To the Editor:
“It’s those entrepreneurs who are chasing the American Dream by running their own small businesses that we’ve got to look out for. They’re the ones taking the risk and hoping for the reward” wrote Eric Olson in his Editor’s Note of Jan. 26.
We agree entrepreneurs are chasing the American Dream. But what about their employees? Aren’t they chasing the American Dream, too?
We grew up in southeastern Michigan in the 1950s. In those days, “The American Dream” applied to workers as well as employers. Men and women who went to work – reliably, proudly, and productively – trying to build a better life for them and their families. A house with a yard; a new car every three years; the money to go out to dinner once in a while; paid vacation time to enjoy the parks, beaches, and byways of their beloved country.
This was a time when everyone remembered the years of World War II, when the country pulled together, as a group, to defeat a frightening common enemy.
Some of our families and neighbors were members of unions; some were not. In either case there was a common identity, a common bond. The American Dream was a collective dream. They were going to get there together.
Today, not so much. Today, the image of the entrepreneur is of a lone individual who is going to do it on his or her own.
When did America become a set of individuals, diligently working for their own profit, possibly shared with their families but stingily kept from their employees who, of course, are “only workers” who can be fired at will with no regrets or conscience? When did we stop respecting each others contributions to the common good? Labor as an important factor of production along with finance and management? When did we stop being a community?
Mr. Olson, the next time you write a column about business and commerce, remember that businesses involve employees as well as employers. Please, recognize that it is honorable to be a good worker and a loyal employee. That it’s possible to have dreams about your future even if you aren’t out there “risking it all” for profit but, rather, are working hard and buying insurance to make sure you don’t lose it all for your family if you don’t “make it big.”
Robert & Patricia Suchner