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Essay on How Success Is Measured in America and Assumptions About Wealth

7 pages
1815 words
Carnegie Mellon University
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Success refers to what human beings have a desire to settle towards. The word success is very powerful and has a very rich meaning. It involves the attainment of goals and other measures of what the modern society deems to be a success. Success can have a lot of emotion to it. It is accompanied by growth, learning and professional development. Americans have developed their standards on how success can be measured which may not necessarily be comparable to measures used by people elsewhere in the world.

A person is deemed successful when they go through the three paths which lead to a happy life. These trails are a good life, the pleasant life, and the meaningful life. A satisfying life involves having immense pleasures in life and having the resources to amplify those pleasures. A good life involves re-crafting your friendships, work, leisure, and love life to utilize your strengths to the maximum and spend time in the values you possess to attain a precise balance in your life. On the other hand, a meaningful life entails utilizing your strengths to serve something that is much bigger than yourself (Sachs 65). While in pursuit of happiness you have to make your choices and actions count. You can achieve this quickly by making the right decisions for the person you want to become, and the kind of experiences you create in your life. You have to offer your best whenever your best is what is required of you. It may also come down to sharing the exceptional gifts you possess with the world, to be more specific, your world. This will be crucial in overcoming the daily tribulations and trials that you encounter in your life. Another proven way to add meaning to your life is the identification of a good cause that you believe in and stick to it. These three paths that lead to happiness can be used as a measure of success. After all, one can only be truly happy when he is satisfied with what they have achieved in life.

The credit card debt is also a major way in which success is measured in America. A lot of finances that families are supposed to be saving or investing to have a decent future end up in the hands of the countless credit card companies. These companies charge absurdly high-interest rates and consequently require the borrowers to pay back over a long period. This greatly increases the cost of everything they buy hence they end up failing to make any decent progress. Most Americans end up burdened by their credit cards for the rest of their lives. Data from the Federal Reserve shows that an average American household carries a substantial credit card debt of not less than $15, 000 (Furchtgott-Roth 68). In such regard, a person who carries credit card debts cannot be considered to be successful. Such people struggle with their finances and cannot be able to afford some of the luxuries and leisure that other people with unlimited finances can enjoy. A limited number of people are lucky enough to overcome such debt. Overcoming such liabilities is only the first step towards financial freedom and success in life.

Americans also like to use economic equality as a measure of success. Economic equality happens when there is a fair apportionment of goods and services among the diverse people in an economy (Krugman 585). In most circumstances, economic inequalities have resulted in other people becoming rich and successful while others are left behind. Between 1979 and 2006, the top tax rate on earned income was cut in half; the tax rate on capital gains was cut almost as much; the tax rate on corporate profits fell by more than a quarter (Krugman 595). This means that the lower income earners are taxed more to cover the tax cuts on the rich. This has proven to be a high mountain to climb for lower income earners hence their chances of success become even slimmer. In effect, a fraction of people is considered highly auspicious while others can barely afford to be financially independent. In places around the world where there is economic equality, the gap between the rich and the poor is minimal. Such countries can be considered successful because its people have equal opportunities. Therefore, economic equality is a measure of success because an economy cannot be considered successful unless all her people are moving in the right financial direction.

Profitable investment ventures have often been used as a measure of success in America. Such investment ventures are what forms part of the net worth of an individual. The net worth is the complete measure of the wealth of a person. It comprises what you are left with when you use everything you own to pay all of your debts (Sachs 45). It is important to have profitable investments because they contribute to your net worth. Some of the net income from the investments can be used to offset debts. Investments may range from company shares, Personal businesses, real estate ownership, and partnerships. However, sometimes the net worth may vary with income, age and many other factors (Sachs 46). For instance, negative net worth is not so bad for the young family who has just bought their first house. This is because they have many more years ahead of them that they may utilize to improve their net worth. However, an older family needs a good cushion in investments that exceed the debts by a comfortable margin. When you can manage your investments efficiently, in a manner that they are self-sustainable, you may be deemed to be successful in America.

Additionally, many Americans have often used a good education as a measure of the success of a person. It enables one to think for them-self and communicate intelligently. Persons without a decent education often have a challenge securing jobs. Their earning potential is also restricted because they find promotions in employment challenging to come by. Education may come through the academic curriculum or be street smart.' Brandon King argues that some people are deemed street smart but are poor in school (King 121). Such people usually have a good chance at being successful in life because of their hands-on experience on real life matters. Schools and Colleges have failed to engage these street smarts and try to introduce their knowledge into the school curriculum. King goes further to say, Schools and colleges overlook the intellectual potential of street smarts: the fact that we associate those street smarts with anti-intellectual concerns (King 122). There is no greater education than self-education. It provides a perspective on certain things in our surrounding. It enables us to take a step back and examine our lives, then learns from experience. Therefore, an individual with a good education is considered more likely to be successful because they can make better choices in life.

Historically, the credit score of Americans is also used to determine their level of success in life. It refers to a statistical number that shows how creditworthy a consumer is deemed. Calculations are based on the consumers credit history. The range of a credit score falls between 300 and 850 (Furchtgott-Roth 41). A high credit score shows that an individual repays their debts on time and has few debts hence they are more financially trusted by lenders. A financially trustworthy person is easily equated as a successful person because they have shown that they have a constant flow of income. Those individuals with a low credit score suffer the burden of high-interest rates on mortgages and shorter repayment periods. Hence, they tend to be inflexible in their daily expenditures due to reduced financial freedom. Therefore, Americans with a higher credit rating tend to be associated with success because of their proven ability to repay debts.

In America, a person is considered wealthy when they have a net worth that exceeds $1 million. Based on this information, only 3.5% of the American households consider themselves wealthy (Furchtgott-Roth 16). In that regard, there are numerous assumptions American have about being wealthy.

Some people assume that a job ultimately leads to wealth. The truth of the matter is that having a great job and moving up the career ladder does not guarantee wealth (Sachs 64). Jobs merely support our daily habits such as eating. Wealth is created when the smallest effort yields the greatest result. On the other hand, poverty is created when massive efforts lead to low results. It is a fact that employees use considerable efforts to reach goals which have been set by their bosses. In effect, they end up making unimaginable wealth for the owners while they continue to spend their meager earnings and investing little or nothing at all. Therefore, individuals who believe that great jobs will ultimately lead to wealth in retirement are greatly misguided.

There are also individuals who believe that saving money is a great investment. However, nobody becomes a millionaire by keeping their money in a savings account (Sachs 64). It is important to save money, but savings cannot lead you to wealth. Not even the attractive interest rates are enough to make wealth. Smart investors keep their money in savings accounts only temporarily while waiting for a ripe opportunity to invest their money elsewhere. Therefore it is a greatly misguided idea to that savings over a long period leads to wealth.

A little proportion of Americans is also of the idea that debt is not good. The truth is that debt is bad only if it is for consumption purposes (Sachs 65). This means buying items which only lose value over time. The items purchased become worthless before repayment of the debt. On the other hand, investment debt is good. Self-made millionaires are always repaying one or the other kind of debt because it is tough to invest without incurring a little debt from time to time. One can make their way to wealth through borrowing as long as they make the right investment decisions.

Overall, it is evident that Americans have their standards of what they deem to be a successful life. These standards include a happy life, a great net worth, a good credit score, a good education and economic equality in the country. They believe in these standards regardless of standards set elsewhere in the world. The numerous assumptions Americans have about wealth can only be corrected through self-education. Nevertheless, Americans are always looking forward to a dazzling future and giving their best in everything they do.

Works Cited

Furchtgott-Roth, Diana, and Christine Stolba. Women's Figures: An Illustrated Guide to the Economic Progress of Women in America. Washington, D.C: AEI Press, 2012. Print.

King, Brandon. The American Dream: Dead, Alive, or on Hold? They Say/I Say The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing: With Readings. 2011.

Krugman, Paul. Confronting Inequality. Graff, Gerald, Cathy Birkensten and RusselDrust. They Say/I Say E 3. 2007: 561-580.

Sachs, Jeffrey. Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet. London. Penguin. 2009. Print

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