The American dream was the product of industrious and clever people working hard within a relatively benign political system that encouraged business in various ways, but that all of these things also required a large resource base relative to the number of people using it.
Being a foreigner, it always surprises me that certain people in the US have no inkling of the amount of free energy that they have received from their black gold for hundreds of years. And no, I’m not just talking about oil.
I’m talking of course, about slavery. To imagine that somehow the American Dream was not built upon a nightmare for millions is a gigantic blind spot and one which continues to be ignored in the mainstream economic paradigm.
The benign political system was great for some because it allowed generations to have their labour extracted at minimal cost. That’s a lot of GDP points right there.
Of course, the Arab slave trade allowed the same thing to happen during the Golden Age of the Arab/Islamic world. Free labour has always been the bedrock of most societies that have had any kind of functioning middle or upper class. And to think that you or I do not at this very moment still benefit from this labour extraction is fanciful.