IT Employment

The debt generation


Watching NBC National News the other night, there was an article about money which caught my attention.  The story discussed the amount of debt that the average person in their 20s is carrying, why they've got such a load to carry, and the outlook for them going forward.  I was again reminded about how tough it is going to be for this group of individuals as a whole, and the fact that their parents set them up for it.

Disclosure: My children are 28, 25, and 24.  I'm a baby boomer.  The NBC story resonated with me. 

The United States of America is richest nation in the history of the world, and, at the same time it's the world's largest debtor nation. 

US citizens throw away more 'old stuff' per capita than almost any other nation in the world and yet the average individual in the country is carrying a debt of about $9000.

When one looks at personal satisfaction indexes, almost every country in the world rates themselves as being considerably happier in 2005 than was the case in the 1950s. But that's not so for Americans. We showed no significant increase in satisfaction at all. And that's despite the fact that we earn 3 times as much now, live in bigger homes, and have more toys than other nations. There are actually more registered cars in the US than citizens.

The 'parental units' of the 20somethings created an environment and promoted 'values' which fostered debt both nationally and personally. The 50somethings created false hopes for our children.  The dreams which for most people in their 20s today are unlikely to manifest as expected. 

When I see young adults entering the workplace after college carrying 50, 75, or 100,000 dollars worth of debt, I hate it. Those are very heavy yokes around their necks. I think it foretells a strong possibility for a reduced standard of living with each passing year. And that's not what this generation was told they could expect once they graduated.  But they were set up by parents who, for the most part, are bad at managing - or even understanding - money themselves. 

We need to do better at teaching everyone how to understand money and what connection it has to real personal satisfaction.  Otherwise, the once called GenXers are going to be the first generation of the new, lower standard of living ahead.

                                                                    - john

                                                                  Career Coach

About

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...

126 comments
JosB
JosB

It's not only poor money management, it's also that people think they can get all they want at the moment they want. Money providers jump into this (you want that car, just give us a call and you will get the money). Satisfaction also has a lot to do with this. When you have to work hard to get something you will be more satisfied then when you get it without any efford. Saving money to buy something gives more satisfaction when you can eventually buy it, compared to borrowing money and instantly obtain it. I think people should be more realistic and accept that they just cannot get all they want (and even less when they want). More money / posessions do not make people happy, most probably it will generate more worries. You cannot buy happiness, you have to work for that. And probably you have to do that outside your workplace, since that (for most people) is a place to generate money (worries) and not a place to create happiness. People in other countries are probably happier because they have more important things to worry about. They don't have to worry about the car (twice), tv, stereo, dvd player, morgage, and all other kinds of luxurious stuff. And how to pay those things. Those things are not important. Things that are important are food, a roof (house), kids (will they live long enough to support us when they are old). Those things matter, the rest is futile and just creates worries. I know this sounds harsh, but I think todays people just worry about the wrong things and are therefore not able to get real satisfaction.

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

delayed gratification? Bugger that. I might get run over by a Ferrari tomorrow. Then where would all my saving get me? (Actually, just test-drove one this morning. Got a mate who is a marketing manager for IBM. Grabbed a few of his cards, put on some nice trousers and suckered the salesman straight in. All you people saying you don't have to be rich to be happy are absolutely correct. All you need is a mate who works for IBM and you can play with all the toys. Think I'll go jet-boating tomorrow.) ;)

nizuse
nizuse

Ouch - what a NASTY word! Discipline takes NOT consuming, NOT leasing a new car, NOT buying a house when you can't afford i, NOT going out for dinner too many times etc. etc. People these days are allowing themselves to become slaves of their lustful mind. Call it mental prostitution: you want it - you can't resist it - you'll take it (with your credit card of course). As for me (and guys - start flaming if this hurts): no more debts. I drive a crappy car. 2nd hand clothes, and we actually CHOOSE where we want to spend money on for new stuff. We are Free. Again: FREE. No yoke around my neck. If the housing market crashes - I don't care. Banks? I'm no slave of them. When I say to other people that I have no debts, they never are happy for me. They look sad or angry. It's a CHOICE people make. A choice NOT to consume. That's all. But you will not believe this because this is too hard to do.

WasabiMac
WasabiMac

The bottom line with debt is that most of us simply accept it. If you aren't paying off your credit cards every month, you're living beyond your means. Being in debt really takes it's toll, and most people don't even realize it. There was an excellent episode of Frontline on PBS on credit cards that shows how the credit companies really take advantage of our general "who cares" attitude. They really do operate with same mentality as Capone and the mafia boys did during prohibition. The only way to avoid the traps is not to get in debt to them to start with. The Frontline episodes can be viewed free online at pbs.org.

ArthurP
ArthurP

24 years ago I left school and headed to the warm summer days, with a view to lazing around on the Eston Hill where I could overlook the industrial wasteland that is Teeside. Faced with either entering higher education, or finding a manual job; as white collar work was for the educated, or secretaries. Sadly I failed to qualify as an apprentice, and being 16 did not have a degree. Not wanting to face another 6 years in school I chose to find a job and continue my education. Something that would prove beneficial later in life. On of the things that people tend to forget is that back in the 1970's and 80's here in England, (& I honestly doubt it's different in the US), is that I lived in an industrial community where the houses were constantly damp, with leaking windows, did not have carpets, nor central heating, and the toilet was outside. The life that many of our parents lived meant that they survived upon the "never-never", (or on-tick), where you paid so much a week to the money-man for a small rate of interest. This meant that they could afford treats for the birthday, or Christmas. It was this that provided their drive as parents for the want to see their children better themselves; and in reality it also provided the drive that the children needed as well. Work meant money, which meant a better life. The ability to afford a flat where you had central heating, and carpets also meant that your parents were proud of you. In fact I have my first boss to thank, in that he took ?20 a week from my wages, and placed it into the bank for me where I could not touch it. I then gave my Mum another ?20 for keeping, which left me with ?15. travel to work by bus would have cost me ?5, so I tried this for the first three weeks before buying a bicycle for ?15 & borrowing ?10 from my Mum. Thankfully when I the money that my boss had put-away for me reached enough he helped me find a flat, where I paid ?40 a week for rent. The savings meant that I had enough money to pay the deposit and have some left for furnishings and a rainy day ! - I never did thank him enough. Today, we live in a life where finance is offered in every store you walk into; where you can obtain bank cards, loans and insurance with your groceries; whilst viewing the latest Nintendo, or XBox. Computers can be picked up next to the check-out queue, all paid for and the car loaded and topped up with fuel using that credit card obtained during the last visit ! The 1980's and the 90's were supposed to have driven a line between the past and provided the hope for the next century; but where did we fail ? Our children are faced with the choice of continuing education because there are fewer jobs without the correct qualification; yet they now have to pay for the tuition fees; and where their parents cannot afford to sponsor them through school, (due to the stockmarket crash of the early 21st century), they're forced to take-out "interest free loans" which will need to be paid back. Maybe we have this all wrong. I mean maybe society has this all wrong; for today we have TV's in everyroom of the house, we vary rarely hold conversations, and we expect others to tell us how to achieve our lives. Let's face it; pick-up the TV guide and flip though it taking a look at just how many reality TV programs are aimed at the family, "wife-swap", "Super Nanny", "how to dress" ect ect ect ... Yes our nature as parents means that we want to protect; yet children become adults but if we look back at our grandparents, we kinda failed to learn. Yes they had a tough life, but when they walked through the door they had travelled home, and held conversations with friends and neighbours; they stopped to say hello to each other, and most people in the street knew everyone else. Work finished when they left the yard, or the office. Very few people actually carried work home with them. Ask yourself this question - I expect a few angry responses - what if we said to our children that "if you enroll in higher education, (high-school, college, or university), from September; you will be required to pay 1.5% higher tax throughout your life, and the government will cover your education fees". This would certainly remove an overhead from the students, and fund future education. Afterall the unqualified worker is paying for those who will atain a higher wage, yet they will atain a sponsored education allowing them to earn that higher wage. Education is still a "post\zip code lottery". Now ask yourself who has this right. The students, and young adults who have a yoke around their neck need to clear the debts that they have created. As long as they learn that they need to budget; and families are willing to talk them through then it's a lesson of life. But when you're faced with a large debt, and feel embarassed to talk to someone all you can see is lonleyness as you walk along that dark tunnel where you have no support it's a lonely world. It also means that if your friends are going out, and you don't have the strength to say no not tonight; the first step in realisation is either a chat with the bank manager, or an enforced reclaimation. For some the realisation that they are in trouble often arrives too late for them to do anything about their problems. Faced with the fact that debt, (which is now a dirty word), means increased pressure, and often has an affect upon employee performance, just how many companies offer enforced "debt lectures" where you will all attend a gathered briefing by a bank manager, or suitably qualifed person; or provide single anonymous councelling and guidence ? I doubt it's that many; when maybe they should. But that would mean the loss of productivity, and potentially an invasion of privacy. Your thoughts, upon is there any benefit for the "students to fund further education through taxes later in life", where does personal responsibility start, and whether the employer has a responsibility to help ?

pdfox99
pdfox99

I paid my own way through College. Part-time work and school loans. Yet I gratudated with $65,000 in debt. Why is it my parents fault?

scoutlady
scoutlady

A subject dear to my heart. One of the most gratifying projects the last few years was getting completely out of debt. I am a CPA, but also the hapless network admin here at work, so I follow the Tech Republic stuff to try to learn. The consistent changes necessary in lifestyle and required to eliminate debt are very difficult. You can contact a church or community group and work through a financial class along with a group of people. You will find the mutual support and encouragement invaluable. Couples should work through this material together so they can learn to agree and work together. Financial stress is a huge factor in relationships. While you're working through it, you can also make sure you have a proper will, your insurance is in order, and your important documents are organized. At my church, we not only have groups working through financial classes, we also have one-on-one coaching and problem-solving volunteers. For people of faith, I heartily recommend the Financial Peace University curriculum by Dave Ramsey that is taught in many churches - his curriculum is practical and fun. Another great curriculum is produced by Crown Ministries. Their curriculum is centered on Bible study. Both curricula also include tried-and-true ways to train your children to be good money managers, not just units in the herd of consumers. You can go on their websites and find places where classes are ongoing. I am active in the Texas Society of CPAs. Our group has gotten involved in a "financial literacy" project to get financial information into the hands of the public. I believe involvement in this area is a trend in most state CPA groups, as CPAs are in a position to know how clients are doing. The TSCPA website is www.valueyourmoney.org. Here in Texas, there will also be a required money management class in high school starting soon. Of course, knowledge isn't enough - behavior change is required. All the methods involve cutting up the credit cards, tracking what you spend, living on less than you make, learning to save, and working to enhance your skills and earning ability. Get your debt out of the way and get on the winning side of the math. The younger you do it, the better it will work for you. The same interest expense that eats into your standard of living and stresses you out can start working for you to build wealth.

crabbyabby86
crabbyabby86

"Get your debt out of the way and get on the winning side of the math. The younger you do it, the better it will work for you." My parents were in deep debt at the time I started kindergarten. They were never good at math, and recognized the connection. So they paid attention to papers I brought home from school, right from the beginning. Anything math-related was top priority homework. Not only does my solid skillset in mathematics enrich every part of my life, but starting so early set me up to earn a full scholarship to university. I will graduate debt-free and join the top ranks of one of the highest paying fields. You're advice is key not only to the debt issue, but general satisfaction as well. Understand numbers means understanding how the universe works. And a deeper understanding of life and the universe allows for a greater appreciation of them. Simple, really. It reminds me: One of my favorite lessons in my computer science classes is one that started with my professor saying "Today we're going to learn how to count." It was a lesson about the infinite cardinalities--the sort of thing you just know is profound. I actually learned something in that class. Something truly worth knowing. Entirely satisfying to just sit and listen to the lecture.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

I can understand being in debt for certain things. Education comes to mind as well as debt for things like cars and housing. However, I don't understand a few things: 1) Education is expensive, but Uncle Sam does take care of a lot. Sure I'm in debt up to my eyeballs, but I've got until the end of time to pay it off. Why are college kids so far into credit card debt? I was in a little credit card debt as a master student, but that was because my last semester I decided not to take finanical aid and just live poor. How are these students coming out of school with $50,000 in loans and $40,000 in credit card debt? 2) Car debt. I have a 1970 Bug, a 1998 Saturn, and a 2005 Tacoma. The only car I'm paying on is the Taco. The rest of them are paid off and have been for a long time. Why do people stay in car debt? I prefer not to make car payments, but honestly, cars are just too expensive and I keep my cars forever...so I might as well get a new one. Why do people need a new car every year? 3) Housing is out of control. I've not idea what's going on, but when it is cheaper to buy a new house than a shack built in 1950, something has gone wrong. Apartment living is also very expensive if you need something larger than a 500sq foot apt. What can you possibly do to find a cheap place to live?

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

Some people just can't stand to ever have a car needing worked on (other than routine maintenance), so they either lease, or trade often. I agree with you though, and I think if you don't get unwound at the occasional repair bill, the best thing is to buy one a year or two old (that "new car smell" comes with a hefty price tag) and drive it into the ground :)

georgeou
georgeou

My Mother started off working in a sweat shop in 1980. She worked her way up and saved her money and owned a house by 1988 and traded up in 1990. Since homes in California more than doubled by now, it works towards her retirement. What's my point? Housing prices can work for you if you have the dicipline to save up and buy a home.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Like my mother in Houston got pwned by the housing market in the late 80's.* The housing in Houston has never recovered (save for new housing) and probably never will. It's a good amount of luck and a good amount of location scoping. * The housing market in Houston tanked around 1979 when the oil market crashed. It never recovered and it really hurt a bunch of people who tried to wait it out, but ended up being forced to move anyway.

georgeou
georgeou

I just can't take the heat there.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Ya at least we have a very high standard of living here!

georgeou
georgeou

A house is something you get to live in even if the value goes down. Most importantly, at least homes are affordable down there. Try buying your first home here in the Silicon Valley when an old and small house starts at $650K and up. Even so, I can't think of a country I'd rather live in. Your average living quarters for a family of 4 is 400 sq feet with no refrigerator and no hot water, that is if you're fortunate enough to live together as a family. A lot of families in China don't live together because the husband and wife has to work in different cities.

NOW LEFT TR
NOW LEFT TR

No wonder when 90% of the free (and not so free) world actually despises the US. Not through envy but it's social, business & political actions. If I lived in the US, I would not be satisfied either. Instead of looking for a scapegoat look at the country and it?s posture. Say 'enough is enough' with your democratic rights (that are slowly being taken back off you)!

Jaqui
Jaqui

you don't want the debt load? then quit living using deficit budgeting. cutup the credit cards. pay CASH for what you buy. if you don't have the cash, then you don't need the item. otherwise, stick your whining about debt loads where the sun don't shine, it's your own fault you are in debt, and you are teaching that to your children, so it's your own fault your kids will declare bankruptcy of struggle for decades to clear un-needed debt loads.

stress junkie
stress junkie

I have only one credit card with a low limit. It's the only way to go. When I was in my 20s I got in over my head in debt. It took a long time to get that resolved. During that time I was working for the banks instead of myself. I hated it.

Jaqui
Jaqui

only use a pre-paid credit card. If I don't pay cash onto it, it's worthless. so it's credit limit is exactly the cash I have to spend. :) it's nothing but a debit card that processes transactions like a credit card, but it answers the requirement for a credit card for a number of different uses, like hotel rooms, car rentals etc. and I don't have a huge bill after using it while on a trip.

JamesRL
JamesRL

My father grew up during the Great Depression. I grew up in the 60s with 4 brothers, and my parents didn't have much money. I thank my parents for teaching me the valuable lesson of how to live with less. Thankfully we lived in the country surrounded by farmers, and we often received their generosity - in return we helped out farmers who needed it (not always the same ones helping us) with our backs. I remember getting paid $10 from a bachelor farmer who I didn't think could afford it. I was about to refuse payment when my father shot me a look. I learned that if I refused it would wound his pride. As a kid, I was used to hand me downs. I don't think I every had a new pair of skates in my life. Most of my bicycles were hand me downs, until I bought my own when I started working part time in high school. I did go to university in the 80s with student loans and grants. I did not live extravagently. I did not spend tons of money on partying or spring break vacation,s and I worked part time. I did owe for student loans when I graduated, so I delayed owning a car or buying a house, having vacations or even renting more apartment than I could afford. My loan was quickly paid off. Last time I checked, a 20 something is an adult. Just how long can they blame their parents for setting unrealistic expectations. Getting a university education can be a gateway to a better paying job/career, and you have to decide for yourself whether its worth it to you to go into debt to pay for it. I have a wife who can't work (hasn't for 12 years), three kids, and a mortgage. I was laid off, and still met every mortgage payment. Two years after being laid off, I've topped up my depleted reserve, and though I still owe a mortgage, when you look at my balance sheet, I actually have more assets than debts. When university students spend without regard to the future, on cell phones, stereos, partying, spring break vacations etc., I have little sympathy for the debt load they undertake. I agree with George on the principle that if you are hungry you can make it. I will provide my kids with some money for university, but they will have to get loans. I am preparing them to work part time in high school, like I did, to teach them how to earn, take responsibility and save. I think that lesson may be worth more than a big cheque. James

georgeou
georgeou

"I will provide my kids with some money for university, but they will have to get loans. I am preparing them to work part time in high school, like I did, to teach them how to earn, take responsibility and save. I think that lesson may be worth more than a big cheque." Yes, this is called character. Some kid with a silver spoon in his mouth who got a free ride will just party his/her way through school and end up hating life because everything was given to them. That's the problem with so many Americans is that too many things are given to them and everything has to be an entitlement. Everything JFK said "ask not what your country can do for you" is out the window. I've told my wife that my kids will have to take out a loan and be responsible for their own college debt. They should not be expecting a free ride.

crabbyabby86
crabbyabby86

I'm 20 years old. I'm a university sophomore. I was born in a small town to white, middle-class parents. I've always had everything I needed. Often I had most of what I wanted. You're right about character. The thing is, I don't understand why people simply accept that they'll have a great load of college debt. See, my parents told me early on that they wouldn't be able to help me pay for college. So I worked hard at school, learned how to think instead of what to think (an area of gross inadequacy in public education, I know), and earned myself a full scholarship to an extraordinary little university. My parents made their position plain, so I had to decide how much I wanted to go to college. It's as simple as that really. Most kids in my position would have followed mom and dad's example and fallen deep into debt--it was a real working example of 'do as I say, not as I do' I don't think I should have to, but I will say this plainly: I am not partying away my free ride. Because it wasn't really free. But most kids don't have to make hard choices. Ever. Parents shelter them from being required to have priorities. One friend of mine had parents who decided it all for her. She would do well in school, work only during the summer breaks, join the band and debate team... she's doing okay. But she's wracking up debt just like most because she didn't want it enough to earn the scholarships. Her parents wanted it for her. She didn't have to want it for herself. Life itself is the real free ride, but you have to decide what you want out of it. Going through life without something to be passionate about is what will really drain your satisfaction. That's why people join cults or dye their hair green. They need to find passion or they'll only be able to wallow in self-pity. I'm extremely lucky to have escaped the trend of my peers. And that makes me even more satisfied with how my life is shaping up. It's great, but it makes me a little sad that I'm an exception.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

My parents couldn't afford to help with college costs either. What they could do was provide room and board. You know, live at home, eat the food, don't pay for it, did have to do chores though. I worked my way through school. Took 6 yrs instead of 4. I think your parents gave you the right stuff. A supportive atmosphere for learning. Motivation to learn, and an aptitude to do it.

georgeou
georgeou

"My parents made their position plain, so I had to decide how much I wanted to go to college. It's as simple as that really. Most kids in my position would have followed mom and dad's example and fallen deep into debt--it was a real working example of 'do as I say, not as I do'" Exactly, your parents taught you character. You are fortunate to have good parents who raised you right.

NOW LEFT TR
NOW LEFT TR

push came to shove you would bail them out if you could. Nothing wrong with that but it is a fact.

georgeou
georgeou

You're right that it's hard to avoid bailing someone out. But it's something I would try to force myself to do because allowing someone to fail is a critical lesson in life. It is critical for the development of character. If my Son ever got pulled over for drunk driving and got stuck in prison, he should try and make himself comfortable. When he gets old enough, that's precisely what I intend to tell him. Yes it would make my wife cringe, but this is how I intend to raise my children. They will grow up to understand that there are consequences in life and that there will be no one to bail them out.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

As someone who lived through the period in question, I can tell you that the problem is due solely to the law makers, media, and TV people misrepresenting everything and brainwashing a whole generation with expectations. Throughout the late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s children and youth got blasted, day in day out, by TV, by radio, by picture theatres, by billboard ads - constantly told of their rights, never of their responsibilities (now you wonder why they don't practice any responsibilities); told to buy the latest thing, and keep ahead of the Joneses (and now they wonder why they're constantly buying the latest gadget); that you can shoot people and they'll get up and walk away (remember all those shows where it happened); that debt is OK, you'll always get a better job and pay the loan off; that you don't have to work hard, life is easy and the good things come naturally; and the law makers blithely go about passing more laws supporting this behaviour. Add into the equation the way the law makers constantly lie and cheat, and promote that as proper behaviour, while passing more laws making it harder and harder to put criminals in prison, and make the prisons nicer to live in. And now you wonder why the situation is like that. sheesh. I agree with George Ou's post (don't have a heart attack George, just because I agree with you on something), it's mostly self pity, and looking for someone to bail them out - as the law makers have taught them. The USA government and leaders of the late 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s created this with their way of government and media campaigns.

georgeou
georgeou

I?m going to be very frank with you and I hope you or anyone reading this don?t take it personally. This is from my heart and I hope people read my reply and consider what I?m saying. "The 50somethings created false hopes for our children" No, the 50s in America turned a whole generation in to self-pitying spoiled brats in relation to the rest of the world. There is nothing wrong with America other than the fact that we are so wealthy and comfortable in relation to the rest of the world that many people end up being spoiled and unhappy. This was also true in western Europe and Japan where the youth were the least optimistic even though they have the highest standard of living. Take a look at this link where the better the standard of living the less happy people are. http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyid=2006-11-20T000837Z_01_L19430195_RTRUKOC_0_US-LIFE-GLOBAL-SURVEY.xml&src=rss&rpc=22 Contrarily, kids in China who have absolutely nothing in comparison to us were overwhelmingly optimistic about their futures. Consider the fact that many kids in China can't even afford to go to High School let alone College! Consider the fact that a good job in a major city pays $300/month while most electronic goods and commodities cost as much or more than here in the USA. Heck I'd shoot myself before I go back to that kind of life yet the vast majority of youth in China are far more happy and optimistic and this is true of other developing nations as well. Yet those nations who already have everything are overwhelmingly sad about their lives. I had friends who grew up during the 50s and 60s and had plenty of financial security with multiple homes yet they were unhappy with life. I was a dirt poor immigrant from China who had to scratch and claw my way out of poverty here in the USA and I?m about as happy and optimistic as I can be. Your average immigrant from Africa does better in the USA than the average white person. A lot of immigrants (including my Mother) come here with no money and no English and they manage to own a home in 8 years after their arrival even though they start with less than minimum wages. So this isn't the dept generation it's the self-pity generation. There simply is no reason to carry debt and there is no one to blame but the person in the mirror. Those of us who suffered through it all wake up each morning being greatful to have the opertunity to live in the USA yet those who were born here with nearly everything handed to them spend the most time pitying themselves in comparison to people with far less. There actually is a cure for self-pity. For example, people who spend more time helping others who are less fortunate than themselves end up being much happier in life. I also remember when I went through Air Force boot camp and we started out with some Momma?s boys that cried themselves to sleep every night. They were cured within two weeks and all of us were happy to be able to have 30 minutes of free time to cut loose and have a candy bar, soda, and a phone call. The point is that happiness is all relative and it?s amazing how happy a person can be if he/she can simply put everything in to proper perspective. You can put a BIG smile on the face of a kid in some impoverished nation if you give him some food. You can also put tears on the face of a rich kid by ?only? giving him an Audi A4 instead of that Porsche he was hoping for.

CKayote
CKayote

This is supposed to be the last post, but the computer keeps putting me in the same place. I don't think it's self-pity, its cyncism. I'm a College senior, and the future for me is not as full of opportunity as it was for my parents or my grandparents, or even a decade ago. Mind you these may be my innate preconceptions about things, but seem to be relfected by reality in my opinion: 1)Globalization is draining traditionally unionized, pension-bearing jobs out of the country. 2)The baby boomer generation is working longer/retiring later than the previous generation, thus blocking advancement for younger workers. 3)Those baby boomers who will not remain in the workforce, will eventually begin retiring, draining money from social sercurity and medicare. 4)New jobs are being created, but mostly in the retail, fast food, and other service industries. 5)Wages are down in relation to cost of living. 6)College tuition is up on average. 7)Financial aid is harder to find, both due to increased competition from high university populations and government cuts. The results for my generation are: 1)Paying for a college education requires a job (usually at minimum wage), and either credit card debt or a student loan. 2)After graduation, we face increased competition from both foreign and domestic sources for fewer highly desirable positions. 3)It takes longer to advance to a higher position, thus we spend more time at a lower pay grade, meaning it takes longer for us to pay off student loans/credit card debt. 4)We are less likely to have social sercurity or an employer-sponsored retirement plan when we reach retirement age. While things are certainly far more dire for someone my age in 90% of the world, I am unable to escape the above situation and become increasingly cyncical and disillustioned as a result.

georgeou
georgeou

Why rely on a social security system that won't be there when you or I get old? Company pensions are bankrupting companies like GM with tens of billions of debt because of the retirement plans they can't afford paying high school grad workers the equivalent of $120K a year with benefits because their dad or uncle worked at the plant. Why rely on someone else to give you a pension when you can take steps to secure yourself for life with a 100% income retirement plan with built in annual increases equal to inflation? It doesn't matter what you make, the calculation works for any income level even if you only make $10/hour. Take control of your own life. You've got two arms and two legs and you'll soon have a college degree. Many immigrants like my mother and I came here with the clothes on our back and she started out in sweat shops working for $20 a day. This land is so rich with opportunity that I know people who swam across shark infested water to get here. Hey I'm not trying to criticize you my friend. I just want you to look up and make yourself happy and well. You don't get anywhere in life with a chip on your shoulder thinking that the whole world is rigged against your success and you'll only end up miserable and bitter. If you want chat with me privately, send me and email and I'll talk with you.

CKayote
CKayote

Message deleted because I posted it in the wrong column.

RNR1995
RNR1995

Self pity and the Its not my fault Generation! No One takes responsibility for their own actions ....WHA WHA WHA.... What a bunch of winers!

ttocsmij
ttocsmij

George, although you are making all kinds of valid points, I think your basis is a wee bit off ... I believe it was the "can do" attitude coming out of WW2 that provided for the huge jumps in technology and productivity (followed shortly by wages, children and housing). This attitude had been honed in battle and came rip-roaring into the US economy with a vengence. The Japanese would catch this flame a few years later and build the economic powerhouse they became. As the wealth of the nation increased dramatically (in proportion to the growing middle class), the typical benevolence of the rich began to turn inward. And by the end of the 60's we were starting to see the progression from "How can I help you?" to "How can I help myself to more?". The technological candy was coming along at the same time as we were removing any semblence of respect and self-control from our schools (ie, removal of the Bible and the emergence of situational ethics and the adoption of Kinsey's twisted views on sex). Regarding the narcissistic self-serving youth of today, you are 90% correct here. And now this attitude goes back a couple generations so we, as a country, are in deep doo-doo as the middle class falls prey to liberalism. But fortunately I am seeing a trend. A light perhaps at the end of the tunnel. Here in the boonies, I am seeing signs that the next generation is beginning to reject the "What is in it for me?" message. They are starting to think about other people again. They are rejecting the shallowness of the blingers, atheists and sex fiends. This is really refreshing. And I am encouraged. Meanwhile, our Chinese friends are just starting down the path we trod in the late 50's (ie, phenomenal growth and wealth leading to a middle class). And at a much higher pace. Let's hope they make it successfully. I feel sorry for our African friends. They haven't a clue. They're still in the early stages of development (ie, more intent on killing each other than in any real growth). Sounds rather familiar doesn't it. Some would say that the middle east has a similar problem. Let's hope they can work it out without killing the rest of us on the planet, eh?

georgeou
georgeou

"And by the end of the 60's we were starting to see the progression from "How can I help you?" to "How can I help myself to more?"" Hey I wouldn't mind that so much if it were just "how can I help myself to more" so long as it's legal. The bigger problem is more of "how can the country help me, and what else does my country owe me". JFK's "ask not what your country can do for you" is out the window with the rest of the Kennedy clan.

crabbyabby86
crabbyabby86

Your gross generalizations are... gross. Leaving alone your demeaning words toward the Chinese, Africans and Middle Easterners (it sounds to me like you don't actually consider them friends at all), I must admit I find your argument mean-spirited. Such name-calling is highly unnecessary. I'm one of your liberal atheists. I've been described as arrogant and pushy. I've even been called a sex fiend a couple of times, though my friend was mostly joking. But I have NEVER been called shallow. Just because you'd like a better life for yourself doesn't mean you DON'T want one for everyone else. An abundance of bling, the perspective of atheism, and openness about sex are all contributors to the TOLERANCE that allows the rejection of shallowness you see. It's the self-righteous intolerance like yours that those young people are really rejecting. We, the young, have always cared about other people, but we are scared that you, our elders--parent grandparents etc, will love us less if we do not follow your example. I was lucky enough to have tolerant parents who taught me Christian principles and then made it clear I should make my own choices. I'm sure I would be deeply ashamed of you if I was your kid.

crabbyabby86
crabbyabby86

I am saying that intolerant people (and I am making a HUGE distinction between criticism and intolerance) teach that intolerance to their children--because children learn by example. ttocsmij clearly has a problem with intolerance. Talking about "friends" is clear enough. When I was a child, if my parents had talked that way about their friends, I'd have wondered what they really thought about me and other people they are supposed to love. I would have been scared. Through both fear and the natural order of parents teaching their children how to act, I'd have followed their intolerant example. What a terrible thought.

georgeou
georgeou

"We, the young, have always cared about other people, but we are scared that you, our elders--parent grandparents etc, will love us less if we do not follow your example." When did anyone say they would love you less. If you were my child and you had an alchohol problem and I criticized you for that, does that mean I'm "loving you less"? What kind of twisted upsidedown logic is that? If you had a spending problem and you had a tendency to put yourself in massive debt because you were only "following your heart", would I be loving you less if I told you that you have a problem?

onbliss
onbliss

... your post borders on being unpleasant. I am not able to place my finger on what is bothering me.... but maybe it is the way you talk about the Chinese, Atheists and Africans. That's my first impression, maybe I just have the wrong impression. edited: removed an extra "what" that was in there.

uberg33k50
uberg33k50

That was very well written and the thoughts expressed were dead on!

shermp
shermp

Recently SNL had a fake infocommercial in which a spokesman was touting a book that promised to show people how to get out of debt and stay out. The book was one sentence long ?Don?t buy what you can?t afford? and the joke was him trying to explain this to people who just didn?t get it. No one needs everything now. Prioritize. If you?ve just bought a house, then don?t take a vacation and don?t think you have to have every room fully furnished the day you move in. Your first house doesn?t have to be the biggest, newest and most lavish ? buy something small, live there 5 years and then move up. Buy a cheaper car that uses less gass. A few years ago I was laid off twice in one year ? the second time was right after 911, the IT economy collapsed and I was out of work for 6 months. What kept me going was that I had no credit card debt and I had savings I could tap into. I could cut back on expenses and concentrate on paying the mortgage. I?m grateful that all the years I worked side by side with people who took more and fancier vacations, drove bigger cars, had better furniture and larger houses I was spending less and saving more ? because I was able to come out of 6 months off work with no problems.

georgeou
georgeou

People don't do this and then they blame the country for anything bad happening to them.

a.techno.geek
a.techno.geek

Nippon as an example, will rather then spend their money on cheaply made goods, will save for a quality long lasting product. It is not just Nippon but most other countries as well. Most will save for a more durable product in other countries. Not in America, we buy cheaply produced goods then complain about "planned obsolescence". So as Americans we squander money. We have not trained our children on how to save for what they want and get the good stuff that is more durable and repairable. We have not taught them that, "Yes! they can go to college and they pretty much do debt free." The only thing is, it will take longer to matriculate. Perhaps it will take two years longer. But you can get the degree. But in America patience is not a virtue, we want it and we want it now. Nothing really wrong with that if you can afford it without borrowing, but who can afford it any more and so we borrow. This is a bad cycle to get into. There should really be two things in life to borrow for; Vehicle and housing. We should not even borrow for our college educations, it can be done, but it will take longer (besides in my opinion age 26, 27 means a little more maturity, then 21, 22 years of age)

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

When I was 21 I knew everything. It's been a rapid downhill slide ever since. But I agree that a college loan is our society's way of ensuring that, overall, the relatively poor stay relatively poor. Your comments re "cheaper over time" are interesting becuase most colleges/unis over here have essentially balanced their fees to be pretty similar, irrespective of your mode or method of study.

zlitocook
zlitocook

Until we help our self?s, we have people in the same position here and we need to help them first! Heck look at the jobs we ship out, we know that it will pay allot less then we pay here. But every one liked the idea, and the CIO, COO and the other big wigs got big profits from this. We need to get back to this is our country and if you want to join it you need to learn our customs.

drewmeister
drewmeister

Ssorry but I can not help other countries zlito, what inspired you to write that? George was calm and gracious when he replied, but I want to comment. Can you blame companies for wanting to hire a person to do the work you do for half the salary? The advantage is that that person can write at least one sentence in English. Yes, English. It's a custom here in "this country" for high school graduates to be able to write grammatically correct paragraphs. Oh, I'm sorry. It used to be one of our customs. My point of view is that education has declined in America within the very shortcomings George outlined at the beginning of this discussion. The widespread self-pity is caused by people growing up thinking they need material things but never thinking they need to work if they want to have those things. Sorry about the preaching, I haven't learned yet how to avoid that tone. Like George, I was bored during my early school years. Unfortunately, I missed the day wisdom was taught and never did really apply myself in 17+ years of formal schooling. I do not have a career or retirement fund, but at least I am debt free and do not hope some entity, like the government, will rescue me from my own choices. All I want to do now is be happy in my work and the rest of my life. It's my choice, no one else's.

georgeou
georgeou

I merely pointed out that people from other countries come here in droves because they realize it's the land of golden opportunities. It's just a shame that so many people who are born in the US don't understand that and spend most of their lives in self-pity instead of improving themselves and taking advantage of the wonderful country they live in.

jdclyde
jdclyde

That the Democrats in charge were good people with bad ideas. I have changed that opinion. It is the followers that are not "bad", but rather just wrong.

jdclyde
jdclyde

Because you have stated the reason why the Democrats in power have created this peasant class, that will continue to give power in exchange for handouts. For people that do not understand this idea, research a "gift society". There are many ways to gain power.

jdclyde
jdclyde

we obviously hang them, using 100% natural fibers and no steroids or synthetic fibers that might cause irritation. This is much more efficient and effective. Soilent Green anyone? Not surprising you would not understand the logic of the analogy about the learned dependence that has plagued the poor poor, and ensures the majority will never live productive lives.

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

but there are too many who profit from the dependence of others.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

Interesting discussion. "Time to take this to the next logical level." Part of the problem is that there is power (politically at least) in feeding the "animals". As far as the politicians are concerned anyway. Paul

jdclyde
jdclyde

a dose of reality to show them what they have, or at least what they COULD have if they were not so lazy and/or stupid. Also, it is time for the free ride to end. Only when the gravy train dries up will people start to do for themselves. We all know the old "Don't feed the animals", and the logic behind it. It isn't because the park managers are mean and want the animals to starve, but rather because the animals will become dependent on the scraps and forget how to fend for themselves. Time to take this to the next logical level.

onbliss
onbliss

People usually do not miss things they already have. Subsequently things are taken for granted and lose apparent importance. It is just natural. edited: grammar

CuteElf
CuteElf

Hello. Can I put my 2 cents in? I think you're mostly right, about wanting STUFF and spending your last dime to HAVE stuff. I think what has happened is that America WAS a powerhouse in innovation, manufacturing and creativity. Back in the 1940's. What my take is this: The people growing up in the 1940s'/50's saw they had more money to throw around, and started BUYING the things they didnt NEED, but wanted. The people running the companies said..Oh, we can make money selling to those people too! Let's keep selling! As time passed, the culture of consumption was created and passed on to the next generation and again. Now we sit here, having to have the DKNY jeans and the UGG shoes etc etc..but arent willing to WORK for the money to purchase it. My mother is a consumption person; her house is JUST So, and if you make it dirty Lord Help You. She also has all the knickknacks you can shake a stick at, and her husband has all the new doo-dads for his garage. Me, I've realized that Love and Peace and Confidence makes me happy. Not money, not the cash, not the wonderful newest thingy. Ironically, one of my best friends is a recent immigrant from China. He states that it is much easier to live there, less responsiblity, less things to buy. Simpler lifestyle. He keeps wanting new things, and I remind him its not the newest fishing rod, its the time spent together. Good input, George. CuteElf

georgeou
georgeou

I didn't throw out my statement to make it the last word; anyone's input is always welcome. It's just my opinion that I put up and I try to share some of my experiences. "I think you're mostly right, about wanting STUFF and spending your last dime to HAVE stuff." Ah but there is nothing wrong with spending everything you have so long as you're not spending money you DON'T have. When you spend money you don't have, you only get to go in to debt once and you get a one time advance to spend more than you have. Then you end up servicing the debt for the rest of your life and you only get to spend 60 cents out of every dollar you make from here on out. "Ironically, one of my best friends is a recent immigrant from China. He states that it is much easier to live there, less responsiblity, less things to buy. Simpler lifestyle. He keeps wanting new things, and I remind him its not the newest fishing rod, its the time spent together." Simpler life isn't equal to better life. There's a good reason your friend came here and is staying here like the millions of other immigrants. BTW, life is anything BUT simple if you actually tried to live that life. You'll spend every moment of your life scraping by. Try living without modern conveniences like washing machines and refrigerators. Try living without hot water like the average person in China. What he?s right about is that you don?t have any time to pity yourself since you?re spending your whole life just trying to survive over there. Come to think of it, the Chinese saying "eat full nothing to do" (litteral translation) comes to my mind when I think of Americans. Ask your friend what that means. It would seem like the better the living conditions and the more free time people have, the more time they have to self pity and go in to depression. Rock stars, movie stars, celebs seem to be disproportionally screwed up even though they have all the money in the world. If you took the average person who has depression about life and you put him on an airplane that loses its engines. Let that airplane drop 30,000 feet and have it recover its engines in the last few seconds to land safely. The person who entered the plane hating the world would most likely get off that plane and kiss the ground.

onbliss
onbliss

Your views on not wishing to go back to China touched a chord. I am not sure of your circumstances, so can not in any way comment. Having come from a middle-class in India, and living in America, I would want to go back to India someday. Need to be with the parents when they are old and need to take care of them. My wife and I both work in the application programming area, we have two smart boys - they appear to be smarter than me, they must have taken on their mommy :-) We have enough money, we take good vacations - atleast twice a year. We buy anything that we really want. [b]Zero Debt.[/b]. Lots of new friends, exposure to wonderful people, convenient lifestyle, great work atmosphere, things are great in America.... but yet would like to go back. The emotional tug of family is far greater. Parents, brothers, sistes, uncles & aunts are not there to share the life - joyous and sad. Children do not get to spend time with grand parents, I feel like having robbed my parents and in-laws of the joy of being grand-parents. Things are not going to be rosy, when I return that I understand. But you miss what you do not have. Now I do not have my people. It is not that there are no frictions in the family. We have our usual share of fights, misunderstanding, swollen egoes, bickerings, silliness.... but sometimes you miss even those things. I think that is what makes us all humans. But I would miss America - a beautiful country with so many beautiful people (and ofcourse the luxury, lifestyle etc :-) )

georgeou
georgeou

I came at a young age and I've adopted this land as my home. If you didn't know me, you would probably think I was born here. But I can understand where you are coming from.

onbliss
onbliss

...I understood your position.

Zen37
Zen37

At least, that's how i see it. If you strive for things you can't afford and you do not do what you have to do to get it, you will be unhappy, responsibility; yours. If you strive for things you can't afford and cannot do what you have to do to get it, then you are setting yourself up for failure and unhappiness, responsibility; yours. If you strive for simple things in life that you can afford and get for yourself, you are setting yourself up for happiness, responsibility; yours If you strive for simple things in life that you can afford but don't set up yourself to get and become unhappy because of it, responsibility; yours. We live in a world (unfortunatly i think) that values image more than anything in the world. The reason? It's the new power. Humans throughout history have always lusted over power. Thurst for it without ever being quenched enought. More more more. It makes our world go round. Rich people make tons of money off people who want it, which in turns gives them the power. Poor people want money because they perceive the power it gives rich people. Rich people show their power through their image, and image is what you own, wear, drink, etc. It takes great courage today to renounce material things, even if partially, today. But if you do that, and focus on values instead, friendship, sharing, helpfullness, respect, etc. You will find happiness a lot quicker and a lot easier to get. My 2 cents anyways. Sorry for being so phylosophical.

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

When you're at the bottom, everything looks better. When you're at the top, everything looks worse. Those in-between (that's most of us) have a [b]choice[/b] of how everything else looks.

waity85
waity85

still wouldn't mind trying sitting at the top with everything looking worse though ;-)

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

"optimism" and managing stress / worry, putting it all into perspective etc etc. These are things that can actually be taught. Will everyone take on the learning? Of course not. But I think when you're looking to make a positive change you can only make that change in the percentage of people that are willing / able to do so. There is the percentage that will never change, at either end of the scale. (I'm not suggesting James that your distant relative is in this camp whatsoever - just commenting overall). But I think that there is a significant amount of people who don't want to live like they do (and that's their attitudinal environment, not just their material surrounds) that could be helped by, from a very early age, being taught the importance of a happy and optimistic outlook on their life. And as they get older actually giving them some of the skills that enable this to happen. But of course, as many famous folks have said, if the choice was between rich and depressed and poor and depressed, I'd take the rich.

JamesRL
JamesRL

I have a somewhat distant relative (no longer with us) who made a fortune off a few patents. He came up from nothing, fought in WWII, got an engineering degree and made his mark. He did get a chance to spend his money, but from what I recall (he died when I was a teen), he still had worries and concerns, just different ones. He was sued a number of times, unsuccessfully but it still took up a lot of time and energy. He bought passed along some of his fortune to his kids before he died, but worried about the inheritance taxes and whether his kids would fritter away the money (I see the kids every year at a family reunion and they are fine). He worried about the companies he founded and how the new owners would look after them. Having been in the conservative party for years, I've seen many rich people extremely concerned and obsessed by taxes. They spend a great deal of time and energy avoiding tax. The trick in life, is to strive for more, but learn to be happy with what you have. James

waity85
waity85

Thanks guys, I'm about to graduate University in the UK and this thread definitely made me think about what I'm doing and how I want to live my life when I get to the real world. Being halfway between working solid for everything I want, and being in the fortunate position of having a semi-silver spoon. I know which way I'd rather go. I'm currently working full time through my final year when I could have easily sat back and taken it easy. Similarly fortunate people I've seen fall out with their parents when their xmas present was 'only' a new shiny Renault Clio (sports hatchback for those across the pond) I want to make sure I can look back at life and be proud of where I am because of ME.

NOW LEFT TR
NOW LEFT TR

the Renault Clio was not to your satisfaction waity85. Why else would you be so specific in brand and model???? A Renault Clio is a Renault Clio across the pond as well you know...

onbliss
onbliss

..he was talking about his friend. Come on give him the benefit of doubt.

georgeou
georgeou

People who are mad that they "only" got a Renault Clio end up miserable their entire lives. Those are the kind of people waiting for the day their parents croak so they can collect their inheritance. People who at least have to work a little for what they have grow up to enjoy life and be more successful.

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

You've gotta luv this thread for giving us all the Hyde Park Speaker's Corner box, don't you? (Eg [i]the vast majority of youth in China are far more happy and optimistic and this is true of other developing nations as well[/i] - wow. Get out into the country-side for that one, did they?) Let's face it, most of us are talking from the point of being (I am assuming) a group of relatively well-educated people who have been able, through mainly hard work and a lot of luck being born to whom and where most of us were) to get where we are. Our backgrounds play a lot in that, our parents etc. Now picture this? What if you were just plain-out dumb? What if you weren't good at school? What if some things sound too good to be true but you think they may be anyway? So when you're 18, you've got a kid or two, rent being paid by social security, and a BANK says here have some free money to buy that flat-screen you've always wanted. Or the shop says "it's yours, take it, nothing to pay until 2010 so don't worry". And if you're lucky enough to actually be able to pay that back, and the bank says HEY GOOD LOOKIN' here let's add another $10,000 limit. If we don't actually train people to have some basic skills then it seems ironic to blame them for making the basic mistakes that, with few exceptions, every single one of us have made at some point. C'mon, telling me you NEVER spent too much? Never had the impulse purchase? Luckily for us we had the resources (mentally and monetarily) to claw out of it, whether that took 6 dys, weeks or years. And the 'no debt' message is illogical. Some debt is good. In some cases lots of debt can be great. It is learning how to use it, recognise it for what it is and having the skills to manage the other aspects of your life. Let's stop teaching kids about crap like saponifcation or binomial equations. Let's make sure that when they leave school they actually have proper skills. And let's not beleive the b-llshit about deregulation particularly in the banking business. They are neither moral organisations nor there for the benefit of their clients. They will not hesitate to screw anyone sideways if they think that they can get a buck. They must be controlled and their policies of giving credit to people who could never pay for it must been seen for the felonies that they are. They deliberately love to target the uneducated, as much as the tobacco companies did and still do in the happy developing nations. The only difference between a bank's policy to to target these people and a drug dealer is that (most of the time) you have to pay the drug dealer up front.

georgeou
georgeou

"Let's stop teaching kids about crap like saponifcation or binomial equations. Let's make sure that when they leave school they actually have proper skills." Here is a great audio clip response to your 'I don't need no stinking algebra' attitude. http://www.pushback.com/Wattenburg/radio/why_algebra.mp3

georgeou
georgeou

First of all, you really don't learn x+y=z in Algebra. That's 3D space representing a simple line and you would rarely see 3D coordinates in an Algebra 1 or 2 class in highschool. You probably won't see that till pre-calculus and beyond. Second, if you're talking about x+y=1, those are simple 2D graphs. You may not be able to see the use for this, but you can't learn the other components of math without this. You can't just pick and choose the chapters you want to learn, they're all related. If you want to do any kind of business or accounting, you're going to be required to understand some basic Calculus concepts such as rate and inflection points. What's really pathetic is the fact that our high school students are about 4 years behind in math compared to students from Europe and Asia. The fact that American parents will actually try to undermine their own children and tell them they don't need this x+y=1 "crap" is just a shocking illustration about the problem with American attitude on math. Only in America do so many people joke about their ignorance level on math and I've even heard teachers in school doing this.

wayoutinva
wayoutinva

But if you rely simply on the afore mentioned equation to teach algebra, then those who dont get it...probaly wont ever get it because they will get frustrated and simply give up..and with todays push for the testing standards most teachers (at least in my area) no longer have the time for the individual teaching sometimes required for students before the light goes on...and how often in real life do you see the equation of x+y=z..unless you are a math teacher or scientist..Again show them how & why it applies in real life (maybe ask them what they want to do when they leave school and show them an example of where the knowledge will benefit them) and you will probably keep their attention and their desire to learn it..is that so hard or complicated that it cant be done...

georgeou
georgeou

"And the example you gave is an example of what I am taliking about...real-world applications instead of x+y=z" What it the world do you mean? You can't on the one hand say you want to teach math and say you don't want to teach equations. You don't get to choose the kinds of equations you need, you either learn algebra with all that it encompasses or you don't learn it. Math is all about real-world applications whether you can see a direct connection or not.

wayoutinva
wayoutinva

All I am saying is that some kids will not make it thru school on strict academics..I dont care what you try..either because they simply dont want to learn it, or simply cannot grasp the subject suffeciently for them to progress. And the example you gave is an example of what I am taliking about...real-world applications instead of x+y=z...I personally knof of a few P.E.s' who had trouble with algebra because they couldnt relate to anything pratical the way it was being taught...but once they did finally get past it and went to trig etc..they were fine I guess because the teacher for that class went to the trouble to show them how and why it was important. And dont knock the manual skills because right know some of those are paying better then this field..if for nothing else than there is simply not enough skilled labor to go around..Brick layers in my area are getting $1 per brick layed...and a good brick layer can lay 2-3 bricks a minute on average..so do the math. I personally learn the math that I need to do the job..ask your engineer friends how much of the math that they had to take in college they actually use in everyday work..you would be surprised how much is not used depending on the profession...

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

George if I have missed something I will profusely apologise and throw myself at the mercy of the e-court. But I have been up and down the thread and have not actually seen a suggestion or an idea, from you, about how you would go about changing the circumstances so that you pay less tax and have less burden. So far you're standing on the soap-box screaming at the masses to just stop and be better. History shows that this hasn't actually worked. So, somewhat ironically, you're complaining about the complainers. Your two suggestions were a) save 15% of your salary but you then immediately said that, for some US peculiarity, it may have little or no effect; and b) getting into a broken aircraft which made a point about scaring some sense into the person. Now there is nothing wrong with complaining per se. It can be fun and personally beneficial at times. The thread has also been full of very interesting chats and backgrounds of people who've had the big struggle and come out on top, in their own manner. But there is surely one immutable law that says if you ain't going to change it, it ain't going to change. So, would you like to actually make a suggestion on how to change some aspect, that would have a material flow-on change to the small percentage of the population that want to break their own poverty and dependance cycle but don't know or see how? I think we can all agree that no change will ever make a total difference across the board - there will always be the percentage that want it all for nothing. And can we all agree that algebra is a very strong educational and vocational skill?????? You still haven't convinced me of saponification or binomial equations :). {BTW Your point was on the plane flight had some merit, albeit in a slightly macabre manner. But I can't agree. In the USA, I would suggest the person would get off the plane, they'd be feigning near-death, they'd get themselves a neck brace, they'd wheelchair their way to the first lawyer's office and look forward to their new condo in Miami when the suit was settled out of court. Your legal system is truly a wonderous beast}.

georgeou
georgeou

"Yes, it makes sense to have wood shop in high school. Metal shop classes are good too. So long as they teach some practical skills. But do not, ever, advocate these as a valid substitute for math and science classes. Not unless you want kids to have menial jobs instead of careers." That pretty much sums it up for me. Your entire post is excellent!

gsquared
gsquared

Okay, I've actually done both construction work and carpentry, and I hate to bust your bubble, but if you want to be the boss, you need to be very, very sharp at math, including algebra and geometry+basic trig. If you want to really be on the top of that field of endeavor, you need basic calculus too. If all you ever want to do is the physical labor, you don't need anything other than the ability to do what someone else tells you. If you have any ambition at all, you need math skills, even if it's just to be the foreman of a small crew. It's not about figuring out who gets how many beers. It's about figuring out how many 2X4s it takes to build a modification onto a basic house template. The cooky-cutter house from a "cookbook" is simple. The book tells you how many 2X4s, how many sheets of plywood, how many feet of wire, how many feet of each type of pipe and duct, how many cubic yards of concrete, etc. But what happens the moment the buyer says, "I love this model, but can you put a covered walkway between the house and the garage (I hate getting rained on), join the living room and the dining room together into one big room, and turn the third bedroom into a 2/3s-its-current-size walk-in closet for the master bedroom. Oh, and dump the fireplace, since I'll never use it." The guy who can't do geometry and algebra cannot figure out what changes this makes in the building materials needed. Simply can't. He has to go get a higher-paid person who can do the math to figure it for him. Would you ever, ever recommend to someone, "don't bother getting the skills needed for a potential promotion to a higher paid job"? If you would actually tell someone that (unless the person is mentally, physically or emotionally incapable of ever being promoted despite any best-efforts at education), then by all means, tell people not to bother with algebra and geometry+trig. The guy with no math skills will have a decent job, quite likely, if he can cut wood and operate a nail gun without killing/maiming anyone. Those skills take a couple of minutes to pick up. Because they are so easy to pick up, there's effectively infinite competition for the jobs that only require them. If the job also requires the ability to run a power drill, you're adding a few more minutes. (To become good at these things takes longer, but you can train a new guy to cut 2X4s to a specific length with a circular saw and a pair of sawhorses in about 5 minutes; less if he pays attention.) The person with those skills will probably always have some sort of work. It won't be well-paid. It won't have much if any benefits. It's better (in some ways) than flipping burgers or being a Wal-Mart greeter. The person who can do those things, and who can also do the necessary math to handle the custom requests, will have a better-paying job and less competition. There's a chance of promotion to something with some benefits. This is the real world here. I've actually done these things. This is not theory or social politics. (I'm not a real carpenter because I haven't cut off any body parts, but I do my own cabinetry. I do have a scar from an incident with a sledgehammer and a really rotten concrete wall, so maybe that counts.) Yes, it makes sense to have wood shop in high school. Metal shop classes are good too. So long as they teach some practical skills. But do not, ever, advocate these as a valid substitute for math and science classes. Not unless you want kids to have menial jobs instead of careers. And my joke about cut-off body parts has a point too. The guys who have no skills except running a table saw and a nail gun are the ones who cut off fingers and have interesting and painful scars. The ones who do the thinking and planning have papercuts instead. Which do you want your kid to have?

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

All reasons aren't academic ones. I was planning on attending college after high school, but in the middle of the 10th grade my family had a financial catastrophe that made that plan impossible. And while I didn't completely abandon college prep (I dropped pre-calc in favor of an electronics course, and traded Spanish 3 and 4 for Drafting and Automotives), I did take as many elective courses in my final two years of high school as would fit in my schedule and that I thought would give me a little head start on some knowledge that would help me go to work as soon as possible.

wayoutinva
wayoutinva

As was stated earlier not all kids are going to make it in school thru the academic route. With that being said there should be two career paths in school, one for the kids who can be reasonably determined will succeed in the academic route, and the other a vocational route for those kids who will not. I would rather do that than to simply let the kids drop out and become a problem for society later on. I personally was not and am not good in math, never was..not the higher math anyway. but was good in english and history/govt in school..so I still took the academic route..but what of those kids who are bored with school and simply cause problems for the other kids because they are bored..now you have one (or 2) kids affecting the rest because of compulsary education...if we can give them a marketable skill, then we (should) have a productive citizen instead of having a problem child that the rest of socitey as a whole has to deal with. You said calculus should be math 101..maybe so..but if they havent changed the examples since I was in school then quite a few kids are going to have a problem determing how/why & where the math fits into their lives..Make it revelant and more kids would probably be interested in it.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Why force them down a path? Why not give them a trade that they can use? The problem in the US is we've totally abandoned vocational training as if it were this horrible thing. Learning a vocation is an excellent way to give the non-academic students the tools they need to succeed and do well.

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

[i]We can't assume any child isn't capable of an academic education.[/i] most children do not have an immediate opportunity for an academic education, and in those cases, a back-up plan couldn't hurt.

georgeou
georgeou

Vocational training is a lot more "fun" than academic training and it has a tendency to distract from academic training in my experience. I would prefer that we give kids the academic fundamentals first (at least until the 10th grade) and you can always learn a vocation later. Schools should teach the academic fundamentals and they're not doing that now. We have too many high school graduates that don't even know basic pre-Algebra, are functionally illiterate, have no clue about geography/history/government. In the long run, this will cause social unrest in this country because the native born inhabitants will always be academically inferior to immigrants and H1Bs. For example, half the Engineering graduates in this country are not native born.

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

Somehow I've given you the impression that the only skills I am talking about are vocational. There are a range of skills that can be taught and improved. Unfortunately in many cases they are assumed to be inate which I don't think is the case. http://techrepublic.com.com/5208-6230-0.html?forumID=102&threadID=204880&messageID=2128464 And they don't have to be either/or. Such skills/training can augment the curriculum, not replace it wholesale. And remember george "you" are not the problem and as such you don't make a good example of where change may be effective or otherwise. If all people had your drive then this thread wouldn't exist.

georgeou
georgeou

I can't agree with you that kids should be put in to vocational training right off the bat. We can't assume any child isn't capable of an academic education. Heck, people though Einstein was stupid when he first started school. I personally did very poorly in lower levels of school because it bored me. I could have easily been classified as someone who wasn't able to learn academics. I was a total math flunky before Algebra and Geometry because I was bored. But once I got to Algebra, Trig, Calculus, I moved from the bottom of the class to the top of the class. It would be a terrible mistake if we started putting 9th graders in to Vocational training and denied them an academic education.

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

I think the point that I was making was that for many students, vocational based training is a far superior method of actually generating real change in their environment by giving them something a) that they can do; and b) that can make a real and positive change. Your audio clip was both sensible and gibberish at the same time. Few people, especially us who have tertiary education and done the hard yards, would denegrate the value of education. Algebra in its basic form meets the criteria absolutely of vocational education for exactly the reasons that Dr Dre on the radio show discussed. His example of weighing bricks????? I absolutely bet I could go to 50 building sites and not get a scale, a 10-pound weight and a brick and a half in the same sentence. And on the other side I'd bet that there are about a million examples around the world where an untrained builder could have told the degree-trained engineer that a certain wall, if built the way on the plan, will never stand up on its own. But I wouldn't use that as a justification not to have engineers!! The problem was that he made the caller look a lttle silly (which in the context of a radio call isn't that difficult to do). The trivial example he used was a classic example of why we are wasting time. Now if he had said: It's a building site, it's 3:30pm on a Friday afternoon, and the boss has turned up with 3 slabs of brewskies. There are 11 guys on site and two can't drink 'cos they have to drive too far to get home, so how many bottles each do the other men get? I know maths f---wits who'd answer that quickly and accurately.

georgeou
georgeou

He was not making a figure of speech. And no, I don't think we aught to be teaching most kids a vocational skill in place of an academic education. We shouldn't assume a child isn't capable of learning Algebra and Calculus along with English, Social Studies, and Science. As far as I'm concerned, Calculus is math 101 and should be completed by the 10th grade. That audio clip I posted was VERY relevant to his comments.

onbliss
onbliss

You correctly explained on your comments about shooting yourself (on the leg?) as a figure of speech. The point he is trying to make is that kids ought to be taught "proper skills". He did not say do not teach maths or science in general. Well I had to look up saponification to know what it meant :-) Either I was taught and I forgot about it, or they just did not teach me or it was just a footnote in one of the text books. canIberichnowplease was trying to make a point, and used a math and chemistry terms.

jdclyde
jdclyde

[i]"What if you were just plain-out dumb? What if you weren't good at school? What if some things sound too good to be true but you think they may be anyway?"[/i] Came from a broken home, from the time I was four. I almost didn't graduate from high school. it bored me, so I didn't show up as much as the school thought I should. I made mistakes, but I learned from them. I got into cc debt, but that was mostly from having twin boys running up huge medical bills and it was the only way to pay for them, NOT for a cool stereo or TV. You can not blame the drug dealer for you doing drugs, and should be embarrassed to imply such a thing, and the same goes for debt and banks. "They deliberately love to target the uneducated". And WHO'S fault is it that these people are uneducated, the banks? Again, you embarrass yourself. Someone can only take advantage of you if you allow them to. Next you will be blaming McDonalds for people being over weight. No one held that box of twinkees to your mouth and made you eat. You are the master of your own destiny, and have no one to blame but yourself when YOU screw things up. Personal responsibility, what a concept.

uberg33k50
uberg33k50

First George-- I read a lot of your posts and I know you take a lot of grief at times but you are right on here. Second JD -- BLESS YOU! Accepting responsibility for one's self and actions had been one of my bandwagons for a very long time. Part of why America is in the state that it is goes back to whenever it became popular to teach people that "it's not your fault". We should start a movement and see if we can get things to swing back the way they should be.

georgeou
georgeou

"You are the master of your own destiny, and have no one to blame but yourself when YOU screw things up. Personal responsibility, what a concept." Exactly, until people understand this concept they will never be out of debt. One thing that I notice about people in debt is that they almost always blame it on the Banks and the Corporations that sell goods. It always has to be someone else's fault.

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

just keep on paying taxes, higher interest rates and installing more security cameras on the house. You're destined to continually repeat history. Unless you actually want to change something instead of just whingeing. I BELEIVE in personal responsibility! I live it! I love it! I recommend it! I think that, as I said, not everyone is inately bred with those skills (as is evidenced by the very reason for this thread!!!!). "And WHO'S fault is it that these people are uneducated, the banks?". No JD I neither said nor implied that. Where the bank is at fault? An example - the bank's friendly loans officer comes to meet Joe and Joanne public. They agree to a loan. They tell them specifically - don't worry, if you have trouble making the payment we sit down and work it out. we'll look after you. Joe and Joanne decide to do it. When they miss their first payment the bank forecloses. Joe and Joanne cant afford a lawyer - if they could they wouldn't be in that spot in the first place. They end up in a cycle that they will likely never get out of. And the person who really pays for that is not them, it is you and me. Your defence of the banks sounds suspiciously like the defence of the cigarette companies. Yes there is personal responsibility. But there is also responsibility of the provider / supplier to act in a proper and moral fashion as well with full disclosure. I think all governments and courts around the world hold that to be a reasonable 'given'. We have consumer protection laws becuase it isn't always simply the consumer's fault.

georgeou
georgeou

"What if you were just plain-out dumb? What if you weren't good at school? What if some things sound too good to be true but you think they may be anyway?" What if you were born with no arms or legs or you had some accident that left you disabled? Go tell those people in the paraolympics that they need someone to feel sorry for them. There is always someone less fortunate and it's only a question of whether you're going to pity yourself and make excuses or if you're going take control of your own life. If you were in China or some third world nation and you fit this description, you'd probably end up sleeping on some out-door construction site. Here in the USA, you can figure out a trade and live better than upper-middle class people in China. "Let's stop teaching kids about crap like saponifcation or binomial equations. Let's make sure that when they leave school they actually have proper skills." Umm, a good education is not crap. That's basic math that should have been learned before highschool.

lexor
lexor

No matter what any of us say, we as Americans don't realize how good we have it. And if we tried living in circumstances other than what we have become accustom to and bemoan our state of affairs (be it "The Governments" fault) we still have it good. So be thankful for where we all are and those who find life a little less bearable should do something about it and stop blaming.

georgeou
georgeou

Sorry for your friend and he is an exception. But even in a severe case like that, there are ways out of that vicious cycle through self dicipline though. What we're talking about is people who carry a life time of debt and end up spending their whole lives being ripped off by interest.

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

A friend of mine was involved in a traffic accident and was badly injured. The accident was not his fault, and the other lady didn't have insurance (and she is 'judgement proof'). The problem: His medical bills are over $165k (so far). His auto insurance only covers $50k for medical and $10k for uninsured motorist, and his medical insurance excludes coverage for automobile accidents. So he obtained a second mortgage on his home for $90k. That left him with $15k which he put on his credit cards.

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

and it's probably part of the problem: Who am I, or who are you, to tell someone they are not happy enough or fortunate enough or wealthy enough? Would we tell the Amish they are not happy, or fortunate, or that they are impoverished?

georgeou
georgeou

"Is it okay for banks to deliberately target the uneducated? To deliberately muddy (or indeed completely hide) the consequences of their inactions?" It's the individual's fault for going in to debt. Until people realize that it's their own responsibility to spend wisely, someone will always take advantage of them. If it's not one of those rip-off places that give you 85 cents on the dollar for next week's pay check (say we outlawed that), then it would be the Mafia making those ripoff loans. If it isn't the state taking advantage of those who don't understand the laws of probability using the lotto, the Mafia would be running their numbers games. "I'd also contend that an optimistic, educated, entrepreneurial and driven population is the LAST thing big business, most churches/organised religions or many governments want. Evidence? With all the people blaming the government from the 50's onwards, just remember that for the most part that government was Republican. The friend of business and the free market. ;)" I don't know what you're getting at since it's hard to understand your writing with all the typos and malformed sentences. Small and large business and corporations are made up of individuals like you and me and they are the backbone of this nation. Having an educated population is for everyone's good. Having uneducated professional self-pitying victims is what too many in America have become and that's great for politicians that are willing to promise a chicken in every pot with free this and free that. Everything has to turn in to some kind of entitlement and everyone is taught that they are somehow entitled to something and everything. "I would contend that by investing in teaching these skills, we would actually lessen the tax burden for everyone. " I have no problem teaching some people trade skills if they truly show no ability to learn by the time they're in high-school but I really doubt this would be the case with the vast majority of kids, kids need an academic education first so that they can at least learn how to spell and form proper sentences. They need to have some level of math education so they can think logically and solve problems. One of the things about American culture that drives me crazy is that too many Americans like to brag about how bad they are in math.

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

Is it okay for banks to deliberately target the uneducated? To deliberately muddy (or indeed completely hide) the consequences of their inactions? Are you aware that there is a significant number of credit / financial organisations in the world whose profit model is based solely on deliquencies or defaults? And with respect to your claim for education, think about this. That is the way that schools have been teaching throughout the period that you say the decay in happiness, outlook and debt has occurred. Are you saying that we should simply continue with all this and hope that something changes, despite us not actually changing anything that may have an impact??? George I think we are saying similar things, funnily enough. I completely beleive in the value and need for optimism, happiness and self-drive. Unlike your good self and many you quote, not everyone has the skills to do these things as inately as everyone else. There are a set of skills around each one of these things that, if learnt and supported and practised will acheive many of the things you put forward as strong outcomes. Some of these skills are monetary and some are people-skills-ish whatever the term for that is. I would contend that by investing in teaching these skills, we would actually lessen the tax burden for everyone. This is a good debt to get into! Less social security. Less hospitalisation for every flow-on effect that comes from poverty in developed countries. Less police. Wanna really, truly save taxes? I'd also contend that an optimistic, educated, entrepreneurial and driven population is the LAST thing big business, most churches/organised religions or many governments want. Evidence? With all the people blaming the government from the 50's onwards, just remember that for the most part that government was Republican. The friend of business and the free market. ;)

jdclyde
jdclyde

I had always envisioned you as more of a touchie-feelie kind of guy. Who know you were a realist all along? A big part of the problem is politics in the US. The party that is out of power will say and do ANYTHING to make you unhappy with the way things are, so you will "vote for a change". The most recent example was the last election where people that put fourth NO PLAN for change were elected. These people that have created a victim culture a despicable humans. Past generations were poor, but still proud and lived good lives. Now if you are poor, it is an excuse for illegal behavior and not your fault. Need plastic to get a hotel or rent a car? That is what check cards are for. I don't charge anything anymore, and accept for lawyer bills, everything is looking good. Why? Because I don't feel the need to have more and more stuff to validate myself or determine my happiness.

onbliss
onbliss

"Need plastic to get a hotel or rent a car? That is what check cards are for." I resisted getting a credit card for almost 1.5 years, and my check-card was doing great work for me, that is until a car-rental agency denied rental to me as I did not have a credit-card. Obviously now, I have a credit card :-)

jdclyde
jdclyde

the check card IS by visa, and does have the same protections from abuse that a standard credit card does, except the money comes out of my checking account instead of going on account. I DO have two other actual credit cards, I just don't use them. For emergencies, don'tchaknow?

georgeou
georgeou

Credit cards are safer to use than ATM cards because if someone rips off your card, the vendor eats the loss. I just had $600 of bogus charges on my card that my CC company called me about that were suspicious and we stopped payment, canceled the card, and sent me a new one. I think it's good for everyone to have just 1 credit card but pay off the whole balance every single month. But I agree with your point, that the only person one needs to blame for his/her debts is the person in the mirror. Stop spending money you don't have and you'll have more money to spend every month because you won't be servicing the debt.

kevin.kennedy
kevin.kennedy

Took me about 30yrs to figure that one out, but I finished paying off my personal debt a couple of years ago and now have just my share of the mortgage and a car loan. I use my credit card for fraud protection and pay it off religiously every month. Believe me not being saddled with crippling debt is a liberating experience. I'm much happier and sleep soundly at night knowing that no creative financial juggling is required to pay my bills. In general I also agree with everything else George has said in his posts re this thread.

john.a.wills
john.a.wills

one needs to blame for ONE'S debts is the person in the mirror

georgeou
georgeou

The CC company makes 2% on average off each transaction but the vendor pays that and passes on that cost to ALL the customers including those who pay cash. So people who pay cash subsidize those who pay by credit card. So CCs are a great deal if you have the financial discipline to use them. It is dangerous for some people though because it's just too darn convenient. It's almost like giving a reformed alcoholic a sip of alcohol.

georgeou
georgeou

You are right that it is ultimately passed on to the consumer, but realize that it does hurt the vendor if they have statistically higher cases of fraud. Fraud goes directly to their bottom line, trust me on that. They can't just pass on everything because that raises their prices and makes them less competitive.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Don't forget that even if you promptly pay your card and incure no interst charges, the CC company still makes money from you. Retailers pay a percentage of the revenue from sales on CC to the CC company (thats why department stores like you to use their cards as the profit on an item can be 1/2/3% higher). So the revenue from the CC companies pays for much of the infrastructure. Getting revnue from the customer who doesn't pay on time is the bonus. James

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

"eat the loss". It's just like shoplifting and taxes. The business just passes the cost along.

bigbigboss
bigbigboss

There are two kinds of Chinese: Haves and Have-nots Those who cannot afford to go to school are the have-nots. Through a lot of surveys (done by organizations not controlled by the Chinese government), you will find that they are very pessimistic, especially about when and where they will get their next meal. There is a "small group" of Haves. Of course, a small group in China is tens, if not hundreds, of million people. They are the ones who can afford all the luxuries and comforts of life. They take long holidays every year in Europe and America, and they go to the best schools in China, and US, and Europe. These people are very optimistic about what they will do, and what China will do. They all have friends and families in high places to guarantee their bright future.

TechExec2
TechExec2

. [b]It's all relative[/b] How you feel about your situation is relative. It's all about where you are now and where you see yourself going. People in developing countries who have little or nothing, but see opportunity to improve their lives are happy. People in developed countries who have so much, but see things degrading in their country are not happy, even though they have a lot to be happy about compared to some others. [b]The ultimate form of self-pity[/b] Suicide is the ultimate form of self-pity. You said it yourself: [b][i]"...Heck I'd shoot myself before I go back to that kind of life..."[/i][/b] What a telling statement that is. Your prosperity has raised the bar of where despair sets in, just like for every other American. [b]It's about direction, up or down[/b] The problem is not [u]with Americans[/u]. The problem is [u]with America[/u]. Things are heading up for many people in China. Things are heading down for many people in America. This is obvious to everyone. It's as simple as that. We can solve this! But, what is our government doing about it? Their actions are making it worse for everyone but those who own America, the top 5%. It's almost enough to turn a conservative into a liberal. [b]Get to work[/b] It's inappropriate to judge Americans harshly for not liking this. But, it does not excuse anyone in America for carrying around a bad attitude. Such people need to wake up, get off their butt, get to work, and make things the best they can be. And, how appropriate to be thankful for what you still have, on Thanksgiving Day.

georgeou
georgeou

"Suicide is the ultimate form of self-pity. You said it yourself: "...Heck I'd shoot myself before I go back to that kind of life..." What a telling statement that is. Your prosperity has raised the bar of where despair sets in, just like for every other American" Ah c'mon, that was a figure of speech. I wouldn't really shoot myself. My point is that I'd rather have zero money, zero english, work in a sweat shop here in the USA and work my way up than go back to China even if I had a good life there. That's not just hypothetical, it's exactly what my Mom did and it's the life I lived. "The problem is not with Americans. The problem is with America. Things are heading up for many people in China. Things are heading down for many people in America. This is obvious to everyone. It's as simple as that." Sorry, but that's a pathetically sad statement in my opinion. We have 4% unemployment in this country. You have no idea how hard life is in China. The problem IS with native-born Americans because they're the only ones feeling sorry for themselves. I know people who ran through land mind fields and swam through shark infested water to get to freedom and eventually to the USA. Every single immigrant that comes to this country today knows how good the opertunities are here. It's only the people born here that can't see how good things are under their noses. Hey don't take my word for it, move to China or some other third world country and try it out. I don't mean staying in a hotel, I mean go try and live like the natives in China. Walk a mile in their shoes and it will cure any kind of American self-pity. If there was something wrong with America, you wouldn't have people dying to come here.

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

George, just two simple questions ... 1. Do you have A SUGGESTION for changing the circumstance, or are you so down-hearted about it that you feel it can never change? 1A. If you do have a suggestion, please make it. 2. ($hit I should have stuck with vocational maths at school. I can work in imaginary numbers but can't add up. Doh.) DO you honestly feel that shouting at a significant group of people that they just should stop whining and get up and make themselves better, is: a) (doh! again) really any different to anything that has happened in the last, oh, 10,000 years? and b) likely to have a result? And take TE2's point. Your 4.4% is neither accurate nor can it be safely compared to other countries. IR statistics are bent, particularly by right-leaning govts, to [b]not[/b] count significant groups of the population and thus make for prettier headlines. Check and see if it includes disabled people, long-term unemployed, older unemployed people (say over 60 or 65) or other little tricks like that. You may be surprised. Most western countries enjoy very full unemployment compared to historic trends. US's performance is great but it isn't unique.

georgeou
georgeou

I never said I don't care about people. In fact I care enough to talk about personal responsibility as the only answer to personal debt. It's how I was raised, it's how I raise my children. It's your opinion if you think I'm somehow being uncaring.

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

He hasn't actually suggested any change that may alter or improve the overall situation, throughout this entire thread. His answer seems to be "cut your hair and get a real job - thats what I did so what about you?". Which any parent of a teenager knows makes them personally feel better but rarely gets a result.

georgeou
georgeou

"I know what "figure of speech" means, smartass !!" I'm really not trying to be. You asked me why I said "I'd shoot myself" and I said it was merely a figure of speech. You could have left it at that but you insisted my answer wasn't good enough and that I shouldn't have said it. So I don't know what to tell you if you won't except my simple explanation and I don't understand why you want to keep dwelling on this petty issue. 4.4% unemployment is EXTREMELY good. Not long ago, 6% unemployment was considered "full employment" because there was a natural rate of job turn over. Look at Europe and their double digit + unemployment numbers. As for the quality of the jobs, we have among the highest paying jobs in the world. I don't know how much more clear it gets than that. That's not a read herring, that's just plain fact. I hear what you're saying on everything else, I just can't agree with you. I've said all there is to say and we'll just have to agree to disagree.

TechExec2
TechExec2

. I simply said that Americans are losing ground on some important things. It's America past vs. America present vs. America future. It has nothing to do with China. You did not offer ANYTHING to counter my point. All you did was offer "Straw Man" and "Red Herring" debate devices in response. These devices are like the "Jedi Mind Trick'. They only work on the weak minded. Before I respond to that, we agree on an important point: [b]ANY AMERICANS WHINERS NEED A GOOD SLAPPING[/b] I guess I have to say it more clearly. You and I agree on this. Any American who is whining needs a good slapping. There is still lots of opportunity here, just not necessarily in what you might have been doing during the last 20-30 years. Manufacturing careers inside the USA are dying (but this is no excuse for whining!). [b][i]"Look up "figure of speech"."[/i][/b] I know what "figure of speech" means, smartass :-) !! [b][i]"There is nothing wrong with paying for your own health care insurance when you look at the kinds of taxes Canadians pay."[/i][/b] Red Herring!! I never said anything about socialized health care. The price is rising faster than income every year. Losing ground!! [b][i]"As for college education, get a job, go to junior college for the first two years, get a loan, and stop whining."[/i][/b] Red Herring!! A college education is less affordable every year for working Americans. Losing ground!! [b][i]"As for retirement, see 401K. Put away 15% (plus 2% employer match) of your earnings for 30 years in the S&P 500 and you'll be set for life from just interest."[/i][/b] Straw Man!! Pensions used to be part of corporate employment. Now they are increasingly not. Losing ground!! 401Ks have their pitfalls: - Watch out for your buying power being reduced by currency devaluation, the downside of cheap offshore manufacturing. - When the massive baby boomer generation retires and starts making 401K withdrawals, stocks will have to be sold by the 401K funds. This will drive stock prices down and reduce the value of the 401Ks. - The 401K match today is nothing like it was in the 1980s. Losing ground. [b][i]"As for high paying jobs, we have the highest pay in the world along with 4% unemployment in the United States. We're taxed among the least while the cost of our goods are probably cheaper than most places in the world. Nothing to complain about there."[/i][/b] Red Herring!! Tell that to the millions of formerly highly paid American manufacturing workers. And, once again, my point was America past vs. America present, not America vs. elsewhere. People who cite the national unemployment rate as evidence that "all is well" with employment in America are either dishonest, ignorant, or stupid. I've read a lot of your posts and can see you are not stupid. Some points: 1. [u]The national unemployment rate is currently [b]4.4%[/b][/u], not 4% as you say. That 0.4% might look insignificant, but it represents about 580,000 unemployed Americans. Every tenth matters in this. Even at "only" 4.4% unemployment, there are about 6.4 million unemployed Americans who are available and looking for work (by definition). This is the ENTIRE population of Los Angeles and Chicago combined (2nd and 3rd largest U.S. cities). Note: There are 145 million workers and 155 million non-workers (including the 6.4 million unemployed part of the workforce). 2. [u]The national unemployment rate does not distinguish the [b]quality of the job[/b][/u] (fast food vs. engineer, full time vs. part time, high pay vs. low pay). This simple number is very misleading (and is often used to mislead). For example, in Michigan, a "manufacturing state", the unemployment rate is 7.1%. 3. [u]The national unemployment rate [b]does not count everyone[/b][/u]. After unemployment insurance runs out, the only way people are counted as "in the labor force yet unemployed" is via statistical surveys. There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies, and statistics. Take that 4.4% with a grain of salt, especially now. From January 2000 to October 2006, [u]the national employment-to-population (EP) ratio has fallen by 1.3% = [b]3.9 million fewer workers[/b][/u]. If employment is heading in the right direction in America, [u]why is our workforce "shrinking" like that[/u]?!! This provides clear evidence that today's [u]national unemployment rate is excluding people that WERE counted as workers in January 2000[/u]. These numbers come from the same source: The U.S. Dept of Labor (http://www.bls.gov). By not counting millions of people, the national unemployment rate is a dishonest misleading number. If anything, the true national "unemployed" count is closer to 6.4 + 3.9 = 10.3 million = 6.9%. [b]SUMMARY[/b] Just because America is a much better place to be than "Communist Red" China doesn't mean the things I mentioned are heading in the right direction here. They are not. It is unfortunate that you chose to obscure what I actually said with your debate devices. A first generation immigrant's perspective like yours is of value, but it is not the only important one.

mamaw3t
mamaw3t

The US Govt gives you cash money in lump sums, you are given land by the Tribal Councils in some states. My husband's mother was 3/4 Choctaww Indian, in Oklahoma Territory, yet she could not prove it because her parents died from influenza in an epidemic, and she was adopted by Caucasion parents. When she grew up, she tried to locate records of her Native American heritage and records, but was told they were lost in a fire. She could not prove that she was on the Indian Rolls. She would have been entitled to land to be passed down to her sons, which will never happen, because her Native American Heritage cannot be proved. She and my husband have been cheated of their birthright. When my husband was in the military, he was injured at sea aboard ship during a typhoon. He was told that he would not get a medical discharge because he was a Native American, and that they can only be given Honorable discharges because of that. He not only was cheated out of his birthright, but since he could "ONLY RECEIVE AN HONORABLE, NOT MEDICAL" discharge, he was also cheated out of a medical pension that he so rightly deserves! If anyone out there can help me by directing me to an Indian Affairs website or to a website that could help me in any way, I would greatly appreciate it. I have been married to this man for 42 years, and if anyone deserves his birthright and military medical pension, he does. I would love to be able to help him with that in any way I can. Thank you.

jwood
jwood

I live in Michigan. We have a very large Native American population here. Mostly Ottawa and Potowatami. I know many Native Americans and I work with many of their organizations so, I have an understanding of their plight. The story of what happened to Native Americans is truly a blemish on the history of the US, Canada, and Mexico who are also guilty. However, because the US is a nation led by its people, it recognizes the mistakes of the past and makes every attempt to correct them in the present. Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and everyone that is an American, has the same opportunities as anyone else. We are all, in fact, equal here. And the US does more than any other nation that I am aware of, to protect the equality of its citizens. Not to say that the challenges arent different for each but, ultimately the opportunity is there for all. Everyone, regardless of race or gender will have challenges to their success. Obviously, bigotry exists in many forms. African Americans face disadvantages in some areas simply because the color of their skin. But that is not only bigotry that exists. There are instances where obease people are disadvantaged, or short people, or women, or in my case, being considered the sterotypical "white trash", I was exposed to disadvantages as well. My family immigrated here from Ireland at a time when the Irish were dispised in this country. My great grandparents were subjected to many levels of discrimination. My point is this. None of us can do anything to change the past. We can only change our future, which in my opinion is the best way to effect the sentiment of the past. So the question that the Native Americans need to ask themselves is, are they going to allow the terrible events of the past keep them from exploring the opportunities that are presently available to them.

zlitocook
zlitocook

I was just thinking about that! What about American Indians? The land was grabbed for trinkets and our people were to their deaths. In places that could not produce food or help them in any way. But you never hear about how an American Indian was hurt, killed, mislabeled or how we were never seen in the news. We have our own government until it gets in the way of the US government. We were the second people to be enslaved but we have almost no voice. But wait we are getting back with casinos. The younger people need to read about the ameraican indian and how they tried to protect their selfs.

georgeou
georgeou

"This is the only country in the world where this is possible, dispite some of the political shortcomings of our government." This is the country where such a feat of pulling yourself out of the gutter is most likely to succeed. It can happen elsewhere, but nowhere is the opportunity so abundant.

jwood
jwood

I am a native born American and I grew up in a state of poverty that most Americans couldn't fathom. However, because of the amazing opportunity that America offers people who are just willing to work, I have more now than I ever imagined. This is the only country in the world where this is possible, dispite some of the political shortcomings of our government. Most of my family however is part of the self-pity crowd who believe that something is wrong with America and that they have somehow been swindled out of a better lifestyle. What they don't see is that they have a roof over their heads, running water, cars, cable TV, and all the other amenities that they could wish for. If they want more, all they have to do is work for it. So, I couldn't agree with you more. America is the greatest nation to ever exist, yes there are some problems with it. Mostly the problem is from the politcians who are also a part of the self-pity mindset and perpetuate that sentiment to the public. The problem is absolutely Americans and our mindset. The old fashioned American do or die spirit is alive and kicking, it just no longer belongs to Americans. It belongs to the immigrants who come to this country to take advantage of the opportunities that exist here. The ones who are looking to work to improve there lives for them and their family, rather than a handout from the government.

georgeou
georgeou

"If you don't mean it, don't say it." Look up "figure of speech". "Native-born Americans are losing ground on important things: Health care (affordability, employment compensation), college education (affordability), retirement (employment compensation), and most importantly, high-paying, high-tech, engineering, and manufacturing jobs (offshoring, onshoring). There is nothing wrong with not being satisfied with that. That is what I was referring to. This is not happening in America because there is something wrong with Americans (as some shills and "co-conspirators" say). It is happening because there is something wrong in America (but not everything is wrong)." The problem here is PRECISELY Americans and not America. There is nothing wrong with paying for your own health care insurance when you look at the kinds of taxes Canadians pay. Then consider the fact that Canadians often buy extra insurance south of the border because they value their life and can't afford to wait 6 months for a critical surgery. Same thing in the UK with the kinds of waiting lists they have. No thank you, I escaped from Socialize medicine which has cost me severely in health in the past. As for college education, get a job, go to junior college for the first two years, get a loan, and stop whining. As for retirement, see 401K. Put away 15% (plus 2% employer match) of your earnings for 30 years in the S&P 500 and you'll be set for life from just interest. Any financial calculator will verify this for you. The funny thing is that we're being forced to waste nearly 15% (counting employer matching) of our earnings for the Social Security scam and AARP sabotaged any debate on Social Security reform even though their members wouldn't be affected by any reforms. AARP has proven time and time again they're willing to sabatage the future by running the scare the senior ads. As for high paying jobs, we have the highest pay in the world along with 4% unemployment in the United States. We're taxed among the least while the cost of our goods are probably cheaper than most places in the world. Nothing to complain about there. So yes it's American self-pity and not something wrong with America. Everyone else in the world would run through land mind fields to get to America and know what kind of opertunity America has. The only people that can't see this are native born Americans who have been brain washed by the media and a political movement in to thinking they're the most deprived.

TechExec2
TechExec2

. [b][i]"Ah c'mon, that was a figure of speech."[/i][/b] If you don't mean it, don't say it. [b][i]"Sorry, but that's a pathetically sad statement in my opinion. We have 4% unemployment in this country. You have no idea how hard life is in China. The problem IS with native-born Americans because they're the only ones feeling sorry for themselves. I know people who ran through land mind fields and swam through shark infested water to get to freedom and eventually to the USA. Every single immigrant that comes to this country today knows how good the opertunities are here. It's only the people born here that can't see how good things are under their noses. Hey don't take my word for it, move to China or some other third world country and try it out. I don't mean staying in a hotel, I mean go try and live like the natives in China. Walk a mile in their shoes and it will cure any kind of American self-pity. If there was something wrong with America, you wouldn't have people dying to come here."[/i][/b] You're using my quote out of the context in which I wrote it. Just because things are better in America than in a place like "Communist Red" China does not mean things are heading in the right direction for many people here. It is understandable why a first generation immigrant such as yourself would feel as you do. I have met many, understand, and greatly respect them and their families. But, that is not the only important perspective here. We should not be measuring America (only) that way (and we never used to). Native-born Americans are losing ground on important things: Health care (affordability, employment compensation), college education (affordability), retirement (employment compensation), and most importantly, high-paying, high-tech, engineering, and manufacturing jobs (offshoring, onshoring). There is nothing wrong with not being satisfied with that. That is what I was referring to. This is not happening in America because there is something wrong with Americans (as some shills and "co-conspirators" say). It is happening because there is something wrong in America (but not [i]everything[/i] is wrong). Is this an excuse for self-pity? Absolutely not. I never said it was. In fact, I explicitly said it wasn't. edit: clarification

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

In general things given aren't valued, go out and work your ass off for it, then you know what it costs. I wasn't an immigrant but I did 'work my way up' from very low expectations, I also did some time in her majesty's armed forces. Not with the "airy fairies" though :D

ArthurP
ArthurP

that means you were either a fish-head,or a rock-ape ! in which case a crap-hat is highly qualified .. Aim low, and anything becomes an achievement ;) Arf's