Many people justifiably are concerned about the diminishing American Dream. With prolonged and persistent unemployment, rising food prices, gas through the roof, wages flat and the housing market still experiencing record and chronic foreclosure rates, and government intervention at unprecedented levels, among a plethora of economic ills, we may be entering the era of (as with our government bonds) the downgraded prosperity. But must we also be on guard for a devalued dream? If a sampling of the classed taught by Valencia College Economics Professor Jack Chambless are any indication, yes. Every semester, on the first day of class he asks the sophomores he teaches to write a 10 minute essay on what there American Dream is and what the federal government should do to help them achieve it.

What constituted the dream was standard — a house, a good career, a comfortable retirement — but the federal government answer from the 180 students was astounding. It wasn't so much a dream but a demand of entitlement. They wanted the government to give them free health care free, to pay for their college tuition, provide the down payment on a house, and for the federal government to give them a job! Easier said than done? Of course not: They expect the Leviathan to tax the living daylights out of everyone else in order for them to have a big time in life. As one student wrote:

As human beings, we are not really responsible for our own acts, and so we need government to control those who don't care about others.

Demand entitlement while shirking responsibility. It does go hand-in-hand, I suppose. This attitude, according to Chambless, results largely from public school education. His students told him they had never heard of John Locke, Adam Smith or Friedrich Hayek, nor the principles of Life, Liberty and Property (and they tell us all we need to improve public education is to throw more money at it).

But the professor also thinks that a young president with whom students can more easily identify, but who tells them somehow that wealthy people are a problem and that their money should finance other people's needs has poisoned the well of knowledge. Already, 44 percent live off some type of government benefit as compared to 29 percent in early 1980s, but liberals think government can provide it all, at no cost and with no consequence — a "tooth fairy dressed as uncle Sam."

Here's an interview with Professor Chambless. It's the only video I could find of it, so if you want to quit when Glenn Beck comes on the screen, I have no problem with that (or listen to him, too).

What students today think: "No money, no problem. The government will give it to us!" But public education is doing just fine . . .