I started out coming from comfortable middle class, but fell pretty far. At one point I was walking alongside the road looking for soda bottles to return for money so I could eat, living with friends. I had a lot of people enabling me for a while. One day I woke up and decided I had to do something, and never looked back.
I dunno, I think that it was a situation of my own creation. But I still worked my way out of it without any help.
By no means is the American dream dead. I have a friend who turned it all around by finding a single clawfoot bathtub, reconditioning it, and reselling it. The buyer asked him if he could find any more tubs; he took the money, bought more tubs, reconditioned them, resold them… that was 13 years ago. Now he has one of the largest vintage tub and bath companies in the US. He’s about 35 years old, maybe 40. Did he start with nothing? Nope. But he was just a regular guy who found an opportunity. It could have been you or me.
edit: I have a friend whose signature is, "Whether you think you can, or think you can’t… you’re right." The guy you’re arguing with, for him, he’s right. For him the American dream is dead, because he doesn’t believe that he can do it so he’ll never try. But for someone who believes that he can take a single item and parlay it into an enterprise, well, there you go.
http://www.vintagetub.com is his website, btw. Norm Dick, super nice guy.