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Old 08-10-2009, 09:35 PM   #101
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These lower end consumers/workers are almost as different from the average person on this board as some guy in a loin cloth in the Amazon.

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I agree. If you haven't been a blue collar worker in the current economy and I mean FOR A LIVING not as a part time job in college, then you have no idea what the situation is. There is no job security. Job layoffs are common, not just in this recession. Can you imagine what that kind of job insecurity does to a person?

In addition, the blue collar working environment is often brutal and callous in a more direct and obvious way than corporate life. I have two brothers and a son who work in blue collar occupations. Two out of three were employed two months ago, but now they are all unemployed. Luckily, none has a family to support.
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Old 08-10-2009, 10:23 PM   #102
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I agree. If you haven't been a blue collar worker in the current economy and I mean FOR A LIVING not as a part time job in college, then you have no idea what the situation is. There is no job security. Job layoffs are common, not just in this recession. Can you imagine what that kind of job insecurity does to a person?
Makes them think that they better save up some cash for that inevitable lay-off?

You don't need an advanced degree to have heard the term "save for a rainy day", or the grasshopper/ant story. This guy was blowing the money when he had it and when he didn't have it.

Actually, the whole story is an insult to blue collar workers. Most of them are much more "together" than this guy. It's a sad story but don't use this guys personal issues as a metaphor for the "problems of the blue collar worker".


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In addition, the blue collar working environment is often brutal and callous in a more direct and obvious way than corporate life. I have two brothers and a son who work in blue collar occupations. Two out of three were employed two months ago, but now they are all unemployed. Luckily, none has a family to support.
Layoffs are unique to blue collar workers? That's news.

There's two sides to that. The hourly workers went home at the end of the shift, and that was that for most of them. No phone calls, pages, emails to respond to, no late night or early morning conference calls, no meetings to prepare for, no reports or reviews to compose, no keeping in touch with the office on vacations.

I would not have traded places, but let's be realistic about it.

-ERD50
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Old 08-10-2009, 10:48 PM   #103
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I agree. If you haven't been a blue collar worker in the current economy and I mean FOR A LIVING not as a part time job in college, then you have no idea what the situation is. There is no job security. Job layoffs are common, not just in this recession. Can you imagine what that kind of job insecurity does to a person?

In addition, the blue collar working environment is often brutal and callous in a more direct and obvious way than corporate life. I have two brothers and a son who work in blue collar occupations. Two out of three were employed two months ago, but now they are all unemployed. Luckily, none has a family to support.
I've worked as a full-time blue collar worker since I was 20(10 years). Luckily, my company seems to be one of the strongest around and we have had no lay-offs and have plenty of work. Still, I know I could lose my job anytime so i've been increasing my cash savings.
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Old 08-10-2009, 10:54 PM   #104
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... Still, I know I could lose my job anytime so i've been increasing my cash savings.
White-collar workers whose jobs have been outsourced would have a tough time without a savings too.
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Old 08-11-2009, 07:11 AM   #105
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In addition, the blue collar working environment is often brutal and callous in a more direct and obvious way than corporate life.
This statement baffles me, and smacks of class warfare.
Please explain what you really mean by this.
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Old 08-11-2009, 11:12 AM   #106
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I think folks on this board are being very harsh with this people. In a way I agree as well... all of their choices and actions will not better their lives, but it's easy for me to say this.


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...
Obviously they do need help with learning to manage their money. This is a skill that many people do not have because let's face it, we learn by example and if you come from a family where no-one has been financially responsible why would you expect the next generation to be any different?

For me, the best way to help people like these would be via a mentoring program. The son needs to be mixing with people who have greater ambitions and desires than his parents likely have. He may decide to go the route of the parents, but the exposure would at least possibly put the idea in his head that there are options out there in the big world. The parents need to be taught how to budget. Someone needs to sit down with them and show them how much they spend on alcohol and cigarettes and let them make the decision as to where they think they funds are best spent. Someone needs to sit down with them and discuss their career options, help with resumes, talk to them about training opportunities.

The truth is we can all come up with ideas on what these people need to do to fix their lives however will any of the members of this board actually take time out of our lives to participate in helping those who need help? Most people who find their way to this board are going to be fine regardless of whether or not anyone posts an answer to their query on portfolio allocation. Talk is cheap, it's easy to preach on the internet, we can blather on all we want, but with the skills we all must have if we have been able to achieve our FIRE goals, why aren't we out there helping where it is needed?

I tend to agree with DangerMouse, but changing their attitudes is a much harder task than one would think. I cannot understand why, but these type of people feel "stuck" and are unable to snap out of it.

I have lived side by side with folks like this for several years (safe, cheap place to live while I was in college). Time after time I was amazed at the choices they kept making... not taking a job because they get more on unemployment (never mind the long term pay off)... quitting jobs when given a raise (it would throw them over the income threshold for state aid)... even filing for legal (marriage) separations and confusing their kids in order to qualify for more aid...

These are not bad or even lazy people (at least some of them), they are just stuck in a rut and unable to see past today. I have tried and tried to show them how in the long run they will never break free and be better off until something changes... I kept telling them don't quit just because you got a raise, hang in there for another six months (deliver pizzas or clean houses in the mean time) and you will get another one and then you will be better off and no longer at the mercy of govt funds... for whatever reason, they were never able to see past the initial six months.

My take is that they are unable/too insecure to set up a goal, come up with a plan and work towards it; they are afraid and unwilling to "choose" to accept less income in the short run in order to establish a better life for themselves later on. This, in turn, is a recipe for hopelessness which further reinforces the same choices and steers them towards spending $$ on useless things such as alcohol, cigarettes, fast food and lottery tickets (things that give them hope and make them feel better today and are the only things that can be bought with their current incomes).

I mostly worry about their kids... I do think most of it is learned behavior and they, much like their parents, will have cards stacked against them.
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Old 08-11-2009, 11:29 AM   #107
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lujica, yours is a very thoughtful post and I agree that these ruts are very deep.
It really is a totally different environment than the one that many of us are fortunate to live in.
I worked on our family farm growing up and saw much of the same things as you described.
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Old 08-11-2009, 01:40 PM   #108
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I forgot to mention one more thing that keep these folks back...

Due to their insecurities and (sometimes real, but sometimes simply perceived) lack of options such people tend to be quite easy to abuse/threaten or manipulate into positions less beneficial to them. For quite a few of them this is exactly what happens ... perhaps at home (by their family members), perhaps at work (by the bosses) or by a landlord.

I have seen them pushed into working for free (as hourly employees) or having their rent almost doubled on no notice. I was presented with pretty much the same choices and whereas I have protested and questioned the proposing party's motives they did not --- for example, the rent was almost doubled for the whole apartment complex with no improvements on their end, everyone feared they will get evicted if they do not go along (and new places may be hard to get with spotty work history and not so stellar credit). I was the only one that protested and after a few months of back and forth with the office mine was the only rent kept "as is".

I had same education as they did, no safety net what-so-ever, no real work experience, limited work schedule to support myself and at all times much less money then they did - I had nothing but positive outlook and and attitude going for me...
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Old 08-11-2009, 01:49 PM   #109
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I forgot to mention one more thing that keep these folks back...

Due to their insecurities and (sometimes real, but sometimes simply perceived) lack of options such people tend to be quite easy to abuse/threaten or manipulate into positions less beneficial to them. For quite a few of them this is exactly what happens ... perhaps at home (by their family members), perhaps at work (by the bosses) or by a landlord.
I think what you are describing is sometimes called "the culture of poverty". Some pople do escape, and this is evidence that escape is possible.

That is valid, but validity is lost when it is assumed that some escapes means that anyone can escape. Assume a jail from which some convists escape. Does that mean that any of them could escape? In my opinion, no. Some are faster, smarter, stronger, more ruthless, better liars etc.

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Old 08-11-2009, 01:58 PM   #110
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I think what you are describing is sometimes called "the culture of poverty". Some pople do escape, and this is evidence that escape is possible.

That is valid, but validity is lost when it is assumed that some escapes means that anyone can escape. Assume a jail from which some convists escape. Does that mean that any of them could escape? In my opinion, no. Some are faster, smarter, stronger, more ruthless, better liars etc.

Ha
I could have said, "I have done it, so can they", but that was not my point. I agree completely with you - although it is possible, very few completely escape from such life. I do think the key elements (which can be so elusive) are self confidence and drive. I do worry about kids being raised in this type of environment, for it makes it that much less likely they themselves will escape.
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:21 PM   #111
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lujica, your story brought up one from the reserves of my mind. I rode horses growing up, certainly not a poor person's sport. There was a nice girl that mucked stalls to earn rides and she lived in a horrible trailer park down the road from where I kept my horse.

Her family life and the lives of the other people around there were like nothing I'd ever seen before.

One little 12 year old girl, who'd come over looking for food, told me she wanted to be a veterinarian when she grew up. I remember distinctly the unspoken thought in my mind, that she didn't have a chance in hell of making it to college, let alone vet school.

Sad that I knew the reality of the culture of poverty at only 16 myself. I tried to help the older girl out, but even she succumbed to the only life she knew later on, causing me much heartache.

As Ha reminds us often, those of us fortunate enough to grow up with comparatively easy lives are lucky indeed.
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Old 08-11-2009, 03:20 PM   #112
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Her family life and the lives of the other people around there were like nothing I'd ever seen before...
Yes, it's a different world. I still have trouble truly understanding this type of mentality, but I have seen enough of it to understand its impact.

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...As Ha reminds us often, those of us fortunate enough to grow up with comparatively easy lives are lucky indeed.
Yes, we do! Unfortunately, most of us do not realize it. Most people think it's simply an issue of having/not having money when in reality money is not the issue. Although growing up my family was quite short on money I was raised to appreciate education as a way of establishing myself in a profession of my choice (edit - I was raised to make sure I am always in a position to provide for myself and all of those who depend on me, not to say I was raised to work at all cost). I was also raised to be self reliant and not to depend on govt/husband to bail me out.
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Old 08-11-2009, 06:56 PM   #113
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I think what you are describing is sometimes called "the culture of poverty". Some pople do escape, and this is evidence that escape is possible.
I didn't know it was called "the culture of poverty", but I've seen this phenomenon first hand when I was living in Tucson. People tend to hang around with people from the same/similar socio economic background and from their group, that becomes their knowledge base. Maybe the ones who escape have seen someone from his group rising above and realize they could too?? It's hard to imagine yourself doing something nobody you know is doing it.
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