The Ausmerican Dream

It’s all-out warfare today. I’m taking on the Ausmerican Dream and why you don’t really want it.

The Ausmerican Dream

The Australian Dream is the ideal that by owning your own house with a backyard, a garage, and a swimming pool, that you have somehow “made it” and that life will now be wonderful.

This ideal, largely modelled off the American dream which took off slightly before the Australian adaptation post WW2, is something that most Australians subconsciously adopt, rather than choose. Despite slowly changing with the upcoming generation, this metric of success is deeply rooted in Australian culture.

I think the Australian Dream is that it is a fallacy. It is an attempt for “everyone” to live like the “upper class” with their own house, car, etc. However, all it really means is that people live further apart, spend more time and money commuting, and yet remain middle-lower class.

The Australian Dream has led to mass suburbanisation and urban sprawl which is really bad.

The dream was built on a vision

The Great Australian Dream was built on an idealistic vision, not on rational principles.

In the post-war days when the automobile started being adopted around the world, people had a vision that every household could own it’s own car, house, and of course, backyard. The vision was that we would be able to drive conveniently anywhere we wanted, that all the conveniences of the modern world would be a short and comfortable trip away.

This dream doesn’t work. Cars don’t scale in this manner. The more people who adopt this dream, the less likely the dream becomes. Roads become congested and street-widening only results in more congestion. Parking which is actually extremely costly is mostly under-utilised, pollution increases, obesity rises, etc, etc.

In the long run, the great Australian Dream will only serve as a pacification mechanism for the middle-lower classes while the upper get the benefits of living in areas still close enough to be somewhat convenient.

Backyards are a luxury. Why do you have one?

I’m not going to argue that backyards aren’t nice. Sure they are, if you have a dog or some children, you can let them roam around on the grass and do their business anywhere they like (that’s what kids do right 🤷‍♂️?)

The real question is why do you have one? Let’s face it, neither of us are upper-class, we are all statistically more likely to be middle-lower. And yet the backyard is something that nearly every Australian feels the right to have.

Decadence is not a human right

Urban sprawl, and all it’s entailing attributes like the backyard, are not a sustainable form of settlement. We like to think of ourselves as having the right to own a big property with a big car and a big lawn, but in reality, we don’t.

Suburban living is terrible for the environment in a way that isn’t justifiable for the masses.

While us Sydney-siders like to think of ourselves as being somewhat environmentally friendly with our yellow recycling bins and fresh ocean air, we are actually one of the worst developed cities when it comes to pollution per capita.

Living in Sydney means you produce twice as much pollution as living in New York or London, and five times more than living in Tokyo.

Urban sprawl begets more roads, more cars, and hence more pollution. It requires more infrastructure and production to deliver basic needs to the masses.

I hope you get it, suburban sprawl sucks, and sucks more as you get bigger. Just look at Los Angeles 👆, nobody wants that.

What you can do

Do you feel like a shitty human being right now? Good. That’s step 1.

Here’s a few things off the cuff that you can do to move Sydney towards being a better, and more moral, place to live.

  • Choose public transport more.
  • Choose walking and cycling most.
  • Sell your car. I sold mine earlier this year 🙂
  • Choose walkable suburbs to live in.
  • Forget the backyard, choose lively public parks.
  • Choose higher-density apartment living in vibrant neighbourhoods.

If you want to learn more about how population density affects our lives, then check out Part 3: Like Mud Cake, But Not from my series on Good Urban Living.

sebastiankade

Sebastian Kade, Founder of Sumry and Author of Living Happiness, is a software designer and full-stack engineer. He writes thought-provoking articles every now and then on sebastiankade.com

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