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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-23-2005, 05:20 PM   #141
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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Originally Posted by LRS
I think there still is the ability to change class in the USA, but not everyone is going to take advantage of it. People may think they want to "move up", but it involves making tough choices. Perhaps to some extent people feel more comfortable staying in the class they were born in.

I base this on my family. Father--maintenence man; Mother--Stay at home mom; working class all the way. My siblings all chose to follow this pattern. My sisters all wanted to stay at home with their kids, but each ended up divorced (multiple times) and working out of the home. Brother quit high school and learned a trade. This was back in the '70s, which I believe was the last decade when a working class kid could reasonably expect to find a living wage job with a high school diploma (or none, even.)

I got the college degree, postponed marriage, postponed children. Married, no divorce. My husband and I both found white-collar jobs in government, not much in terms of wages, but good pensions and health care. I would have prefered to stay home with my kids, but I compromised with a half time job.

None of my sibs are stupid or lazy, but the difference between "right choices" and "wrong choices" decides where you go on the ladder. From my observations, these are the "wrong choices":

education: High school diploma, GED or dropout
Marriage and children at a young age

Multiple marriages.

For women: marrying one loser after another, because you feel sorry for them. Or marrying some idiot because he is the father of your children. Marrying anyone and thinking you can improve them. Relying on men to support you, in short, and not preparing for a career in case you end up having to work out of the home.

Ensuring future ill-health by smoking, lack of exercise, alcoholism and drug abuse.

A history of petty crime, even if you've "gone straight"

Mental illness, depression, low self esteem

A basic attitude that higher attainment is impossible, and people who do attain are "cheating" somehow, through getting unfair advantages.

A fatalistic attitude that you might as well spend what you've got now and get a little pleasure from it, because you'll never save enough to make a difference.

Obviously there are exceptions to these points, but overall I'd say these are the things that sank my sibs' expectations.* Unfortunately, I'd also have to say that their role models were my mom and dad.
Excellent post! I had some hurdles myself, but I never had to deal with
low self esteem.

JG
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-23-2005, 09:49 PM   #142
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

LRS,
your post has the ring of authority -- thanks, and welcome to the Board.

I think anyone working with people who are trying to scrape themselves up off the bottom would benefit from sharing your post -- it walks that fine line between respecting that people are conditioned to act a certain way that might be self-defeating, but also shows them that with effort and knowledge and an understanding of how lots of little short run decisions pile up and become long run consequences, you can start to turn your life around.

I had forgotten until I read your post a documentary I saw years ago that had a profound impact on my life:

It was called 21 Up and later 28 Up; It tracked a handful of english boys, from different walks of life, every 7 years. (Thus the different names: a new name each 7 years, as they added the new segments onto the previsou ones.) In what amounted to time-lapse photography of a person's life, you could see how factors and decisions at 7 and 14 played themselves out on these young men as they moved through school and into the workforce.

There were very few surprises in the film. You began to see with startling, almost horrifying clarity, how someone's life was going to hit the wall. (0ne young man did commit suicide after years of problems) And you saw how the rich raised their kids to think about owning shares, building responsibility and so forth in order to prepare them for a life at the top of the heap. Very powerful -- probably gave me the insight about long run consequences of my actions that have led me to be able to be ER today.

I think I will hunt that film down and show it to our kids, at least our 14 year-old. Any parent of younger children might want to give it a look, too.

Just checked on Amazon -- they are up to 42 Up now, films are directed by Michael Apted, who has been with the project now for 35 years. Still some cheap used ones left at Amazon.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-24-2005, 05:36 AM   #143
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

Hi ESRBob,

Speaking of defective work genes and films. Here is a plot waiting to be filmed, if it hasn't been done a thousand times already... My sister-in-law works 12 hrs./day 6-7 days a week. My brother works part time.

She is teaching him how to work. He is teaching her how to play! Watching them is a sketch.

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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-24-2005, 01:27 PM   #144
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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She is teaching him how to work. He is teaching her how to play! Watching them is a sketch.

If she is still working nearly every day, 12 hours per day, I'd say your brother has got some work to do!
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-24-2005, 01:34 PM   #145
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

I think most people are deeply conservative in the literal sense of that word, in that, instead of wasting time and valuable resources investigating new possibilities, they look at what has been successful for their ancestors, and copy that.

For instance, if a boy comes from a mill town and his dad and uncles work in the mill, he's going to want to work in the mill too. Why would he want to be a doctor or lawyer? He would have only a very fuzzy idea of how to accomplish that--college costs a lot of money and it takes too much time. Plus, doctors and lawyers are oppressors in his world view--always taking money from the working man. No, his plan is to leave school early, so he can start making money right away.

Never mind the articles in the papers saying there's no future for the wood products industry--he won't read them and won't believe them. After all, mill town was founded on the wood products industry and has sent men into the woods and mills for 125 years. His dad and uncles had good wages, houses, cars, boats. All the jobs are union jobs, family wage jobs. Mill town without the mills is incomprehensible.

The girl from mill town has it worse. Her mom and grandma never worked outside the home, and her destiny, biologically and culturally, is to rear children. If she bothers to look around her, she won't find any female professionals in her hometown to model herself after. Except for teachers--but she's trying to get out of school, not stuck in one permanently. She is raring to get out of school and get on with her life.

Eventually, economic forces will force her to rearrange her priorities, so that stocking shelves at Walmart comes first and her kids come second. It's not the way she thought things would turn out, but it puts food on the table.

It's the eccentrics who win in changing economic times. They are the kids who want to leave mill town. Sometimes they are smarter than the rest, sometimes they are lazy and can't stand the thought of throwing boards down a chute for the next thirty years. Whatever the motivation, they are the ones who try something new somewhere else. When all the mills in milltown finally shut down, they are long gone.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-24-2005, 01:52 PM   #146
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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Originally Posted by LRS
I think most people are deeply conservative in the literal sense of that word, in that, instead of wasting time and valuable resources investigating new possibilities, they look at what has been successful for their ancestors, and copy that.

For instance, if a boy comes from a mill town and his dad and uncles work in the mill, he's going to want to work in the mill too. Why would he want to be a doctor or lawyer? He would have only a very fuzzy idea of how to accomplish that--college costs a lot of money and it takes too much time. Plus, doctors and lawyers are oppressors in his world view--always taking money from the working man. No, his plan is to leave school early, so he can start making money right away.

Never mind the articles in the papers saying there's no future for the wood products industry--he won't read them and won't believe them. After all, mill town was founded on the wood products industry and has sent men into the woods and mills for 125 years. His dad and uncles had good wages, houses, cars, boats. All the jobs are union jobs, family wage jobs. Mill town without the mills is incomprehensible.

The girl from mill town has it worse. Her mom and grandma never worked outside the home, and her destiny, biologically and culturally, is to rear children. If she bothers to look around her, she won't find any female professionals in her hometown to model herself after. Except for teachers--but she's trying to get out of school, not stuck in one permanently. She is raring to get out of school and get on with her life.

Eventually, economic forces will force her to rearrange her priorities, so that stocking shelves at Walmart comes first and her kids come second. It's not the way she thought things would turn out, but it puts food on the table.

It's the eccentrics who win in changing economic times. They are the kids who want to leave mill town. Sometimes they are smarter than the rest, sometimes they are lazy and can't stand the thought of throwing boards down a chute for the next thirty years. Whatever the motivation, they are the ones who try something new somewhere else. When all the mills in milltown finally shut down, they are long gone.
Hmmm, maybe I am just an odd duck, but I definately didn't fit the pattern. Neither did any of my 3 siblings, for that matter. Dad is a successful entrepreneur. I'm an investment analyst. Sis #1 is a school guidance counselor. Sis #2 is a social worker. Bro is a layabout. You think Dad has any clue what I or my sisters really do for a living? I bet if you asked him, he couldn't manage more than a title and a hazy one sentence description.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-24-2005, 03:41 PM   #147
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

I guess I'm thinking of working class people, wondering why relatively few break out of the low-income, low mobility trap. The stock answer is "because they're dumb and lazy," but I don't think that's it, at least not for every low income person.

I doubt that anyone on this board falls into the category of "conservative" in the way I've defined it--all of us are "eccentrics" or "innovators": after all, we're here because we are financial "radicals" espousing a whole new world view.

Some of us have climbed the upward-mobility ladder so high it's hard to see how we got here. It's worth contemplating from time to time how I got where I am now. I don't want to forget how I got here, or take it for granted.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-24-2005, 03:47 PM   #148
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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Some of us have climbed the upward-mobility ladder so high it's hard to see how we got here. It's worth contemplating from time to time how I got where I am now. I don't want to forget how I got here, or take it for granted.
Oh, I know exactly how I got where I am: I was lucky. Mostly I was just in the right time at the right place. I would, however, point to one thing that made all the difference in my intellectual development and therefore my life: I was given a full ride at a very prestigious high school that was set up ~80 years ago as a charity. To this day, I experience the fruits of someone else's generosity and it humbles me (even more so because my benefactor insisted on never being publicly acknowledged). If I accompish one tenth of the good the foundress of the school did, I would consider my life a wild success.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-24-2005, 04:29 PM   #149
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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Oh, I know exactly how I got where I am: I was lucky. Mostly I was just in the right time at the right place. I would, however, point to one thing that made all the difference in my intellectual development and therefore my life: I was given a full ride at a very prestigious high school that was set up ~80 years ago as a charity. To this day, I experience the fruits of someone else's generosity and it humbles me (even more so because my benefactor insisted on never being publicly acknowledged). If I accompish one tenth of the good the foundress of the school did, I would consider my life a wild success.
Well it sounds like you are fulfilling what she had in mind. If I have any money left over when I croak, I hope to create an education foundation/scholarship fund - obviously not as significant as the one you benefited from, but if I can get one person where you are (financially and mentally) that would be awesome.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-24-2005, 09:49 PM   #150
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

Alot of times, children from low income, are not even aware of the way people go about becoming high income people. I came from a very low income family. It never occurred to me that I could ever be a doctor or lawyer or engineer. We have a friend that is a doctor and he went to college on a football scholarship. He was not sure of the career that he wanted. Another football player told him that he was going to be a doctor. He said that he thought to himself that if this guy was going to be a doctor, he knew that he could be a doctor and so he did. His father worked in the steel mills and his mother stayed at home. I wonder what his life job would have been if he had not received the football scholarship and had not had that conversation with the other football player. Don't get me wrong, he worked plenty hard to get where he is today, but alot of life is being in the right place at the right time, having the right body build for various scholarships and having people around you that encouraged and believed in you.

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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-24-2005, 10:24 PM   #151
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

Dreamer,

Wonderful post.
When I was growing up I also came from a low income family. Since my parents had 8th grade educations they never pushed me to go to college. They must have been amazed that I graduated HS. Since I didn't know any better I graduated HS and got a job. Didn't know very many people that even went to college.
I guess in most cases you become a product on your enviornment.
Once your working and start a family it's tough to stop and change what your doing.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-25-2005, 08:16 AM   #152
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

We grew up poor in a rural area where most people did not go to college. But my father would tell me that I could be anything I wanted. That I should go to college. That I would be successful.

I owe my success in large part to my father's belief in me.

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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-25-2005, 09:55 AM   #153
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

It's amazing, isn't it, how one person can change everything for you. In my case, it was the next door neighbor lady who helped me. My parents knew squat about applying for college and they were sure not going to pay for it. The neighbor lady sat down with me and helped me fill out the financial aid forms. I didn't even know what I wanted to study. She told me "Just go! You'll find out what program you'll want to be in" and she was right.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-25-2005, 11:03 AM   #154
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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Originally Posted by Laurence
If I have any money left over when I croak, I hope to create an education foundation/scholarship fund - obviously not as significant as the one you benefited from, but if I can get one person where you are (financially and mentally) that would be awesome.
Here's another example.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-25-2005, 11:24 AM   #155
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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We grew up poor in a rural area where most people did not go to college.* But my father would tell me that I could be anything I wanted.* That I should go to college.* That I would be successful.*

I owe my success in large part to my father's belief in me.

Martha: Your father must be very proud of you!

Father-Daughter relationship is very special.
(Nice to hear that you recognize that).

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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-25-2005, 11:31 AM   #156
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-25-2005, 11:31 AM   #157
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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Interesting.

The school I went to was originally founded to offer a free education to poor kids in what was a slum neighborhood. *The slum is now one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the world and an increasing proportion of the students were middle class or higher. *The school is well known for having the highest academic standards, and the poor kids were basically not getting enough of an education to be able to get in (entrance exam and interview). *The people running the school realized that this trend was drifting them away from the founder's intent, so they started an outreach program for 6 to 8th graders. *The kids get tutoring and if they pass great, if not they get a leg up wherever they go.

It is always interesting to see how institutions change over time.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-25-2005, 11:53 AM   #158
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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Martha: Your father must be very proud of you!

Father-Daughter relationship is very special.
(Nice to hear that you recognize that).

Jarhead
The sad thing is that he died while I was still in law school. I never really had a chance to do something for him. I try to be good to my siblings and because he loved the symphony, I contribute each year in his memory.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-25-2005, 01:15 PM   #159
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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The sad thing is that he died while I was still in law school. I never really had a chance to do something for him. I try to be good to my siblings and because he loved the symphony, I contribute each year in his memory.
I'm sorry to hear that, but isn't the dream always to see your kids go off to college? You know your child is off for a bright future, at that point you can be at peace knowing you've done everything you can. It would have been awesome to have helped him materially, but I bet he already knew what good you were going to do for your siblings when he was gone.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-25-2005, 01:22 PM   #160
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

That's sad to hear Martha. * *My dad is still with us, and I try hard to make sure he knows how much I appreciate him. * He was similar to your dad in encouraging me to believe I could do anything I set my mind to. *He assumed it would be doctor, lawyer, or engineer, so the architect thing really threw him for a loop but he supported me completely.

My mom in her own backwards way contributed to my success. *She was not happy in her marriage (or in life generally) and implanted in me the belief that there is much more to life than staying home raising children and that a woman should plan to be independent and self sufficient financially just as *a man would. *

Please don't tell me *- I KNOW there are many women who are happy being home with kids and find it a fullfilling and meaningful life. *I don't need examples of that. *I'm just saying that my upbringing combined with certain levels of intellegence and motivation caused me to choose a different path. * Our own personal definitions of success are formed when we are young.

My S.O. is an interesting example - his mom didn't go past 8th grade, his dad I think finished high school. *SO went to work full time at 16 and finished high school - attempted college a couple times while working but didn't get through it. *As he was working in construction and supporting a family.

He always assumed he would be a blue-collar construction worker, I think, because that's what he knew and what his family did. *However, he's very smart and motivated (and stubborn). * (I'm not biased at all ), *and has worked his way up in a large construction company into a management and potential ownership position - *far beyond anything his family has ever done....

My point - *and I do have one - *is that as we've said all along, success is determined by both nature and nurture, and some succeed with family support and some succeed in spite of it - but it certainly doesn't hurt.



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