Hacker and Dreifus
Bob Herbert and Cal Thomas Write Articles Bob Herbert, a New York Times columnist writes on the subject of the american dream in an article titled hiding from reality. He writes of the dreary state of our country filled with ignored public school systems, dangerously underfunded local and state governments, and a failing job economy. Herbert boldly claims “Wherever you choose to look-at the economy and jobs, the public schools, the budget deficits, the nonstop war overseas- you’ll see a country in sad shape.
Standards of living are declining, and american parents increasingly believe that their children are going to inherit a very bad deal” (564). This is one of the first points Herbert makes in his essay. What it appears Herbert is doing is trying to make the situation look as important as possible, that things are heading downhill. Herbert does not specifically assess blame for his claims. Cal Thomas the author of the next article capitalizes on that aspect, which he views as a weakness in Herbert’s essay.
Cal Thomas a panelist on Fox News Watch and author of several books writes an article on the same subject titled Is the American Dream Over? Cal Thomas writes a more complex article. Thomas’ main point seems to be balance between arguing some of Herbert’s main points, and discussing some of the problems in our country that herbert also covered in his essays. Such as the school system and a seemingly dysfunctional government. Thomas goes on to better define the american dream in order to show it as something besides, as herbert implies in his last paragraph, dead (567). homas suggests “The rules for achieving the american dream may no longer be taught in and supported by culture but that doesn’t mean they don’t work” (570). Thomas leads his readers to infer that the american dream is as effective as it always has been, it has simply just gone out of style. Initially looking at these two articles it is easy to tell that they are full of contradictions and disagreements. As we look deeper into these articles it is revealed that these two authors agree on much more than they would like to admit to.
In discussions of the state of the American Dream there have been many controversial issues over the state of our government, school systems and the american dream. on one hand Bob herbert believes that overall the state of our country in relation to the american dream is in a dismal shape, Cal thomas, for similar reasons, also proposes that there are many things in our economy, and government that need fixing. On the matter of public school systems Herbert, as mentioned before, warns us that we have a public education system hanging by threads due to budget cuts.
Herbert asserts “Now although we don’t want to admit it publicly, we’ve decided to go in another direction” (566). He states that the government has begun to shift its priorities from education to other things. Here, herbert reveals a common but imperative (In his eyes) value that is being thrown out the window by government budget cuts. The value being the importance of public education for our youth. He assumes the values to be social standard and uses them to show the malevolence of government budget cuts directed at public school systems.
Cal thomas believes the state of our public school systems to be in bad shape paints the picture of “A monopolistic government school system locked in failing government schools, producing graduates (if in fact they do graduate) who lag behind in subjects that matter” (569). Here Thomas dives even deeper into the public education problem saying that not only is the government saturating the public school system in america but the information being learned is in part insignificant. With this herbert and thomas are in agreement.
Thomas, though he would not want to admit it due to the fact that the overall purpose of his essay is a rebuttal of Herberts essay, is in agreement with Bob Herbert. They both openly state that the school systems are on a steep downhill slope caused by the government. the authors of these essays are clearly in agreement on the state of the public school system, what is less apparent is their underlying values behind these statements. Thomas shares Herberts implicit value that public education is very important. hen looking even deeper you notice that they both seem to be placing blame on the government. They are both implying an inherent immorality of the government system. which seems to be a consistent theme in both articles. On the topic of the american dream Herbert states “America will never get its act together until we recognize how much trouble were really in, and how much effort and shared sacrifice is needed to stop the decline. Only then will we be able to begin resuscitating the dream. ” (567).
Herbert implies here that our problems are so severe that we have much more work to do then society has led on, we have to make a big change in our lifestyles if we want to turn this country around. Like Herbert, Thomas also offers a solution to the diminishing state our country appears to be in, he claims “People who believe a politician of whatever party or persuasion can make their life better than individual initiative are doing more than dreaming; such persons are displaying a cult-like faith, which can never be fulfilled” (570).
Thomas is using a what-not-to-do example here in order to imply that individual initiative is what is necessary to help improve the state of the american dream as well as the country. In summary, Herbert believes that it will take societal change in responsibility. We need to realize the gravity of our situation and put a great effort forth to fix it. Thomas with a different approach to the same problem suggests that we must stop relying on the politicians and begin relying on ourselves. It may appear that this is an example of a disagreement between the two men, it is not. hen we look under the surface we will notice they are actually in agreement. To see the similarities in the argument we must look at the hidden values behind what these men are saying, Starting with Thomas. when Cal brings up the concept of a solution it means he is implying there is a problem, in this case it is a unsatisfactory application of the american dream, the first of the hidden values that can be observed from his statement. This value stems from Thomas and Herberts shared value that we have a mediocre government taking care of us. his leads back to one of the most basic values. The value of our society on an individual level. Thomas and herbert write their essays because they value the importance on each person’s quality of life. Thomas speaking of the overindulgence of our government affirms “This has produced a country of government addicts with an entitlement mentality. These twin maladies have eroded self-reliance, individual initiative, and personal accountability. ” (569). Thomas states here that relying on the government is disintegrating our individuality and taking away our freedom, in a way.
From this statement we learn that it is healthy for our society to think freely, and to be a healthy society we need a society of individuals, not sheep. This is how Thomas subtly reveals his underlying values that we as human beings are significantly important. Herbert with the same values states it in a different way. Herbert observes “If student test scores jumped a couple of points or the jobless rate fell by a point and a half, the politicians and the news media would crow as if something great had been achieved. That’s how people behave when they’re in denial. ” (566).
In herberts next sentence he offers a solution, affirming that indeed it is a problem for the media to veil the conditions in our country, and it is a problem for people to be unaware of it. What Bob is calling for is awareness, in other words he wants for our society to start thinking for themselves because that is the most necessary aspect to create change and reintroduce the american dream. It starts with a society with an individualistic mindset. So, in summary what herbert in thomas are saying is their most important value is that of your everyday Joe. In the sense of this value the two authors are in complete agreement.
This is what motivated them to input their values. They want people to wake up and see the dismal reality they face, and make a change. In conclusion, although at first glance it appears that these are two conflicting arguments. It is true that the authors disagree with each other on certain aspects such as their definition and perception of the state of the american dream. One could even argue that they are in total disagreement, but when you begin to read in between the lines and look into their inherent values as people you will notice that their deepest values and morals are unidentifiable from one another.