HORATIO ALGER, FAREWELL: The End of the American Dream by Celeste MacLeod

HORATIO ALGER, FAREWELL: The End of the American Dream

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The peculiarly American fairytale personified by Horatio Alger--that with hard work and ingenuity, any American can get rich--has had its ups and downs; and though it has currently fallen on hard times, obituary notices may be a bit premature. MacLeod has a hard time distinguishing between the ""dream"" and the reality, so her highly impressionistic account of the current scarcity of jobs and the ""new migrants""--young people moving around the country in search of work--satisfies her that the dream is over. But MacLeod's main concern, it turns out, is not with the ideological or cultural aspects of the question after all. Sporting some pseudo-sociological non-categories like the ""affluent"" one-third of the population versus the ""nonaffluent"" two-thirds, MacLeod's text is mainly a pitch for jobs creation in the public sector as a matter of public policy, given the technologically-induced jobs shortage in the private sector. To this end, she throws in a lot of superfluous detours, from types of migrants (hobos, tramps, etc.) to a plea for providing youth hostels to house the migratory young. And while her emphasis on mobile youth is understandable, she avoids the relatively stable non-white ghettoes with their masses of excluded workers, young and old. At bottom, MacLeod isn't quite sure what her argument is, and that doesn't hold out much hope for anyone else.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1980
Publisher: Seaview--dist. by Harper & Row