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Equality Is Only a Concept

In America

We as American citizens are taught by the Declaration of Independence that All men are created equal. (Irish, 748). [is this the ideal opening sentence?] Through this ideal, we infer that we each have an equal opportunity to live The American Dream by acquiring wealth and power by paying our dues and working hard. [P may want to excise Equal since the point of the paper is that there is no equality for American dream.] Unfortunately this is a myth. The majority of America s wealth is held by an elite upper class that exploits its workers and controls the government in order to protect and acquire more money for itself, [might want to break sentence up here]and because this elite is so unwilling to share its wealth, it is unrealistic for most Americans to have dreams of gaining large amounts of money or power unless some radical changes, many of which are ironically considered to be anti-American, occur.

When discussing the huge differences between the wealthy and the rest of the population Marian Irish, author of The Politics of American Democracy, states that American federalism has had devisive and seperative tendencies (144). This is very true in our society because individual goals are stressed instead of actions that would most benefit others. [Why? Source? Perhaps This is may not be the best way to start sentences.] Consequently, those who are able to acquire large amounts of success through the business world must be extremely focused on these individual goals.[Perhaps Would is better than Must here.] It is also in the best interest of them and their family to keep obtaining new wealth for future generations.[For is better than of]It is in their interest to get as much work out of their work force while paying them as little as possible, therefore making it extremely difficult (almost impossible)for members of the working class to become a member of this executive elite class. [G Run-on?] As a result the wealth of America is very unequally distributed. As a matter of fact, the upper one percent of the American population is so wealthy that it is worth more than the combination of the wealth of the entire lower ninety percent of the people (Henslin, 260). [P Semicolon?] This is appalling when taking into account that this one-percent of the population would have nothing without the working class that actually makes, sells, and buys the products from the companies that are owned by these elite capitalists. [No hyphen required]

As a result [P Comma] people born into this upper class, unless the entire economy would collapse, are almost guaranteed to be extremely wealthy and powerful while only in extremely rare cases, are people able to cross over into this elite group. Despite this, American history is full of rags to riches stories such as the lives of Colin Powell and Abraham Lincoln. Colin Powell went from being born into a poor, black, immigrant family in Harlem [New York s Harlem?] to becoming the highest-ranking military officer in the United States, while it is said that Abraham Lincoln eventually became president despite being raised in a one-room log cabin. Stories such as these, where people become greatly successful despite being born in poverty has been referred to as The American Dream . These stories are so popular because they give hope to all classes of American citizens that through determination and hard work, they too can benefit from similar success. [may want to add that it appears to be merely propaganda .] Harlon Dalton, author of Horatio Alger argues against this ideal of The American Dream because it down plays the roles of race and social class in America. This serves to maintain the racial pecking order (323) by placing blame on individuals instead of looking at the social factors that can attribute to financial failure.

These America Dream stories only tell about the exceptions to the rule. There are countless examples of people who work hard their entire lives just to survive and never see anything close to the success of Colin Powell and Abraham Lincoln. My grandfather, for example, was forced to drop out of school in the forth grade in order work any odd jobs available so he could have food to eat. [S fourth ] He told me stories of being a coal miner before the union existed. [G capitalize Union?] He described working twelve to fourteen hour days of strenuous manual labor while constantly breathing coal dust in mines that had no safety regulations what so ever. [S Whatsoever is one word] After a days work he would lay on the back porch covered with coal dust, sometimes for hours, until he could harness enough energy to crawl on his hands and knees through the back door and into the bath tub. [G Days is possessive] For all of this work, he and his co-workers were paid only a few cents a day in script (script was a type of money issued by coal companies that could only be spent in company stores, ensuring that the small amount that the companies paid the miners would have to be spent in the stores the company owned. [run-on] This ensured that the coal companies would keep getting richer while making it impossible for the miners to even earn valid money.

My grandfather [comma] along with millions of others never acquired wealth or power despite working harder than many of us can even imagine. For this reason it angers me to hear people such as Colin Powell make statements such as, If you work hard, do the best you can, take advantage of every opportunity that s put in front of you, success will come your way. (Blue and Naden, 318), instead of admitting that when considering how our society is structured, they were extremely lucky to even be given an opportunity that could possibly lead to such power and prestige. [G Run-on. Break it into two sentences. May need slightly more source information to back your claim.]

One possible solution to the unequally distributed funds would be to heavily tax the one-percent of the population instead of taxing those who are less fortunate. This practice, however, is easier said than done. [ However is somewhat redundant] This is because it requires a large amount of money to run the type of campaign needed to be elected into a political office (especially on the national level). [ This is , again maybe not the best way to open the sentence] Candidates are forced to raise money for expenses such as travelling and advertising. Individuals provide the majority of this money, according to Karen Foestel of Congressional Quarterly Weekly, and most of these donations are in the form of soft money, a term used for donations that are unregulated by the government. [May want to restructure slightly, put the According to first and candidates second] She also states that There s only a small number of people who can afford to give the money that makes a difference in elections (one-tenth of one percent of the American population) (2). While Eric Schmeltzer, Spokesperson for Public Campaign (a non-profit organization devoted to campaign reform) stated that he was concerned that Those who pay the piper call the tunes (Foerstel, 2). With this in mind it doesn t seem very likely that politicians, even the few who are not themselves from upper class families, will place such a large tax on the people who made it possible for them to become elected in the first place. [P add comma or semicolon at some possible points]

Not all governments, however, stress the importance of individual goals over the goals of society as a whole. [Isn t the focal point exclusively the US government though?] Communist and socialist beliefs stress the equal distribution of wealth to all working members of society. Ironically, these views have been labeled throughout history as being as being anti-American and a threat to democracy. [Why ironically?] The facts concerning the extremely unequally distributed wealth in America gives reason to believe that these ideas are actually a not a threat to democracy and America but are instead a threat to the one percent of the American population that controls the wealth and power.

The unequal distribution of revenue is a complex problem with no simple answer. This problem, however, does not exist only in America. [Tell where else it goes on.] Carl Marx, who is considered by The Wall Street Journal to be one of the three greatest modern thinkers, believed that class conflict is the key to human history. [S Karl Marx, not Carl] He stated that the bourgeoisie (capitalists who own the means to produce wealth) are in constant conflict with the proletariat (the exploited working class) and that the only way the struggle can end is when the working class unites against the bourgeoisie. Marx stated that this would be the only way that a classless society could be achieved. A society free of exploitation in which all individuals will work according to their abilities and receive according to their needs (Henslin 12). The possibility of this happening sometime in our nation’s future is the only hope America possibly has of being a nation where all of mankind is truly considered equal. [is it truly the only way? Anything else to back this up?]


1. Henslin, James. Society, A Down to Earth Approach. A Viacom Company. Needham Heights, Massachusetts, 1997.

2. Foerstel, Karen. Interest Groups Seek Best Value for Copious Campaign Dollars. Congressional Quarterly Weekly. Pp. 32-35, 12/12/98.

3. Irish, Marian Doris. The Politics of American Democracy. 1968.

4. Blue, Rose and Naden, Corinne. From Colin Powell: Straight to the Top. Rereading America 4th Edition. Ed. Colombo, Gary, Robet Cullen, and Bonnie Lisle. Boston: Bedford Books, 1998. 314-319.

5. Dalton, Harlon. Horatio Alger. Rereading America 4th Edition. Ed. Colombo, Gary, Robet Cullen, and Bonnie Lisle. Boston: Bedford Books, 1998. 320-326.

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