.I think the failure in the AD that HST saw was that too often when individuals reinvented themselves and realized the Dream and personal prosperity it became a protective bubble to shield them from the harsh realities of life. I think he saw wealth as disconnecting people and relieving them of their responsibilities as citizens to do good, look beyond themselves from give back to a country and belief system that had rewarded them. HST saw the emptiness of middle class prosperity that brought people to this obscene oasis in the desert to throw their money away when there was poverty, ignorance and injustice all around them
But I think it is only that, A DREAM.
I cannot help see horrible downsides to this dream that drives America. Hard work = money. Which I do not think it always true. I see it as translating into a dream of money. And capatalism and private enterprise I find scary. The fact that money can be made from services that the population relies on for basic living. And that the country is not always formed and built in the interests of the people, but rather the interests of private enterprises. I think that is wrong. I think that hard work and belief of opportunity for all is good, but hat I mentioned above is what I see as the faults of the American Dream, or what I think HST saw as the failure of the AD(perhaps).
My thoughts are similar: "The American Dream" refers to the notion that in America, everyone is equal and everyone has just as much opportunity as everyone else to achieve prosperity and freedom--epitomized in a piece of property that's your own and a private domicile where you are free to do what you please--simply by working hard. (Of course, if you believe in this myth, then you need not be troubled with the fact that this country still has a huge underclass that cannot afford the basic things it needs to live: since we are all equal here, and all have equal opportunity, then anyone who doesn't succeed just isn't willing to work hard enough or simply has no interest in bettering themselves.)
In regard to Hunter's choice of Las Vegas as representative of the American Dream's dirty underside: The gambling palaces of Las Vegas are perfect, but partly inverted, emblems of the deceptiveness of the American Dream. Gambling is about the dream of getting rich without working, and therefore is the antithesis of the standard, Puritan American Dream, but the reason folks are tempted to gamble is that the gambling houses offer a myth of equality similar to that of the standard American Dream: supposedly, everyone has the same chance to have luck strike and become a winner. But we really know that the odds are actually enormously stacked in favor of the owners of the casinos, just as in a capitalist society in which everyone supposedly has an equal chance, the odds are enormously stacked in favor of those who are born into prosperity (or who own capital).
I really doubt that people making $12,000 a year can save anything, or even see a doctor when they're sick. But I also must confess that I'm happy to be sitting here at my computer and not having to test my theory!