FacebookTwitter
Hatrack River Forum Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » I Feel that the American Dream has Died (Page 0)

  This topic comprises 3 pages: 1  2  3   
Author Topic: I Feel that the American Dream has Died
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
And, of course, never getting sick or injured.
Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Artemisia Tridentata
Member
Member # 8746

 - posted      Profile for Artemisia Tridentata   Email Artemisia Tridentata         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The current version "Montgomery GI Bill" is different from the "cold war" edition. It does require an up front participation from the Service member. It is still a great way to pay for an education. If you chose to serve as a member of the National Guard, there are often state benefits that accrue and usually a tuition reduction for state schools. A six year comitment will allow a member to finish, and largely pay for, a baccalaureate degree at a state university.
Posts: 1167 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Synesthesia
Member
Member # 4774

 - posted      Profile for Synesthesia   Email Synesthesia         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
That's the thing.
I'm not really talking about having everything handed to people on a silver platter.
I'm talking about making things better, working together, symbiosis, some sort of balance between people working their fingers to the bones and getting help in the process like child care, health care, all of that stuff because they work and pay into the system.
I really don't think that's unreasonable...
And let's not even get started on a global level. What little I know about outsourcing (I'm not talking about the telemarketing jobs or the help center jobs being outsourced, though that bothers me a bit, at least these folks get reasonable wages, i'm talking about the people who are making 50 a month. That doesn't make any sort of sense. Just so someone else can benefit and not them.) bothers me and angers me.
I'm not just thinking about my own struggles but how things can be improved across the board, because if this keeps up, hardworking people are just going to get worn out in this system and think, "enough already." and collapse.
I wish people and the system would help each other more. Then society as a whole would be a lot better... There would be a balance between capitalism and the individual that has nothing to do with getting people 10 thousand dollar stereos and luxury cars, but the help they need to get by when they are just too tired to.

Posts: 9942 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
i'm talking about the people who are making 50 a month. That doesn't make any sort of sense.
Except it does. Because they wouldn't be DOING that work if $50/month -- or the equivalent -- weren't worth it to them. In many cases, that's an average salary in the relevant countries.

Should American companies opt to be extra-generous with foreign labor?

Posts: 37431 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Crotalus
Member
Member # 7339

 - posted      Profile for Crotalus   Email Crotalus         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'll touch on a few things, some of which has already been commented on.

As for the youth of today wanting everything. Yep. Agree with that. All I have to do to see evidence of this is to break out the picture albums from when I was a little boy. The furnishings in my childhood home are so spare in those pictures. What happened was this: my parents accumulated their possessions over several years. Decades in fact. A lot of people start off expecting to have what their parents have, not realizing that their parents didn't get all that stuff overnight. But you know what? I never thought we were poor. And we weren't. A lot of people back then were living just like we were. In many ways it's all about perception.

The GI Bill. I'm a benefactor of it. I served in the U.S. Navy from '87 to '91. When I got out I went straight to college and spent every nickel of that GI Bill. Like KOM said, you can do this too if you are willing to go get shot at for a while. Really though, I know this isn't an option that everyone wants to take, and that's fine. I'm just saying that it worked for me. The end result was that I finished college a lot later than most of my high school peers, but that was my choice. My parents didn't have money to send me to school, I didn't want to take out a loan that I would have to pay back, and at the time I didn't know what I wanted to do anyway. So, I guess what I'm saying is that you can get a college education without being buried in debt, you just might have to explore a different route and take longer to graduate.

My next soapbox: A lot of Americans don't know how good they've got it. Go to a third world country for a while. Go to Manta, Ecuador and see the street children begging for pennies. See the squalor that a lot of the world still lives in. Wealth is relative. And relatively speaking, Americans are still the wealthiest people on the planet.

<Steps down from soapbox>

Some of this boils down to cost of living for the area that you're in. My advice to anyone willing to work hard to achieve the 'American Dream'; Move to a small town in the middle of nowhere. Find a job there that pays just a bit better than average and you can still have that white picket fence dream.

Last thing I'll say: It's okay to have possessions and want things. But, really, is this what we want our life goals to be? A white picket fence house can burn to the ground and be gone in an hour. My dream is to be a loving husband to my wife and to rear my children to be decent people. My dream is to impact those around me so that, when I leave, my legacy will be one of love. Don't get me wrong, I want my family to have a good roof over their heads, and I'm working hard to see that it continues to happen, but it's the intangible things that are more important.

Posts: 232 | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
SenojRetep
Member
Member # 8614

 - posted      Profile for SenojRetep   Email SenojRetep         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
i'm talking about the people who are making 50 a month. That doesn't make any sort of sense.
Except it does. Because they wouldn't be DOING that work if $50/month -- or the equivalent -- weren't worth it to them.
I think I agree with you in principle, Tom, but is there a place for worker protection beyond the joint-interest of the company and the employee? If the labor-supply is abundant (giving management little reason to care about individual workers), are societal/government restrictions on what kind of conditions workers may be subjected to appropriate/necessary? I'm thinking of minimum wage laws, child labor laws, OSHA, etc.
Posts: 2926 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Synesthesia
Member
Member # 4774

 - posted      Profile for Synesthesia   Email Synesthesia         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Maybe if slave labour wasn't involved. Perhaps if the companies were not just looking for cheap labour to cut down on their own cost at the expense of American workers.
Perhaps if there was a minimum wage because I don't think that 50 a month is enough money even in a third world country, especially when I read how some of these companies will make their workers stay in dorms and charge them a ton of money for room and board.

Posts: 9942 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Sterling
Member
Member # 8096

 - posted      Profile for Sterling   Email Sterling         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If the American dream is, say, a house with a floatable mortgage and other debts at payable levels, with enough left over to save for retirement and the education of your 1.5 children... I have to say, to a degree, that achieving the American dream involves a significant element of luck.

You can work very hard at a lot of jobs and not be able to afford first and last month's rent plus deposit at a decent apartment, never mind a house.

You can be a tireless and efficient worker and still get cut out in a mass layoff.

You can struggle to get 'A's at a lousy school on an empty stomach and still not be able to find enough scholarships to get an education at the local college.

You can never touch a credit card, and find your application for a needed car or home denied for insufficient debt history.

You can work very hard at a job and get a lousy job review because you think the job involves helping people, while your boss thinks it means going through customers as fast as possible, whether you actually help them or not.

People point to so-called "self-made millionares" without in most cases actually studying the backgrounds, the systems of support, the realities that made those people's lives possible. Saying anyone could do it if they really tried is like saying I could play basketball like Michael Jordan if I really tried. It's not true.

Hard work and determination will help, no question. But luck, or random chance, also plays a part. Who you know, being at the right place at the right time, meeting someone on a day when they were in a good mood and wanted to help rather than a bad day when they didn't. Who you were born. Luck.

Believe me, I speak as one of the lucky ones.

In the wake of World War II, there was a boom. The U.S. was one of the few major industrial centers that hadn't been severely damaged and depleted by the war. The effect of that boom has all but faded. Why does it seem harder to achieve that long-ago conceived dream than it once was? Because it is.

Posts: 3826 | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Rich Lewis
Member
Member # 9192

 - posted      Profile for Rich Lewis   Email Rich Lewis         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Should any dream be easy to accomplish?
Posts: 32 | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Sterling
Member
Member # 8096

 - posted      Profile for Sterling   Email Sterling         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
No. But the obvious counter-question is: should what used to be considered a reasonable middle class lifestyle be so distant to so many people that it might be considered a dream?
Posts: 3826 | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Rich Lewis
Member
Member # 9192

 - posted      Profile for Rich Lewis   Email Rich Lewis         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It all comes back down to this: work. There's nothing easy about maintaining a middle class lifestyle. And I don't believe it ever has been.

We've grown up thinking that Mike Brady started off as a successful architect on day one and could afford six kids, a stay at home wife and a maid (not to mention Oliver...). Or that on Dawson's Creek the teen's parents just kinda had these nebulous jobs that paid for the big houses.

Really, it takes going out there and giving one's utmost, no matter how tedious or seemingly demeaning a job might be. It means putting in the best 40 hours a week you can, or more, at a job. Then you've got to add in some more work in managing your money.

If you want to go beyond the basic middle class income, it really takes busting your butt to do it. Get to work early, make and work new contacts, reaching, grabbing and pulling yourself up to the next rung of the ladder.

Sweat, it's still the number one ingredient in success.

Posts: 32 | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
King of Men
Member
Member # 6684

 - posted      Profile for King of Men   Email King of Men         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
A white picket fence house can burn to the ground and be gone in an hour. My dream is to be a loving husband to my wife and to rear my children to be decent people.
Well, if it comes right to it, your children can be hit by a truck and be gone in three seconds. And they can't be insured for what they're actually worth, either, unlike a house. I don't think permanence is a good measure for a dream.
Posts: 10645 | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
BaoQingTian
Member
Member # 8775

 - posted      Profile for BaoQingTian   Email BaoQingTian         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well KoM, that could be because you don't believe that the family relationship is permanent or even believe in a soul. However, if you believe that the kind of person that we develop into (and how help others develop as well) is the one thing that is permanent, then it might be easier to see where that comment is coming from.
Posts: 1412 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Sterling
Member
Member # 8096

 - posted      Profile for Sterling   Email Sterling         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Rich Lewis:
Sweat, it's still the number one ingredient in success.

And I maintain that luck is also very important.

I made more than three times as much money working at a job that actually took maybe half of my eight hour days to do well as I did making close to minimum wage, working very hard, at an electronics store where the manager was having an ulcer trying to keep up with the unreasonable demands of his boss.

You can sweat all your life and still die a pauper with no paricular hope that your offspring will get a better chance. Many do.

Where the "American Dream" gets kicked in the teeth is the recognition that sometimes hard work and perserverance really pays- your employer.

I don't mean to malign the importance of hard work and perserverance. They remain important and commendable qualities. But no one should feel free to denigrate those who haven't "made it" on the assumption that they just haven't worked hard enough, and no one should assume by default that the wealthy all worked oh-so-hard to make it to where they are. As Gershwin said, "It ain't necessarily so."

Posts: 3826 | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Synesthesia
Member
Member # 4774

 - posted      Profile for Synesthesia   Email Synesthesia         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
So true, Sterling. Those are the points I am trying to get across.

Really, people need to work together. I don't think this individual nuclear family trying to make it to middle class model really works without community.

Is it so bad that I don't want to climb the ladder? I just want to... thrive. Do well, make enough money to live off and then have the stability to do the thing I really want to do.

Posts: 9942 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
jeniwren
Member
Member # 2002

 - posted      Profile for jeniwren   Email jeniwren         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Sterling, I wouldn't call it luck. I'd call it making some smart decisions that lead to greater opportunities. And persistence to endure through the hard parts.

I will never say that I work as hard physically as a kid at McDonalds. My brain works harder, though. You seem to be, and I could be mistaken so forgive me if I am, assuming that work is only hard if you physically sweat or are in some pain. I don't make the same assumption. Making a fair amount of money isn't difficult -- becoming a millionaire isn't even very difficult. Supply a needed service that you are uniquely qualified to do and the money will come, sometimes in very unexpected ways. Add time, persistence and consistency, and you'd have to hit outright bad luck to not succeed.

It's like investing. If you began investing $100 a year when you're 16 in conservative, reputable long term funds, and gradually increase your investing as you get older, not huge amounts, just a little at a time, consistently, diversely, persistently building up your assets, you will become a millionaire within your lifetime. That's not luck. You'd actually have to hit very bad luck for that formula to lead to ruin.

By the same token, I have never seen anyone who worked with consistent reasonable effectiveness over a long period of time truly lose out. Yes, you can get laid off -- I have, several times -- but when you gain a fully earned reputation for being a good employee, you will find another job, usually through contacts in the same industry. I watched 95% (yes, 95%) of my coworkers get laid off over the past 6 years. The ones who had the hardest time finding employment were the same ones who really weren't all that great when they worked for us. The smart workers, the ones who produced consistently and got along with their bosses and generally made the company environment better, all of them were reemployed pretty quickly. This was following the tech bubble bursting, when jobs were harder to find.

Is this a 100% guaranteed formula? No way. But like investing, you have to have outright bad luck for it not to succeed at least at a reasonably middle-class level.

Posts: 5948 | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Xavier
Member
Member # 405

 - posted      Profile for Xavier   Email Xavier         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The "American Dream" has become harder to acieve because the definition has changed.

People look back on the 50's and wonder why they could get by with one income and we in these days cannot. Well, lets look at what the average home with children in the fifties had, and compare it to what the average family has today. These are, of course, my best guesses.

The 1950s:
One black and white TV with bunny ears.
Perhaps one radio / record player.
One car, probably used.
Shared bedrooms for the children, minimum 2 in a room.
One rotary phone.
Each kid has a bicycle.

The 2000s:
At least two nice TVs, more likely three. Basic extended cable minimum. Perhaps even digital or satellite. Usually a DVD player, with several DVDs (15-25 bucks a pop).
At least one nice stereo, with CD players for the kids. Most likely portable CD players (or MP3 players) for each kid as well. Probably dozens of CDs (12-22 dollars a piece).
Probably one or two video gaming consoles, with at least a dozen games (at 40-50 bucks each). Probably one hand-held video gaming device as well (games 30 bucks each).
Two cars minimum, with each teen most likely getting a car at age 16-18. Insurance on every car. Maintenance on every car.
Cell phones for every member of the family.
Minimum one computer, more likely two or three.
High speed cable (or DSL) is now considered a basic need.
Digital camera's are now the norm.
It seems now that each kid getting their own room by age 10-12 is very common.
Each kid still has a bicycle, but now they are way more expensive (10-speeds and the like).

In addition, we now buy nicer clothes, eat out more, buy bigger houses, more expensive cars... You name it. The list could go on and on.

The folks back in 1950 didn't make more money, they SPENT less money. If someone were to limit themselves and their family to living with a 50's standard of living, they could do so on a single income.

Would it be easy? Of course not. But was it ever easy?

Posts: 5656 | Registered: Oct 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
BaoQingTian
Member
Member # 8775

 - posted      Profile for BaoQingTian   Email BaoQingTian         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Syn,

Perhaps in order to allow people to better answer your question, you could give us more to work with. By that I mean:
*Define the American Dream
*Since you assert it has died, tell us when this dream was alive
While attempting to formulate a response to your question, I realized I couldn't because I lacked information. If you could do that, it would be great. Thanks [Smile]

Edit: I'm not trying to be nitpicky or a pain or set some sort of logistical trap. I just find that discussion on a topic is greatly facilitated by having a working definition and scope.

Posts: 1412 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Synesthesia
Member
Member # 4774

 - posted      Profile for Synesthesia   Email Synesthesia         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My idea of the American dream is, people being aboue to start their families, get a good decent job that matches their skills and pays them enough to support themselves and their families.
What would be even better is-
corporate and government support to realize this dream. People work to keep the system going, they pay their taxes, they buy products and supplies to keep the economy going, support and help to me seems reasonable.
I do not mean having everything handed to people on a gold platter. I'm not talking about luxuries, just basic child care, health care, sick days for people to take off and take care of their children or themselves when they need to, maternity and paternity leave, mother's hours for women with children in school who still need to work, but be home for them when they get home from school.
Perhaps I'm an idealist, or a borderline socialist, but I believe in a holistic approach to building a better society. Not just individuals looking out for themselves or companies that care more about Wallstreet than their consumers' health or their workers, but a whole system, governments, corporations, families and individuals devoted to making things better.
That right there is my American dream. A better and stronger society, me as a better person contributing to that society.
Hopefully as a writer... If I am good at that... I just am not fit for these super social sort of jobs.

Posts: 9942 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Sterling
Member
Member # 8096

 - posted      Profile for Sterling   Email Sterling         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think, jeniwren, that our admittedly anecdotal experiences have lead us to different conclusions.

My wife is a doctor. No employer has asked her if she's able to lift thirty pounds over her head, or if four hour stretches on her feet are likely to be a problem. They don't have to; her job doesn't require it. Does she work hard? Yes. Because she spends long hours away from her family, is responsible for the health of her patients in a very direct way (and cares about that), and often has to make herself available in what are not, technically, "work hours", among other stresses.

She worked hard to get there: made it through college with loans and scholarships and workstudy, graduated with a double-major, made it into a decent medical school and through that school and residency.

Would she have been able to make it through without a supportive family? Teachers who helped her find those scholarships? A husband (to toot my own horn) who supported her financially and emotionally through the later years of medical school and residency?

No, labor does not have to be physically draining to be hard work, but I do think we undervalue and underpay those who do such work. I didn't work "harder" sitting in front of a computer than I did hauling five-gallon paint drums around. But I did get paid a heck of a lot better.

And not everyone has the good fortune to have a unique and desired talent. Some people are very good at doing repetitive tasks accurately and efficiently, but it's not a field where recognition of talent is a given.

And yes, reliable long-term mutual funds can pay off well, if you happen to have someone to advise you financially before that money goes directly hand-to-mouth. And without some kind of buffer, it can be very easy for one spell of bad luck- a car accident, an illness- to wipe out whatever money you might have imagined becoming your stake in your future.

I believe the term that was once popular was "there, but for the grace of God, go I?..."

Posts: 3826 | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
BaoQingTian
Member
Member # 8775

 - posted      Profile for BaoQingTian   Email BaoQingTian         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The original American dream may have been the right to worship as one pleased. Perhaps for countless slaves, the American dream was freedom to simply live their own lives. For others it was the right to own land (and the opportunity to do so). People lost their lives for the freedom to choose our government leaders and be represented. All of these have historically been the American dream, yet we take them for granted now.

The American dream seems to have experienced a shift. Rather than basic human rights and needs, it has moved on to human wants, like wanting what our neighbors have. A family of 4, living at the federal poverty line, is still able to afford rent, food, cell phones, clothing, an automobile (or two), television and cable. Children are freely educated K-12 and then have an excellent opportunity through federal Pell Grants and need based scholarships do continue onwards. We have so much to be grateful for, and I think we rarely acknowledge that.

That being said, there's a lot more we could do as a compassionate society to help others less fortunate than ourselves. It would be nice if the new American Dream was "How much can I help my disadvanged fellow human beings (not how can the wealthy, the elite, or the government-- not them but me)" rather than "How can I get more for myself." However, the cynic in my recognizes this as hopelessly idealistic.

Posts: 1412 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Jon Boy
Member
Member # 4284

 - posted      Profile for Jon Boy           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Synesthesia:
My idea of the American dream is, people being aboue to start their families, get a good decent job that matches their skills and pays them enough to support themselves and their families.
What would be even better is-
corporate and government support to realize this dream. People work to keep the system going, they pay their taxes, they buy products and supplies to keep the economy going, support and help to me seems reasonable.

Isn't that what we've got now?
Posts: 9944 | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Synesthesia
Member
Member # 4774

 - posted      Profile for Synesthesia   Email Synesthesia         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
No, because it's slowly being eroded.
America is gradually becoming a service economy, that is something to worry about. Pension plans are being scrapped and replaced with 401 ks which may not be as reliable. The government is even considering increasing interest rates on student loans and cutting funding for college students. It's insane. It will only get worse unless people DO something constructive about it, such as take some control over our government and our tax dollars.

Posts: 9942 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm not entirely sure how those three things factor in to an apocalyptic end to the American Dream, Synesthesia.
Posts: 37431 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
America is gradually becoming a service economy, that is something to worry about.
Why?

quote:
Pension plans are being scrapped and replaced with 401 ks which may not be as reliable.
While it's true that pension plans are being scrapped and replaced with 401ks, why do you say the latter are less reliable? Pensions were drastically back-loaded, which meant that someone who had to change jobs early too often didn't have an adequate retirement.

quote:
The government is even considering increasing interest rates on student loans and cutting funding for college students.
Why is it wrong to increase rates? Interest rates change over time. Rates fell drastically over the last 8 years. Should rates only be a ratchet, going down but never up?

Even the rate increases being proposed are lower than several historical highs.

quote:
It will only get worse unless people DO something constructive about it, such as take some control over our government and our tax dollars.
I'm curious as to what opportunities you think used to be available that aren't any more? You've identified pensions and manufacturing jobs, but haven't made it clear why neither 401ks nor the large numbers of new white-collar jobs aren't adequate replacements.
Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Synesthesia
Member
Member # 4774

 - posted      Profile for Synesthesia   Email Synesthesia         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It is something to worry about because those service jobs mostly-
Do not pay enough
Have rather lousy working conditions.
Highly stressful.
And let's face it, how are people supposed to afford high morgages or expensive cars or Gap shirts on that sort of salary.
Seriously, these guys by shipping high paying jobs overseas to save a few extra dollars are really not thinking about the future. How can people afford their products on 8 dollars an hour?
How can we compete with the rest of the world if only a handful of people can afford college educations because the debt they incure after school is over is just too high for them to pay?
Just looking at the INTEREST rates from my student loans makes me want to pass out.
How are people who come from difficult circumstances (parents that didn't go to college or finish it, parents that don't have enough money to send their kids to college, working class families) supposed to afford to get an education so they can work their way up to these large numbers of white collar jobs and use their minds instead of rusting away not getting anywhere on less than 8 dollars an hour?
If this keeps up, in the long run there might not even be a middle class to aspire to, only a wide gulf betwen the haves and have nots and when has that every done society any good?
We need to make it easier for people who have the will and the intelligence to get ahead. I'm not talking about hand-outs, but a reasonable leg up.

And I think the minimum wage should be increased because not just teenagers bag groveries or check out food, but all sorts of people trying to support themselves and their families.

Posts: 9942 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Synesthesia
Member
Member # 4774

 - posted      Profile for Synesthesia   Email Synesthesia         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I'm not entirely sure how those three things factor in to an apocalyptic end to the American Dream, Synesthesia.

Because this is how it starts. It starts with companies that care more about making money NOW than they do about society.
Same with individuals caring more about themselves and owning the latest gadget than the whole.
It starts out with a simple decline, a weakening of the system and the next thing you know, it all collapses.
This needs to be prevented.

Posts: 9942 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
jh
Member
Member # 7727

 - posted      Profile for jh   Email jh         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If a person really does want to go to college, then they will find a way. They will find jobs where they work 40 hours a week. They will take two classes at a time if they have to because they cannot take a full load of classes and work enough to earn the money to pay for it. I'm tired of people complaining that college is too expensive, when in reality they themselves are not willing to work hard enough for it.

You chose a career that you would enjoy but doesn't pay well. You know it wouldn't pay well, and you still chose it. Why are you complaining about it now? Or are you implying that it should pay well? That all jobs in every industry should pay an amount that allow people to live on it? Life doesn't work that way.

If your lifestyle is too expensive, then cut back on stuff. Get a roommate. Buy cheaper food. Try getting a second job instead of complaining about how unfair society is and how jobs are moving abroad, etc. Face it, we all live in the same society. If people can meet the challenges of living in this society, then obviously you can too.

Posts: 155 | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
It is something to worry about because those service jobs mostly-
Do not pay enough
Have rather lousy working conditions.
Highly stressful.

You are ignoring the much higher-skilled service jobs that now exist in almost entirely new industries.

quote:
And let's face it, how are people supposed to afford high morgages or expensive cars or Gap shirts on that sort of salary.
They're not. High mortgages and expensive cars and Gap shirts aren't essential elements of the American dream.

quote:
Seriously, these guys by shipping high paying jobs overseas to save a few extra dollars are really not thinking about the future. How can people afford their products on 8 dollars an hour?
A lot more people can afford the products when resources - including labor - are allocated efficiently.

quote:
How can we compete with the rest of the world if only a handful of people can afford college educations because the debt they incure after school is over is just too high for them to pay?
It's true that if only a handful of people can afford college we will not compete well. You haven't come close to demonstrating this.

quote:
Just looking at the INTEREST rates from my student loans makes me want to pass out.
Student loans could be consolidated at less than 5% for 20 years at several points over the last 10 years.

quote:
If this keeps up, in the long run there might not even be a middle class to aspire to,
Again, you're just saying that this is the case. There's a huge middle class, and the middle class has more luxeries than the middle class of only a generation ago.

quote:
only a wide gulf betwen the haves and have nots and when has that every done society any good?
We need to make it easier for people who have the will and the intelligence to get ahead. I'm not talking about hand-outs, but a reasonable leg up.

What leg up do you suggest? I managed to start a business with no capital, based on two summers of working 80-110 hour weeks (yes, 110 out of 168). And the business was based on self-taught skills, not my college degree (although the degree helped in other ways).

A college loan is a leg up. State-subsidized college tuition is a leg up. Even at private colleges most students don't actually pay the cost of their education.

Community colleges are even better deals, and in many states associate degrees with a certain GPA guarantee acceptance into the state system for a bachelor's degree.

I'm grateful for all these legs up, and support efforts to make such legs up work better. It does take hard work to get ahead. And some people who work hard and make good financial decisions still get the financial shaft. But it is very possible to get ahead, and the opportunity is available to more than a few people.

The people I really feel bad about are those who have gotten through high school without the basic skills needed to take advantage of these legs up. Whether through the fault of themselves, society, or both, they really are at a lifetime disadvantage.

quote:
It starts out with a simple decline, a weakening of the system and the next thing you know, it all collapses.
But you still haven't demonstrated that it's weakened.
Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Synesthesia
Member
Member # 4774

 - posted      Profile for Synesthesia   Email Synesthesia         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I am not complaining specifically about me, as I am on my way up... or at least sideways.
I'm thinking about the whole picture, not just me, but all of society and the best way to make it and this country great and then extend to the whole world.
i'm idealistic, but we need idealists.

College IS too expensive. It's unreasonable. It's exhausting to work full time and go to school full time. Some folks get so tired they just burn out from the stress and frustration.
Grants, reasonable loans and programs like this are better for the country in the long run. It allows smart people who normally wouldn't even think of going to college to be on an even playing field.
Yes, I know life is tough. Of course it's tough. But why shouldn't the burden be lifted off of people just a bit? Just enough to keep them from getting discouraged? How is it fair that only a handful of people are allowed to get benefits and college coaching and all of these advantages from birth when a person who is just as smart, if not smarter gets denied this just for being born in the same place?
To some, it seems childish, but I think this dog-eat dog concept has to die. This isn't what created progress. Working together, cooperation. That's what makes a society better.
I'm a dreamer. But dreamers have a purpose too. I just think it's time for things to change and evolve for the better while at the same time acknowledging how far we have come and why.

Posts: 9942 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:

College IS too expensive. It's unreasonable.

I agree, actually, that it's unreasonable to expect the majority of your middle-class workforce to attend four years of college, and I think the country is worse off for having turned it into a form of expensive high school. But that's about where we part ways. For example....

quote:
I think this dog-eat dog concept has to die. This isn't what created progress. Working together, cooperation. That's what makes a society better.
I agree that cooperation is what makes a society better. But I think people cooperate in the face of a dog-eat-dog world; a world in which people did not receive a benefit from cooperation would be a world without functional society.
Posts: 37431 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Synesthesia
Member
Member # 4774

 - posted      Profile for Synesthesia   Email Synesthesia         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I was being a bit sarcastic with that gap line. I just don't see the logic in eliminating a ton of jobs.
Perhaps because I know very little about business and am looking at things from the perspective of an idealist with very slight socialistic leanings.
From the other perspective, the one of businesses and companies and colleges, it could be entirelly different.
It's hard to show it, but this is how it starts. Subtle, next thing you know the homelessness rate increases, more people end up on welfare and slip below the radar.
It happens constantly. It's been happening for ages. As much needs to be done to prevent this from happening, but each time there are things like Americorps and the like they get scaled back and I am against it.

Posts: 9942 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
College IS too expensive. It's unreasonable. It's exhausting to work full time and go to school full time.
But you don't have to do that - it's possible to go to college part time.

quote:
But why shouldn't the burden be lifted off of people just a bit? Just enough to keep them from getting discouraged?
I think some of the burden and the discouragement comes from an unrealistic standard of living. Most people at my school have cell phones. Few people share bedrooms when living off campus now. Just 15 years ago most people had a roomate (not an apartment-mate) if they lived off campus. That change alone halved the cost of living. I paid 125 a month for my apartment in 1991-92, which even adjusting for inflation is less than half what most people pay now here.

quote:
How is it fair that only a handful of people are allowed to get benefits and college coaching and all of these advantages from birth when a person who is just as smart, if not smarter gets denied this just for being born in the same place?
The choice isn't giving that to all or some. It's giving it to all or none. How would denying people the opportunity to either take advantage of their good fortune or to prioritize their expenses and make sacrifices to afford such programs for their children.

Also, it's not just a handful who have such things.

quote:
Working together, cooperation. That's what makes a society better.
I agree. But I see the bad financial choices people make (not speaking of you here) as things that are anti-cooperation. Strictly comparing myself to people with the same basic education, starting income, etc. as I have, I am well ahead of most of them. Some of this was because of good fortune. But just as much or more was because of both hard work and better financial planning.

Most people I know cashed out their 401ks three or four times in their twenties when they changed jobs. I didn't. They had nicer cars, nicer houses, nicer apartments. I had money earning money for me. Their short term advantage has been overtaken in less than 10 years. I was able to buy a house and take advantage of the housing boom. They had to pay higher rent during that same boom because they didn't save.

I know there are people who haven't had 401ks to cash out. I'm not talking about them. Nor am I talking about you. But I've seen enough people work their tails off to get through college in 6 years without loans and enough other people who squandered their most powerful financial decade acquiring stuff, to know that people's choices generally matter. A lot.

[ March 10, 2006, 08:41 AM: Message edited by: Dagonee ]

Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Zeugma
Member
Member # 6636

 - posted      Profile for Zeugma   Email Zeugma         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If you're reasonably intelligent and hard-working, you can go to college in the US. Period. Maybe it won't be your first choice or a flashy big-name school, and maybe you'll need to go part-time and work a job as you go, but there is way, way too much need-based assistance out there for people to be unable to go to SOME college simply because of the cost.
Posts: 1681 | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Amanecer
Member
Member # 4068

 - posted      Profile for Amanecer   Email Amanecer         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
i'm idealistic, but we need idealists.
I disagree. Ideas do very little. People who act on their ideas do a great deal. You have identified several issues that concern you: child care, affordable life styles, the horrible standard of living in other countries, and many more. I'm curious what you personally do to improve these situations. Do you offer to take care for children when you're not working? Do you work with Habitat for Humanity to increase the affordability of a middle class life style? Do you donate to charities like Christian Children's Fund to help improve the standard of living in other countries? There are TONS of ways to help out, even if you have little or no money. If you want things to change don't wait for the government to change or anybody else. Go out there and create change.

[Edited to add: Here is a directory of some charities. There are plenty more than what's listed here, but this could help give you ideas. And don't feel like you have to give money. Almost all of these places could use volunteers.]

[ March 10, 2006, 12:01 AM: Message edited by: Amanecer ]

Posts: 1947 | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Jon Boy
Member
Member # 4284

 - posted      Profile for Jon Boy           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Synesthesia:
College IS too expensive. It's unreasonable. It's exhausting to work full time and go to school full time. Some folks get so tired they just burn out from the stress and frustration.

I worked part-time and went to school full-time, and with the help of some Pell grants, I was able to make it through. I got no money from my parents and very little from scholarships. And I graduated with only $4000 in student loans—a sum that could have been significantly smaller if I had managed my finances a little better and hadn't bought two cars. Putting yourself through college is not impossible.
Posts: 9944 | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Few people share bedrooms when loving off campus now.
This is one of my favorite typos ever, Dag.
Posts: 37431 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Few people share bedrooms when loving off campus now.
This is one of my favorite typos ever, Dag.
[Blushing]

This is to acknowledge that yes, I made that typo. And, yes, it's pretty darn funny.

But I'm going to edit the original now, anyway.

Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Synesthesia
Member
Member # 4774

 - posted      Profile for Synesthesia   Email Synesthesia         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ideas help ebcause they create the conditions for change...
The worse part is I have to take care of myself first and rise myself up before I can help people more.
A friend of mine hammered this into my head saying, "It's not your fault that poverty exists."
But I want to DO more... a lot more to change those conditions and I hate not being in that position yet...
I wish I wasn't so social phobic and could take a job as a social worker or something...
And I need to do more volunteer work too.

Posts: 9942 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tresopax
Member
Member # 1063

 - posted      Profile for Tresopax           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
What you are saying is not the death of the American Dream. Rather, it's just confirming that sacrifices are required to achieve any dream, American or not. Working hard will not by itself get you EVERYTHING (big house, family, job you enjoy, lots of free time, all the stuff you are used to, financial security, etc.) Instead it will only get you some of these. Which you choose is up to you and how well you plan.

quote:
The worse part is I have to take care of myself first and rise myself up before I can help people more.
A friend of mine hammered this into my head saying, "It's not your fault that poverty exists."
But I want to DO more... a lot more to change those conditions and I hate not being in that position yet...

This isn't true. It's easily possible to both take care of yourself and help others simultaneously. Even if your job is bagging orders at McDonalds, doing it with a smile, helping your other employees, etc. will make a difference for others. It won't cure poverty, but I can guarantee you won't cure poverty no matter how successful you are.

In fact, typically helping others will make you a better employee, which will in turn help you too.

Posts: 8120 | Registered: Jul 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
sarcasticmuppet
Member
Member # 5035

 - posted      Profile for sarcasticmuppet   Email sarcasticmuppet         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
What are you doing to raise yourself up? You have a degree. That proves that you can work hard and succeed at something, which is a valuable thing on a resume no matter what you ended up majoring in. I'm majoring in Theatre, for crying out loud. If I had to I could still go into corporate communications because I have a degree and writing skills, most importantly writing skills. You're an English major, right? Tons of people have gotten degrees in English and done things only remotely English-related with their lives. If you have to, gain some skills. The temp agency I worked for had online classes for things to improve basic data-entry and other skills -- ask your agency if they have anything similar. Get in touch with a local ESL program and see if you can learn Spanish. It doesn't always have to cost money, but you can try to scrape enough together for one or two skill-building classes at a local community college -- programming, public speaking, bookkeeping, medical transcription -- you'd be surprised what is available if you look for it.

Getting out there and growing in knowledge -- *that* is the American dream.

[ March 10, 2006, 10:54 AM: Message edited by: sarcasticmuppet ]

Posts: 4088 | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, in all fairness, I think it's safe to say that "growing in knowledge" has never been the American Dream, but probably should be. [Smile]
Posts: 37431 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
sarcasticmuppet
Member
Member # 5035

 - posted      Profile for sarcasticmuppet   Email sarcasticmuppet         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
[Razz]
Posts: 4088 | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Synesthesia
Member
Member # 4774

 - posted      Profile for Synesthesia   Email Synesthesia         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I still want to master Japanese...
Maybe if I had a Japanese boyfriend.. *eyes some certain guy*
That aside, I am trying to get over this stupid social phobia. It's such a pain in the butt. I can't believe I got to get stuck with this thing, being scared out of my brains of people all the time. It's why I was stuck working at s and s for so long... At the stupormarket (which uses low lights and dull music to hynotise people into buying a bunch of stuff they didn't put on their list) Because I was scared of offices and office people.
but then I got a rabbit, started working temp jobs to gain more skills to get a permanent job and learned that offices are not so bad at all... Nothing to be scared of and the extra money sure is nice...

Posts: 9942 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
solo
Member
Member # 3148

 - posted      Profile for solo   Email solo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
i'm talking about the people who are making 50 a month. That doesn't make any sort of sense.
Except it does. Because they wouldn't be DOING that work if $50/month -- or the equivalent -- weren't worth it to them. In many cases, that's an average salary in the relevant countries.

Should American companies opt to be extra-generous with foreign labor?

My answer to that is yes they should. Those who have abundance should support those who do not. Especially when those who do not are working to improve their situation. It isn't like the foreign factory workers are just looking for a handout. They are working and providing a service that makes their employers rich. They should be rewarded for that. There is plenty of room in the profit margin of most of those products (my wife has worked in retail and the average markup on clothing was in the 200-300% range) to pay a higher wage.

As far as the American Dream being attainable, I am Canadian and I feel I have attained the equivalent. I am 28 and have owned a home for nearly 3 years. I have two children and my wife has been a stay at home mother for most of the last 5 years. We have made sacrifices in our standard of living to get here. We have one small car with no options, one computer, one TV (no cable), and we just got our first cell phone a few months ago. As we have sacrificed some luxuries we have learned how to save money. We have been able to take a tropical vacation, we have a good sized collection of DVDs and CDs (though most of the CDs were bought by me before our wedding).

It really does boil down to defining what are actually needs. This can be really hard to do as there is so much pressure from the media. Not only the media but also those around us who make all of the extravagent purchases (whether they can truly afford them or not). I struggle with the fact that people who I know are less financially secure than I am are out there buying things that I would really like to have. I just can't justify putting those kinds of purchases (in my case, mostly electronics and musical instruments) ahead of getting out of debt.

The simplest advice I have is to live within your means. Don't go into debt for anything other than education, a home, and one reliable vehicle (and that only if public transportation is really not an option).

Posts: 1336 | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Sterling
Member
Member # 8096

 - posted      Profile for Sterling   Email Sterling         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
You chose a career that you would enjoy but doesn't pay well. You know it wouldn't pay well, and you still chose it. Why are you complaining about it now? Or are you implying that it should pay well? That all jobs in every industry should pay an amount that allow people to live on it? Life doesn't work that way.
All right, can we put a stop to this particular argument now? It doesn't fly. On the website of a science fiction author, it particularly shouldn't fly.

Not everyone has the desire, interest, and talent to be an MBA, and following this line of reasoning would result in a glut of business majors, most of them miserable people who would hate their work. Anyone familiar with Kant's categorical imperative?

The last MBA I met was working for a service wage in a toy store.

If you take up something you hate just because it will supposedly be more practical somewhere up the line, the result is inefficiency and burnout.

Posts: 3826 | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
And, did I mention, never get seriously sick or injured? Or have a spouse or kids that do.
Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Synesthesia
Member
Member # 4774

 - posted      Profile for Synesthesia   Email Synesthesia         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Very true...
Or you could be social phobic like me and just no good at smoozing and all the stuff you need to do if you are a CEO or whatever...
I'm just not good at that stuff!

Posts: 9942 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dagonee
Member
Member # 5818

 - posted      Profile for Dagonee           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
All right, can we put a stop to this particular argument now? It doesn't fly. On the website of a science fiction author, it particularly shouldn't fly.
This is the perfect place for it to fly. Because almost all successful writers ("successful" refering only to if they can make a living at it, even though I know there are other measures of success) had to make serious sacrifices before getting to the point where writing alone paid the bills.

quote:
If you take up something you hate just because it will supposedly be more practical somewhere up the line, the result is inefficiency and burnout.
I haven't seen anyone advocate taking up something you hate.
Posts: 26071 | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
sarcasticmuppet
Member
Member # 5035

 - posted      Profile for sarcasticmuppet   Email sarcasticmuppet         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I used to think of myself as pretty shy -- I'd much rather be in a corner with a book than in the middle of things. I changed a lot after taking, of all things, an acting class. It made me much more self- confident and self-aware and more willing to put myself out there and deal with other people. When I learned about stage management they told me that if I wasn't completely self-assured and confident in what I was doing, than I needed to *act* like it. So I do -- I have to facilitate conversation between department heads, teachers, students, professionals, designers, actors, etc...the thought that I'd be doing this now might have given a younger me a stroke, but I absolutely love what I'm doing.

You can't live in a bubble forever -- people will always be there. It's hard and frustrating and you probably won't like it for quite a while, but when it clicks, it'll be a huge triumph. You'll walk and talk differently, and people will notice the positive change in you. But you have to make that move.

Posts: 4088 | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
  This topic comprises 3 pages: 1  2  3   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2