If you think you've lost the American dream and are searching to find it again, look no further than reality TV. Yup, you heard me right– reality TV. There is a show that plays on the home and garden channels called Extreme Home Makeover, where the show picks families where the parents are wonderful, giving to people in some fashion, but are under extreme duress because of health and/or financial issues. It sends them to Disney World for a week, and in that one week tears down their barely functional, problematic and sometimes dangerous existing home, and builds them a beautiful, brand new home.

They engage the local community– volunteer contractors, ordinary people, local businesses etc.– who all band together to complete these magnificent projects. Often, the sponsors help in other ways like paying off medical debts.

For example on this evening's show, they picked a couple from Toledo, a fireman and his social worker wife, who had three kids of their own, and then adopted 8 more, 5 from Haiti and 3 from inner-city Toledo. They were all living in this tiny house in pretty serious disrepair for lack of funds, and the woman was recovering from a medical condition that had already almost killed her and they were all trying to get by on his one salary and also coping with medical bills.

The wonderful thing about this show is how it changes people's lives, especially those of people that are unquestionably deserving of a leg-up. It gives a fresh start and new hope to the receiving family, and wonderfully energizes the community. Literally hundreds of people participate. That's what I think the true American dream really is abou– unbridled can-do optimism and hope. At least from the perspective of this Canadian.

Watch the show some time. I'd wager that you'll find it quite uplifting.

Kim Zussman plays the Devil's Advocate:

This may seem heartless, but this clips down to current political-hollywood rhetoric:

Lost American dream (what is it anyway?)

Searching to find it (whatever)

Families –where the parents are wonderful (and need help, but not with birth control) giving people (who wind up taking) under extreme duress (get in line) health and/or financial issues (get in line), sends them to Disney World (where else. What about going to work?) barely functional, problematic and sometimes dangerous existing home (you should see the ones in China where kids study linear algebra) and builds them a beautiful, brand new home (take a mortgage and go back to disney). They engage the local community (you knew that was coming), volunteer contractors, ordinary people, local businesses etc. – who all band together (but evidently don't need to feed their own families) to complete these magnificent projects (the ones they charge for are capitalist, evil, and taxable) paying off medical debts (because medical care is a right that hollywood will pay for to sell soap). Why not instead inspire the nascent dependency with Horatio Alger ?





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