Why is the USA a dream land



For many, the USA is the dream land par excellence, while others could not imagine living there. The USA of course has both advantages and disadvantages compared to Germany. One could even differentiate these advantages and disadvantages according to population groups. For example, an unemployed person in Germany receives far more support than in the USA. On the other hand, the chances of getting rich in the USA are better. In order to recognize the advantages that the USA offers for "top performers" or "high potentials", we could actually ask ourselves what attracts foreign executives to the USA (especially German ones).


What attracts German entrepreneurs to the land of unlimited opportunities?


The framework conditions in both countries are characterized by the economic system of a market economy with a more or less social aspect. In the FRG, however, the social aspect goes too far for many. It is mostly those who are willing to perform in our society who complain about the lack of incentives due to high taxes or a climate that is hostile to investment and who consequently seek success abroad. But what exactly is better in the USA?

In order to get ideas for answering the last question, we will now draw on statements from Germans in the USA. First of all, there is the principle of performance, which is repeatedly cited by many. Michael Conrad, head of the Chicago advertising agency Leo Burnett, thinks that for customers, including Marlboro and McDonalds, performance is what counts, everything else is irrelevant. Horst-Dieter Esch also sees it that way, because the ex-con got a second chance in the USA to make a new beginning. Nobody was interested in their past. Other Germans praise the freedom to develop that they have in the USA. Star architect Helmut Jahn, the German citizens were too fearful and too fainthearted. His country is America: efficient and productive. Success is recognized, performance is rewarded. The creativity of the Americans, which many Germans miss, is also frequently mentioned. In addition, size and success are not a bad thing here, there is a positive business climate.

If you summarize it briefly, the advantages of the USA would be something like this: freedom instead of barriers, creativity instead of bureaucracy, will to perform instead of fear of bankruptcy.


But now it is probably time to list the disadvantages of a purely performance society, because the USA also has many problems. To get a feel for these problems, let's look at the life of an American who is not (yet) on the road to success.


The working poor


The example of the USA shows that a job does not mean prosperity or social security at the same time. The members of the class of the "working poor" have to realize this, although they have a job, even if it is not a highly qualified one, but are nevertheless pushed to the margins of society and depend on the help of social institutions such as the Salvation Army.

One of them is Jeff Bilyeu, 35. Coming from a middle-class family, he studied journalism only to later discover that the American dream of social advancement will remain a pipe dream for many. For four weeks he has been living in a Salvation Army accommodation, the temporary low point in his life, which he was able to finance with jobs in the service industry until recently. Although he wrote short articles for a music magazine every now and then after college and dreamed of a career as a musician, he had to drive out pizza and work as a bartender to support his family. After his wife left him and took their son with them, the social support from the state fell away and he could no longer pay for the apartment from his current job as a waiter.

Bilyeu doesn't want to blame others for his misery, but says himself: "I got it myself." Especially here in America it is easy to be successful. With this attitude he fits in well with the American view of the world, which is reluctant to label the poor as failures. At the same time, Jeff Bilyeu also had doubts; Nowadays life has become so hard that even someone who has always obeyed the rules can fail.

Despite all the adverse circumstances, Bilyeu has not yet given up and laboriously saved the deposit for a new apartment. For him, this is something like the last chance: "I'm getting older and either I'll live the rest of my life as I do now or I have to change."


This is just one example of the harshness of the American achievement society. Many Americans suffer the same fate as Bilyeu. The main reason for this polarization in society is the income gap between rich and poor. While the income of the highest earners rose by 16 percent in the eighties and nineties in the United States in the eighties and nineties, the earnings of the under quarter fell by an average of 7 percent - to 11,530 dollars. The US government has set the poverty line for a four-person household at an annual income of $ 15,142; 40 million US citizens live under it. The fact that more and more Americans belong to the working poor is mainly due to the many new cheap jobs in the service sector.

Nevertheless, the question arises where is the US headed?


The USA on the way to an apartheid economy?


What is the situation like in America? Income inequality is growing and the middle class is falling. There will be few rich and more and more poor as real wages stagnate or fall. The consequence is a reduction in the standard of living of single people and poorly paid families. Society becomes unstable because the social safety net is too full of holes to support everyone. If you compare the American worker with his counterparts in Western Europe or Japan, he does pretty badly. Unskilled workers in particular are affected by the fall in real wages. They are also least protected by the social network.

There are many reasons for the decline in real wages, but which one is actually responsible? Many think it is foreign trade (especially NAFTA) or immigration, but such arguments would be rejected by most economists. Equally popular reasons are the use of new technologies (e.g. internet) or the influx of women into the labor market. But even these arguments are too weak.

The decline of the trade unions, for example, would be one reason for the decline in real wages. Imagine if 30 percent of the private sector were still unionized as it was in the 1960s, instead of 11 percent today. Would there then be less inequality in pay? Yes. Research shows that around a fifth of the rise in income inequality can be traced back to the collapse of the trade unions.

How can the development towards an apartheid economy be stopped ?: There is only one antidote: higher real wages.

Many experts and politicians argue about the strategies that lead to this. Some believe that one should use the available redistribution instruments, while others believe that the "invisible hand" will solve the problem.


USA - land of extremes


Perhaps the impression has now arisen that we see the future of the USA in chaos and that nothing speaks for the American labor market or American work culture, but this is not the case. A cornerstone of the American Dream is "the pursuit of happiness". Everyone has the chance to be successful and get rich. In America this is much more likely than in Germany. Because the market economy in the USA is freer than in Germany, motivated and creative people have more opportunities to realize their goals. Performance, hard work and perseverance are just as important as a wealth of ideas and creativity. There are far fewer barriers to overcome. For example, a German entrepreneur (in Germany he had waited in vain for the building permit for his company for over 2 years) set up his company in the USA within 6 months. Today more than 1000 people work there. These are all jobs that Germany has lost through its bureaucracy.

In the USA you get recognition for your performance, while here you are much more likely to feel the envy of other people. Some of the people who are particularly important for an economy, the so-called "elites" or "top performers", are already moving to the USA. Nobody can blame them because there are better universities, greater freedoms (in economic terms) and, above all, better personal development opportunities. These people would stay in Germany when reforms finally took place. But the Germans are afraid of an Americanization of the economy. Why should one become quick, productive, efficient, creative and thus competitive when one can stick to the good old social market economy.

Finally, we have to tell you again about the latest developments in the American economy. The unemployment rate is below 5% and inflation is 3%. A combination that many economists thought was impossible. Productivity is increasing and even the problem children of the past, job insecurity and income inequality, are showing signs of improvement. A new TIME / CNN poll shows that 80% of the working population say they are not worried about their jobs (down from 69% in 1996). Income of families at all social levels is increasing (almost 5% last month). The poorest have the highest percentage increase. An excerpt from the article "Too Good To Be True?" From TIME magazine shows the mood in the USA: ..., the U.S. is enjoying its best economic and social health in 25 years. They're living longer, breathing cleaner air, drinking cleaner water. Crime is in free fall, with violent evildoing near a 22-year low, and the downtowns once given up for dead are bristling with coffe bars, green markets, life. "

The question, of course, is how long this will last. Some do not think for long, but others think that the USA has uncovered a great deal of potential by making the leap from an industrial to an information society and is therefore well equipped for the next millennium.

The future will show.