If you define the American Dream as the Horatio Alger myth, no doubt, its exaggerated and unrealistic. But if you define it more modestly as,
...a “social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are.”Sure, that may be a somewhat utopian ideal, but why not strive for it? Why is Robert Samuelson so quick to discard the idea that we can, as a nation, aspire to achieve a level of equity in which children aren't discarded based upon their parents' economic circumstances, but are instead given an opportunity to achieve consistent with their abilities?
Samuelson complains that people were urged to pursue college degrees that did not return economic reward, and that people were encouraged (even facilitated) into buying homes that they could not afford. But the fact that a minority of college students and homeowners have bad experiences, in no small part due to overreaching, doesn't lend any support to the argument that they, or the much larger number of people who don't overreach, should not have the opportunity to reach in the first place.
Samuelson confuses equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. Can he truly not see the difference?