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Old 12-21-2007, 09:45 AM   #41
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suffice it to say I don't think anyone claimed it was "easy." Merely that it's not impossible. It certainly still takes a great deal of effort. It helps to have the right attitude.
In general, expecting to have millions of dollars handed to us on a silver platter is not very productive. Even those who might expect to inherit are not guaranteed to get a cent. From kombat's statistics (and from what I have seen thus far in life) the surest way to become a millionaire is to fight your way up the ladder on your own.

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I'd say having good parents and a good attitude are more important than the quality of the public education system. After all, lots of kids are homeschooled, completely bypassing the public school system. Lots of them end up very successful, and lots of them end up down-and-out; just like the public system.
I think many of us are, or know examples of, people of humble origins who have done well in life. My grandparents were hillbillies in a remote part of the Ozark mountains, with just a first and third grade education. They had no lucky breaks and no connections, and they had four children providing hungry mouths to feed before they were 20. Then as if that miserable life wasn't tough enough, their tiny, rock filled tomato farm failed. My easy-going, very countrified, and not-so-ambitious grandfather struggled to find any work at all during the Depression and even during normal times in such a depressed area. It gets worse - my grandfather even became totally blind due to retinal detachments right after WWII, at around age 50 - - - just in time to miss the booming post-war economy.

Believe me, they struggled and did not have the advantage of having any contact at all with successful people (such as we have right here on this discussion group). Yet almost 100% of their children and grandchildren are professionals with graduate degrees (surgeons, engineers, CPA/CFO's, and college professors) and my grandparents' last years were comfortable. This was a great country with mind-boggling opportunities then, and still is. To say that we have a rigid class system into which we are born, and cannot escape, in my opinion is pure bunk. That's not to say that life is always easy for everyone.
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Old 12-21-2007, 09:49 AM   #42
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I bet most millionaires inherited their wealth.

I think you've been drinking the cool aide if you think its easy to move up the social ladder in the US. Sure its not impossible, but a kid has to over come the terrible public education system first. The single most important tool to help a child progress is education and that's where the US fails. next you'll be saying that the US style of representative democracy is the best in the world, rather than a corrupt 2 party state.
Kombat pretty much said all I would want to say about these issues. Nun seems to have a real hard time with current American society and I'm kind of curious as to where this attitude comes from? Our public education system served my wife and I very well, our kids very well and pretty much everyone I know very well. Those we know who did not succeed in life failed primarily out of a lack of desire to do so. A proud graduate of PS 91, JHS 79, a Bronx High School and CCNY. All still decent schools that provide good educations.

And to quote someone I can't remember at all "Representative democracy is the worst possible form of government available, except for all the others." Yes, we are flawed, but I really don't see any better alternatives to representative democracy out there.
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Old 12-21-2007, 09:51 AM   #43
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I think most people around the world and certainly Europeans tend to strike a much better balance between work and play than Americans. I can't imagine that ER would be big on your mind when it's mandated by the government that you should get six weeks a year and the average person seem to get 8 weeks; time that you can use however you want to. Many Europeans take their six weeks consecutively and go off to the beach, the country or wherever. Americans tend to take one week at a time. I know that it would certainly raise eyebrows if I decide to take two consecutive weeks of time off. Quite frankly, I don't dislike working; what I dislike is my inability to take extended time off to travel or spend with my family. One of the things I would like to do is to take my children to France to spend three months learning French (the time to do it is now while they are still little); well how will that work in a work obsessed culture like this one where this activity would be perceived as slacking off?

One of the reasons why European have so much more leisure time than Americans is due to the role unions have historically played in society.
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Old 12-21-2007, 09:55 AM   #44
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The real reason the Japanese men do not want to retire is that their homes are on average about 600-650 sq ft...and that includes room for all their possessions and their wife. The wives don't know what to do with the "gomi" (garbage) after he is retired. So, they insist he either stay employed or seek re-employment. Everyone thinks Japan is a "men's society"....well, now you know who the real boss is...

R
Not surprising given an area with almost half the population of America and a tiny fraction of the size of America plus the cost of housing. Rambler you got to tell the whole story when you make a post like that; you don't want people thinking that this is a voluntary situation.
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Old 12-21-2007, 09:58 AM   #45
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  • 20 percent of all graduating high school seniors are functionally illiterate.
This is the one I found most disturbing. Is it really possible that high schools are graduating kids who can't read? How is that possible? In my opinion, there are only two explanations:

1. The US school system is an enormous failure, and is graduating students who cannot even read; or
2. The study's authors are using a very custom-tailored definition of "functionally illiterate" in order to suit their agenda and provoke increases in funding.

Although 1 seems more shocking and news-worthy, I think 2 is the more likely explanation. I'd find it extremely hard to believe that 20 percent of all high school graduates literally cannot read. What does "functionally illiterate" mean, according to the study's authors? If a person can read slowly, does that count? What if they can't correctly pronounce complicated and obscure medical terms? What if they don't understand the difference between "there/they're/their" or "its/it's" - does that count? I think there's a lot of critical variables being intentionally omitted here.
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Old 12-21-2007, 09:58 AM   #46
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On the other hand, Americans enjoy substantially lower taxes, so they are able to save/invest more money than Canadians and should thus be in a position to afford private health insurance in ER.
I strongly disagree with this. If you look at all the nickel and dime taxes we pay in the country and please do include social security compared to what we get in return, Canadians and Europeans pay a heck of lot less than us. In many European societies, you don't even have babysitting expenses. Do you have any idea what babysitting cost in America? Try $1,000 to $1,500 per week per child and that's at a day care center!
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Old 12-21-2007, 10:01 AM   #47
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What does "functionally illiterate" mean...
Functional literacy
Reports about levels of literacy often refer to functional literacy as the borderline separating the literate from the illiterate. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development defines functional literacy not as the ability to read and write but as "whether a person is able to understand and employ printed information in daily life, at home, at work and in the community".

Literacy definitions and quotations
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Old 12-21-2007, 10:08 AM   #48
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The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development defines functional literacy [...] as "whether a person is able to understand and employ printed information in daily life, at home, at work and in the community".
Is this saying that 1 in 5 high school graduates (not drop-outs, not flunk-outs, but people whom the school deemed had learned all they had to offer) cannot read a "STOP" sign?

Something doesn't smell right. Where are these schools that are handing out diplomas to people who can't even read them? How can someone get a passing grade on a math exam or history quiz when they can't even scrawl their name on the paper?
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Old 12-21-2007, 10:12 AM   #49
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Where are these schools that are handing out diplomas to people who can't even read them?
Probably the inner-city. Ever been to D.C.?
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Old 12-21-2007, 10:15 AM   #50
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Yet almost 100% of their children and grandchildren are professionals with graduate degrees (surgeons, engineers, CPA/CFO's, and college professors) and my grandparents' last years were comfortable. This was a great country with mind-boggling opportunities then, and still is. To say that we have a rigid class system into which we are born, and cannot escape, in my opinion is pure bunk. That's not to say that life is always easy for everyone.
That may be true for whites in this country. Minorities? Well it's a bit more complicated.
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Old 12-21-2007, 10:25 AM   #51
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That may be true for whites in this country. Minorities? Well it's a bit more complicated.
Special circumstances do occur. Ask my black friend A. at work about that. He grew up in similar circumstances to those I described, though in rural North Carolina. Right now is earning over 6 figures, after serving his country in the Marine Corps and going to college on scholarships and G.I. bill. He has a lovely mansion, a two year old Buick Rendezvous, and is sending his kids to college. Plus, he has a substantial federal pension or pensions in store for him if he ever decides to retire, since he is in the old pension system. His siblings are doing equally well, also, as I recall (though I don't know them and they don't live here, so I can't really supply details there). I am sure others here know of analogous success stories.

We can ALWAYS find reasons for failing in life, though it's not always a helpful pursuit. I think that what you can give your kids that helps more than money, is a driving ambition, work ethic, patience, and a love of, respect for, and desire to pursue higher learning.
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Old 12-21-2007, 10:40 AM   #52
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i can't wait for the supermarket to open tomorrow. gruyere, yummy. thank you.
You're welcome! Now all I have to do is learn how to spell it ... gruyere !!
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Old 12-21-2007, 10:47 AM   #53
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Believe me, they struggled and did not have the advantage of having any contact at all with successful people (such as we have right here on this discussion group). Yet almost 100% of their children and grandchildren are professionals with graduate degrees (surgeons, engineers, CPA/CFO's, and college professors) and my grandparents' last years were comfortable. This was a great country with mind-boggling opportunities then, and still is. To say that we have a rigid class system into which we are born, and cannot escape, in my opinion is pure bunk. That's not to say that life is always easy for everyone.
I'm of the opinion that if you work hard you can succeed no matter where you live. What I disagree with is the idea that it's necessarily easier in the US than other places. In countries with with more even distribution of health services and better education systems more people can achieve their potential. I like many things about the US, but the thing that worries me most about the place is the lack of self criticism when comparing to other countries. It betrays a basic insecurity.
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Old 12-21-2007, 10:49 AM   #54
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I'm of the opinion that if you work hard you can succeed no matter where you live. What I disagree with is the idea that its necessarily easier in the US than other places.
I'm not sure what you mean - it most definitely is easier in the US than in some other countries. For example, countries with a rigid caste system, or countries where religion and culture forbid certain demographics (specifically, females) from even getting an education, let alone exposing their face in public (gasp!) or owning their own business.
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Old 12-21-2007, 10:59 AM   #55
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I'm not sure what you mean - it most definitely is easier in the US than in some other countries. For example, countries with a rigid caste system, or countries where religion and culture forbid certain demographics (specifically, females) from even getting an education, let alone exposing their face in public (gasp!) or owning their own business.
Back in the mid 1970's my ex had an opportunity to make a lot of money in Saudi Arabia, but that was the one point at which I just put my foot down!!! Even though living there might be fine for some people, personally I cannot even IMAGINE myself living someplace where I couldn't drive, and had to cover my face, live in an American compound, or whatever. I really like the opportunities that have opened up for women in the U.S. in the past half century, too. Many do not seem to realize what tremendous opportunities we have here, compared with some other countries.
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Old 12-21-2007, 11:21 AM   #56
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...One of the things I would like to do is to take my children to France to spend three months learning French (the time to do it is now while they are still little); ...
One thing I did after ER was to enter and win a trip to Paris from a local radio station. Well, it turned out to only cover part of the airline fare but it got things started. So my wife and I took a conversational French class before going. We had a great time over there. Met some interesting people in northern and central France, partly because my wife caught some nasty bug ... so we saw a few French doctors. Everyone we ran into was pleasant. There were no negative political statements. Everyone was very polite about our attempts to mangle the language and then switched to English. Had a nice conversation with a French lady while sitting at a McDonald's outdoor cafe and drinking a coke (something like $4 and no refills) on the Champs Elysee. They were very excited over there because they were having their election and chose Sarkozy. Some long faces and happy faces the day after. The Paris doctor seemed mostly to want to talk about her hopes for Sarkozy. Anyway, I could go on but we Americans should realize the French have their right, center, and left much like we do here (OK, there center is probably to our left). They have much tragedy in their history and it has left its mark.

Now I just finished another JC class in French. Plan on doing more. It is enlightening, uplifting, and very humbling to try to learn another language. You can do it at any age too. Au revoir.
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Old 12-21-2007, 11:23 AM   #57
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I'm not sure what you mean - it most definitely is easier in the US than in some other countries. For example, countries with a rigid caste system, or countries where religion and culture forbid certain demographics (specifically, females) from even getting an education, let alone exposing their face in public (gasp!) or owning their own business.
Yes the US is easier than some places, but don't go thinking its the best just because its the US. I've lived in a few places that IMHO give better opportunities to more of their citizens. Also I was amazed when I first came to the US how important where you went to school was. Going to Choate or Phillips seemed far more important that your ability. It was worse than where I grew up -- and that was the UK
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Old 12-21-2007, 11:33 AM   #58
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I'm not sure what you mean - it most definitely is easier in the US than in some other countries. For example, countries with a rigid caste system, or countries where religion and culture forbid certain demographics (specifically, females) from even getting an education, let alone exposing their face in public (gasp!) or owning their own business.
Is that the standard you would use to compare America? Come on, you're more intelligent that that. Let's compare America with her equals, ok.
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Old 12-21-2007, 11:42 AM   #59
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Is that the standard you would use to compare America? Come on, you're more intelligent that that. Let's compare America with her equals, ok.

Personally, it doesn't bother me who you compare the US to - I'm Canadian! I was merely pointing out that there are many countries which do not treat their citizens equally, whereas the US offers many more opportunities are available to those willing to work for them.

If you were to ask me, I would say that Canada offers even more opportunities still, what with our cheaper education, equal access to health care, discrimination laws, etc.
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Old 12-21-2007, 12:53 PM   #60
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...I would say that Canada offers even more opportunities still, what with our cheaper education, equal access to health care, discrimination laws, etc.
Discrimination laws! Here we don't need laws to discriminate, that's free !!!
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