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Old 12-30-2012, 12:52 AM   #81
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Originally Posted by Lancelot

If I were a Gen Xer, I would probably feel the same as you

Yes in the past things were more predictable and yes employer provided pensions are becomming, well, the exception.

On the other hand, invetment/savings options abound and mortgage rates are most likely much lower than what your parents paid.

Hang in there and someday your chance will come
Expectations change too. I never expected a pension, and so I was able to prepare by setting aside a larger chunk of my income. For those who expected security and got the rug yanked from under their feet, they have it worse I think. At least us X/Yers have had some time to plan!

I'm happy for all of you who have a hard-earned pension. You earned it! I'm also glad I'm not in a pension system. The few folks I know in pension systems are really "locked in" to one company. Even if they are bored to tears. They speak of their jobs like a prison sentence, "12 more years till I'm free." Likewise, some pension-having companies seem to tolerate mediocre job performance, they are loathe to "cost someone their pension" which is understandable.

I really value career mobility, the opportunity to change jobs to upgrade my skills and pay. One thing I have in common with many of my peers is that the idea of being locked into the same company for 20+ years sounds awfully confining.

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Old 12-30-2012, 02:13 AM   #82
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Very interesting insights, all. I'd like to hear more perspective from the GenY crowd that are on this board.

When you got out of school, did you feel like the world was your oyster, or did you feel like the chips were stacked against you? How did your parents raise you? Did they coddle you and encourage you to pursue your dreams, or did they try to expose you to the real world and steer you into more traditionally lucrative career choices? Is this really just an entitlement/unrealistic expectations issue?
Thanks for the discussion. I'm a bit late, but I'm a member of Gen "Why?" having graduated HS in 2004. I then got a Bachelor's and Master's in Computer Science (08/09). I also realize that I'm very fortunate and very driven, which has led me to the great position I am in today. I was not too coddled growing up, and was always encouraged to pursue my dreams, but I also had to do a lot of it on my own. I got guidance & emotional support, and not too much else when it came to "realizing my dreams".

But what do I think of my former classmates or Facebook friends who went to college but are struggling to find a job? In general, they're suffering from 1 or 2 ailments:
1) Cluelessness
2) 20something-itis

So many kids come into college thinking that the degree is what matters. So they get by, do what needs to be done (the minimum), maybe float around and change majors a few times and never really have a plan. Then they graduate after 5 years with a BA in Communication and a business minor with 3 years work experience as a waitress or bartender. Does that sound like someone who's ready to contribute? No. They spent all of college having fun and just getting by, never taking the time to save up money, join student orgs, get internships or develop relationships with faculty.

Many of these same students may not even have to pay for their apartments throughout college. They just come out with a piece of paper but no real useful experience.

And then there's the "20something" epidemic where a large chunk of my peers decide they don't need to really grow up until they're 28. There's something cool about taking a European or cross-country trip over the summer...there's not something cool about living paycheck-to-paycheck (or taking your mom's money) for a few years while you have fun and "figure things out". How about you have a plan at some point?

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...For the folks 10-15 years younger, the "true" Gen Y'ers, are things that different? College costs have risen, sure. But what else?

From my "experienced" age of 34, I have a hard time not seeing the main problem as the mentality of this new generation, arising from the way they were raised. Most of my peers worked a job during high school, and this seems less common. We were fairly "free range" compared to these carefully shepherded and "play dated" young people. We were fully adult at age 18, not relying upon our parents to fund us into our 20s. There has been a tremendous cultural shift in a short time.

When you have an entire generation brought up under controlled conditions, where little was demanded of them, you get a different result I think.

I may be out of line. But I really don't see a lack of opportunity. I see a generation of young people who are waiting for something to be handed to them. A job isn't a participation trophy. You don't get one just for showing up...
Yep, I can agree with your sentiment SIS.

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...

UC school tuition is something like 12k now but 20 years ago it was only about 4-5k (inflation adjusted). For someone without significant family resources, this is a very large burden...
FWIW, the rising cost of college is a bit overstated, as I mentioned in this thread with pretty pictures from NPR: How Should We Think About College Savings?

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...After several years working, I no longer see the point in wearing a suit & tie if all I am going to do is sit in my cube and do email/powerpoint/excel. Sure, if someone is meeting with customers or a VP, put a suit on. But the rest of the time, I don't get it.
This is one way in which I think our generation has differed from previous generations in that we're not just happy to have a job or do menial stuff. The above kills us. I think the "Generation Why?" idea is right. We're always wondering "Why?" Why would we want menial jobs? I think some of us need them, but it's engrained in us that we can do better.
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Old 12-30-2012, 02:14 AM   #83
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Likewise, some pension-having companies seem to tolerate mediocre job performance, they are loathe to "cost someone their pension" which is understandable.
Although it sometimes ran the other way as well. Pensions that vest at 10 years service sometimes find lots of employees who are suddenly doing poorly in their ninth year and dismissed just before that vesting deadline.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:36 AM   #84
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Although it sometimes ran the other way as well. Pensions that vest at 10 years service sometimes find lots of employees who are suddenly doing poorly in their ninth year and dismissed just before that vesting deadline.

Saw this a lot. They didn't actually fire you but set you up with a low ranking so the next round of layoffs would get you. Just business you know.

But they didn't get me!
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Old 12-30-2012, 10:45 AM   #85
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I'm a gen-X'er and I still do believe in the american dream, but I do feel that the current generation of young workers has it worse than ever.

I really feel that prior generations and politicians (in particular) have sold out generation Y. Combine that with a struggling economy and increasing student loan debt and they are starting way behind other generations. If I were in my twenties I imagine that the American dream would more like a giant ponzi scheme.

As others have mentioned, a hs diploma and a regular 40 hr/week job (at somehing considered entry level currently) in the 1950s or 60s essentially guaranteed you entry into the middle class with a car, a home, a pension, probable retirement in your 60s - and usually off do just one household income. Good luck with that in 2013.

I don't know what the solution is, however, to the current mess.
Since this sentiment has proven unpopular with the powers that be here in the past, I suggest you be circumspect in your comments. That said, only he most shameless apologist for the generation currently running/ruining things could ignore the fact that Gens X and Y have much higher prices for entry into the middle class than the Boomers.
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:18 AM   #86
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Both my children had the opportunity to live at home and go to college. Neither were able to do it. They both had greater opportunity than I did. Their own failure to take advantage of it is not a product of the times being different.

When my daughter was 17 and going through her teenage angst I told her she wasn't going to make it in the world unless she changed her ways.
She told me, "Everyones making it.". You can imagine my reaction.

So here we are more than a decade later. She went back and finished her degree with student loans. Still hasn't got a job based on her degree. She has a negative net worth. Is living in a low end apartment.

She no longer says everybody's making it.

Both my children are behind where I was at their age. And I have no degree. There are always people who will succeed no matter what. But being middle class is not going to happen automatically. To be middle class you are going to have to out compete at least half the people and not make a lot of mistakes.
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Old 12-30-2012, 12:38 PM   #87
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This is one way in which I think our generation has differed from previous generations in that we're not just happy to have a job or do menial stuff.
I'm a few generations older than you, and I have never known any American who was happy to have a menial job. Do you remember the painful boredom in grade school where the class moves at the pace of the slowest, while you were going crazy with frustration? That's a menial job for anyone with an IQ above about 90.

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Old 12-30-2012, 12:42 PM   #88
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Very interesting discussion and perspectives.

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Originally Posted by ShortInSeattle View Post
Expectations change too. I never expected a pension, and so I was able to prepare by setting aside a larger chunk of my income. For those who expected security and got the rug yanked from under their feet, they have it worse I think. At least us X/Yers have had some time to plan!

SIS
I pay into a Federal DB pension instead of Social Security. I assumed this was all that was really needed, until I attended a "mid-career seminar" where our HR folks, plus some financial advisers hired by my employer, sent a clear message that you should not rely entirely on your pension. Since this was in the go-go late 90's, I'm not sure how many attendees took the message to heart, but that seminar inspired Mr. A. and me to focus more on saving and learning about investing. So glad we got the message back then, although we haven't had the best investing climate during most of that time.

No matter what disadvantages X and Y experience, TIME is on their side...seize the day, even if it's rainy

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Then they graduate after 5 years with a BA in Communication..... Does that sound like someone who's ready to contribute? No. They spent all of college having fun and just getting by....
Hey! OK to criticize people's low motivation, but people's majors are no indication of that. I got a BA in Communication with a 3.9 GPA; only 2 B's during my college career, and those were in minor subjects. In fact I was a grind, who got criticized for not partying.

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it's engrained in us that we can do better.
I really appreciate the little voice inside that says, "You could do better." Without it, I would spend too much time on my tush. I guess you are talking about a different voice, that says, "You can do better without effort."

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Old 12-30-2012, 12:56 PM   #89
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I enjoyed reading this thread and gave careful thought to many of the very interesting points. Here is my gut, pretty much unedited reaction:

Cry me a river. If you pick a marketable major, work hard in school to actually learn something that someone will pay you for, get internships and do a great job (work the hours your supposed to, dress appropriately, speak appropriately and do your assignments), you will get a job when you get out. Then if you live below your means (don't buy new furniture, get your stuff at garage sales, buy a used car etc) you will be able to save money. It has always been that way and it always will be. The coddled kids of the baby boomers don't have real problems. They make their own problems. The people who have real problems are those who can't get access to a good education due to their social/economic class. Or they don't have good role models or any one to explain to them how to make it in the world. I'll save my compassion and efforts in trying to help for those who want to make it, not those who simply couldn't care less and want someone to save them from having to work a real job. Jobs generally aren't fun and aren't very rewarding. That is why they pay you to do them. Otherwise they would be called a hobby.

Maybe people who made it by simply showing up see the need to continue that trend. I think it was and is a waste of everyone's time to try to have a society where you make it by showing up.
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Old 12-30-2012, 01:05 PM   #90
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I'm a gen-X'er and I still do believe in the american dream, but I do feel that the current generation of young workers has it worse than ever.
No doubt more difficult in some ways than other post WW2 generations. On the other hand, how easy do you think it was to get a start in the 30s? Or have to have the involuntary "opportunity" to get killed in WW2? how about the most unfortunate generation of Americans, those born in the early 1830s and early '40s? Many of the men died in the Civil War, and many women had no chance to marry, other than waiting for some older guy's wife to die in childbirth.


And there was the opportunity for a young person to contract and perhaps die from influenza or TB, or spend a short life in an iron lung, or to wear a leg brace and do his/her childhood playing on crutches because of having paralytic polio? I had a cousin like this, and I still remember how many parents felt a giant weight lifted from their shoulders when Dr Sabin and a bit later John Enders brought polio vaccines to the public. I had sibs 10 years behind me, and my parents had one less worry from then on. Polio was not a rare disease. And neither was rheumatic fever, with its frequent serious sequelae.

I believe it is true that many of us in the boomer generations, especially the earliest of us, had a relatively good time to come into the workforce, but let's try to remember that this is not all of life.

Blaming boomers makes no more sense than blaming today’s tax and spenders. Boomers no more understood or had power to change the progress of events than voters today realize the difficulties they are inadvertently inviting.

Humans have predictable and well known (to some) weaknesses and blindnesses. This is what creates opportunity for politicians.

Ha
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Old 12-30-2012, 02:49 PM   #91
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I enjoyed reading this thread and gave careful thought to many of the very interesting points. Here is my gut, pretty much unedited reaction:

Cry me a river. If you pick a marketable major, work hard in school to actually learn something that someone will pay you for, get internships and do a great job (work the hours your supposed to, dress appropriately, speak appropriately and do your assignments), you will get a job when you get out. Then if you live below your means (don't buy new furniture, get your stuff at garage sales, buy a used car etc) you will be able to save money. It has always been that way and it always will be. The coddled kids of the baby boomers don't have real problems. They make their own problems. The people who have real problems are those who can't get access to a good education due to their social/economic class. Or they don't have good role models or any one to explain to them how to make it in the world. I'll save my compassion and efforts on trying to help those who want to make it, not those who simply couldn't care less and want someone to save them from having to work a real job. Jobs generally aren't fun and aren't very rewarding. That is why they pay you to do them. Otherwise they would be called a hobby.

Maybe people who made it by simply showing up see the need to continue that trend. I think it was and is a waste of everyone's time to try to have a society where you make it by showing up.
Hit the nail on the head. This sums it up nicely.
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Old 12-30-2012, 04:02 PM   #92
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No question in my mind that GenY will spend a long time paying for entitlements to boomers, considering both federal programs like social security and generous pensions for state employees. (And a lot of spending on pointless foreign wars.) But you can't overlook the impact of globalization on GenY's ability to establish middle-class lifestyles.

I would wager that my combined income with DW puts us in the top 1% of earnings for GenYers. We both have professional careers, and this is due to a combination of hard work, help from our parents, and being in the right place at the right time (aka luck). But we still don't have any security - we could survive one layoff, but not two.

Even so, we are right in the cross hairs of the debate on higher taxes on household income >$250k.
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Old 12-30-2012, 06:58 PM   #93
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I am pretty much with Ha Ha in this debate. It really sucks to be generation Y who graduated after 2007. The Y's in thread and the forum are all in the top 10% in terms of brains and work ethic, some of you would have prospered in Zimbabwe, or the Soviet Union. In the US you and pretty much anybody in the top 20% will do fine, in many cases better than your parents.

The problem right now is what about the bottom 80%. Now the bottom 20% of brains and work ethic have always been problem so nothing has really changed for them. I think the big difference is the Joe average who got Bs and Cs in high school. If his parents were middle class, he probably went to college maybe he graduated from a 2nd or 3 tier school maybe he just got an AA degree. In any event it is unlikely that his degree gave him much in the way of marketable skills. It is likely that he racked up 20-40,000 worth of student loans.

A generation or two ago beside the (somewhat mythical "wonderful') factory jobs. There were a variety of middle class jobs, from bookkeeping, banking, sales, trades, transportation. Lots of firms had menial entry level positions, e.g. the mailroom which at least gave somebody a foot in the door. (Do firms still hire people for the mailroom)

In addition to automation which has always destroyed/created jobs. Young people face globalization pressure, from a billion (Brazilian, India, and Chinese) workers who not only have taken many of the factory jobs, but an increasingly large number of service jobs,and including some fairly high skill jobs (technical support). Firms contract for services outside of their core competency. Meaning the Peggy Olsens, of Mad Men, don't even get a chance to start of as secretary in order to shot at becoming a copywriter. In today's economy, there is a lot less Peggy's and they work for a temp agency.

The third strike is the awfully jobs situation and its close cousin the mountain of debt obligation to pay for us boomers, social security, medicare, and pensions.

Right now the only thing I can advise an average 18 or 19 year old to do is go into the military which seems to a decent job of training average folks to be productive members of the society. But with the wars winding down even that path is not open to many kids.
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Old 12-30-2012, 07:15 PM   #94
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No question in my mind that GenY will spend a long time paying for entitlements to boomers, considering both federal programs like social security and generous pensions for state employees. ...
Seems like only yesterday that the boomers were saying the same thing about funding entitlements for their elders.

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....Even so, we are right in the cross hairs of the debate on higher taxes on household income >$250k.
About the same as the boomers were twenty some years ago.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:03 PM   #95
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I wonder when we see these stats about "flat" wages if there is not an adjustment needed to account for employer provided health insurance. Health insurance costs have far outpaced inflation and the cost is largely borne by the employer. So if the cost of employment has risen and the cost do insurance has risen I would be surprised if that was not a drag on the wages.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:38 PM   #96
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Both my children had the opportunity to live at home and go to college. Neither were able to do it. They both had greater opportunity than I did. Their own failure to take advantage of it is not a product of the times being different.

When my daughter was 17 and going through her teenage angst I told her she wasn't going to make it in the world unless she changed her ways.
She told me, "Everyones making it.". You can imagine my reaction.

So here we are more than a decade later. She went back and finished her degree with student loans. Still hasn't got a job based on her degree. She has a negative net worth. Is living in a low end apartment.

She no longer says everybody's making it.

Both my children are behind where I was at their age. And I have no degree. There are always people who will succeed no matter what. But being middle class is not going to happen automatically. To be middle class you are going to have to out compete at least half the people and not make a lot of mistakes.
Lazarus, tough to write I am sure. I applaud your honesty and, as a parent, am sure it has been painful at times to watch.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:40 PM   #97
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It is useful to pull back a little and look at the really big picture, isn't it?

On top of the generational issues, it is also useful to realize how lucky we all are not to have been born in most of Africa, or rural India or China.

My biggest gripe with the Boomers as a generation is having to listen to all of them talk about how great they were to succeed, and how lazy kids these days are, when much of their success came from winning the generational Lotto.

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No doubt more difficult in some ways than other post WW2 generations. On the other hand, how easy do you think it was to get a start in the 30s? Or have to have the involuntary "opportunity" to get killed in WW2? how about the most unfortunate generation of Americans, those born in the early 1830s and early '40s? Many of the men died in the Civil War, and many women had no chance to marry, other than waiting for some older guy's wife to die in childbirth.

And there was the opportunity for a young person to contract and perhaps die from influenza or TB, or spend a short life in an iron lung, or to wear a leg brace and do his/her childhood playing on crutches because of having paralytic polio? I had a cousin like this, and I still remember how many parents felt a giant weight lifted from their shoulders when Dr Sabin and a bit later John Enders brought polio vaccines to the public. I had sibs 10 years behind me, and my parents had one less worry from then on. Polio was not a rare disease. And neither was rheumatic fever, with its frequent serious sequelae.

I believe it is true that many of us in the boomer generations, especially the earliest of us, had a relatively good time to come into the workforce, but let's try to remember that this is not all of life.

Blaming boomers makes no more sense than blaming today’s tax and spenders. Boomers no more understood or had power to change the progress of events than voters today realize the difficulties they are inadvertently inviting.

Humans have predictable and well known (to some) weaknesses and blindnesses. This is what creates opportunity for politicians.

Ha
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:45 PM   #98
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Maybe, maybe not. The Boomers better get a little more polite, or they may find that GenX+GenY > GenBoom.

As a GenXer, I know that if I'm choosing between supporting GenBoom or GenY, I'm going with the future over the past every time.

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No question in my mind that GenY will spend a long time paying for entitlements to boomers, considering both federal programs like social security and generous pensions for state employees. (And a lot of spending on pointless foreign wars.) But you can't overlook the impact of globalization on GenY's ability to establish middle-class lifestyles.

I would wager that my combined income with DW puts us in the top 1% of earnings for GenYers. We both have professional careers, and this is due to a combination of hard work, help from our parents, and being in the right place at the right time (aka luck). But we still don't have any security - we could survive one layoff, but not two.

Even so, we are right in the cross hairs of the debate on higher taxes on household income >$250k.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:54 PM   #99
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I strongly doubt that wage.

I made $1.25 /hr cutting grass as a 12 year old in the 50s. As a 17 yo I averaged about $100-$120/week, selling women's shoes at Bakers.

I kind of imagine that some machinist making jet engines in my city made a fair amount more.

Back then young single guys with ordinary jobs could drive Jaguars or Austin Healys or Porsches, easily affford to go to night clubs, live in close-in nice city apartments. Sporting events were affordable for the average Joe. My machinist buddy who drove a Triumph Tr-2 and I went to the Indy 500 2 years running. And they could get married and have children with or without their wives working.

When I first moved to Venice Beach, (late 60s) my neighbor on one side was a milkman with a non-working wife and a big house and 4 children getting ready to leave the nest. This was 3 blocks from the prime central part of Venice Beach. Find me a milk man living in Venice Beach today?

I am not saying that very clever and fully devoted Gen-Yers cannot do fine- they can. My genY son and his wife do quite well, especially him. But I am a fair minded person, and for us it was like falling off a log to get a good job, which is rarely true today.

Ha
What would you considered ordinary job? I was junior engineer for a consulting engineering firm making little over average income and could afford more than Chevy Skylark. Only way I could have afford above mention cars if I bought a used car.

I have to agreed things such as houses and rentals were much more affordable. I think it was due to having less population than we have now and folks are living longer. I remembered if you lived till you were 70 for typical male (if you didn't die on a war), you were blessed to received some of your SSI income. I recalled in late 70's after graduation, I had to take on odds and ends jobs sometimes two or three part-time jobs to afford to pay rent and put food on the table. Most of my peer had to do the same. Only difference between late 70's and early 80's to now is that we had journalism rather than media circus. Sure do missed Uncle Walter.

When I look back, I don't feel like I had easier time dealing with unemployment/underemployment as today kids. Only difference is that, I didn't have media circus want public to to coddle me and say it wasn't my fault. Coddle would have been nice but I know it wasn't my fault. But I didn't blame anyone. I kept on working flipping burgers and loading moving trucks.
"It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose your own." Harry S Truman
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Old 12-30-2012, 10:31 PM   #100
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haha View Post
I'm a few generations older than you, and I have never known any American who was happy to have a menial job. Do you remember the painful boredom in grade school where the class moves at the pace of the slowest, while you were going crazy with frustration? That's a menial job for anyone with an IQ above about 90.
You're right, I phrased that poorly. In my experience, those older than me have a mantra of "working in the factory is better than not working at all". Today, I don't feel my peers have that viewpoint and would feel that "being unemployed is better than working at McDonald's". Make more sense? They'd take unemployment over menial labor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post

Hey! OK to criticize people's low motivation, but people's majors are no indication of that. I got a BA in Communication with a 3.9 GPA; only 2 B's during my college career, and those were in minor subjects. In fact I was a grind, who got criticized for not partying.
Thanks for catching that! You are right, it was not meant to be a criticism of the major.

However, at my school (a Big 10 school), Communications was the major that business students switched to when they couldn't handle the business courses (and business 101 stuff was way easy) and quite a few athletes were Communications majors. I've heard others say it's a quite useful and a good program at other schools, but it was kind of regarded as a joke at my University (fair or not).
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Aiming to retire at or before 2031 at age 45.

Status: Saving. Started in Oct 2011, I am ~9 months ahead of where I expected to be and about ~3 months ahead of my desired schedule.
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