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Old 04-02-2016, 03:39 PM   #61
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My viewpoint is decidedly regional, but if you can't find a job swinging a hammer, you aren't willing to travel. The NW is dying for Union carpenter apprentices. $19/HR with plenty of upside. No student debt needed.

Take care of your body, be smart, be safe, and be willing to travel where the work is, and that's an upper middle class career. If you're above average and have a pleasant working temperament, then you won't even have to travel; there'll always be work for you.

I know a lot of old carpenters. The smart ones buy undeveloped land and build houses on the weekends. After a couple decades of swinging hammers 6-7 days a week and you could be worth millions. I can only think of two examples like that, the rest derailed themselves with bad marriages or the bottle.
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:59 PM   #62
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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.
Nope. More Robospeak. Not everyone gets the opportunities. And just because one faces challenges does not mean they will survive. That would be what you call survivor bias. Many, perhaps most, who knows... will just get wiped out. And besides survive is not success unless you have a very low bar. Not a ringing endorsement for hard work. More like a nod to getting lucky
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Old 04-02-2016, 04:28 PM   #63
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. Not everyone gets the opportunities.
But that's always been true. It's not any worse today than yesterday. The American Dream is still here as much as it ever was. Perhaps even more so.
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Old 04-02-2016, 04:45 PM   #64
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My viewpoint is decidedly regional, but if you can't find a job swinging a hammer, you aren't willing to travel. The NW is dying for Union carpenter apprentices. $19/HR with plenty of upside. No student debt needed.

Take care of your body, be smart, be safe, and be willing to travel where the work is, and that's an upper middle class career. If you're above average and have a pleasant working temperament, then you won't even have to travel; there'll always be work for you.

I know a lot of old carpenters. The smart ones buy undeveloped land and build houses on the weekends. After a couple decades of swinging hammers 6-7 days a week and you could be worth millions. I can only think of two examples like that, the rest derailed themselves with bad marriages or the bottle.
There are other added benefits...you build a network of people in other trades and never have to pay "retail" when you need a tradesperson.

My cousin is an electrician and built his own house. He knew people in other trades from the job and got heavy discounts or simply traded labour with others. End result, he built a house for a fraction of the cost and became debt free that much faster.
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Old 04-02-2016, 08:15 PM   #65
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Dream

Since we are free to believe what we want, American Dream has different interpretations. I think it is implicit that you must be permitted to dream, and that clearly does not happen for everyone born here. But is is attainable for the majority.

I wasn't looking for American Dream, but found a very comfortable life due to values, education, work (sometimes hard), and a bit of luck.
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Old 04-02-2016, 08:32 PM   #66
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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!
If you think you will be better than 'average', by being average, good luck to you. Good fortune comes to those that perform better than their peers.

It does indeed take some sacrifice to get ahead. Working longer hours and more days. I spent many weeks working 100+ hours a week doing rental rehabs and my FT job. It is now paying off. I risked a lot too, taking out large mortgages where it may have ruined me financially if I failed.

So, you do not have to sacrifice anything. My first groups of renters never sacrificed anything, and they lived the American dream. They had their housing, food, transportation, pocket money and plenty of support groups. And they 'retired' at the early age of 18.
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Old 04-02-2016, 09:19 PM   #67
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So, you do not have to sacrifice anything. My first groups of renters never sacrificed anything, and they lived the American dream. They had their housing, food, transportation, pocket money and plenty of support groups. And they 'retired' at the early age of 18.
That's just the thing. Living on welfare can sometimes be more lucrative than working a median wage job.
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Old 04-02-2016, 09:28 PM   #68
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Fascinating Discussion

My son, who graduated from UCLA with some degree or other, ended up taking classes to become a video editor, and is now doing quite well. For a while he worked as a bicycle mechanic, then a movie camera repairer for Panavision before becoming an editor.
In my case, when i went to college in the early 50's tuition when was low, and graduated with an Engineering degree. i went back to school twice, both paid by my employer.
If you have ever watched Shark Tank, there are still people out there with ideas and willing to work their fannies off.
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Old 04-03-2016, 05:49 AM   #69
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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.
It's part of a lot of very valid arguments that the things that help one's self the most are actually making more difficult for everyone overall. The ascendancy of a college education being the default means that you'll have far more college educated people than the economy needs. The only set of people who are guaranteed to benefit from that are those in the college industry. The individuals who gain a college education end up with far greater competition for the limited jobs that capitalize on that incurred expense, which means lower salaries, and of course the limited number of jobs means a higher level of underemployment. So how are people being advised to confront the situation? Incur more expense to chase a higher degree. Then that'll become the default, and all the benefits of being one of the few would be lost. If society valued each person and the work each person did within a more reasonable, tighter range, the incentive to excel would be retained by the out of proportion impetus to pursue specific paths would not be.

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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.
Only because history rewrites reality, defining that done by those who were successful as "energy" and that done by others characterized in disparaging ways. The more relevant sayings are "to the victors goes the spoils" and "history is written by victors".

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But that's always been true. It's not any worse today than yesterday.
Yes, it is. Again: If you plot out a goodly number of relevant metrics on how the economy treats those less fortunate you'll see them peaking in the 1990s, and then declining.

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Good fortune comes to those that perform better than their peers.
There's a difference between there being a bonus of "good fortune" and there being a dichotomy between "have" and "have not", i.e., can afford Medicare Supplement Insurance and cannot. That dichotomy is correlated with life and death. [Sources: Am J Public Health. 2004 May; 94(5): 778–782. Am J Manag Care. 2015;21:S165-S172; et. al.]
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Old 04-03-2016, 07:14 AM   #70
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D'oh--spellcheck changed my favorite saying--it's "Energy is destiny," NOT dynasty. Although I sort of like it both ways.
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Old 04-03-2016, 08:19 AM   #71
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It does indeed take some sacrifice to get ahead. Working longer hours and more days. I spent many weeks working 100+ hours a week doing rental rehabs and my FT job. It is now paying off. I risked a lot too, taking out large mortgages where it may have ruined me financially if I failed...
Yes I think the role that taking risks plays is vastly underrated in discussions of finding success.

Those of us who take calculated risks that work out are often classed as lucky. It might seem lucky in hindsight, but there was no way it seemed lucky when we were taking the plunge.
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Old 04-03-2016, 08:44 AM   #72
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Yes I think the role that taking risks plays is vastly underrated in discussions of finding success.

Those of us who take calculated risks that work out are often classed as lucky. It might seem lucky in hindsight, but there was no way it seemed lucky when we were taking the plunge.
I saw Jeno Paulucci speak once in grad school. He is the founder of Chun King Chinese food line.

He was talking about risk taking and following your dreams. He said a lot of people discouraged him from starting a Chinese food business. I remember his words.

"Can you imagine how much discouragement I faced, a son of Italian immigrants, opening up a Chinese restaurant, in Northern Minnesota".

And he went on to be come a multi-millionaire, many times over. He had a lot of great success and risk stories during that hour. He did not mince words, and never backed down from opposition or aversion.

The American Dream is very much alive, some people have a distorted way of how they think they should be able to achieve it. Or whether it should be guaranteed.
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Old 04-03-2016, 09:48 AM   #73
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Not precisely sure what the AD is. I suspect that for my ancestors it was that their children would have a 'better' life than they did. I agree that the prosperity and security of the latter half of the 20th century was the result of much chaos and turmoil that hopefully won't ever be repeated. Going forward it would seem that things are going to be tougher and in the many countries already have been for some time. Social mobility in the US has been quite low for quite awhile and I would think that this would be seen as the opposite of the AD. It is quite difficult to move up in the world just on the basis of hard work and will of spirit in the US. Take a privilege survey if you want a humbling experience. Many of us had a very significant head start on other members of our society and it seems that conditions have changed so that over the last 30 years this head start has become much more important. On a brighter note, if you are in the top 10% things do look pretty good for your children. Unless of course the whole thing comes tumbling down.

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Old 04-03-2016, 09:57 AM   #74
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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.

It is completely valid, and is also an example of unintended consequences of government involvement in the marketplace. Lower cost student loans were intended to make it easier for people to attend college. Reducing the immediate cost to students made it easier for universities to raise the price, which made the students have to borrow more. The debt burden makes many worse off than if they had not gone to college.


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Old 04-03-2016, 10:01 AM   #75
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It is quite difficult to move up in the world just on the basis of hard work and will of spirit in the US.
It is difficult, as it should be, but 100% achievable. As someone who came from a single parent family, watching my mother work two full time jobs and a part time job at the same time, it can be done. For quite a while, our refrigerator was a Coleman cooler that was replenished with ice periodically.

There are many things you get today that are just assumed and were not available in yesterdays 'American Dream'. Cleaner air and water. Safer roads and cars. Maintenance free siding. No lead paint or fuel. More efficient farming practices with higher yields. Healthcare that can repair or replace about any part in the body.
Easier access to the grocery stores, 'free' calls around the world, etc.

These were just pipe dreams only a few years ago. Now they are just assumed and no one thinks about them.
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Old 04-03-2016, 10:13 AM   #76
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True Senator. But much of what you list is just technological progress. The rising tide. Evidence would suggest that that rising tide does not necessarily lift all boats equally. We are all biased by our own experiences but your statement that it is 100% achievable is not true for anywhere near 100% of the population and much less so for those who are starting off from the lower rungs of the ladder. I suspect that we will likely have to agree to disagree on this one.
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Old 04-03-2016, 11:35 AM   #77
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It appears that we have developed an either/or dichotomy in the course of this discussion, and I think it doesn't really need to be that way. There are certain things that the majority of people can, I hope, agree upon.

First, a system that increasingly mandates a college degree for the most mundane of jobs, prices that degree beyond the means of ordinary people, and therefore saddles an entire generation with large student loan balances, is a system that does not work for our country. Even if you don't believe that is unfair, you should believe that it is harmful to our society. Young people who are burdened with enormous student loan debt service are less likely to buy houses and all the accoutrements that go with that purchase. They are less likely to have children. They are less likely to switch careers or pursue some entrepreneurial dream because they can't skip a steady paycheck. Ultimately, they pay less taxes. Yes, there are ways around the high cost of college. But, to refer to my last post, do we really want to have a system where someone needs to risk their life to get an education?

Second, a system that concentrates wealth in the hands of a few and decreases social mobility and chance for advancement is a system that is harmful to our country. People do not want to feel like Sysiphus, constantly pushing the boulder uphill and never reaching the top. Those without hope can withdraw from active participation in our human community, they can drift into self destructive behaviors and, at the extreme, into socially destructive behavior as well. We are all better off when all people feel that they have some chance in life and that the game is not rigged against them.

I would hope all could agree that these two things are systemic problems, and that if we can find a way to ameliorate them it would benefit us all. In fact, their proposals to address these two particular issues are what primarily inform my views of candidates for public office.

At the same time, however, I'll wager we could all agree that, other things being equal, those who are focused, dedicated, hardworking and resilient will fare better than those who are not. Aimless, lazy, whiners given to self destructive behavior (such as drug use) are not going to prosper in any system.

I don't view taking steps to fix systemic problems as mollycoddling people who won't hold up their end of the bargain. I would hope that most others could agree with that.
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Old 04-03-2016, 12:27 PM   #78
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t is quite difficult to move up in the world just on the basis of hard work and will of spirit in the US. Take a privilege survey if you want a humbling experience.
Blasphemer!
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Old 04-03-2016, 12:37 PM   #79
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I once worked for a man that gave me the following explanation for his first cut in hiring: An undergraduate degree shows the applicant can be depended upon to finish what he/she starts; a PhD is someone who can work independently. Which attribute, if either, he needed depended on the job. He went on to say that it didn't mean that people without those degrees weren't just as good or better. He just knew the degreed applicants were a better bet. A degree, appropriate, fair, or not, is convenient as a character reference too.
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Old 04-03-2016, 12:38 PM   #80
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It is difficult, as it should be, but 100% achievable. As someone who came from a single parent family, watching my mother work two full time jobs and a part time job at the same time, it can be done.
HA! Just because things went your way and you efforts (Whatever they might have been) paid off does not equal the 100% guarantee for everyone else. This theory is preposterous in light of lived reality. "it 'can be done' just means it happened to you. In a vacuum I suppose?

And by the way, why "should" it be difficult? Who made that rule and barrier to entry? Why "should"? If you want real progress it shouldn't be difficult. It should be easy. And how about the fabulously successful who had it real easy and those who indeed worked hard and didn't not get the 100% success in excess of the easy gettin' guy? No need to answer.
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