The Ideological and Unsustainable Values of American Culture
In The More Factor, by Laurence Shames, it is explained that the wholly American views of unending frontier, opportunity, and more have always been a part of who we are as a people. Over time these ideals and their growth have shifted from that of the physical world to that of economic expansion. Eventually society was faced with the realization that this growth is not sustainable, and that we must face this truth in order to reevaluate and shift our values to a more realistic view. I feel that this change in cultural values is something that must be dealt with in order for our society to continue to be relevant in today’s world.
Dreams of the frontier, opportunity, and the idea of more have been at the core of American ideals from the very beginning. With this came the renowned American optimism which has become an integral part of our culture. Shames writes that these views have always been a part of our culture, and he uses a great example for evidence of this optimism in his detailing of the story of speculators in Texas in the 1880’s from F. Stanley’s Story of the Texas Panhandle Railroads. The passage goes on and describes how speculators would risk all they had to build a town from scratch in the middle of nowhere, hiring workmen to build saloons, churches, hotels and more, then bribing people to move to the town for a short period of time in hopes that railroad companies would be lured into passing a railroad through if it succeeded in casting a semblance of a real town. If the speculators were successful in this risky investment and a railroad was built, their returns would be unbelievably large, but if not they faced losing everything they put into the towns. One specific example Shames uses is of a speculator named Sanborn who built the town of Amarillo and succeeded in attracting the railroads and earning himself a fortune. He then goes on and explains that they did this for two reasons,...
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