America is the land of opportunity — that's the bedrock of the American dream. Many expect each generation to do better than the last.
That dream of economic mobility is alive and well for Pam Krank and her husband, Brian McGee. The two are proud owners of The Credit Department Inc., a successful business in the Minneapolis suburb of Mendota Heights.
"Mostly manufacturing companies around the world will hire us to study their customers and tell them how much ... unsecured credit they should grant to each customer," Krank explains.
The American Dream is a crucial thread in this country's tapestry, woven through politics, music and culture.
Though the phrase has different meanings to different people, it suggests an underlying belief that hard work pays off and that the next generation will have a better life than the previous generation.
But three years after the worst recession in almost a century, the American Dream now feels in jeopardy to many.
The town of Lorain, Ohio, used to embody this dream. It was a place where you could get a good job, raise a family and comfortably retire.
Throughout the summer, NPR News will look at the history, culture and current state of the American Dream. NPR's Ari Shapiro and John Ydstie join host Rachel Martin to take a political and economic look at the ultimate American aspiration.