My American Dream is not a universal basic income. It's a job.

The "American Dream" is the opportunity to achieve success and fulfillment through hard work.  Some definitions, such as here, focus on the pursuit of happiness.  There is an underlying idea that "anyone" can achieve the American Dream, but this is false, and not because of any systemic bigotry.  Nor is income equality relevant to the American Dream, since income is relatively unrelated to level of happiness.  I am happier with income below the national average than I would be had I won the Powerball lottery last night, although I would prefer to be employed.

Nancy Pelosi thinks people with guaranteed medical insurance will quit their jobs and become photographers or writers, or start their own businesses, rather than being locked into a job.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thinks unemployed people, replaced by robots, will devote themselves to being more creative.  Unfortunately, most people don't have enough talent to support themselves with freelance jobs or artistic endeavors.  Maybe that's why a universal basic income sounds like a good idea.

The trouble with being a mediocre artist or freelancer is that we all want approval, affirmation, etc.  If we are unemployed and doing art, and no one buys it, or we are photographers and no one pays us for pictures, or we open businesses but find few or no customers, then we feel terrible.  No matter how tedious the paid job, at least we know that our work has a basic value to someone.  Free money from a UBI will not make us happier, even if it relieves stress somewhat because we can pay some of our bills.  Intrinsically, we all know when we've earned our keep rather than having it handed to us.  The UBI is just an expensive participation trophy for breathing.

I have been unemployed and seeking work as a software engineer for the last couple of months.  While I think I am reasonably competent as an opinion writer, I am not paid to do this, nor do I feel as though this is unfair.  If I were really good at writing, my books on Amazon would sell like hotcakes.  I will keep looking for paid work, even though I collect Social Security each month so I can pay my bills.  It, too, is a participation trophy, for past work.

My American Dream is that I should be able to find work instead of wondering why H-1B visa-holders and their spouses have jobs, some of which are in I.T.  If I work, I know I have value, and I don't have to worry about the government continuing to be able to send me those monthly checks.  A century ago, there were frontier areas where a person could go, clear land, and homestead, where government's protection and its interference were both absent, and monthly expenses were paid for with hard work rather than dollars.  I'm too old and infirm to do that at this point, so I keep looking for my happiness in doing work within my capabilities.

It isn't a house or wealth that I dream of.  It's not upward mobility for family.  It's not that any of the half-baked inventions in my head take off and make the world a better place.  It's a job, so I can feel independent in spite of paying taxes, because I wouldn't be a government dependent anymore.  That feeling of independence is my American Dream.

The "American Dream" is the opportunity to achieve success and fulfillment through hard work.  Some definitions, such as here, focus on the pursuit of happiness.  There is an underlying idea that "anyone" can achieve the American Dream, but this is false, and not because of any systemic bigotry.  Nor is income equality relevant to the American Dream, since income is relatively unrelated to level of happiness.  I am happier with income below the national average than I would be had I won the Powerball lottery last night, although I would prefer to be employed.

Nancy Pelosi thinks people with guaranteed medical insurance will quit their jobs and become photographers or writers, or start their own businesses, rather than being locked into a job.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thinks unemployed people, replaced by robots, will devote themselves to being more creative.  Unfortunately, most people don't have enough talent to support themselves with freelance jobs or artistic endeavors.  Maybe that's why a universal basic income sounds like a good idea.

The trouble with being a mediocre artist or freelancer is that we all want approval, affirmation, etc.  If we are unemployed and doing art, and no one buys it, or we are photographers and no one pays us for pictures, or we open businesses but find few or no customers, then we feel terrible.  No matter how tedious the paid job, at least we know that our work has a basic value to someone.  Free money from a UBI will not make us happier, even if it relieves stress somewhat because we can pay some of our bills.  Intrinsically, we all know when we've earned our keep rather than having it handed to us.  The UBI is just an expensive participation trophy for breathing.

I have been unemployed and seeking work as a software engineer for the last couple of months.  While I think I am reasonably competent as an opinion writer, I am not paid to do this, nor do I feel as though this is unfair.  If I were really good at writing, my books on Amazon would sell like hotcakes.  I will keep looking for paid work, even though I collect Social Security each month so I can pay my bills.  It, too, is a participation trophy, for past work.

My American Dream is that I should be able to find work instead of wondering why H-1B visa-holders and their spouses have jobs, some of which are in I.T.  If I work, I know I have value, and I don't have to worry about the government continuing to be able to send me those monthly checks.  A century ago, there were frontier areas where a person could go, clear land, and homestead, where government's protection and its interference were both absent, and monthly expenses were paid for with hard work rather than dollars.  I'm too old and infirm to do that at this point, so I keep looking for my happiness in doing work within my capabilities.

It isn't a house or wealth that I dream of.  It's not upward mobility for family.  It's not that any of the half-baked inventions in my head take off and make the world a better place.  It's a job, so I can feel independent in spite of paying taxes, because I wouldn't be a government dependent anymore.  That feeling of independence is my American Dream.