Quick Recap (week 1)

Let me recap a bit before going on.

I’m currently exploring the future of the American Dream.  Here’s what I’ve concluded so far.

  1. The American Dream is dead (or nearly so), and that is a tragedy for everyone.
  2. We need to reignite the American Dream for the 21st Century.
  3. However, to reignite the Dream, we need to find out how the economy of the 21st Century works.

So, what have we found out so far?   If you look carefully, you can see that there is a new economy emerging.

The best term I’ve come up with to describe it is the “direct economy” since it works at a person to person level.  Fortunately, this new economy has the potential to deliver economic improvement to participants at rates much faster (an order of magnitude faster) than the slow rates seen in the current economy.

How so?

  • First off, it cuts out traditional middlemen to a degree we’ve never seen before (from finance to corporate to government).
  • Secondly, it’s unbundled.  That means instead of one full featured job, we have seven part time jobs at the same time.  Instead of a cumbersome and expensive college degree…
  • Thirdly, it’s unstable/dangerous.  All of the old sources of stability (government, savings, pensions, family, etc.) are broken (or insufficient to the task).  An economic system this dynamic needs new sources of stability.

So, that’s where we are so far.  Follow on for more.

Join the movement to restore America's prosperity

Discussion — 6 Responses

  • Lenore Ealy October 26, 2013 on 1:33 am


    You may recall that we met at the military surgeon’s disaster response conference in Colorado a few years back. I asked you why bad apples have cascading effects but good apples don’t seem to. Have been thrilled to see your work with Resilient Communities and now with this new project as efforts to scale the positive externalities of creative action. Have you read Dick Cornuelle’s Reclaiming the American Dream (1965) or De-Managing America(1975)? Think you would find important and relevant ideas in both. The work we are doing to advance Dick’s ways of questioning and observing complements these new insights and observations you are making. Press On!


  • BenK October 26, 2013 on 8:27 pm

    I’m willing to consider that the American Dream is this or that only when I have a good working definition of the American Dream. What is your definition of the dream?

    I would presume that white picket fences are not an essential part of this dream; so what is and isn’t essential, what is dead and needs restoring, what is dead and wasn’t important?

    In the past, how many people dreamed the dream, how many of those achieved it? In the present? In the future?

    • John Robb BenK October 28, 2013 on 5:11 pm

      That’s the purpose this discussion. The dream needs to be based on a path forward that a) works — helps people achieve material and spiritual success if followed, b) possible — is in line with what it is possible/probable based on real world dynamics, and c) practical — accessible by anyone with a desire to do so.

      • BenK John Robb October 30, 2013 on 12:59 am

        Is the American Dream fundamentally about being better off than our parents? Or about economic independence to raise children in a healthful environment? Single-family housing? Freedom of Religion? Freedom from Tyrannical Government? The Tyrannical masses? The Tyranny of daily material want?

        A clear understanding of the desired outcome would be helpful.

        • John Robb BenK October 30, 2013 on 7:30 pm


          The American dream started with the Protestant work ethic — see Max Weber for more on this. This ethic remade classical capitalism (a system of merchant adventurers/financiers that had been around since the dawn of civilization but did almost nothing to improve the human condition) into a economic system that changed the world. No country was more transformed by or did more to market it than the US.