American Dream by hook or crook

By Hook or Crook, the American Dream Remains a Desirable Goal
Lou Ann Anderson
June 7, 2008
The American Dream is a desirable goal for many in this country.  However, as attainment by “hook” or some fair, legitimate means becomes more of a challenge, “crook,” or by any means necessary, appears to be gaining ground.

Bitterness and entitlement in America are on the rise and are factors contributing to the increase of Involuntary Redistribution of Assets (IRA) cases, those actions in which unscrupulous individuals use the age and/or incapacitation of a person to gain control of their personal assets and “redistribute” them in a manner contrary to what the person intended.  These incidents can happen during the person’s lifetime or posthumously.  Family members, friends or even “trusted” associates like a lawyer or caregiver are potential IRA practitioners.  With manipulation, IRA can be “lawfully” accomplished as these cases often occur within legal frameworks such as guardianships, trusts or wills.  And through these means, the American Dreams of many are being lost to financial predators who feed off the efforts of others.

An annual “Attitudes in the American Workplace” poll conducted by Zogby International for The Marlin Company ( recently found more than half of U.S. workers say the American Dream is unattainable and nearly half blame the political system for the deterioration in their economic circumstances.

Per a company press release, the workplace poll, conducted in May 2008, found that nearly three quarters of U.S. workers (74.7%) say the American Dream is not as attainable today as it was eight years ago; 52.4% say it is simply unattainable for the average American.  The survey defines the American Dream as “the opportunity to have a nice home, financial security for you and your family, and hope for the future.”

The workplace poll also found that nearly half (45.1%) of U.S. workers admit to being “bitter” because “the political system has caused a deterioration of [their] economic circumstances.” Nearly half (47.5%) of 30-49 year-olds surveyed report feeling bitter, while only 38.4% of 18-29 year-olds feel bitter.

While the American political system is certainly no friend to many honest, hard-working taxpayers, the impact of personal responsibility (i.e., good decisions v. bad judgment) is an equally important determinant with regard to success (or lack of) in attaining the American Dream.  Too many people sadly have a sense of entitlement and would rather blame government than themselves when they fall short of expectations.

Many responsible Americans believe in the civic duty of paying taxes to fund our country’s defense, border security, transportation systems and other functions that surpass the capabilities of a private individual.  They do not, however, condone the culture that demands more government and less individual responsibility.

Other people increasingly want to be taken care of them.  They are “entitled.”  They want a nice, secure standard of living, but too often aren’t willing to follow a responsible life course in order to provide such opportunity for themselves.  These days, it’s easy to paint oneself as some breed of victim.  And there’s usually a government bureaucracy nearby to help solidify that tag and redistribute the hard-earned dollars of responsible taxpayers to fund imprudent behavior as well as the bad decisions of our nation’s “disadvantaged.”  Don’t get us wrong — that whole safety net deal is an important concept for a civilized society, but does the net have to be sized to meet the needs of the Northern Hemisphere?  Especially as decreasing numbers of us are paying for it!!

And how does this tie back into IRA cases?  Very simply, people these days aren’t exclusive in wanting government money.  A more realistic view indicates that many just want other people’s money – from wherever the best prospect for success arises.  Whether via government, from a spouse, through an employer or by “redistributing” assets from the dead or disabled, identifying and making the most of available opportunities is key.  IRA cases are actions of opportunity most often perpetrated by those with a seriously inflated sense of entitlement.

Our IRA perpetrators, the financial predators hoping to claim your American Dream are fondly known as asset looters, property poachers, grave robbers and/or walker stalkers.  Regardless of what they are called, they bring to mind a great quote by Dr. Walter E. Williams:

“The act of reaching into one’s own pockets to help a fellow man in need is praiseworthy and laudable. Reaching into someone else’s pocket is despicable and worthy of condemnation.”

Enough said.

Lou Ann Anderson is an advocate working to create awareness ( regarding the Texas probate system and its surrounding culture.  She may be contacted at

  • Kim Manire

    Lou Ann,

    This is a wonderful article. It is very informing and educational. Keep on writting your wonderful atricles.

  • Tom Fields

    Everyone realizes there are crooks: asset looters, property poachers, grave robbers and/or walker stalkers. What too few people know with certainty is the extent to which our legal profession is using our government to weaken the protections against these crooks. That is why I am recommending Chapter Six of Detective Roubicek’s book Financial Abuse of the Elderly, A Detective’s Case Files Of Exploitation Crimes. That is also why I am asking you to reproduce here my 5/22/2008 testimony before the Ohio House Judiciary Committee regarding Ohio Senate Bill #302. Thank you.

  • admin

    We certainly agree that the appearance of protections sometimes seems of more importance than functional, measurable actions. Tom’s testimony is now available at

  • admin

    That was an excellent article – with a fresh perspective. It brings to mind the bailout of the farmers and the fishers – with the government inexplicably awarding them an amt of money they couldn’t possibly have earned during the season with no mention of the need to reassess crops, etc. With Katrina, also, the huge numbers of UNAFFECTED folks who put their hands out for the immediate one or two thousand dollar relief – and later filed claims for large amts of money – for damages in places they had never lived! It was just stunning – the number of non victims who tried to profit!

    Sharon Denney
    Seattle, WA