and wealth are balanced against one another in the scales; as the rich rise in social esteem, the virtuous sink” (Wolfe 2).
This in regard to the American national identity is at logger heads. All people cannot be equal and as Durkheim asserts, the human nature never knows the meaning of satisfaction. The more one has, the more the desire to have more. It thus makes it impossible for the low status and the poor individuals in the society to rise up the social identity and status ladder. The rich continues to be rich while the poor continues to be the poor. Greed is not a positive virtue and most of the rich people not virtuous.
The virtuous are poor because they have values to upload, a national identity to protect and a culture to preserve. Further in the reference of the works of Durkheim on the aspect of anomie, in the long run, individuals are not attached to the sense of collectivity. In the American context, a person feels worth of a status if it’s solely preserved at an individual level and not in a communal sense. Through the American dream, there involves an individual struggle in the achievement of the dream (Wolfe 5).
The use of money and the dollar sense in defining the identity of an individual has been portrayed in the American society. People have adapted to using the available means of which one of them is money to maneuver their way towards the achievement of targets and objectives. In the past day America, money was solely used as a tool in exchange. This is the old sense of the dollar in the American markets. The transactional sense of the dollar has shifted to being a social tool and it has been used to build a sustainable solidarity in the capitalist world.
The pursuit of money, the dollar, stands as the main platform where interactions within the society can be grounded in the achievement of the goals and the objectives of the other individuals, the national identity sense (Wolfe 6). An example to expound on the meaning of money in the American context is in situations of a businessman and human person; they can achieve their goals through the accumulation of wealth. Money in this case creates a base where two very different persons can stand on identical values and interests. The environment created is viable for unity.
Money has transformed into everything, it can solve problems without people in disputes coming together. Money speaks the language of the powerful and it serves the interests of the rich. According to Marks as quoted in McLellan work, he asserts that money is powerful to change, “…fidelity into infidelity, love into hate, hate into love, virtue into vice, vice into virtue, slave into master, master into slave, stupidity into intelligence and intelligence into stupidity” This quote is found in the work of McLellan (McLellan 119).
A review of Matthew Warshauer article titled Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: Changing Conceptions of the American Dream the relationship between the money and the American dream are explored. From time immemorial the Americans struggle to achieve their dreams which encompass success, wealth and fame by working hard and asserting prudence. This was the perception of the traditional American dream that was engrossed in the lives of successful American who saw their fame and wealth through devoted hard work. This drastically changed with the dawn of industrialization in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The dream experienced eroding effects that were to impact forever in the American society later. In stead of hard work and striving to acquire wealth the right way, people realized another philosophy of getting rich quickly and this where the problem began. In modern world, brains are at work and people are robbed of their wealth by others who are out to “get rich quick” as passed by the industrialization era. The most obvious but tricky way such as, big-jackpot state lotteries, large-prize television game shows and compensation lawsuits are on the leading front. Casinos have also seen people fall from grace to grass.
In these efforts to acquire wealth easily, the creativity and the innovativeness have been killed. The people no longer want to think and there is worry over who will be the thinkers of tomorrow and who will pass over legacy to the generations to come? Taking a critical look at “Material girl” a lyric by Madonna, the essence of the dollar in the American identity is revealed. Fame is gained by individuals through money or alternatively through possessions that money can buy. People are obsessed with having everything and the heart of man is portrayed as unsatisfied.
For instance the attire that Madonna wore in the video was a commodity in the sale of the famous things of rock and roll. The costume was estimated to be ? 60,000-80,000. This was not the only, he gold American express card which is all implications of wealth, fame and money. And how’s this for a piece of Madonna history, you can also bid on her gold American Express card (cut in half of course) that she used during the late 1980s. In her song of the 1990’s, Madonna acknowledges the presence of the material needs of the world as she sings, “we are living in a material world.
” On the other hand, the million dollar baby includes sports in boxing and the protagonist in the film struggles to win the championship and cares little of the opponent whom he breaks his neck in order to win. The entire struggle is for money. The evils of acquiring money are much beyond our imagination. A look at the global financial crisis shows that inflation and economic depression has caused the poor fortune. By loose meaning, it’s evil to have something that creates more problems than the solution for the existing and/ or the upcoming problems.
The standard of living has gone high and very little is done to contain this situation. For instance, many factories created by capitalists systems are aiming at making more profits. This was witnessed in the part of last year and early this years when the oil prices kept on uncontrollably increasing. The implication brought by this to our normal living is enormous. People were laid-off their jobs by airlines, factories because oil as the sole energy source had to increase product prices and so on. All these difficulties came to being in the name of creating profits.
It is also surprising to note that even in the drug factories no body is concerned about the sick. The American society is an example of an economy, which has successfully practiced Oligarchic capitalism. This type of capitalism has molded America into being the greatest capitalistic success story in the world. This has boosted America’s economy through giving its investors absolute freedom, recognizing the property ownership rights and responsibilities which are major characteristics of entrepreneurial capitalism.
The America’s government supports many of its upcoming entrepreneurs with credit facilities among other important incentives, which contributes a great deal to their success On the other hand, and as supported by Ford (2006) the if US has to positively benefit or rather if the innovative entrepreneurship is to be of great benefit to the economy, then the governance must allow and give opportunities to small companies and/ or businesses to grow and thrive.
US need to reconsider its position on the innovative entrepreneurship and its relationship with the big firm since entrepreneurship acts as the driving wheels towards the growth of big firm economies. This means that there is a good reason for making all the firms to instigate the need for remaining ahead in business by being innovative beyond 21st century. In fact the reasoning behind this ideology is that any economy may thrive in the presence of radical innovation e. g. smaller firms that may be not be willing to prevent their markets may be in good position to support the economy in places like United States.
High ranking economic powers of the world started from the scratch. For instance, a country like Japan had a long history of wars, in particular the World War II that saw the economy failed to take off. After offering greater opportunity to creativity as well innovativeness among the population, many people ended up securing jobs. If any country’s economy is to grow and meet the standards of developed nations, equal opportunity should be given to the existing types of entrepreneurs at all levels of the economy. The focus should not be on those who have the money (the haves) but to all.
Poverty is the mother of invention and if the have nots gets the required attention, the society will sing the same song of success, fame and cultural identity Work Cited Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel and dimed: on (not) getting by in America. West Bengal, Kolkata: Metropolitan Books, 2001. Falk, Gerhard. Football and American identity. Philadelphia: Haworth Press, 2005. Ford, Henry. My Life and Work. Filiquarian Publishing, LLC. , 2006. Garry, Patrick. Liberalism and American identity. Ohio, US: Kent State University Press, 1992.