December 6

Student Debt

The increasing student debt has started to harm the American Dream and the way that the middle class lives. This is one of the reasons why the middle class is shrinking because college tuition in 2013 increased 50 percent since 2000. As you can see from the graph college costs have risen 257% from the early 1980’s. Increases in financial aid have helped but only for those with the most need but what about the middle class families who take out loans and mortgages to help pay for their child’s tuition because middle class families are not able to gain as much financial aid because they earn too much to receive financial aid. Though I understand that schools are trying to give the aid to the most in need many middle class families are close to the cut off price and struggle because of the lack of financial aid. The college world is starting to turn on the middle class. It has been calculated that the average rate of intergenerational mobility has decreased over the years. The rising cost of tuition and the strict hold on financial aid the middle class college students are suffering from finding a job and paying off their debt.

Data gained by outside resource:

NC State University. “How Much Has Tuition Really Increased?” CALS News Center RSS. NC State University News Center, 09 Jan. 2013. Web. 06 Dec. 2014.

 

 

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December 6

Ragged Dick

Ragged Dick Book Cover
Ragged Dick Book Cover

          Ragged Dick, written by Horatio Alger, considers the plight of the working class and how, if at all, it is possible to rise above their circumstances to ascend to middle and upper class statuses. Ragged Dick, the title character of the novel, is born into poverty and seems to be destined to remain impoverished. Dick, living hand to mouth, would squander his money from his job as a bootblack. However, through a series of opportunities and chance meetings of people, Dick is able to ascend to the ranks of middle class. Although Dick starts out in life seemingly destined to never rise above his poverty, he utilizes certain aspects of his character such as determination and honesty and couples those traits with chance meetings and opportunities to ultimately shake off his cloak of poverty and become a respectable man with profound potential. With the right qualities, opportunities, and character, Dick is able to assert himself into a higher socioeconomic class. Being popular and inserting yourself into society gives you more chances for opportunities to come your way. Still it depends on your character and personality to determine if you will take the chance to succeed or fail. Ultimately, Horatio Alger tells the story of a young man who, through hard work and determination, as well as a lot of luck and opportunities, is able to transcend the poverty to which he was born and elevate himself to a middle class status in which he could be comfortable, stable, and happy.

In the world today the American Dream is still obtainable though not like the book describes. The American Dream is more centered around the idea of economic stability than to reach the top tiers of the economic percentiles (talked about in an earlier blog). Though these days college has become a burden of debt that is necessary to be competitive in the job market. Which I will discuss more in my next post.

 

 

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September 15

Kevin Hart: The American Dream

This is not the original video or commercial it was deleted from youtube. I wrote this post for the commercial I originally posted one that related to the examples I gave.

I’ve been seeing this commercial a lot and hadn’t realized until today that it related to the American Dream. The first video that I saw was not as long and didn’t talk about things he didn’t do. When looking into the video more I found this longer version and knew I had to write a post on it. Making a distinction between what he did and didn’t do has made it pertain even more to class. The video shows all the ways that people can make it to the top; trying to be someone your not to fit in and making connections, though you may not like the person behind the connection. Then the commercial hits you with hard work the ultimate American way to make it to the top. Vitamin Water’s slogan is hydrate the hustle which started out for exercise purposes, with this commercial they are shifting their focus to broaden the spectrum to reach all social classes with the American Dream and hard work.

 

 

 

 

 

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September 10

Mumford and Sons: Music

This is a blog post that I had to submit to my music class blog and I wanted to share our first project with my blogging friends! Our assignment was to write liner notes for any album that we wanted so I chose Mumford and Sons because I already had their whole album and I loved every song on it!! Sorry for some of the cheesy language, I’m trying to learn musical language :)

 

 

Mumford and Sons Sigh No More

 

 

Mumford and Sons is a multi genre British band, labeled as folk rock but also sometimes called bluegrass, country, indie rock and many more. Their first album Sigh No More was released in the US in 2010. The album climbed the charts and won two BRIT awards. The bands designated leader Marcus Mumford (lead vocals, guitar, drum, mandolin) has added many of his own personal touches throughout the songs. From his Christian up bringing with his vicar father there are lines seemingly religious or faith based, seen in most of their songs. They have been harshly criticized for singing about hard times when they grew up in privileged families. Though Marcus himself did not experience first hand the hard ships that they sing of, his family’s non-profit church leads charity events, which he helped with when he was younger. To Marcus Mumford Old Crow was the starting inspiration into country music. Their name is slightly deceiving; though the lead’s name is Mumford the other members are not his sons. They came up with the name as a nod to “antique family business names” (Marcus Mumford1). With the album cover a picture of an old town shop, they used their name as the idea for the cover. One of their main points on topics of their songs is that they don’t have a set meaning nor do they want to. “We don’t want to be prescriptive in the way that people hear our music.  We are definitely prescriptive in the way we play it. Like amongst each other. But we don’t want to prescribe emotion or prescribe people’s reaction to it.” (Marcus Mumford2) Meaning they don’t share their inspirations to the public so many of the meanings to their songs are assumptions. A particular inspiration for their song Sigh No More was a Shakespearean play called Much Ado About Nothing; this play has a song titled Sigh No More. Some of the words mirror each other in the songs, both choruses are the same “Sigh no more”, “One foot in sea and one on shore”, and direct quotes from the play.3 The band is introspective; they have a way of scraping away your layers and showing yourself who you are or who you want to be.

 

 

 

Song: Thistle & Weeds

Written & Performed by: Marcus Oliver Johnstone Mumford, Edward James Milton Dwane, Benjamin Walter David Lovett and Winston Aubrey Aladar Marshall

 

The bands claims that “we’re fans of faith not religion” seem to mean that they do follow the bible; they just don’t want to be labeled as a specific religion. Though it does not have obvious religious words like God but there are hints throughout their songs. Thistle and Weeds has some underlying notes within it like “good seeds”, mention of sins, corruption, and an afterlife. The heavy vibes from the low notes and deep voices keeps the song powerful and dark.

 

 

 

Song: Awake My Soul

Written & Performed by: Marcus Oliver Johnstone Mumford, Edward James Milton Dwane, Benjamin Walter David Lovett and Winston Aubrey Aladar Marshall

 

They are soul searchers, as their songs proclaim. With Awake My Soul they plead for understanding and truth. I believe that the reference to their faith in this song is the line “you were made to meet your maker” showing their belief in a higher power. The word soul is mentioned a lot in their display of songs. Soul is the basic make up of faith because your beliefs and thoughts revolve around how you feel which is soul.

 

 

 

Song: After the Storm

Written & Performed by: Marcus Oliver Johnstone Mumford, Edward James Milton Dwane, Benjamin Walter David Lovett and Winston Aubrey Aladar Marshall

 

Again with After the Storm there are signs that hint to their belief in God. The visual you see of someone kneeling and looking up to the sky praying is vivid, plus the mention of grace brings their views into focus. This song shows the ups and down and hope in life. Another theme I have seen through their songs is the talk of death and uncertainty. They create songs that are easy to relate to with lyrics about not knowing what is ahead (After the Storm), strength and determination (After the Storm), finding yourself (Awake My Soul), being let down (Dust Bowl Dance, having hope (Thistle and Weeds), and hard times (The Cave).

 

Reflection

When people ask me what religion I am, I normally answer that I don’t follow a set religion. After doing the research on this band, I noticed that I might have subconsciously understood their views on faith through the lyrics. Their views on religion and faith are very similar to mine and after having done the research it makes me love this band even more. To have some semblance of closeness with the music and the feelings and thoughts behind it makes it feel more personal then it was before. Even before the assignment I had been obsessed with this album when it had come out. My best friend and I would listen to the whole album everyday on our way to high school my junior year. I have to add that I love their songs from Babel too, but since this was the first album that made me fall in love with them I had to use it.

 

Bibliography:

 

  1. Barooah, Jahnabi. “Marcus Mumford, Lead Singer Of Mumford & Sons: “I Wouldn’t Call Myself A Christian”” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 03 Apr. 2013. Web. 08 Sept. 2014.

 

 

  1. Patterson, Sylvia. “Mumford & Sons: “We’re Fans of Faith, Not Religion””Big Issue. N.p., 03 Oct. 2012. Web. 08 Sept. 2014.

 

  1. Lamont, Tom. “How Mumford & Sons Became the Biggest Band in the World.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 16 Nov. 2012. Web. 08 Sept. 2014.

 

  1. Powers, Ann. “Mumford & Sons Preaches To Masses.” NPR. NPR, 27 Sept. 2012. Web. 08 Sept. 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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September 6

IAD: Economic Inequality America

Economic Inequality

Sorry to steal your image Dr. Rycroft but this was the image that struck me the most out of our readings and searches I conducted online. I had known that economic inequality had a huge gap because I have seen this image before in a previous class. Though I hadn’t remembered correctly the magnitude of difference that the top 20 percentile of citizens and the rest of citizens had between one another. What struck me as funny was having seen this image before and still believing what most Americans thought. Though I can’t decide if the chart, showing the actual view, should be considered a bad sign because without unequal distribution of wealth there wouldn’t be a lower class or an upper class. Without those differences we would become a socialist nation which I haven’t determined if that is a bad idea either. I would love to hear peoples thoughts on this topic. I know I am very ignorant in discussions of these topics but hopefully through discussions in class and on the blog I’ll gain more sound perspective.

 

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September 5

IAD: American Dream

The song is titled Working Man by Imagine Dragons

I’m testing out some of the features and thought that I would add this as a learning experience/ entertaining/ chance to add a little personal information. I am personally a fan of Imagine Dragons and (fun fact) I have seen them in concert. I happened upon this song recently and it brought to mind the hope that some Americans and immigrants still have in the American Dream with lyrics like “Been a long time coming for the working man…….When the money is high, we can start to spend“. Bring up the hope and belief that comes with the American Dream.  Another striking lyric to me is “I think this life is darker then the view”. The view is the dream or the light at the end of the tunnel and I believe that the artist is implying that, like the American Dream, your hard work will eventually pay off.

American Dream (my opinion of the description)- when first created was about making it to middle class and having a steady content life, not about the material gains in life. With time comes change and the Americans description of the American Dream has grown to more materialistic views since the term was coined.

 

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August 11

Reason Why

Here’s a quick reason for why I created this blog: I am the owner of this blog and am a student at the University of Mary Washington. Creating a blog was a requirement for my freshmen seminar class called Inequality and the American Dream. We made one to bring up topics that we discus throughout the class. Though this is the main reason the blog was created, I have also created it to be a sort of journal of my time at UMW. Not about my social life but about the interesting topics and fun things that I do in my classes. I hope that others will join in to share their thought on topics or to share topics that would create interesting conversations!! I hope you have fun and enjoy this blog!!

 

 

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