My title was scribbled beneath an article in the New York Times today (“Many Feel the American Dream Is Out of Reach, Poll Shows”) by Brigitte. The article reports on a NYT poll (of 1006 respondents, by telephone) suggesting that the population’s faith in “the American dream,” described as “work hard and become rich,” is held by the smallest majority yet, 64 percent, a twenty-year low. The poll also gave its respondents a choice. Was the problem “over-regulation” or “too little regulation,” the latter resulting in unequal distribution of wealth. Surprise: 54 percent chose over-regulation, 38 percent too little. The notion that our problems are due to over-regulation is one of the leading ideas promoted by the Right—whereas inequality is a chief critical thrust of the Left. I hadn’t read Brigitte’s penciled comments as I was reading, but her conclusion immediately came into my own mind too. Why? Experientially, anyway, over-regulation virtually never touches the individual living an ordinary life? Where and how would this idea arise? Are potholes caused by over-regulation? The rise of temporary employment? Layoffs? Unemployment benefits? The minimum wage? But yes. One hears it all the time in right-wing rhetoric.
One wonders what movies this sampling liked best? Their choices are Dumb and Dumber To, Gone Girl, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.