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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-20-2005, 12:24 PM   #61
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Re: class in the united states

Last night I happened to attend a dinner for honorees of the local Beat the Odds Foundation for which I had been on the "winner" selection committee. *Some of them (all in or just out of high school) came from financially poor families. *

One young man from a genuinely poor home particularly impressed me. *His single mother has had eight "heart attacks" and he (aged 14 or so) has been her sole caregiver since the age of 8 -- while living in a homeless shelter (where he and his mother still live). *His guidance counselor saw him walking 4 miles to school some months ago and began investigating the background (and getting some public assistance). *The kid, meanwhile, is a first-stringer on the baseball team and makes almost straight A's. *Says he wants to be a lawyer, and I believe it.

I also believe people can pull themselves from poverty. * Most don't for a myriad of reasons, and I suspect it may be getting harder to do so now than in previous decades.
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-20-2005, 12:53 PM   #62
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Re: class in the united states

As far as the "eloquent Fred" goes, he reminds me of some of the conspiracy theorists you run into once in a while. Like the guys who believe the moon landing was staged because the US flag is waving. Can be fascinating to listen to, but really.

Fred described himself as a reporter. But he doesn't bother with the facts, concluding with the claim that welfare, subsidized housing, and free medical care are given to todays poor. In fact, these benefits are very limited and if you have no children and you are not disabled, you probably won't get a thing.



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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-21-2005, 09:36 AM   #63
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Re: class in the united states

Very educational thread, it reveals the spectrum of American attitudes. By reading your posts, one learns a lot about American values. After 12 years of living here, I'm still learning. I must tell you though that people from Germany, France or Canada would find all this rather bizarre.

I grew up in Canada and lived in Western Europe for 10+ years, so I have a different perspective on all this. In Canada, equal access to education and healthcare is the cornerstone of a civilized society. It creates the foundation for a mobile middle class, and gives every child an equal opportunity to advance based on their abilities.

I'm appalled at what passes for healthcare in this country and people's apparent willingness to be exploited by insurance companies. A good college costs $30,000/year, that's education for the rich only. I drove through the campus of one of the elite universities in Massachusetts and couldn't help but notice the Mercedes and Lexus that rich students drive. Just outside the campus you see the usual trucks and beaters.

Martha hit the nail on the head in her original post, about the cost of tuition. I have a degree form a fine Canadian university, and back in the 70s my annual tuition was about $600. I could never have afforded a good education in this country, and even if I did, I would have to spend the rest of my life paying back college loans, while the rich kids are busy networking their way to the top. And I couldn't have retired early so I can chat with you all -- the Early Retired elite.
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-21-2005, 09:54 AM   #64
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Re: class in the united states

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Originally Posted by Free_at_49
Very educational thread, it reveals the spectrum of American attitudes. By reading your posts, one learns a lot about American values. After 12 years of living here, I'm still learning. I must tell you though that people from Germany, France or Canada would find all this rather bizarre.

I grew up in Canada and lived in Western Europe for 10+ years, so I have a different perspective on all this. In Canada, equal access to education and healthcare is the cornerstone of a civilized society. It creates the foundation for a mobile middle class, and gives every child an equal opportunity to advance based on their abilities.
Darn! Another Canuk has discovered the dirty secret of the uncivilized rabble living south of the border.

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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-21-2005, 10:04 AM   #65
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Re: class in the united states

Free_at_49, there is a distict cultural difference, without a doubt. But you left out the flip side - taxes. The Marginal tax rate in Canada/Europe is significantly higher to pay for those benefits. The prevailing attitude in this country is "let us keep what we earn, we'll find our own way". Most people are motivated by the dream of wealth. I've got friends who are low income earners but read the get rich quick books and dream of starting their own business. They (and their children) would benefit greatly from things like health care and access to cheap education. But they are hard core conservatives, because they are sure they will be rich someday, and would be affected by things like the "death" tax (estate tax), despite the fact they have a negative net worth and rent an apartment. It's the dream....sorta manifest lotto ticket destiny.

I'm painting a cynical picture, just because that's how I feel right now. But seriously, the overwhelming theme in the U.S., to me anyway, is dream big, no limit to how far you can go, shoot for the stars. The idea of sacrificing on that to provide additional safety nets, to sell out the dream for the sake of homeostasis, just doesn't sell here. The stories of the destitute getting enough help to have a decent small home for their family doesn't sell here, but run a t.v. show about someone who started a business in his "tiny one bedroom apartment" and is now a mulimillionaire, Americans tune in!
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-21-2005, 10:43 AM   #66
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Re: class in the united states

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Originally Posted by Free_at_49
I must tell you though that people from Germany, France or Canada would find all this rather bizarre.
That's OK, I find many things in those countries bizarre too, but I don't feel compelled to live in them.

Some (not all) of those things have to do with socialism's involuntary separation of me from my money to support govt bureaucracy & waste.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Free_at_49
In Canada, equal access to education and healthcare is the cornerstone of a civilized society. It creates the foundation for a mobile middle class, and gives every child an equal opportunity to advance based on their abilities.

I'm appalled at what passes for healthcare in this country and people's apparent willingness to be exploited by insurance companies.
Can't argue with that. I just don't think the govt should be responsible for meeting all aspects of it, especially when it's "using" my money. And if the system is so successful, does it account for the relative number of technological advances in Canadian & European health care fields (like medications & diagnostic) vs American or Asian? Who's paying for those advances? Who was it that claims Canada has a 21st century healthcare system with 1960s technology & appointment scheduling? I'd judge the effectiveness of a healthcare system by the number of non-citizens attempting to access it. I'd also apply the same standards to an educational system-- how many student visas did the U.S. hand out last year?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Free_at_49
A good college costs $30,000/year, that's education for the rich only. I drove through the campus of one of the elite universities in Massachusetts and couldn't help but notice the Mercedes and Lexus that rich students drive. Just outside the campus you see the usual trucks and beaters.

Martha hit the nail on the head in her original post, about the cost of tuition. I have a degree form a fine Canadian university, and back in the 70s my annual tuition was about $600. I could never have afforded a good education in this country, and even if I did, I would have to spend the rest of my life paying back college loans, while the rich kids are busy networking their way to the top. And I couldn't have retired early so I can chat with you all -- the Early Retired elite.
I hope that a $30K college would be good, but that's not always the case! Nor is it true that good colleges cost $30K. (If that's education for the rich only, then let 'em pay it.) We've had plenty of other threads here on the value of local/state colleges and scholarships. If you think a good U.S. education is unaffordable then you're definitely in need of one. You and I seem to have achieved ER without it, so perhaps a $30K education isn't as necessary as people think.

You also seem to equate a quality education with $600 tuition, although I don't want to put words in your mouth. Yet at 2% of the cost of a "good" college, $600 would seem rather limited in quality. (Hmm, does quality have a price?) I wonder how a 30-year-old number compares to U.S. college costs (back then or adjusted to today's dollars) and if it reflects any govt subsidies.

I think it's ludicrous to attempt an assessment of demographics, students or otherwise, by cruising parking lots. My family's vehicles reflect our values, not our net worth (or our credit-card debt)...
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-21-2005, 11:51 AM   #67
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Re: class in the united states

I would be happy if health care costs were deductible from Federal Income tax. Very little additional bureaucracy. It would be better over all than the housing deduction which mainly benefits people with large debt or two houses. As far as Canada goes, well there is more than one way to run a country. I think I will just stay here in the U.S. though.
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-21-2005, 11:56 AM   #68
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Re: class in the united states

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I would be happy if health care costs were deductible from Federal Income tax. Very little additional bureaucracy. It would be better over all than the housing deduction which mainly benefits people with large debt or two houses. As far as Canada goes, well there is more than one way to run a country. I think I will just stay here in the U.S. though.
hmmm, well, mine already is via flex spending account at work, are you referring to something for the unemployed? They're usually not paying too much in income tax anyway....
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-21-2005, 12:17 PM   #69
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Re: class in the united states

I was just thinking simply deduct all medical expenses directly from the Federal Income Tax. I have a flex plan at work but don't use it. I felt it wasen't worth my time to fight them over getting my own money back. (They only pay approved expenses.)
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-21-2005, 12:32 PM   #70
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Re: class in the united states

Before I got married, when I was living off my own portfolio and managing my tax profile was fairly easy, I did manage to deduct most of my healthcare costs including my monthly HMO payments.
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-21-2005, 01:33 PM   #71
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Re: class in the united states

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I have a flex plan at work but don't use it. I felt it wasen't worth my time to fight them over getting my own money back. (They only pay approved expenses.)
I took advantage of the med flex plan when I was employed. It makes sense when you're in a 33% (fed and state) tax bracket. I always got my money back on all medical expenses. My biggest problem was to try to figure out how much money to allocate since this plan requires you to either use the money or lose it.

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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-21-2005, 02:14 PM   #72
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Re: class in the united states

As far as the 13 year old pregnant and on drugs...yeah, you cant ask them to suck it up...but thats not the point. You have to wind it back up about 14 years and point out the 10-20 choices made that ended up with an unparented, unmonitored 13 year old that got pregnant and on drugs.

While my buddy 'freddy' has some points, both good and bad, his observation regarding choices and their inevitable implications is well taken.

The parents made a choice to have the child, then not keep an eye on her and/or teach her about the implications of sex and drug use. Of course the kid isnt going to figure that out for herself. I'm still quite impressed with the short-sighted stupidity of people who dont want to tell their children about sex/drugs/whatever and to not even have it brought up in school, on the assumption that they wont know about it if nobody tells them.

They'll know, and they'll experiment...with the usual results.

People in generations of "poverty" make choices. Have children you cant feed and have no intention of parenting. Sit around watching tv instead of going out looking for a job. Take the handout instead of the hand up or helping your own damn self. Hang with the gang instead of going to school. Teenage sex and drug use. Illegal activities they know can land them in jail. Propogation of violence in the neighborhood...those guys trying to kill someone or rob them are somebodies kids.

Theres an interesting book out called "Freakonomics". I havent read it, but I've seen the author interviewed and read some bits and pieces of his web site. By the way, I dont believe many of his conclusions and see several alternative explanations to what he sees "in the data". However, he has one very interesting piece of long term statistics.

In areas of the country where abortion has been the highest, 15-20 years later the crime rate in that area starts dropping. In areas where abortion has been lowest, crime rates remain the same or rise 15-20 years later. The implication being that unwanted children grow up to become criminals at a higher rate than wanted children.

I've wondered at times if the 'poverty' isnt a result rather than a cause.

Then the government makes it all better by removing information on contraceptives from the government information web site, citing an interest in increasing abstinence and promoting virginity. Thats caused an upshoot in 'alternative' non-vaginal intercourse. Swell, just the effect I'm sure everyone wanted. Billions spent arresting, prosecuting and jailing relatively harmless drug users, the incarceration of which places them next to real criminals and breaks down their lives to the point where their next prison stop wont be for something harmless.

The bad choices made or decisions left unmade, are similar to the way the govt "handles" the problem. An ounce of prevention IS worth a pound of cure.
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-21-2005, 03:43 PM   #73
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Re: class in the united states

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In areas of the country where abortion has been the highest, 15-20 years later the crime rate in that area starts dropping. In areas where abortion has been lowest, crime rates remain the same or rise 15-20 years later. The implication being that unwanted children grow up to become criminals at a higher rate than wanted children.
I am VERY sceptical that a causal relationship can be bourne out here. Who are people willing to get an abortion, who has knowlege of their options re abortion? What kind of neighborhoods have access to good medical care? Obviously, the wealthier neighborhoods. It smells of data mining to me. I bet I can find a direct correlation between percentage of households in a neighborhood with country club memberships and low crime rates.
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-21-2005, 03:51 PM   #74
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Re: class in the united states

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I bet I can find a direct correlation between percentage of households in a neighborhood with country club memberships and low crime rates.*
? Golf makes people peaceful?
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-21-2005, 04:04 PM   #75
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Re: class in the united states

Actually, I've heard some pretty harsh language on the course! Maybe I should have chosen a better avatar for wealth/poverty crime relations.
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-21-2005, 06:29 PM   #76
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Re: class in the united states

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I am VERY sceptical that a causal relationship can be bourne out here.
There are a lot of things that you can infer over a 15-20 year period, but they did it by state, where a particular state had legalized abortion sooner than others, and did a broad range of time periods, by state, by county, by city. Of the things in the book, it was as reasonable a data set as I've seen.

Basically, per capita, any way you sliced it (state/county/city), high abortion rates = lower crime rates ~15-20 years later.

By the way, this is not to support or take away from the whole abortion issue on either side, its simple data. And it does make sense...unwanted children are probably not going to grow up to be your best citizens.

Another assertion they made had a better example though. They found that in couples who had children later in life (>30), the children had a better chance of being 'successful' vs couples who were younger when they had their first child. Makes sense. Weird part was that they found that parents who had a child young (~20), then had another much later (~30-40), neither child enjoyed that beneficial "success" thing. Their thesis was that theres something in parents who wait that makes them better parents. My analysis is that people are creatures of reusable learning, and the parents that had a young child developed their child rearing skills then and then simply re-used that less optimal learning with the second child, while parents who developed their child raising skills when older (and presumably wiser) did a better job.

Theres always more than one way to work up the reasons for a correlation, but find me one alternative to the original.
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-21-2005, 10:26 PM   #77
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Re: class in the united states

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I must tell you though that people from Germany, France or Canada would find all this rather bizarre.

I grew up in Canada and lived in Western Europe for 10+ years, so I have a different perspective on all this. In Canada, equal access to education and healthcare is the cornerstone of a civilized society. It creates the foundation for a mobile middle class, and gives every child an equal opportunity to advance based on their abilities.

I'm appalled at what passes for healthcare in this country and people's apparent willingness to be exploited by insurance companies
No offense my friend but my latest readings suggest the Canadian healthcare system or "free healthcare" is about to bust.* What next, raise taxes even further?* Yes, we are well aware of the imperfections in the US healthcare system but at least we don't have to wait a month or so for surgery.

And going back to what the artist formerly known as Laurencewill or now Mephistopheles said, we adopted the motto of pay less in taxes and figure out the rest with the the money leftover.* It does create some problems but what is the alternative?* Socialism?* No thanks.
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-22-2005, 07:56 AM   #78
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Re: class in the united states

Subsidizing health care so there is access for all isn't socialism. Neither is social security. Neither is minimum wage. Neither is education. You can still wildly succeed or wildly fail.

I heard an interview on NPR with the guy who wrote Freakenomics. He said he was making no assumptions about causation in his discussion about abortion and crime rate. He said the only way to draw those sorts of conclusions is to have an experiment, inotherwords, ban abortion and wait 18 years. He was pretty persuasive about his methodology in determining the correlation.
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-22-2005, 08:19 AM   #79
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Re: class in the united states

I refer to a national healthcare system as a step in the socialism direction b/c essentially it is an attempt to equate imbalances through government intervention. Might be a stretch.

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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-22-2005, 10:29 AM   #80
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Re: class in the united states

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Originally Posted by Martha
A couple of sociologists recently wrote a book about poor single mothers. A review in the WSJ says:
... even those pregnant as young as 14, simply want to have babies. True, many wish that they had waited. But by and large these young women speak in hidebound terms about the "joys of motherhood," as do their young boyfriends, who often whisper "I want to have a baby by you" as part of courtship.
Who instills those ideas into the mind of those young women? Is it society? Is it the neighorhood in which they live? It seems to be a breakdown in communication. It fails to communicate or the convey the serious consequence of motherhood at that age.
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