(USA Today) – No idea is more central to Americans’ outlook than the American dream — the belief that with hard work and the freedom to pursue your destiny you can achieve success and provide better opportunities for your children.

Historian John Truslow Adams, who coined the term, called it “the greatest contribution we have made to the thought and welfare of the world.” It has inspired millions of people from every corner of the globe to come here in search of liberty and opportunity.But the financial crisis, housing bust and Great Recession have caused more of us to worry that the American dream is out of reach.

For the vast majority of Americans, there is a sense that achieving the American dream is becoming more difficult,” wrote Mark Robert Rank, Thomas A. Hirschl and Kirk A. Foster in a new book, Chasing the American Dream.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, in announcing a new policy to provide employees with a college education, declared: “In the last few years, we have seen the fracturing of the American dream.”


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