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class in the united states
Old 05-16-2005, 09:40 AM   #1
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class in the united states

Last week I read an article in the WSJ that said of the "rich" countries, people are least likely to be born poor and move into the middle or upper class if they are from the United States or Britain. In contrast, Canada and the Nordic countries are the most mobile societies. A reprint that doesn't require a WSJ subscription can be found here: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05133/504149.stm This article was brought to mind by Intercst's thread on social status.


I think back to when I started college in the early 70s at the University of Minnesota. Tuition was 160 a quarter ($480 a year). Now I understand it is about $8000 a year--far outpacing inflation.

The current administration policies on tax and what to spend money on don't help either. This is one of the reasons I support an estate tax.
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-16-2005, 09:42 AM   #2
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Re: class in the united states

I'll pull a JG and reply to my own post. There also is an article in the Economist that discusses meritocracy in the United States and research on class mobility: http://www.economist.com/world/na/di...ory_id=3518560
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-16-2005, 10:19 AM   #3
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Re: class in the united states

Studies - we don't need no stinking studies.

The household women drag me down to 'Vietnamese Village' for best buys in fresh produce and Pastry.

Two non numerical observations - the young that stayed are a foot or more taller than thier parents* - obvious consumers of too many cheeseburgers - car payment cars playing gosh awlful rap music - the ones who dominated the high school academic lists are generally 'gone pecans' - except for the young lady who 'owns the drug store' and outcompetes everyone else around on prescription prices.

Same observation - as many others down history lane.

A reasonable percentage of immigrants - don't buy the consumer crap - LYBM - usually take the education ticket out.

The older generation(usually non English speaking) and the ones who buy into the consumer deally don't.

Millionaire Next Door - alludes to this - but never really breaks it out.

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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-16-2005, 12:02 PM   #4
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Re: class in the united states

Quote:
Originally Posted by unclemick2
the young that stayed are a foot or more taller than thier parents - obvious consumers of too many cheeseburgers
I think I figured this one out. I'm WAY bigger than my father, although there are some football players and Marine MP's in my family tree to account for it. No need to check out photos of the old hometown mailman. Seems that diet in that generation for the young 'uns wasnt very good. My dad said he was usually hungry all the time, and meals were pretty thin and not terribly nutritious. Poor nutrition early in life seems to = smaller size as an adult. When I worked in an animal shelter I noticed the same thing; feral and abused animals were smaller as adults than well kept pets.
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-16-2005, 02:10 PM   #5
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Re: class in the united states

The U.S. provides ample opportunities for immigrants to become sucessful. The ticket is education. In Vietnam (and many Asian countries), if you are poor, your kids will most likely have to work and not getting any education. In the U.S., immigrants in poverty receive economic assitance plus free education up to K-12. Their kids are also eligible for grants and/or low interest loans for college. Many of these poor Asian immigrants become successful doctors, lawyers, pharmicists, and enginners.

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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-16-2005, 02:44 PM   #6
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Re: class in the united states

So the US is more upwardly mobile than third world countries. But I think it is much less upwardly mobile than it once was. Inner city schools struggle and students come out with an education that doesn't prepare them for college. Colleges are becoming more expensive. You can work and go to school at the same time, but if you are working at or near minimum wage, good luck. My 1973 job paid 1.70 an hour, 10 cents about minimum wage. This would be over 7.00 an hour in today's dollars. More financial aid programs are based on factors other than need.

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-16-2005, 02:56 PM   #7
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Re: class in the united states

Perception is reality. As long as most people think they have a shot of getting ahead, of their kids doing better than them, society continues to function. But as the group that experiences multi-generational poverty grows, we may be reaching a critical mass that leads to the type of unrest that makes the L.A. riots look like a 60's love-in. Society needs that middle class buffer, a two class society is inherently unstable (French Revolution, anyone? Count De Monet!)
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-16-2005, 06:15 PM   #8
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Re: class in the united states

We grew up in very poor, rural Georgia. I made the jump from lower class to middle but it was not easy. I didn't go to college and most people assumed I was just a local idiot (probably still do). So it was hard for me to influence others to believe there was more to me than just some person from a low income family that didn't go to college. That in itself closed doors for me. I am not sour but it is tough to learn that there is a way of life beyond what you grow up with...it grows on you and you can get used to it b/c people don't expect much out you.
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-16-2005, 06:36 PM   #9
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Re: class in the united states

If America is no longer upwardly mobile then why do we have an
illegal immigrant problem? Why are our doors still being broken
down by immigrants from developed countries?

Why are most small rural towns abandoned by their young at the
first opportunity?

How do you explain a nerd like Bill Gates going from his garage
to the top of the food chain?

How do you explain a "dumb" red neck from Arkansas taking over
the retail world?

How do you explain a muscle builder from Austria becoming the
gov of California?

I may be naive at 71, but I believe that ANYBODY with a little brains
and a lot of determination can still accomplish just about anything
he/she wants to do in this great and God blessed land of ours.

Cheers,

Charlie
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-16-2005, 07:10 PM   #10
 
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Re: class in the united states

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmycarter
We grew up in very poor, rural Georgia.* I made the jump from lower class to middle but it was not easy.* I didn't go to college and most people assumed I was just a local idiot (probably still do).* So it was hard for me to influence others to believe there was more to me than just some person from a low income family that didn't go to college.* That in itself closed doors for me.* I am not sour but it is tough to learn that there is a way of life beyond what you grow up with...it grows on you and you can get used to it b/c people don't expect much out you.
Yah, But look at your Brother Billy. - It could have been worse
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Old 05-16-2005, 07:15 PM   #11
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Re: class in the united states

Charlie, I agree this is still a land of opportunity, I think my concern lies more in the direction we are headed. I like all of your examples except for Bill Gates. He was born into a very well to do family, had a seven figure trust fund, and went to Harvard. Not taking anything away from him, but he moved from the 98 percentile to the 99.9th percentile. I think Arnold is a great case study in so many ways. Came here with nothing but determination. But at the same time, what is his skill set? He could lift weights, but he was a terrible actor etc.! Persistence, that's his key.
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Old 05-16-2005, 07:52 PM   #12
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Re: class in the united states

I agree with Charlie that this is still the land of opportunities. There are countless examples that many imigrants transition from poverty to richness. I also agree with laurencewill that persistence is more important than knowledge itself.
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-16-2005, 08:09 PM   #13
 
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Re: class in the united states

Quote:
I think Arnold is a great case study in so many ways. Came here with nothing but determination. But at the same time, what is his skill set? He could lift weights, but he was a terrible actor etc.! Persistence, that's his key.
Nah! - It's drugs! - Arnold is the poster boy for steroids! - Without them he'd be lucky to be a gym manager today!

Don't get me wrong I like his politics. He's a social liberal.
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Old 05-16-2005, 08:34 PM   #14
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Re: class in the united states

I'm with Charlie. Anyone can still make it big in this country. I don't even think you need much of an education to do it. Eighth grade would probably be enough.
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-16-2005, 08:42 PM   #15
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Re: class in the united states

Charlie, you are right on. I agree. People risk their lives; they risk their family's lives, just so they can get here. Wonder why? You can get ahead in America, if you try? In fact, if you get a high school education, get married, and go to work, you are almost guaranteed a middle-class livelihood; Exceptions being the unforseen problem like accidents, medical catastrophes. And if you're bright, persistent, frugal and willing to take risks, you can do a lot better. See the Millionaire Next Door for a roadmap.
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Old 05-16-2005, 10:03 PM   #16
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Re: class in the united states

I don't think you even need to be bright! No, it's true, if people are willing to risk death (dozens die every year) crossing the border, there must be something to this country of ours. I'm just a worry wart type, I always want to see the good ol' U.S. of A. moving forward, becoming better, and I'm not sure it is right now.
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-17-2005, 03:28 AM   #17
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Re: class in the united states

Quote:
Originally Posted by laurencewill
he was a terrible actor etc.
You vehhy fuhhny lawrence. I keel you lassst...
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-17-2005, 06:34 AM   #18
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Re: class in the united states

Quote:
Originally Posted by BristolBane
I'm with Charlie.* Anyone can still make it big in this country.* I don't even think you need much of an education to do it.* Eighth grade would probably be enough.
I don't know about 8th grade. I did learn a few things in high school
that proved useful. You would probably have to do your own thing
if you were going without the "degree". It would still be a bit of
a
problem to get started, but certainly can be done. Opportunities abound for the bold among us. The others can get their degrees,
go to work for a corp. and take their chances.

JG
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Re: class in the united states
Old 05-17-2005, 06:41 AM   #19
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Re: class in the united states

Quote:
Originally Posted by laurencewill
I don't think you even need to be bright!* No, it's true, if people are willing to risk death (dozens die every year) crossing the border, there must be something to this country of ours.* ** I'm just a worry wart type, I always want to see the good ol' U.S. of A. moving forward, becoming better, and I'm not sure it is right now.
"Not sure" Not only is it not moving forward but the
fabric is unraveling. No end in sight either.

JG
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Old 05-17-2005, 07:44 AM   #20
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Re: class in the united states

I agreed that the US is more upwardly mobile than 3rd world countries. But it is less mobile than other rich countries and we are going backward.

I think it is not helpful to say anyone can make it big in this country. Sure, Sam Walton, the poor boy from Arkansas made it big. I bet he would have made it big anywhere in Europe, and maybe much of the third world as well. How many are so driven? Very few in the world. Most people are ordinary. I worry about the ordinary, not the Sam Waltons.

Walmart, one of the richest companies in the world, prices healthcare coverage out of the reach of employees and faces the largest sex discrimination case in history. In Arkansas, 4000 of the 45,000 Walmart employee are on public assistance. In Tennesee, over 25% are on public assistance. Walmart doesn't sound much like the land of opportunity to me.

I volunteer with a group that helps struggling girls and young woman. Last weekend I spent some time with a young woman I have known for a few years. She is now 19 and pregnant. She is driven. Driven to do whatever she can to protect herself. She has lived on the street for the past three years. She steals.
She lies. She is not very likeable. Her boyfriend is worse. But once she was a sweet child of 16 who ran away from home because her stepfather abused her. There are too many young people in the United States with wasted lives.

To say this is the land of opportunity and if you try hard you can become successful no matter your backround isn't helpful.


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