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Alex Schafer

Alex Schafer

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Published by: aschafe on Feb 10, 2011
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Schafer 1 Alex Schafer Mrs. FieldEnglish 4067 February 2011The Nightmarish Effects of Economic StatusWhile America has been depicted as a land of opportunity for centuries, much of thesupport for this idea is based upon idealistic views. Although the American Dream does exist for some, it often evades others due to factors such as economic status. Low economic status candamage one’s chance of achieving the American Dream by forcing him into crime, providingunequal opportunities, and increasing the gap between the rich and the poor.Poverty often urges people to commit crimes in order to obtain financial assets. Thesecrimes, more likely than not, will end up putting individuals in worse situations than they were in before. An impoverished person is much more likely to commit a crime than a wealthy person.With a lack of financial support, one may be willing to do anything in order to survive.Christopher Wildeman and Bruce Western support this idea in their article “Incarceration inFragile Families.” Wildeman and Western state that the “changes in imprisonment rate— commonly called mass imprisonment or the prison boom—have been concentrated among thosemost likely to form fragile families: poor and minority men with little schooling”(Wildeman andWestern). A good example of this comes from
 In Cold Blood 
in the form of Floyd Wells.According to Capote, “He had attempted several careers, as soldier, ranch hand, mechanic, thief,the last of which had earned him a sentence of three to five years” (Capote 159). Wells is avictim of hardships such as divorce, and has a history with the military. Without a viable source
Schafer 2of income, Wells resorts to crime in an attempt to further his financial status. This crime mayhave permanently damaged his chance of achieving his American Dream. Wells becomes avictim of the Nightmare while trying to achieve the Dream.Some individuals are provided with unequal opportunities due to their initial economicstatus. Unable to afford higher education, the need for income often forces individuals to assumelower income jobs, prohibiting them from climbing the financial ladder. Evidence of this comesfrom the University of California, Berkley’s article “The Effect of Parental Work History andPublic Assistance Use of the Transition to Adulthood.” According to the article, children whoare raised in households with below average income are much more likely to remainimpoverished in their adulthood. This parallels In Cold Blood in the form of Dick. Whendescribing the life of his son, Dick’s father says that he was “An outstanding athlete—always onthe first team at school.” He goes on to say that Dick was “A pretty good student, too, with Amarks in several subjects… After he graduated from high school—June, 1949—he wanted to goon to college… But we couldn’t do it. Plain didn’t have the money”(Capote 166). Dick seemsto be a promising individual, but he is unable to achieve his full potential without financialsupport. Without funds to go on to college he is forced to work a low paying job, which mayhave ultimately pushed him into crime. Even if financial aide or scholarship is available, it is notlikely that this could cover all of his education. Poor economic status can have other effects oneducation than a lack of funds. Evidence of this comes from “Educational Relationships andTheir Impact on Poverty,” in which the authors claim that their research explores the idea thatimpoverished children “are disadvantaged in their potential to learn by the extent and quality of their social networks and educational relationships”(Wikeley…). The idea is that children raisedin impoverished conditions see less value in education due to the attitudes of surrounding adults.
Schafer 3This under appreciation makes the impoverished children get less out of their education thansomeone of a higher economic status generally would. Initial economic status can be a major contributing factor to an individual’s success in their later life. With major business growing, itis more difficult for individuals to achieve their full economic potential and break the binds of  poverty. The same opportunity is no longer available for an entrepreneur to have a “rags-to-riches” story. According to Luke S.H. Wright in his article “The Death of the American Dream,”which expresses the ideas of Hunter S. Thompson, major corporations have caused “the housing bubble and crash, the inflation in the price of the commodity of oil that resulted in $4 per gallongasoline,” and other economic occurrences that have damaged the financial status of the lower class (Wright). The power of major corporations has aided in the formation of a gap between therich and the poor, and it continues to grow. According to the Census Population Report, the percent of Americans that are in poverty is increasing over time. The relationship between theClutters and Dick and Perry serves as a good analogy. In
 In Cold Blood 
, the Clutters stand for something that Dick and Perry cannot achieve. They are a well-to-do family with an establishedfarm. Dick and Perry have struggled and lead unfulfilling lives while the Clutters have beenvery successful. Dick and Perry commit they will likely never achieve what the Clutters have.Further support for the idea that a gap is growing between the rich and the poor comes fromDaniel A. Sandoval’s article “The Increasing Risk of Poverty Across the American Life Course.”In this article, Sandoval discusses the idea that not only the poverty rate is increasing, but alsothe likelihood of someone experiencing poverty at some point in his adult life (Sandoval). Thisincrease may be due to the new ideas of social norms. Individuals want the nicest thingsregardless of if they can afford them or not. People take out loans that they will not be able to pay for when the money is due. This is also supported by banks that will give loans regardless of 

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