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Old 10-17-2007, 07:02 AM   #41
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Easy to sum it up, go back to one bathroom in most houses
for a family of 4+ with most working labor intensive factory jobs.
Can't remember any families that did not have a mortgage
and us kids had shared bedrooms. Ward robe was 3 pair of each and a set of play clothes, one pair of sneakers for all sports. An unscheduled day off school was great because it meant a day of shoveling snow to make spending money. My first bicycle took a whole summer of mowing lawns and bailing hay on the weekends. The average 16 year old might of had a ride that week in the family car. Oh how we know how rough it is today for most.
Oh yeas the days before monochrome
Welfare was live with who ever you could and pick up donated food.
And don't forget, one car per family. Most middle class families did not have two! Now in 2007, my middle class neighbors across the street have four and only two drivers, as far as I can tell.

And most middle class kids wore hand-me-downs their whole life when I was a kid. Even though I was brought up in an arguably upper middle class family, I remember being excited when I could get Melissa's hand-me-downs instead of someone else's, because Melissa had the best stuff! I think a lot of today's kids wear new clothes.
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Old 10-17-2007, 09:04 AM   #42
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I think there are people living a middle class life but not making enough money to support it. That seems to be the root cause of the debt crisis.
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Old 10-17-2007, 11:18 AM   #43
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I have to stand with Rustic23's position on this one. Every time my aged 89 y.o. mother watches her cowboy movies in black and white on tv, I ponder just how women made it in the pioneer days, how many were left without men around at some point, how many were raped, how they tolerated childbirth with no anesthesia and no midwife many times...and WE have it hard. Pfffft.....crazy talk!
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Old 10-17-2007, 11:20 AM   #44
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I think life is definitely harder for the current generation.

My parents were born in the early 50's. My dad was 23 when I was born, 26 when my brother was born. He got a blue-collar job at a tire factory, while my mom stayed home and raised the kids. He bought a decent 3-bedroom, 1 bathroom bungalow 10 minutes outside of town. We took regular vacations, although not extravagant. I got to go to Disneyworld twice as a child.

Even raising 2 kids on a single income from a blue-collar job, he was able to pay the mortgage off in 12 years. Does anybody reading this honestly think that's even remotely possible these days? I certainly don't.

To top it all off, he had a company pension (as did everyone else back then) to bank on, so he didn't have to save for retirement. Nevertheless, even after feeding a wife and 2 kids, and paying down a mortgage, he still had money left to invest, which he did. He retired early, at the age of 52, after working at Michelin for 30 years.

Now, contrast that with my current life. I'm 32, and I work in a well-paid white-collar job, as does my wife. We have no kids, 29 years left on our mortgage, and no pension to fall back on. The biggest problems, in my opinion, are housing and pensions.

Our housing is way, way more expensive than our parents had to deal with. And it's not because we live in a McMansion - it's simply not possible to find a house within 10 minutes of town for less than we're paying, unless you're willing to live in a high-crime area.

Pensions have gone the way of the Dodo bird. Unless you work for the government, or have a job with a union, you don't get pensions anymore. Everyone is left to fend for themselves. I believe this is setting my generation up for nothing short of total disaster. I see people my age all around me, running up credit card debt and not saving anything for retirement, and when asked about it, they just say, "well, my parents lived like this and they're happily retired now, so I'm sure it will all work out somehow for me too." No, it won't! They had pensions!

In this day and age, I do not believe it would be possible for someone working a blue-collar job to raise a family, pay off a home in 12 years, take vacations, and retire early. It's simply mathematically impossible. So I believe that yes, my generation has it much harder than my parents did.
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Old 10-17-2007, 11:31 AM   #45
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getting back to the original post

here's more fodder to stoke the debate. MSN continues with a related article on the economic squeeze of the middle class:

Who or what is the middle class? - Gut_Check - MSNBC.com
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Old 10-17-2007, 11:41 AM   #46
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I think life is definitely harder for the current generation.

My parents were born in the early 50's. My dad was 23 when I was born, 26 when my brother was born. He got a blue-collar job at a tire factory, while my mom stayed home and raised the kids. He bought a decent 3-bedroom, 1 bathroom bungalow 10 minutes outside of town. We took regular vacations, although not extravagant. I got to go to Disneyworld twice as a child.

Even raising 2 kids on a single income from a blue-collar job, he was able to pay the mortgage off in 12 years. Does anybody reading this honestly think that's even remotely possible these days? I certainly don't.

To top it all off, he had a company pension (as did everyone else back then) to bank on, so he didn't have to save for retirement. Nevertheless, even after feeding a wife and 2 kids, and paying down a mortgage, he still had money left to invest, which he did. He retired early, at the age of 52, after working at Michelin for 30 years.

Now, contrast that with my current life. I'm 32, and I work in a well-paid white-collar job, as does my wife. We have no kids, 29 years left on our mortgage, and no pension to fall back on. The biggest problems, in my opinion, are housing and pensions.

Our housing is way, way more expensive than our parents had to deal with. And it's not because we live in a McMansion - it's simply not possible to find a house within 10 minutes of town for less than we're paying, unless you're willing to live in a high-crime area.

Pensions have gone the way of the Dodo bird. Unless you work for the government, or have a job with a union, you don't get pensions anymore. Everyone is left to fend for themselves. I believe this is setting my generation up for nothing short of total disaster. I see people my age all around me, running up credit card debt and not saving anything for retirement, and when asked about it, they just say, "well, my parents lived like this and they're happily retired now, so I'm sure it will all work out somehow for me too." No, it won't! They had pensions!

In this day and age, I do not believe it would be possible for someone working a blue-collar job to raise a family, pay off a home in 12 years, take vacations, and retire early. It's simply mathematically impossible. So I believe that yes, my generation has it much harder than my parents did.
You have some good points. I was born when your Dad was and am planning on taking early retirement when I am 55. Pensions are disapearing. In fact the company I work for has eliminated it for new hires. They have provided a pension for the last 50 years. Those just starting will get 401K with company matching $1000 per year. The days when you got a job out of high school, work there for 30 years and retire on a pension are just about over.
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Not only do the wealthy think they are middle class
Old 10-17-2007, 11:54 AM   #47
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Not only do the wealthy think they are middle class

but the working poor also believe they are, and the mode of the income distribution has always been among the working poor. The increase of working women has increased household incomes somewhat but also decreased the income of working men, so better or not is a relative measure.

The post war era was a time of great prosperity, the baby boom is proof of that. If things were really getting easier, we would be having more children and those children would be costing us less and still afford whatever else we deemed necessary. That the birthrate is below replacement and is only keep up through immigration indicates to me, whatever the fiscal reality, people do not believe themselves to be better off. This is an area where perception is reality.
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One of the large differences
Old 10-17-2007, 12:08 PM   #48
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One of the large differences

between than and now is couples can afford to divorce, which was almost unheard of back then. Divorcing and living alone cost a lot more, but how much better off does it make us? The costs of not divorcing were nonmonetary for the most part while the costs of divorcing are monetary, and while it is deemed worth the cost, it doesn't improve our material existence.
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Old 10-17-2007, 12:47 PM   #49
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between than and now is couples can afford to divorce, which was almost unheard of back then. Divorcing and living alone cost a lot more, but how much better off does it make us? The costs of not divorcing were nonmonetary for the most part while the costs of divorcing are monetary, and while it is deemed worth the cost, it doesn't improve our material existence.
Divorce improved my material existence, in that more money goes towards the things I want. Sure, the income is less, but most of that was being thrown away on things I did not and do not value.

Although for me divorce meant losing everything and starting over, after just a couple of years it paid off for me financially even though his earnings were more than mine. It's not what you make - - it's what you do with it.
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Old 10-17-2007, 12:48 PM   #50
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So I believe that yes, my generation has it much harder than my parents did.
It's probably true that today's 30-50 year olds have a tougher time than similar age groups did in the 50s-70s. The 50s-70s were a blip, focussed largely in the US and it existed only for that brief window. As we've discussed elsewhere, it was largely a result of perturbations caused by WW II.

Now, a more important question: Have we dipped down below the starting baseline of that "blip?" Do families today have it harder than families of the pre-war US? I think it is clear that things are much better economically and in many other ways than they were at that time. The multi-generational trend toward greater prosperity is clear. Still, if worker productivity gains in the rest of the world continue and if US worker productivity continues to fall while US taxation/debt burdens grow, we are setting the stage for real (not just relative to other nations or our parents) declines in US living standards.
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Old 10-17-2007, 01:26 PM   #51
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The increase of working women has increased household incomes somewhat but also decreased the income of working men, so better or not is a relative measure.
While I can believe that men's income has dropped, it's hard to believe that working women are the cause. Do you have a link that supports that causality?

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The post war era was a time of great prosperity, the baby boom is proof of that. If things were really getting easier, we would be having more children and those children would be costing us less and still afford whatever else we deemed necessary. That the birthrate is below replacement and is only keep up through immigration indicates to me, whatever the fiscal reality, people do not believe themselves to be better off. This is an area where perception is reality.
Disagree. In general, where women have more access to income (jobs) & education, they choose to have fewer children. The birthrate worldwide is dropping for nearly every first-world country. Perhaps there was also a measurable impact from the legalization of abortions, which didn't really take off until the 1970s.
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Old 10-17-2007, 01:26 PM   #52
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Think of the money all these families will save after the housing meltdown is complete
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Old 10-17-2007, 02:08 PM   #53
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Think of the money all these families will save after the housing meltdown is complete
None. All their credit cards are maxed trying to keep afloat prior to their foreclosure, and afterwards, they can't buy even a candy bar without an 18% or higher interest rate.
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Caused is a bit too strong
Old 10-17-2007, 03:28 PM   #54
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Caused is a bit too strong

particularly since the boomers were entering the workforce at the same time. An increase in the supply of labor will lower its value and per worker capital investment also lagged at the same time. All of these worked to lower wages overall, but womens wages rose anyway.

The rich do choose to have fewer children and invest more in them, but would they do so even if they could have more and still invest more in them? Even if they could still have all their luxuries? It is really a game of relative expectations. You may be better off, but are you better off than you expected or hoped? I don't doubt we are better off, but neither do I doubt we are not advancing at the same rate our parents did. Not only the war but also recovery from the preceding depression helped them, but I wouldn't want to have to endure another depression for better growth later either. It would be wonderful if growth accelerated to a new higher sustainable level, but we haven't seen that since the industrial revolution.
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Old 10-18-2007, 01:06 AM   #55
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Young people want to start in the middle. When we were young you didn't have a car when you left home or if you did it was very old with no payments, no insurance sometimes too. I got a ride to the city and stayed with some people I knew until I got my first job. When I got my first place it was a room walking distance to my job. The room shared a bathroom with two other rooms. I cooked on a hot plate in my room usually a can of chili beans with no meat sometimes a can of rhubarb I got for 10 cents a can. After a few pay raises I moved to a studio apartment that was furnished but didn't supply anything like dishes and bedding like the first place so my whole pay checks went to get established it was 8 months after I left home before I got a radio as a gift. It was my dream to buy a black and white 12 inch tv someday. I don't think I got a tv until after I was married and a cheap used car was nearly two years after I left home.
Now kids either live with the parents and blow their money on having fun or expect to get a first apartment that is full of nice stuff and a nice car and nice clothes. They think they should be middle class before they are poor.
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Old 10-18-2007, 06:36 AM   #56
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Young people want to start in the middle. When we were young you didn't have a car when you left home or if you did it was very old with no payments, no insurance sometimes too. I got a ride to the city and stayed with some people I knew until I got my first job. When I got my first place it was a room walking distance to my job. The room shared a bathroom with two other rooms. I cooked on a hot plate in my room usually a can of chili beans with no meat sometimes a can of rhubarb I got for 10 cents a can. After a few pay raises I moved to a studio apartment that was furnished but didn't supply anything like dishes and bedding like the first place so my whole pay checks went to get established it was 8 months after I left home before I got a radio as a gift. It was my dream to buy a black and white 12 inch tv someday. I don't think I got a tv until after I was married and a cheap used car was nearly two years after I left home.
Now kids either live with the parents and blow their money on having fun or expect to get a first apartment that is full of nice stuff and a nice car and nice clothes. They think they should be middle class before they are poor.
Amen!
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:54 AM   #57
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To this very day, I have never had a pair of $200 sneakers, and rarely go to Starbucks.

I'm amening Old Woman's post. I had already done a tour in Japan and shipped out to Europe before I had a car, which I paid for myself. Without the GI Bill, I would have never gone to college (too poor). A black and white tv was a luxury. We even got into the kids' piggy bank to buy bread and milk in the mid-60s.

Is there anybody on this forum who had to stand in line begging for food (an apple) or work as they did during the depression? Anybody jump out of a building cause the market went down?

Enough of this I'm poorer then you are/were. The point is to LBYM which is a central precept of this forum. We are SO LUCKY to have been born in the USA (on 3rd base, heading for home). I'm sure we got a break with WWII aftermath, but it could be argued that Europe got one too, as they rebuilt their infrastructure thus ours is much older now. I believe it is virtually impossible to not have a middle-class lifestyle in the USA if you (a) at least finish high school, (b) get married or into a stable relationship, (c) Work (d) save 10% or more, and (e) Live Below Your Means.

And, as Dennis Miller used to rant, "That's just my opinion, I could be wrong."
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Old 10-18-2007, 09:01 AM   #58
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To this very day, I have never had a pair of $200 sneakers, and rarely go to Starbucks.

I'm amening Old Woman's post. I had already done a tour in Japan and shipped out to Europe before I had a car, which I paid for myself. Without the GI Bill, I would have never gone to college (too poor). A black and white tv was a luxury. We even got into the kids' piggy bank to buy bread and milk in the mid-60s.

Is there anybody on this forum who had to stand in line begging for food (an apple) or work as they did during the depression? Anybody jump out of a building cause the market went down?

Enough of this I'm poorer then you are/were. The point is to LBYM which is a central precept of this forum. We are SO LUCKY to have been born in the USA (on 3rd base, heading for home). I'm sure we got a break with WWII aftermath, but it could be argued that Europe got one too, as they rebuilt their infrastructure thus ours is much older now. I believe it is virtually impossible to not have a middle-class lifestyle in the USA if you (a) at least finish high school, (b) get married or into a stable relationship, (c) Work (d) save 10% or more, and (e) Live Below Your Means.

And, as Dennis Miller used to rant, "That's just my opinion, I could be wrong."
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Old 10-18-2007, 12:04 PM   #59
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Hey, I gotta stick up for my generation. The T.V. likes to show extreme cases of 30 year olds living with mom and driving a Beemer while slacking at starbucks. But most of my friends are quite accomplished. We all were born on 3rd base heading for home, definitely, but many of us didn't have a total free ride. Dad didn't get me a job, I worked as an unloader at the UPS center moving boxes of rivets off of mac trucks (1350 an hour was the quota), and at one point was renting a room and sleeping on couch cushions on the floor. My parents were always there, so I never would have been homeless, and while I never starved, the top ramen got old.

When DW and I got married, we lived in her 500 sq foot apartment in a so-so part of town. The biggest gift we got from our parents was some furniture from the unfinished furniture store for our wedding (her parents) and a washer and dryer when we bought our house (my parents). And a lot of us are in the same boat. We aren't all Paris Hilton!

Comparing the luxuries of yesterday to what kids have now is just not right, think of how much that black and white t.v. cost in real dollars compared to my HDTV. I bet it was a lot more.
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It does raise the question
Old 10-18-2007, 12:35 PM   #60
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It does raise the question

of what parents want for their children and what children want for themselves. Are parents satisfied if their children have an equally comfortable life, do they demand and expect they have a better life, or not content with that are they only satisfied if they climb further up the social hierarchy? What are their children satisfied with? Are they dissatisfied, merely disappointed, content, or delighted? Without some dissatisfaction there probably wouldn't be any progress, but too much can bring unhappiness.
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