Time to Reflect on the State of the American Dream in 2015
(KANSAS CITY, MO.) JULY 4, 2015 – For most Americans, hearing the words Fourth of July sparks pleasant memories from youth and an anticipation of a mid-summer holiday offering a mix of fun and relaxation. Yet we all know that amidst the color, noise and patriotic trappings of the holiday, the Declaration of Independence underpins every celebration.
When a group of brave men gathered in 1776 at a stifling Philadelphia hall and ultimately approved one of America’s founding documents, they did more than announce a new and rebellious vision for the American colonies. Indeed, those Founders advanced a groundbreaking concept of governing based on liberty and self-determination that remains both a blessing and a challenge for Americans since 1776.
Like many Americans, when I think of the Declaration of Independence my thoughts go instantly to the “self-evident” truths in the document – specifically the unalienable rights to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” In the centuries since they were first published, those words have served as the foundation of what has come to be known as the American Dream. Elements of that Dream have come to include: equality of opportunity, education, social mobility, hard work, ambition, home ownership and the desire of each generation to leave ensuing generations with an improved nation. James B. Nutter & Company has the joy of witnessing home ownership come true for many people with our conventional mortgages and FHA loans for first time homeowners.
In recent years, the future of the American Dream has been called into question in some quarters. Gone, some say, are the days when my father, a World War II-era veteran, helped his fellow vets pursue of their Dreams of a home and family by providing them VA loans through James B. Nutter & Co., the national mortgage banking firm he founded in 1951. And to some observers, my father’s history of breaking with tradition and helping African Americans and other minorities follow their similar Dreams is nothing but a quaint relic at a time of recovery from housing bubbles and busts, banking turmoil and changing societal housing preferences.
But as we’ve seen time and again, the American Dream endures over the decades and weathers business cycles, depressions, recessions, wars and all manner of societal changes. Just last week, a Realtor.com survey showed nearly [65 percent of respondents between ages 25 and 34 said they intended to buy a home within the next three months, up from 54 percent six months earlier]
Those survey results don’t surprise me. Despite today’s challenges to young buyers – different lending rules, student loan debt, etc. – I have never doubted that home ownership would emerge as an important part of the Millennial Generation’s version of the American Dream. The concepts of home, family, education, stability, social mobility and community never go out of style and will continue to fuel our aspirations. Those concepts will always are fixed elements of that
Pursuit of Happiness that was celebrated in that revolutionary document of July 4, 1776. So however we commemorate the Independence Day holiday, each of us should take a moment to consider our shared American Dream, the gift of opportunity that is both our blessing and our responsibility to advance to our fellow citizens.
James B. Nutter, Jr. is President and Chief Executive Officer of James B. Nutter & Company, one of America’s oldest and largest privately owned mortgage lending firms, based in Kansas City, MO., and providing home lending services in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.