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Old 07-10-2013, 10:13 PM   #61
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I didn't see the program, but...

Thankfully those times did not last forever and I'd like to think the circumstances described in this program will also improve given time - and the Bill Moyers of the world can focus on other gloom & doom topics.
You might have watched it before dismissing it.
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Old 07-10-2013, 10:23 PM   #62
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I find it fascinating that this documentary was started over 20 years ago, and it made it all the way through to today and saw to being distributed. I don't think I've ever seen a documentary that someone intentionally started and kept working on for 20 years before showing it to the public.
Some of the footage might have been shown previously - not sure.

If you like the long view, take a look at the "Up" series, which began with "7 Up" in the 1960s profiling a group of British children from various social classes. The filmmakers went back every seven years thereafter. The most recent film is "56 Up," which should be in video this month.
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Old 07-11-2013, 12:55 AM   #63
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Watched most of it, thought it was predictable for NPR. The message seems to be lamenting lack of high paid manufacturing jobs for unskilled workers. I feel for the families but noticed all seemed well fed with TV's, etc. Not the definition of poverty in the other 98 percent of the world. Having 3 kids when you are 20? Not a good decision in the U.S.

I think if Moyers/PBS was around in 1900 they would have done a piece lamenting those out of work carriage makers due to Henry Ford.

Times change. Individuals must adapt. Higher minimum wage is not the answer. Education and adding value with your job is.
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Old 07-11-2013, 07:08 AM   #64
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Mrs Neumann made a good point when wondering why the bank would choose to sell her home in foreclosure for 30 or 40k rather than work with her. I mean if you start out paying 15% + interest and pay for 24 years, you have pretty much bought that house a few times over. She made some mistakes but I respect her a whole lot more than the investment bankers who got bailed out for their mistakes.
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Old 07-11-2013, 07:51 AM   #65
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Of course I realize it - that was my point. I don't find it particularly 'interesting' to see people react consistently with their previous posts.

To me, this is like finding it interesting that the beverage of choice for a oenophile convention dinner is wine. It fits hand in glove.
Then you might have asked yourself why people discuss topics at all, on anonymous forums especially...interesting? Or read/watch journalists if there's no chance we'll learn anything that might make us reconsider our views. We just like to hear ourselves talk, and find others of like mind to reinforce our already held views, with no possibility of changing our POV - sad? My views at 20, 40 and (almost) 60 have certainly changed/evolved on many issues...and I hope I never come to believe I have all the worlds answers.
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Old 07-11-2013, 09:16 AM   #66
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Then you might have asked yourself why people discuss topics at all, on anonymous forums especially...interesting? Or read/watch journalists if there's no chance we'll learn anything that might make us reconsider our views. We just like to hear ourselves talk, and find others of like mind to reinforce our already held views, with no possibility of changing our POV - sad? My views at 20, 40 and (almost) 60 have certainly changed/evolved on many issues...and I hope I never come to believe I have all the worlds answers.
I agree with this. Maybe it is the ex-scientist in me, but I'm always looking for new info to challenge my current beliefs and ideas. That is what drew me to this forum. I'm interested in finding the gaps/errors in my thinking or my plans. The older I get the more I realize I don't know or misunderstood.
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Old 07-11-2013, 09:27 AM   #67
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You might have watched it before dismissing it.
I've known Moyers work since he was LBJ's press secretary. That leopard has not changed his spots.
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Old 07-11-2013, 09:42 AM   #68
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I saw a few minutes of his interview with Charlie Rose promoting the show, and decided to not watch it. I've never seen "Frontline", so I guess I don't know what I'm missing, but for analysis and learning, my preference is reading rather than watching.
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Old 07-11-2013, 11:27 AM   #69
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It's a very rare person that updates their ideology when presented with facts that conflict with it. People are much more likely to go through pretty extreme convolutions of logic to conclude that they were right in the first place.

Most people have pretty basic models in their head about the way the world works and tend to discard any information that doesn't fit into that model.

I didn't watch the show, so I saved myself the trouble of discarding its information.

I did not watch the show either.... but from what people are saying... there might not be that many 'facts' included...
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Old 07-11-2013, 01:54 PM   #70
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Just watched the whole show. I guess I don't really see that much bad in it. Everyone in the show seems to be doing adequately well materially speaking. They have roofs over their heads, and food (with plenty of meat in it) on the table. The cars they were driving are all nicer than my family's cars. Other than financial difficulties due to health care, it didn't sound like access to health care was an issue for any of them. It appears existing social safety nets did an ok job keeping most dire destitution (job retraining, food stamps, presumably medicaid for child births, etc).

The house that the Neumann's grew up in looks similar in size and amenities to the houses in my neighborhood. Back in the 80's (when they bought the house) that was a pretty nice house in Milwaukee.

The Stanley's seemed to have a nicely decorated house and appeared well dressed. Maybe they are still faking it before they make it (as the matriarch suggested!). They are probably not far off from receiving social security.

Of the children of the Neumann's and the Stanley's, they all seem to be doing ok to great, given their humble beginnings. The more successful seemed to pursue something after high school (military, bachelors or associates degree), which created income, experience, and options. Those that appeared less successful aren't bad off (roofs over heads, food on table). No one seemed to lack electronics (tvs, video cameras, computers, etc).

To me this looks like the tale of the working class in America (albeit biased since it was filmed in a city that has faced economic decline). Life isn't easy, but it has never been easy for these folks (except maybe for blips of time in limited geographic areas).

But they all made it through life, raised seemingly respectable kids of varying economic success (and some are so young you can't really judge yet). They have their family and friends, and are pursuing their passions (particularly the Stanley's with their faith and Ms Stanley's volunteerism).

Overall I just don't think any of them are doing that poorly, unless you look at them through the lens of the upper middle class. In which case you are certainly entitled to think their slum dwelling bare existences are depressing.

Oddly enough the Neumann's reminded me of my aunt and uncle and my cousins and their kids. Same ages, similar struggles, similar outcome.
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Old 07-11-2013, 02:43 PM   #71
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Of course I realize it - that was my point. I don't find it particularly 'interesting' to see people react consistently with their previous posts.

To me, this is like finding it interesting that the beverage of choice for a oenophile convention dinner is wine. It fits hand in glove.
Then you might have asked yourself why people discuss topics at all, on anonymous forums especially...interesting? Or read/watch journalists if there's no chance we'll learn anything that might make us reconsider our views. We just like to hear ourselves talk, and find others of like mind to reinforce our already held views, with no possibility of changing our POV - sad? My views at 20, 40 and (almost) 60 have certainly changed/evolved on many issues...and I hope I never come to believe I have all the worlds answers.
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I agree with this. Maybe it is the ex-scientist in me, but I'm always looking for new info to challenge my current beliefs and ideas. That is what drew me to this forum. I'm interested in finding the gaps/errors in my thinking or my plans. The older I get the more I realize I don't know or misunderstood.
You are reading far too much into the words I posted. First, I'm not trying to make a Federal Case out of this - I just thought it was perplexing that anyone would find it 'interesting' that the comments in this thread would be aligned with those posters previous comments. As I explained, I would expect that - so why is it 'interesting' in this case? So I commented on my perplexity, that is all.

It has nothing to do with why we discuss this at all - I see no connection to that from my comments. This show was another spin on a common topic, so it gets discussed anew. Just like so many recurring topics here. Again, no surprise to me.

I'm not sure where you are going with not changing anyone's mind/evolving? I've had my mind changed by discussions on this and other forums, and I think a few others have as well. I expect it to relatively uncommon though. In general, we have come to whatever views we have on a subject based on our past learning and experience. We have thought it over, and it will take some new evidence and convincing to change. Imagine waking up each morning and wanting new proof that the Sun rises in the East. Life would be difficult if we didn't trust our learned information. But we still should question it when presented with new info, and when there is reasonable doubt, we should seek out new info.



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I find it fascinating that this documentary was started over 20 years ago, and it made it all the way through to today and saw to being distributed. I don't think I've ever seen a documentary that someone intentionally started and kept working on for 20 years before showing it to the public. ...
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I did not watch the show either.... but from what people are saying... there might not be that many 'facts' included...
I can't say I'm familiar with Moyer's work (I know the name/show of course), I just don't follow him, but I'm getting a pretty good sense from the comments here. And that leads me to ask:

How many families did they start following 20 years ago? Generally, a journalist is going to pick out the most interesting stories (no one reports the number of planes that safely landed today), and in a show like this, I'd bet they pick out the ones that fit with a certain story line they are trying to sell. So I wonder if there were many more families (I assume they would, to assure they had something 20 years later), and did any do well, but were not presented because that didn't fit their story? Just wondering. Maybe that was covered in the program?

Kind of the reverse of 'survivorship bias'?

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Old 07-11-2013, 03:13 PM   #72
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Old 07-11-2013, 03:16 PM   #73
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I can't say I'm familiar with Moyer's work (I know the name/show of course), I just don't follow him, but I'm getting a pretty good sense from the comments here. And that leads me to ask:

How many families did they start following 20 years ago? Generally, a journalist is going to pick out the most interesting stories (no one reports the number of planes that safely landed today), and in a show like this, I'd bet they pick out the ones that fit with a certain story line they are trying to sell. So I wonder if there were many more families (I assume they would, to assure they had something 20 years later), and did any do well, but were not presented because that didn't fit their story? Just wondering. Maybe that was covered in the program?

Kind of the reverse of 'survivorship bias'?
My recollection is they found two families that had high paying ($18 ish per hour) jobs in the early 80's and then lost them and could only find jobs paying around half or a third that around 1990 (jobs that paid $6-8 /hr IIRC) when they started filming the families.

I don't know if they picked more than these 2 families to profile, but I imagine they intentionally selected at least these 2 families that had hit hard times due to union manufacturing jobs drying up and getting offshored or moving to the non-unionized South (of the USA). So yes, you have started your sample size of 2 with families that you know have already hit hard times versus where they were in the early 1980's.

I imagine you could fast forward your starting point of filming to 2005 and pick 2 families that had dot com or high tech (but low skill) jobs around 2000 that paid $60-80k+ per year. They of course dried up, were offshored, or there was a huge oversupply of labor by 2005 and you could get someone to patch network cables or configure PCs for $30k/yr (with no benefits). If you keep living like you're making $60-80k, and you can only make $30k, no matter how much you lament the absence of those 80k/yr jobs, you will still be earning 30k, and rapidly going broke. Which makes for great populist reportage.
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Old 07-11-2013, 03:35 PM   #74
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After reviewing this thread I did not feel I could add comments without looking at the episode. Now that I have, I have some admittedly disjointed thoughts:
- It is so easy to play "Monday Morning quarterback" with specific situations. It is easy to say "they should have done this" or "they should have done that". Heck, if I had bought 100 shares of Microsoft back in the late 80's at what I recall was around $16 a share and did nothing else, I'd be a multimillionaire today just on that one stock. Yes they did make some bad choices, but everyone does.

- We need to get a lot more information to young people sooner about the importance of both financial planning, the impact of personal choices on that, and the right way to view college opportunities. I don't blame the Stanleys for sending their son out of state to college. I attribute that more to the guidance counselors in high school. It took at guidance counselor to convince me my grades were good enough to apply to Ivy League colleges.

- It is also dangerous to project one or two stories as this is what the majority of folks are experiencing, or that everyone who tries will have the same "bad luck". I know of at least 2 dozen families over the years who started out with similar income and prospects and who have done well, or their kids have done much better.

- While the amount of taxes I pay is perhaps larger than I'd like to, I'll never complain about paying them since it means I'm making a salary high enough to pay them and much higher than those portrayed in the story. I think folks who describe themselves as "suffering" due to work situations when they are making $150K or higher need to be reminded of stories like these.

- I would love to see Congressional hearing held where CEOs of companies who are lobbying for increased immigrant VISAs, or more outsourcing,or are complaining "we have good jobs but can't find enough skilled people" are brought it and made to listen to stories like these. I wish the presidents "Jobs Council" executives had been made to spend a week listening to people directly tell them these stories and have it televised.

- I am not one to dwell on the past, so from these stories I always ask "what can we do?" I do not see any easy solution and and skeptical of those who seem that we can simply return to the days of yore. Too much has changed, those days are never coming back. We also have an increased conflict as more attention is being paid to environment issues - the more you regulate against things that impact the environment, the more you eliminate well paying jobs. Someone working in a nursing home or for a government entity will never have the same income opportunity growth as a job in the fields such as energy. It is easy to increase the jobs, but increasingly jobs that can support a family from both an income and benefits view is a different matter.

- It just struck me that the Stanleys seemed better adjusted to not dwell on the past issues but always thinking and trying ways to improve, and relatively less of an "entitlement" view than the Neumanns. Of course we are only seeing a limited view into their lives, so we really do not know what other issues may have gone on that were not shown. It just seemed that when things were tough the Stanleys made more of an effort to work things through as a family, with the parents trying to set an example for their kids, and not shield these things from their kids.

While I may not have agreed with everything or all of the tones applied in the program, I'm glad I viewed it. It is always good to see other perspectives and not focus too much on oneself. The difficulty I see is that as a society we cannot have everything, and promises to that degree need to be taken with caution.
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Old 07-11-2013, 04:37 PM   #75
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- I would love to see Congressional hearing held where CEOs of companies who are lobbying for increased immigrant VISAs, or more outsourcing,or are complaining "we have good jobs but can't find enough skilled people" are brought it and made to listen to stories like these. I wish the presidents "Jobs Council" executives had been made to spend a week listening to people directly tell them these stories and have it televised.

Just wanted to comment on this...

From what I read here.... both families were made up of unskilled workers... most of the businesses that are looking for people want skilled people...

Our company hires programmers and other tech people... we almost always have a problem filling jobs.... we have gone to some specialized search firms and still cannot find people with the skills we need... we have also noticed that some people that seem to be highly skilled are not... they do not seem to be able to complete projects and when someone else looks at the code they say it is buggy....

This leads me to believe that there are a lot of people who think they are highly skilled, but are not... they are not unskilled workers mind you, just not highly skilled...
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Old 07-11-2013, 06:33 PM   #76
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I hesitate to even comment on this. I watched the show last night and it only cemented my feelings about all the families out there that can not make a living today without a college degree. This was not always the case. It is now. These people have been caught in the middle, and not for lack of trying.

Getting pregnant at a young age is the downfall of many a family, when they do not possess either a college degree or the intellect to start a business and make a success of it. Truth is, our society is comprised of all types of people with varying degrees of mental capacity. I don't know about you people, but when I look around (even in my own family circle) I see a wide variance on sheer ability and common sense. My aunt has six children. Three of them are fortunate and are rational competent people. The other three are complete ditzes. Couldn't find their way out of a paper bag. Do I think they could be any different? No, I don't. They were born with these limitations and are doomed to struggling and a life of hardship.

The one mother in the film did all she could conceivably do to send her one son to college and keep him there. It was impossible for her to do the same for the rest of the children.

As further shown in the film, at least two of her children were more intelligent and had more sense than the others. This is the way it is in real life. No matter how good a parent may be. Some offspring will be more adapt, more logical and responsible, while the others will not be quite so fortunate.

So, when I hear that talk from some members about not wanting to pay for the "slackers", I shake my head. When young families start off on the wrong foot when they are young, by getting pregnant, and they don't have the money to even pay the bills, how are they then going to "prepare for retirement". They are trying to prepare to keep a roof over their head and feed their family. There is no discretionary income in these families. No 401K's or Roths. No health insurance. They are not lazy slackers. They were kids who were young and foolish, and by the time they learned the mistakes they made, it was too late for them.
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Old 07-11-2013, 10:14 PM   #77
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...So, when I hear that talk from some members about not wanting to pay for the "slackers", I shake my head. When young families start off on the wrong foot when they are young, by getting pregnant, and they don't have the money to even pay the bills, how are they then going to "prepare for retirement". They are trying to prepare to keep a roof over their head and feed their family. There is no discretionary income in these families. No 401K's or Roths. No health insurance. They are not lazy slackers. They were kids who were young and foolish, and by the time they learned the mistakes they made, it was too late for them.
Woe is me. I'm destined to lifelong poverty as a consequence of a bad decision or two that I made as a youth. No way I can do anything about it - it is too late. Please support us and please don't call us slackers. I'm spending too much time feeling sorry for myself to improve my lot in life.

Bullshit! Get off you lazy ass and get a job! You eat an elephant one bite at a time. Others have done it.
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Old 07-11-2013, 11:38 PM   #78
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Just wanted to comment on this...

From what I read here.... both families were made up of unskilled workers... most of the businesses that are looking for people want skilled people...

Our company hires programmers and other tech people... we almost always have a problem filling jobs.... we have gone to some specialized search firms and still cannot find people with the skills we need... we have also noticed that some people that seem to be highly skilled are not... they do not seem to be able to complete projects and when someone else looks at the code they say it is buggy....

This leads me to believe that there are a lot of people who think they are highly skilled, but are not... they are not unskilled workers mind you, just not highly skilled...
Understood. I work on the technical side of my Megacorp and see the same things. However. companies are also not innocent in this. For example I have seen them want the skills from lower cost countries even when they had them in the U.S. (e.g. software development managers being told "80% of your staff must be from these countries outside of the U.S.").

I just am a believer in shining a light on things to draw out the truth. Public hearings with CEOs talking about not being able to find skilled workers in the same room with out of work skilled (however one defines it) workers, might shed enough light to determine where the truth really lies.
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Old 07-12-2013, 01:15 AM   #79
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So, when I hear that talk from some members about not wanting to pay for the "slackers", I shake my head. When young families start off on the wrong foot when they are young, by getting pregnant, and they don't have the money to even pay the bills, how are they then going to "prepare for retirement". They are trying to prepare to keep a roof over their head and feed their family. There is no discretionary income in these families. No 401K's or Roths. No health insurance. They are not lazy slackers. They were kids who were young and foolish, and by the time they learned the mistakes they made, it was too late for them.
My Parents were exactly like the Neumanns! I felt like I was watching home videos. They had a couple kids way too young, worked dead end jobs, and scraped by just barely until I was six or seven. We hid from the bill collectors and Dad worked one summer at a video arcade to support a family of four. Like the Neumanns, my Dad worked swing shift in manufacturing and my Mom worked as an admin during the day. They also divorced.

Year by year though, things got a little better for all of us. My parents did see hard work pay off.

- Mom went to night school to learn computer programming.
- Dad kept patiently going back to his company after each layoff, until he got better shifts, and eventually advancement.
- They moved cross-country in the early 80s because there were no jobs in their home town. (Landed in Seattle)
- We were latchkey kids but had plenty of books and the TV to keep us occupied.

They are both homeowners with good jobs and pensions. We kids are doing well too.

I don't think poverty = fate. I saw my family escape it without any miracles needed.

My takeaway from the show? Don't put down your roots in a dying town.
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Old 07-12-2013, 08:14 AM   #80
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My Parents were exactly like the Neumanns! I felt like I was watching home videos. They had a couple kids way too young, worked dead end jobs, and scraped by just barely until I was six or seven. We hid from the bill collectors and Dad worked one summer at a video arcade to support a family of four. Like the Neumanns, my Dad worked swing shift in manufacturing and my Mom worked as an admin during the day. They also divorced.

Year by year though, things got a little better for all of us. My parents did see hard work pay off.

- Mom went to night school to learn computer programming.
- Dad kept patiently going back to his company after each layoff, until he got better shifts, and eventually advancement.
- They moved cross-country in the early 80s because there were no jobs in their home town. (Landed in Seattle)
- We were latchkey kids but had plenty of books and the TV to keep us occupied.

They are both homeowners with good jobs and pensions. We kids are doing well too.

I don't think poverty = fate. I saw my family escape it without any miracles needed.

My takeaway from the show? Don't put down your roots in a dying town.
Great story. I agree, poverty does not equal fate. The American dream still exists for those who are willing to hustle and scrap, but it isn't easy.
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