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Old 04-03-2016, 12:43 PM   #81
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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.
One man in total love with himself as if he knew or could know such things. College degree= Character? All sentient adults know better.

So Mr Successful proceeds in ways he knows are not fair but wtf. Who would have thought! The "better bet"? See... it all comes down to luck. Who you run into and what he/she might think in a given moment. Thanks for getting this in to the light.
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Old 04-03-2016, 12:44 PM   #82
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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.
So what's your point? It's no worse today than yesteryear? So no progress made? Maybe more so? Maybe that's still not enough? You're damning with faint raise at best. Hardly a good sales job
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Old 04-03-2016, 12:50 PM   #83
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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 push 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.
Agreed. Big education and student loans are a huge and growing problem. Concentration of wealth and loss of a true middle class also a trend that is ultimately harmful to society. Well said.
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Old 04-03-2016, 12:51 PM   #84
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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.
Tell me more stories! It does not indeed take sacrifice to get ahead. Many get ahead sans sacrifice. Busted theory. Many sacrifice more than have ever been called upon and don't get ahead except maybe if you want to start with the relativity crap. eg He's only way way down instead of way way way down. See? The American dream is still alive! I discount that as silly. So you did this work that and it paid off. that em,ans ---wait for it-- luck! You could have sacrificed and had it not work out. You lazy lousy so and so! That would be the conclusion of a "Workist" and anyone who has been successful through the hard hard sacrifice of having rich parents and good fortune
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Old 04-03-2016, 01:02 PM   #85
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A friend and co-worker of mine is of African-american decent. He and his sister were raised in a single mother home. His mother worked in the cafeteria at school. Upon graduation from high school he went to an ivy league university, and later obtained an MBA from a Texas university. The last time we spoke we was making lower six figure income and married to a school teacher.

OK, so it is anecdotal evidence, but he sure thinks the american dream is still attainable.
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Old 04-03-2016, 01:03 PM   #86
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The American Dream us just a marketing slogan that protects a hierarchical status quo. The US is one of the most unequal developed societies and it is more difficult to move up the socio-economic ladder in the US than in most places. Most poor Americans remain poor and the rich stay rich. The increase in systemic costs like health insurance, and education and the shifting if retirement saving costs from the employer to the employee are causing the middle class to slip down the wealth ladder making the inequity even larger.

The American Dream is a slogan that keeps futile hope alive in the plebeians to protect the status of the patricians. It's also something that Americans need to believe, it's part of the myth along with the Founding Fathers, Pilgrims, cities on hills. Every country has these myths, but often they can be damaging when they diverge so much from reality.
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Old 04-03-2016, 01:15 PM   #87
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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.
It SHOULD be difficult. if it wasn't, it would be the 'base', and not a 'dream' to achieve. The 'dream', would then be two houses, three cars, and four vacations every year.
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Old 04-03-2016, 01:16 PM   #88
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The American Dream us just a marketing slogan that protects a hierarchical status quo. The US is one of the most unequal developed societies and it is more difficult to move up the socio-economic ladder in the US than in most places. Most poor Americans remain poor and the rich stay rich. The increase in systemic costs like health insurance, and education and the shifting if retirement saving costs from the employer to the employee are causing the middle class to slip down the wealth ladder making the inequity even larger.

The American Dream is just a slogan that keeps futile hope alive in the plebeians to protect the status of the patricians.
A poor person's lifestyle in the USA would be considered a kings lifestyle in many other countries.
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Old 04-03-2016, 02:44 PM   #89
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The American Dream us just a marketing slogan that protects a hierarchical status quo. The US is one of the most unequal developed societies and it is more difficult to move up the socio-economic ladder in the US than in most places. Most poor Americans remain poor and the rich stay rich. The increase in systemic costs like health insurance, and education and the shifting if retirement saving costs from the employer to the employee are causing the middle class to slip down the wealth ladder making the inequity even larger.

The American Dream is a slogan that keeps futile hope alive in the plebeians to protect the status of the patricians. It's also something that Americans need to believe, it's part of the myth along with the Founding Fathers, Pilgrims, cities on hills. Every country has these myths, but often they can be damaging when they diverge so much from reality.

Really? My buddy Ken from Nigeria wouldn't agree with you. He came here went to school at night for an MBA then a law degree. Nigeria is burdened with corruption - opportunity -well it is here for the taking. Then there's Div and her husband Harsha she's got in her head to get another masters this one from the Wharton school.. These guys don't complain they just 'seize the day'. I guess you could say they are living the myth....


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Old 04-03-2016, 03:07 PM   #90
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Agreed, but the rigidity of socio-economic position and the level of income disparity is more relevant to the reality of the American Dream.
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Old 04-03-2016, 03:18 PM   #91
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Really? My buddy Ken from Nigeria wouldn't agree with you. He came here went to school at night for an MBA then a law degree. Nigeria is burdened with corruption - opportunity -well it is here for the taking. Then there's Div and her husband Harsha she's got in her head to get another masters this one from the Wharton school.. These guys don't complain they just 'seize the day'. I guess you could say they are living the myth.... Sent from my iPad using Early Retirement Forum
Nigeria has some terrible issues. Comparing the the American Dream to the Nigerian dream is setting the bar pretty low.

Thankfully there are always going to be success stories and people who work hard and so well. But there are plenty of hard luck stories too, like the folks that moved to North Dakota during the recent fracking boom and are now out of work again because of global oil prices. Some will fund new work, for some it might have been a last throw of the dice.

There is opportunity in America and in lots of other places as well, but the rigidity of economic levels for most people in the US makes the American Dream look a bit like a myth.
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Old 04-03-2016, 03:36 PM   #92
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It SHOULD be difficult. if it wasn't, it would be the 'base', and not a 'dream' to achieve. The 'dream', would then be two houses, three cars, and four vacations every year.
Opps, look like I messed, we only have 2 cars, and sometimes can only squeeze in 2 vacations/yr..
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Old 04-03-2016, 03:45 PM   #93
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Great debate, but of course nobody said the American Dream was available for everyone, as it never was.

Go back 200 yrs and slaves didn't have a chance at the dream.
Women didn't either since they couldn't vote or easily hold property.
The Chinese brought over to work the railroad building were not AD possibilities.
There was no welfare 100 years ago, so you could starve to death.

In some ways the American Dream is more attainable now, then in the far past as
Slavery is gone (even if your boss keeps you late and underpays you),
Discrimination is outlawed (even if some folks are jerks),
You don't have to starve to death on welfare (even if you don't like subsidized housing, foodstamps).

To argue that it's more/less attainable than the 1990's is a short amount of time, that does not stand the test of time and could just be a natural variation or perspective distortion.

That's why I feel the Dream is still alive and becoming more attainable over the centuries.
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Old 04-03-2016, 04:15 PM   #94
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A poor person's lifestyle in the USA would be considered a kings lifestyle in many other countries.
To add a bit, or compared to lifestyles 116 years ago. Back then you likley did not have electricity, and you had an icebox (actually my grandparents home built in the late 20s in a city had an icebox, refrigerators came about in the 1930s. You might have had either coal stoves for heat or a coal furnace, which required stoking several times a day. On the farm you most likely had no electricity until the later 1930s, so kerosine lamps were the order of the night, along with coal stoves for heat and wood/coal stoves for cooking. (AC was just a dream then). the house might have also had an outhouse as well.
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Old 04-03-2016, 04:50 PM   #95
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The American Dream is still alive and well.

It required drive and focus when DW and I was in school and while we were working. It required drive and focus when my 2 kid sisters and brother were in school and they're working. It required drive and focus when my kids were in school and now they are working. We all worked part time while in school, through breaks, and during summers. We all went to major universities and 2 of us have Masters, no student debt for any of us. Three boomers, 4 millennials.

As my basketball coach told me eons ago, "You get out of life what you put into it. It's your investment and nobody's gonna do it for you or better than you. You have the choice. You don't see boatloads of Americans trying to get to Cuba or anywhere else to have a better life."
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Old 04-03-2016, 04:53 PM   #96
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You might have had either coal stoves for heat or a coal furnace, which required stoking several times a day. On the farm you most likely had no electricity until the later 1930s, so kerosine lamps were the order of the night, along with coal stoves for heat and wood/coal stoves for cooking. (AC was just a dream then). the house might have also had an outhouse as well.
Yes, I grew up with a coal fire....which became a coke fire when anti-air pollution laws were passed. I remember filling a scuttle from the coal bunker outside the kitchen door. And, yes, most of rural America had no electricity until the Rural Electrification Act of the 1930s.....Government at its best.
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Old 04-03-2016, 08:14 PM   #97
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The American Dream us just a marketing slogan that protects a hierarchical status quo. The US is one of the most unequal developed societies and it is more difficult to move up the socio-economic ladder in the US than in most places. Most poor Americans remain poor and the rich stay rich. The increase in systemic costs like health insurance, and education and the shifting if retirement saving costs from the employer to the employee are causing the middle class to slip down the wealth ladder making the inequity even larger.

The American Dream is a slogan that keeps futile hope alive in the plebeians to protect the status of the patricians. It's also something that Americans need to believe, it's part of the myth along with the Founding Fathers, Pilgrims, cities on hills. Every country has these myths, but often they can be damaging when they diverge so much from reality.
Good observation and just to add to your point. Poor people are often hemmed in and isolated from the rest of society. Their children attend poor performing schools and see failure all around them including the communities where they live so success eludes them and poverty continues as a way of life. The isolation of the poor away from the middle class is usually seen in developing countries but the US is more of an exception among its peers.
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Old 04-03-2016, 08:43 PM   #98
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Really? My buddy Ken from Nigeria wouldn't agree with you. He came here went to school at night for an MBA then a law degree. Nigeria is burdened with corruption - opportunity -well it is here for the taking. Then there's Div and her husband Harsha she's got in her head to get another masters this one from the Wharton school.. These guys don't complain they just 'seize the day'. I guess you could say they are living the myth....


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As someone who has immigrant family and friends, I can say that using your Nigerian buddy is not a fair example and does not in anyway indicate that the American dream is easy. I know countless immigrants who've come to the US and never achieved the American dream just like I know many who have and there is one major determining factor - the level of education they had from their home country. An immigrant with a high school degree is far more likely to be successful than a native born with a high school degree. The reason is simply because a high school education from their home country is highly valued and often a very good one since that may be the only education they may have. There is also the social pressure from family and friends to do big things in America once you get there to put your high school diploma to work. These immigrants invariably tend to go on to higher education while an American from the same socio economic background may stop at the high school level.
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Old 04-04-2016, 02:01 AM   #99
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Sure, there are always individuals who will do well despite the odds. But clearly the odds for many are getting worse. Platitudes about hard work and anecdotes about individuals notwithstanding, looking at the big picture, statistically the middle class is shrinking:

Yes, the middle class is shrinking ... but not uniformly

Sure people can still get ahead working 100 hours a week and holding three jobs. But should people working low skill jobs really have to hold two or more jobs to simply afford the basics of life like, rent and food? Wealth inequality is higher and social mobility lower in the U.S. than most other developed countries these days.
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Old 04-04-2016, 05:02 AM   #100
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Is the American Dream still alive and well

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As someone who has immigrant family and friends, I can say that using your Nigerian buddy is not a fair example and does not in anyway indicate that the American dream is easy...l

Point of order... Never did I say it was easy. Having done two masters at night I feel I have a pretty good appreciation for just how difficult it is 'burning the candle at both ends'. Kenny worked a full day then went to class and studied until the middle of the night.
The thing is - he did for several years. Easy no, not at all. Further my point was more that he like many other immigrants saw and see opportunity. Hard work cost little but pays huge dividends. By the by Kenny is one of thousands from many countries...

There is something to be said about going to an inferior school district. I've read an article where the top student at Camden high school had concerns about her ability to do the work at the university she was accepted to. Still not impossible but it will require dedication and lots of hard work.

When I read comments about how unfair America is today I always ask. What have you done to change your lot in life? No one made me go to school. If you grew up like we did worrying about money for a hungry oil burner you might want to change the paradigm.

Plus then there's that whole LBYM Dave Ramsey lifestyle. We always bought less then we could afford.

Good things still happen to people who work hard and smart...
http://www.phillyvoice.com/community...ge-ivy-league/

I can't help but think about the various cultures I've been exposed to. How many put education above all else?
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