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Old 01-06-2010, 08:17 PM   #61
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Alan and others, thanks for sharing your stories.

While I have some personal triumphs to be proud of, it would pale besides the hardships that some of you endured. How bad could it be to a kid who grew up indulging in Franco-Belgian comics, get to read not just Les MisÚrables but also The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in French?

But I would like to add that my life wasn't always gravy. Just for entertainment, I will tell my story.

My family got trampled by a "black swan" when I was in my late teens. For a while, we thought that we would have to go back to making a living like the grandparents that I never knew: to live off the land. Except that we had no land, and also lost our home, a 3-story house with 12 rooms and 3 kitchens, one on each floor. We lost everything! And it was through no fault of my parents.

Things looked quite bleak. Though I had very good grades in school, college was out of reach. My parents rebuilt with what they had left and kept, mostly in their heads. Us kids pitched in doing odd jobs, and luckily, we did not end up being day laborers as we had feared. And I even got to go to college, a state university even, thanks to Pell Grant. Isn't this country great or what?

We all stayed at home to help out financially, and only moved out when we got married, all 4 of us. When done with school, I had enough money saved to even get me a custom-made suit for job interviews. I was so skinny that nothing off the rack fit me; this I recently mentioned in another thread (I liked the custom suit so much that once I had a good job, I had two more made, one for my wedding ).

But talk about deprivation, how about this? I never went to one party while in school. Other than my sweetheart, I had no other friends. I once took 21 credit hours per semester, though I normally averaged around 18 to 19. My children now labor under a load of 12 hours/semester, just barely enough to qualify as full-time students. I worked 20 hrs each weekend to contribute to our household expenses. Party?

I once wrote here that compared to others, I have lived the life of a monk, and it is not too much of an exaggeration. My parents did not allow a TV in the house until I was about 15. When they finally did, I did not know if that was because they thought we were old enough to be safe from the seduction of TV, or it was because they themselves gave in to its entertainment value.

Now, you know why I became a bookworm! And frankly, I did not miss TV. Nowadays, the state Child Protective Service might come to the rescue and take custody of such abused children.

PS. It was the life-changing trauma that caused me to lose my knowledge of French. When you get bogged down with plebeian concerns, your priorities get all mixed up. And then, when you get your wallet filled again, have some free time for yourself, you find that your memory is gone. Sigh...
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:34 PM   #62
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The average person on this board is clearly two orders of magnitude more rational than normal.
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By rational, I am generally referring to the ability to list the long and short term pros and cons of a specific decision, and making a choice that will reasonably balance long and short term interest. People generally fail this test when buying cars, buying houses, choosing spouses, make career decisions, making educational decisions, family planning, etc.
Just teasing...

That does not keep us from arguing about mundane stuff. Given the same facts, we wander off to different conclusions
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:33 PM   #63
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That does not keep us from arguing about mundane stuff. Given the same facts, we wander off to different conclusions
What? What? Well I never.....
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Old 01-07-2010, 12:02 AM   #64
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I noticed that OP mis-titled the original title of the article that was copied and pasted. It was not "Why People Are Poor", but, rather "10 Reasons Why Most People Do Not Achieve Financial Success".
Very true. Thanks for pointing it out. There's a big difference between being "poor" and "not achieving financial success."

This has been an interesting discussion, but as you point out, it's been a discussion about the the inappropriate thread title, not the article quoted.

The 10 reasons seem reasonably valid as obstructions to achieving financial success, but not all that relative to being truly "poor."
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:53 AM   #65
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I saw that the thread was mis-titled but thought that we would all play along, to have more to discuss and to talk about. I thought we wanted a repeat of the following.

What did you buy Today?
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:53 AM   #66
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poverty and hardship build character; wealth and security destroy it
Next thing you're going to tell me that money is evil and poverty is a good thing. ;-) More seriously, I'd say "poverty and hardship CAN build character; wealth and security CAN destroy it".

I group the factors that keep you out of poverty as follows:
- Luck (things you don't have any control over, like where you're born and accidents)
- Choices (you can control these, but it helps if you're surrounded by good role models and have learned to learn)

@Calmloki I too am the eldest and do financially better than my siblings.
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:34 AM   #67
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Next thing you're going to tell me that money is evil and poverty is a good thing. ;-) More seriously, I'd say "poverty and hardship CAN build character; wealth and security CAN destroy it".

I group the factors that keep you out of poverty as follows:
- Luck (things you don't have any control over, like where you're born and accidents)
- Choices (you can control these, but it helps if you're surrounded by good role models and have learned to learn)

@Calmloki I too am the eldest and do financially better than my siblings.
I'm also the eldest and do financially better than my siblings. - I wonder what the statistics show in a large population?

As for luck - I just heard that my brother returned to Australia from attending our Dad's funeral and then lost his job 2 days after he got back

He has had a number of strokes of bad luck over the years that have set him back enormously but he always seems to bounce up again.
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Old 01-07-2010, 01:00 PM   #68
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As for luck - I just heard that my brother returned to Australia from attending our Dad's funeral and then lost his job 2 days after he got back

He has had a number of strokes of bad luck over the years that have set him back enormously but he always seems to bounce up again.
Good to hear he's been able to bounce up again. Some people seem to be more able than others to stand up and fight on. But any of us could become poor if we had several bad blows one after another (loss of source of income, of spouse (alimoney money), health and/or friends). Some people who are now homeless did pretty well before a cascade of unpleasant events destroyed their world.

There's an interesting theory that says that the current poor are in fact not the descendants from the old poor but from rich people. From New York Times article:
Quote:
Generation after generation, the rich had more surviving children than the poor, his research showed. That meant there must have been constant downward social mobility as the poor failed to reproduce themselves and the progeny of the rich took over their occupations. “The modern population of the English is largely descended from the economic upper classes of the Middle Ages,” he concluded. As the progeny of the rich pervaded all levels of society, Dr. Clark considered, the behaviors that made for wealth could have spread with them. He has documented that several aspects of what might now be called middle-class values changed significantly from the days of hunter gatherer societies to 1800.
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Old 01-07-2010, 01:48 PM   #69
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[QUOTE=Tigger;891584]
There's an interesting theory that says that the current poor are in fact not the descendants from the old poor but from rich people.

The discussion reminds me of a quote (probably attributed to several but I recall it being attributed to an actress - Betty Davis? May West??) "I've been rich and I've been poor. Rich is better."

Another favorite - I'd have to look up the exact quote and attribution: "I've never been in a situation where having more money made it worse."

Still, I always think of a missionary friend who described "rich" as having choices. If you go to your closet and have to decide which clothes to wear, you are rich. If you go to your pantry and puzzle over what you will prepare for a meal, you are rich. If you aren't sure whether to go to K-mart or Walmart, you are rich. In my friends eyes, it was difficult to consider too many Americans as poor. He knew quite a few folks who really did NOT have any of the choices mentioned. Yet, many of these folks were joyous. It was a humbling discussion. I have to remind myself of it occasionally.
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Old 01-07-2010, 02:41 PM   #70
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I have friends who should be quite well off, but never seem to manage it. Six figure incomes, steady employment, mobility, good benefits, supportive family, yet they cannot scrape together the money for a downpayment and if the main earner lost his job I think they would be in real trouble inside 6 months. I think its mostly hyperconsumption, but it still amazes me.
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Old 01-07-2010, 02:45 PM   #71
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Who says people are poor? I was watching a few Suze Orman shows and it seems like people calling in usually are couples with 8-10k monthly NET income AFTER all taxes, social security, medicare and everything or 1 person with 4-5k net income... I think this corresponds to ~100k in salary for 1 person (with taxes, medicare, SS, and if not enough, also 401k/IRA contributions, which I think are also NOT counted there in net income adding up to 40-50%).. not bad at all..

Ok, maybe some are still poor for spending it all but I am amazed at those income numbers. Maybe it's a show for "high-income-high-debt" audience only?
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Old 01-07-2010, 03:00 PM   #72
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Caused by what? Relentless advertising perhaps? There sure has to be some explanation for the rampant consumerism around here.

Audrey
I think there is some merit to that. From early on, kids are bombareded, well before the Saturday morning cartoon onslight of commercials, to the ads in the print media, online, TV, etc............we are all bombarded. And advertisers have gotten clever over the years, everything that is expensive is sold with a monthly payment, like cars, tvs, furniture, jewelry, etc.

One of my best friends is a very successful real estate agent. He says the "stuff" he sees in people's homes is downright staggering........and its not like they got it all off craigslist or freecycle or rummage sales..........
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Old 01-07-2010, 03:17 PM   #73
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One of my favorite TV shows, Chuck, is coming back on next Sunday. From what I understand, they are trying an experiment in product placement advertising on the show in a big way. I hope it doesn't mess up the story line. I'll be curious to see how it works, since I'm such a vehement commercial avoider.
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Old 01-07-2010, 03:24 PM   #74
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One of my favorite TV shows, Chuck, is coming back on next Sunday. From what I understand, they are trying an experiment in product placement advertising on the show in a big way. I hope it doesn't mess up the story line. I'll be curious to see how it works, since I'm such a vehement commercial avoider.
The problem here is that it's certainly not going to result in fewer commercials. If it did, I could probably live with the product placement plugs.

Still, this is the way it's going to have to be in the era of DVRs.
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Old 01-07-2010, 06:21 PM   #75
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I grew up in an impoverished broken home. My neighborhood wasn't rough, but it wasn't ideal. Having enough to eat was a major concern. I'd often go out at night to get food from garbage dumpsters. Lots of other interesting stories.

I have two brothers. One makes about $10K/yr (poor) and the other about $35K/yr (blue collar middle class). I make a little under $200K/yr. We came from the same stock. Went to the same schools. Had many of the same teachers. The opportunity was there. It was just a matter of accepting it.

I believe that 90% of poor adults are poor due to their own choices. In the United States, pretty much everyone has the opportunity to obtain at least a middle class income and lifestyle. Yes, it's certainly true that the children of poor parents are more likely to become poor adults, just like the children of middle class parents are more likely to become middle class adults. I believe the biggest disadvantage the poor have is their inability to realize that they do not need to remain poor. This can manifest itself in many ways.

One of my high school friends, whose father was a doctor, once told me that it wasn't until 8th or 9th grade before he realized that not everyone went to college. He just assumed college was a natural extension of high school. I was the opposite. It wasn't until 8th or 9th grade before I realized that it wasn't just the very rich who went to college (without an athletic scholarship).

It's not a lack of opportunity, at least in the United States. It's about perception and personal choice.

good post. My family is similar to yours. What I see is the ones that work hard and consistent throughout their life do better than the ones that tend to makes excuses and have many "personal" issue. I could only speak on what I see within my family. I do believe hard work is a choice, if you choose NOT to work hard you still can do alright and survive in this country.

enuff
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Old 01-07-2010, 06:27 PM   #76
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Very true. Thanks for pointing it out. There's a big difference between being "poor" and "not achieving financial success."

This has been an interesting discussion, but as you point out, it's been a discussion about the the inappropriate thread title, not the article quoted.

The 10 reasons seem reasonably valid as obstructions to achieving financial success, but not all that relative to being truly "poor."
My apology for intentionally "misleading" the title. I was just trying to get an "eye catching" title to get people to read and respond. No I didn't trying to steal the article from the author or anything like that. Thanks for everyone post. I learn and enjoy the discussion and the comments.

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Old 01-07-2010, 07:38 PM   #77
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No I didn't trying to steal the article from the author or anything like that...
I know. You did have the author mentioned at the last line of the post. That was not obvious to the readers, but I saw it.
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Old 01-07-2010, 07:55 PM   #78
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Just to be clear, it is not a matter of "stealing" someone's article in the sense of plagiarizing it. There are problems with cutting and pasting entire articles even when the original author is properly named. For example, the website you took it from may have paid for its content or it may be the author's own site. In either event, they are entitled to the site "hits" that derive from people reading the content of the article. Remember that payment for online ads is often correlated with the number of hits on a site. Again, the proper "fair use" technique is to use a few discrete limited quotes from the article and then link to the full text.
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:53 PM   #79
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Let's say I am dirt-poor, and can't afford to feed myself. There is a person walking in front of me with $1,000,000 on his person (yes, HE'S not rational). If I kill him, and there's a 5% chance of my being caught, is that rational? Especially considering that if I DO get caught, I'll probably be locked up and fed three squares per day for a long time?
Straw man. I would argue the rational actor would most likely not be in that position to begin with. The rational actor would also not want to live in a world where anyone with less money felt free to knock off anyone with more.
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:58 PM   #80
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Apologies for the long post but I just needed to get that out [/QUOTE]

Great story Alan, thanks for sharing.

Ha
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