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Old 04-01-2016, 07:42 AM   #41
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While I do believe many people make excuses for not succeeding don't discount the additional upfront costs newer generations typically have to pay. Higher college costs, less employer training, overall housing costs have increased, less good paying general labor jobs... It does add up for MANY people.
The last I knew, you could analyze the cost of college, and the type of job/salary you can get, and make a decision accordingly. If you are the type that wants a art or history degree, be satisfied to be a starving artist or a restaurant server.

You can join the military to get free college. If you are opposed to the military, maybe you are opposed to making sacrifices too.

If you think family is more important than work, then be satisfied with family life and less money.

Far too many people look for handouts, and are afraid of work. They look for excuses why they have it so bad and then reflect why they cannot achieve as much as someone who did work.

I suggest to go to the local VA hospital and volunteer for a few days. Then, you will understand what sacrifices are, and know what it may take.

Most peoples problems can be solved by simply looking in the mirror...

I think the biggest issue may be that the people that have achieved the american dream, will have it taken away by the ones who do not want to put in the effort themselves.
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Old 04-01-2016, 07:46 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by rayinpenn View Post
It seems like every where I'm reading that the promise of hard work (and possibly working smart) will no longer lead you to success. I for one don't see it.. My my evidence may be anecdotal but it is what I've personally observed..
1) daughter killing it at state u get an offer for an exciting internship.
2) several Philadelphia community college students get full rides to u of penn.
3) the talented hard working people around me succeed..

It seems like there are a lot of buyers to the notion that times are very tuff...you oldsters had it easy..


Anyone care to comment..



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I paid tuition to my local 2 year community college and to my state University. Today the same community college offers a program where your tuition is free if you maintain a B average. We have seen in another thread that many are able to default on students government loans and the debt is wiped clean if your income falls below a certain level. Right or wrong that program is out there.

Anyone who thinks the American dream is gone, just read the Fuego thread.
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Old 04-01-2016, 08:41 AM   #43
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Education is important for most folks, dropping out of High School is dumb, but an incredible number of kids do it.
I would agree with that "however" there are many exceptions. I know a few guys who dropped out of my high school and admittedly I've lost track of most of them. (Just like I've lost track of most of those who graduated from my high school.) However there was one guy I knew who dropped out in his last year of HS and we have kept in touch for 45+ years since we shared the same hobby/interest in cars. He initially worked in a number of "odd jobs" and was "lucky" enough to learn a trade/skill while working at one of his jobs. That trade (or skill) helped him land a job at a fortune 10 company where he applied himself and did extremely well. He retired the same year I did from a management position and as a multi-millionaire.

Normally that fortune 10 company would not have hired (or even interviewed) him without a college degree (and certainly not without a HS diploma). But once he was in, he tells me he was treated like everyone else for advancements and he did very well.

I think he'd say he experienced the American dream and with limited formal education.

Not the path I'd recommend but it can and does happen.
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Old 04-01-2016, 08:42 AM   #44
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I paid tuition to my local 2 year community college and to my state University. Today the same community college offers a program where your tuition is free if you maintain a B average. We have seen in another thread that many are able to default on students government loans and the debt is wiped clean if your income falls below a certain level. Right or wrong that program is out there.

Anyone who thinks the American dream is gone, just read the Fuego thread.
Not to mention that in today's environment, there are many more laws, and programs, to protect you.

There is the internet to be more productive. Accounting software and computers that are much easier than a legal pad. Smart phones to be able to access information and receive customer calls from anywhere in the world. GPS to be actually able to find a specific customers house. Satellite images to do planning and estimates from a distance. You can order equipment and tools from anywhere in the world and get them overnight. You can price shop in a few minutes. You can open up an internet business for pennies, and risk almost nothing.

In a way, it sort of like losing weight. There are a lot of excuses for not being able to do that too...
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Old 04-01-2016, 08:47 AM   #45
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I don't think anyone's mentioned what I consider a significant factor in the belief that "it's harder for us younguns today": The younguns today use social media to reinforce each other's perceptions, in ways that weren't possible 20+ years ago.

Back then (and always) people surely got together and commiserated over how tough things were for them, but they rarely had thousands of other folks instantaneously liking/agreeing with what they said. It was harder to create a "meme" [e.g. "Old Economy Steve"] and have it go "viral" such that it became a part of everyone's consciousness.

Please note that I didn't say it was "impossible," just "harder." I well remember how certain anti-Vietnam-war "memes" (such as the photo of the little naked Vietnamese girl, her clothes burned off, running down the street) became burned in everyone's consciousness and helped to fuel the street protests. But the social media are immensely more powerful tools for any individual with an axe to grind, than the mainstream media were back then.

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Old 04-01-2016, 08:58 AM   #46
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I don't think anyone's mentioned what I consider a significant factor in the belief that "it's harder for us younguns today": The younguns today use social media to reinforce each other's perceptions, in ways that weren't possible 20+ years ago.

Back then (and always) people surely got together and commiserated over how tough things were for them, but they rarely had thousands of other folks instantaneously liking/agreeing with what they said. It was harder to create a "meme" [e.g. "Old Economy Steve"] and have it go "viral" such that it became a part of everyone's consciousness.

Please note that I didn't say it was "impossible," just "harder." I well remember how certain anti-Vietnam-war "memes" (such as the photo of the little naked Vietnamese girl, her clothes burned off, running down the street) became burned in everyone's consciousness and helped to fuel the street protests. But the social media are immensely more powerful tools for any individual with an axe to grind, than the mainstream media were back then.

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All true. I think it's even easier today, more than ever. For my above reasons, a person can be much more productive.
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Old 04-01-2016, 11:57 AM   #47
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You might be confusing "what you can live on" and "what you pay taxes on."

A successful retirement planning couple may show $60k income, and thus receive the benefits you describe, but also have a nice pile of savings they can withdraw tax free for additional spending.
As my (high paid) accountant always says: "The trick is to be one of us while, on paper, looking like one of them"
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Old 04-01-2016, 03:06 PM   #48
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Most peoples problems can be solved by simply looking in the mirror...
While it is clear that some people's problems can be solved that way, there is no reason to believe it addresses the issue for "most people". That's a baseless assumption.

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But the social media are immensely more powerful tools for any individual with an axe to grind, than the mainstream media were back then.
And some of the most effective uses for social media in recent years is the promulgation of baseless assumptions that seek to legitimize rationalizations and make default the derisive consideration of those less fortunate at achieving the American dream. As a matter of fact, the growth of media choice has strengthened both extremes and hollowed out the middle, according to Matt Levendusky, assistant professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania.
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Is the American Dream still alive and well
Old 04-02-2016, 05:28 AM   #49
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Is the American Dream still alive and well

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One big difference is that the cost of getting there has increased more than seven-fold. My niece will earn her degree along with so much debt, that, assuming she has a great career, she'll still be paying it off when she is older than I was when I bought my first home.
.

Several younger colleagues with a couple of kids ...their plan
1) community college for 2 years - live at home
2) local state university junior and senior years - live at home
3) reliable older car think Toyota / part time work.

All in cost $25k -
Expected Debt at graduation...$0

I won't try to say Debt is always a decision but the amount of debt surely can be. I used the community college model above and graduated with $5k of debt in 1977. I lived at state university my junior and senior years. There was a lot of stress at home so it was easy to want yo get away. My starting salary was about $10k. I paid that debt off in ten years...

I've met interns at work that will graduate with $200 grand of debt ... Decision (arguably bad a bad one ) is a Villanova degree worth that much debt? This old geezer does not think so.

Yet a NYU MBA will earn on average $150k in their first year.
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Old 04-02-2016, 05:38 AM   #50
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It's still there. The dynamics about how to maximize your chances to get there have changed, though.

As for the intergenerational squabbling... I think both the young'uns and the geezers are right... and underinformed as well. Neither side can relate to the types of struggles and sacrifices the other group made because they were different in many ways.

The young folks are mostly right that the days of getting a decent, perhaps union, job with good security, great benefits and a secure retirement out of high school are pretty much gone. They are correct that success today almsot certainly requires at least a four-year college degree, if not more. And they are right that today, college costs are ridiculous compared to what they were 30, 40, 50 years ago. But they are wrong in assuming it was easy, or didn't come with its own need for hard work and sacrifice. Or that there was a good chance that the older ones may have been taken and sent off to war.

The older folks are mostly right that it's still possible. And that today's society makes it easier to throw yourself a pity party rather than roll up your sleeves, work smarter/harder and make it -- thus reinforcing the "we are screwed" meme. But fewer and fewer jobs today are providing health insurance, let alone a pension. Not to mention the aspect of entitlement reforms that is sure to eventually come down hardest on younger workers, and the ballooning debt that will disproportionately crush younger dreams rather than older ones. And while there are certainly ways to avoid massive college costs, overall college costs in real terms are several times higher than they were in, say, the 1960s or 1970s. But using that as a crutch, as an excuse to not even try, is unacceptable.

Every generation has its defining challenges. They may be different, not necessarily much easier or much tougher to overcome, and our inability to relate to the realities (actual or perceived) of others spurs us on to try to compare who had it worse, as if we want to be martyrs. Seems silly to me.

The sooner we can get past this "who had it harder" generational warfare stuff, the better, IMO. It's less a matter of who had it better as it is that the challenges are simply a lot different, and different generations can't really relate to them (in many cases) with their own experiences and observations, making us sound like the Four Yorkshiremen. Too much of our media culture is designed to pit one half of the people against the other half, along social lines, political lines, economic lines, racial lines, gender lines, generational lines, even about favorite sports teams. Media know that controversy and treating things like an us-versus-them, zero-sum game is good for their ratings (just look at the toxic comment sections), and we need to be better and smarter than to keep falling for it and letting them keep pitting good, ordinary folks against each other. Mainstream media create these frictional sparks of divisiveness, and then social media pour gasoline on them.

"The death of the American Dream" is right up there with the "Death of Equities".
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Old 04-02-2016, 05:42 AM   #51
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Several younger colleagues with a couple of kids ...their plan
1) community college for 2 years - live at home
2) local state university junior and senior years - live at home
3) reliable older car think Toyota / part time work.

All in cost $25k -
Debt at graduation...$0
That's great for them. Roughly 80% of college graduates aren't as fortunate as that, to have such an opportunity to gain a college degree in a field suited to their skills and walk away debt free. Costs beyond what money students can put towards school themselves has increased 25% over the last seven years, to an average of almost $30K in debt. The increase in college debt is attributable mostly to a reduction in grants, and an increase in costs far beyond the increase in wages a student can earn for jobs they can get while furthering their education. Such debt is a new encumbrance on the ability for young people to break out of the cycle of poverty they were born into, assuming that they're even "lucky" enough to have the opportunity to incur such debt, i.e., gain such an opportunity to enter a worthy career path.

Another interesting trend is internships. When I was in college, a few schools required practical internships for graduation. As a result, the internships I considered all paid decently. Required, unpaid practical internships are apparently much more common now. Internships represent yet another new financial barrier to entry for many careers. It is outrageous that the law allows unpaid internships and internships that pay less than any reasonable conception of the cost of living. My niece applied for three internships (the limit imposed by her certifying agency). She's already received an offer from one, which is luckily located here in the Atlanta area. While she'll have to pay for her own transportation (all over the county, which is 70 miles long from north to south) to her job assignments, she'll at least be able to live rent free with her aunt and uncle, who will be happy to feed her. She'll make some money this summer, before the seven month internship begins, but it will barely be enough to cover incidentals for that period of time. She'll have to borrow money to pay for that which, if she were an actual employee, her employer would be obligated to pay.
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Old 04-02-2016, 09:45 AM   #52
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It's still there. The dynamics about how to maximize your chances to get there have changed, though.
. . . Every generation has its defining challenges. They may be different, not necessarily much easier or much tougher to overcome, and our inability to relate to the realities (actual or perceived) of others spurs us on to try to compare who had it worse, as if we want to be martyrs. Seems silly to me.

. . .
This is a great post, Ziggy. I have eight nephews and a niece who are all between 20 and 30, and I know several more young people in that age group (children of friends, young people at church, etc.) In observing their lives, I have seen some of them succeed and some of them fail (so far). Certainly, their challenges are different from the challenges that the majority of the members here faced when we were young, but I don't think you can say those challenges are either more or less difficult. Some things are better -- no one is getting drafted and sent to Vietnam. And some are worse -- college is vastly more expensive and more necessary. But the basic factors that lead to success are, in my opinion, the same as they have always been.

1. You need a goal -- looking at both my contemporaries and their children, I find that the ones who are most successful are the ones who have a goal to focus their efforts and help them tolerate the tough spots along the way. The ones who did not have any idea of what they wanted to do or who they wanted to be typically have wandered aimlessly from low paying job to low paying job.

2. You need to work really, really hard toward that goal -- I've seen it with both my own cohort and the young people I know. If you're not willing to work hard, you can't expect good things to come to you. Yes, I'm well aware that you can work hard and success may still elude you for a variety of exogenous factors, but if you don't work hard, it will almost certainly elude you.

3. You need to suck it up -- life is hard, and you need to be hard too. If you want success, you'll need to be willing to do the the things others won't do, to forego the pleasures others can't imagine doing without, and to get back up when you've been knocked down, as you most likely will be. Lying in the mud and whining about how hard your life is will never make it better.

4. You need to seize opportunity when it arises -- life will sometimes hand you a lucky moment. You need to be mentally prepared to take it and not let is pass by because you are too indifferent or afraid or because you didn't build a sufficient foundation to take advantage of that bit of luck.


Let me close with an observation about college costs, in two different eras.

In 1976, when I was a senior in high school, I told my parents, both of whom were high-school dropouts, that I wanted to go to college. They said "That's great. But we don't have any money, so you're on your own." At that point, it didn't matter whether college tuition cost was $5k a year or $60k a year, as I had zero money. If I wanted to go to college, I had to figure out how to make that happen. So I joined the Navy and they put me through the US Naval Academy. In return, I had to abstain from the whole sex, drugs and rock and roll aspect of college, and then, for five years afterward, cram my butt in a dank, dark, smelly submarine and go without sunlight, fresh air, fresh food or contact with the the outside world, including my family, for literally months at a time. It was nine years of work that was neither easy nor pleasant, but I did what I had to do to get where I wanted to be.

In about 2010, the son of my admin assistant graduated from high school. His single mother certainly could not afford to pay for any part of a college education and he faced the same wall that I faced 34 years before him. So he enlisted in the Marines and went to both Afghanistan and Iraq. As a recent veteran he now gets free tuition at any school he wants to attend in the Connecticut state university system. He also gets monthly checks from the GI Bill that pay his living expenses. Now he is going to college and working on the side. He did what he needed to do to get where he wanted to be.
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Old 04-02-2016, 11:11 AM   #53
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You can join the military to get free college. If you are opposed to the military, maybe you are opposed to making sacrifices too.
....... And maybe your opinion and feelings about the military has nothing to do at all with your ability or desire to make sacrifices to achieve your goals.
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Old 04-02-2016, 11:31 AM   #54
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In 1976, when I was a senior in high school, I told my parents, both of whom were high-school dropouts, that I wanted to go to college. They said "That's great. But we don't have any money, so you're on your own." At that point, it didn't matter whether college tuition cost was $5k a year or $60k a year, as I had zero money. If I wanted to go to college, I had to figure out how to make that happen. So I joined the Navy and they put me through the US Naval Academy. In return, I had to abstain from the whole sex, drugs and rock and roll aspect of college, and then, for five years afterward, cram my butt in a dank, dark, smelly submarine and go without sunlight, fresh air, fresh food or contact with the the outside world, including my family, for literally months at a time. It was nine years of work that was neither easy nor pleasant, but I did what I had to do to get where I wanted to be.
In the 1970s I was working hard to do well at my exams back in the UK as if I got good results I knew I'd get into a good University....education was socialized and I would pay no frees and get a stipend from the Government. I sacrificed an worked hard and in 1980 I was accepted the UK's equivalent of MIT. I didn't live like a monk, but I also worked very hard and ended up by getting my PhD in physics at age 25.

In the US I've known kids who got full scholarships to Harvard and others that couldn't afford the fees to state schools, didn't want to join the military and so went to community college when they had saved enough for a course and some that have been ripped off by for profit universities. There are lots of ways to get an education, but the increase in state university fees and the cost of loans is making it increasingly difficult for many.
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Old 04-02-2016, 12:23 PM   #55
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Originally Posted by Senator View Post
You can join the military to get free college. If you are opposed to the military, maybe you are opposed to making sacrifices too.

-----------------------------------

nun ....... And maybe your opinion and feelings about the military has nothing to do at all with your ability or desire to make sacrifices to achieve your goals.
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And maybe one isn't qualified for the military. I know if I were 17 today and had the eyesight I had in 1975 I would not be able to get in using today's medical standards. Back in 1975 they couldn't give the job away.

Also, why is everything always framed into some kind of forced "sacrifice" paradigm? And in the end those imposing the the sacrifice paradigm on those who are not like them as defined by them, dismiss any guarantees of success as "freedom"? The Rich always and everywhere relieve themselves of any need for sacrifice, and indeed, feel entitled to it.

Sacrifice is a tool of desperation used by those without better options. Man, that's progress!
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Old 04-02-2016, 12:34 PM   #56
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During my last year in high school (1970) a friend and I were talking about all the hippies in our class who were dropping out and planning to 'live off the land'.

He thought it was a great idea---for them! "All I see is less competition for the good jobs; while they're all out grooving in the woods we'll be taking the best opportunities, each one of them is one less ahead of me in the job line".

He's now the CFO of a megacorp software company (you've heard of them)
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Old 04-02-2016, 12:40 PM   #57
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I haven't read every post in detail here but there is a position that says that the ease of getting student loans has led to such inflated tuition prices. Sort of a vicious cycle if so.

I wonder how valid that argument might be.
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Old 04-02-2016, 12:49 PM   #58
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Lying in the mud and whining about how hard your life is will never make it better.
If we had a Quote of the Day on this forum, I'd like to nominate the above. Great visual! And so true IMO.
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:02 PM   #59
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You are right. For you, the american dream will never be achieved. You have far to many excuses why you, or your niece, can never achieve it.
That's not what he aid. but your non-reply reply was spoken like a true I got Miner. Only when one controls all inputs and outcomes would they have no excuses. Since we are far from than the status quo romancers know, even if they cannot be caught admitting that,(because they do know it They are not stupid) the system, like all systems, had a certain failure rate. Not the People. The System. As well as having a certain False Positive rate. Hard work? What's that? But wtf? I'm successful anyway. Successful is never defined as the working and the trying. It is always defined as the stuff or money you have. And that, like everything else, depends on far more things than One's own inputs to the exclusion of all else.
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:06 PM   #60
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A long time ago I heard the saying "energy is dynasty" as a predictor of success and that seems to be true of every generation. The opportunities and challenges will be different but those who face them will survive.
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