Doron Taussig ’99 has published a book that poses the question:
Did you earn what you have? Did everyone else?
The American Dream is built on the idea that Americans end up roughly where we deserve to be in our working lives based on our efforts and abilities; in other words, the United States is supposed to be a meritocracy. When Americans think and talk about our lives, we grapple with this idea, asking how a person got to where he or she is and whether he or she earned it.
Weaving together interviews with Americans from many walks of life—as well as stories told in the US media about prominent figures from politics, sports, and business—What We Mean by the American Dream (Cornell University Press 2021) investigates how we think about whether an individual deserves an opportunity, job, termination, paycheck, or fortune. It explores how various people, including dairy farmers, police officers, dancers, teachers, computer technicians, students, store clerks, the unemployed, homemakers, and even drug dealers got to where they are today and whether they earned it or not.