I saw mention of this statistic in a blog comment last week, and went looking. Here is the central faith-based delusion regarding The American Dream:
Belief: 45% of Americans think it is somewhat or very likely that they will become wealthy in their lifetimes.*
Understand: A million dollars isn't even close to "wealthy." It represents, say, $40K to $60K a year in income.
Chance of being wealthy: One in twenty. At best. Only 1% of households had more than $5 mil.
Perceived chance of being wealthy: One in two.
This explains Joe the Plumber. He made $40K in 2006, but in 2008 he was big-talking to Barack Obama about how we was gonna buy the business he works for--for a quarter of a million dollars.
This also explains how Joe and his co-delusionists could believe, for thirty years, that we could increase tax revenues by cutting taxes. Or that prayer would have any effect on any of this.
* NYT/CBS poll, March 3-14, 2005, question 24: Looking ahead, how likely is it that you will ever be financially wealthy? Would you say it is very likely [11%], somewhat likely [34%], not very likely [30%] or not at all likely [22%]?