PBS Frontline: The Middle Class and the New American Economy

I found the link. Public schools aren’t meant to train worker bees for business - Letters - The Boston Globe

Mr. Krane is probably a subject of NEA brainwashing.

What he seems to be saying is: "it's ok... we'll just import workers from India and China who can do the job you should be able to do if you hadn't blown that $250K student loan on a degree in "Middle Eastern Calligraphy".
Go off under a tree and be "a good, critical thinking citizen"; the Chinese kids will carry the ball.
 
Woe is me. I'm destined to lifelong poverty as a consequence of a bad decision or two that I made as a youth. No way I can do anything about it - it is too late. Please support us and please don't call us slackers. I'm spending too much time feeling sorry for myself to improve my lot in life.

Bullshit! Get off you lazy ass and get a job! You eat an elephant one bite at a time. Others have done it.

How do you suppose they could have done it? When evidently two minimum wage jobs could barely pay the bills and three young kids at home with parents working shifts that left the kids home alone. Now, they needed to find the money to go to school, and be away from home almost all of the time. Not a very doable situation. Now if one had a job with enough income to allow the other to go back to school and learn a trade, that could be doable. But that was not the case. And then we have the problem of paying for school, don't we.

I guess everyone has to go to college today, or join the "slacker" society.Everyone must be smart enough to make all the right decisions in life early on.

My point is, that these people may be guilty of being stupid, but not necessarily lazy, as you claim. In my opinion, there are millions of people born with very limited "mental resources". Do we condemn them for not being born as smart or as capable as we are? Do we say too bad you don't have health insurance and enough extra money to sock away for retirement. Not my problem. Get out of this country. I don't want to have to contribute my hard earned dollars to helping the rest of you? What other civilized country thinks this way?

I agree, we do have a certain percentage of free loading welfare minded individuals who are lazy and irresponsible, and I think we would all like to see them go away. But I don't think these people comprise the majority of low income families. There lies the difference in my perception and yours I guess.
 
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How do you suppose they could have done it? When evidently two minimum wage jobs could barely pay the bills and three young kids at home with parents working shifts that left the kids home alone. Now, they needed to find the money to go to school, and be away from home almost all of the time. Not a very doable situation. Now if one had a job with enough income to allow the other to go back to school and learn a trade, that could be doable. But that was not the case. And then we have the problem of paying for school, don't we.

I guess everyone has to go to college today, or join the "slacker" society.
Everyone must be smart enough to make all the right decisions in life early on. My point is, that these people may be guilty of being stupid, but not necessarily lazy, as you claim. In my opinion, there are millions of people born with very limited "mental resources". Do we condemn them for not being born as smart or as capable as we are?

Going to school is not always the answer. For example, during the past 20 years, workers in Newfoundland's fishing industry who became unemployed due to the collapse of fish stocks left in large numbers to work high paying jobs in the oil sands in Alberta. If they had families, they often left them in Newfoundland and commuted periodically. It was a drastic solution, and it wouldn't be acceptable for many people, but being open to change and going where the work is, is characteristic of resilient people. I wonder which of the Neumann's ancestors crossed the ocean in the 19th century to an unknown future in the US, because they wanted a better future? The Stanleys' ancestors probably didn't have that choice!
 
This was what I meant when I said the Neumanns would have done much better letting their house get foreclosed on 21 years ago, then moving West.

Not every worker in the Western states is a high-tech worker. There are plenty of jobs for truck drivers, sales clerks in stores, warehouse workers, gardeners, etc... When the local economy is doing well from higher paying jobs, even people in the lower rung of the job hierarchy will enjoy the benefits of higher economic activities.
 
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Why can't education do both? ...

Absolutely. The fact that that letter-writer posed it as either/or makes me think he is lacking in critical thinking skills.

I think it's fair to say I have some practical skills that I used in my career, and they would not have gotten me far if I didn't also apply critical thinking. And I wouldn't have had much opportunity to apply critical thinking if I didn't also have those practical skills.

As others have alluded, this comes down to whether you see business and workers as us versus them, or as a symbiotic relationship. A business can't survive w/o workers, and workers can't survive w/o business.


-ERD50
 
I guess everyone has to go to college today, or join the "slacker" society.Everyone must be smart enough to make all the right decisions in life early on.

My point is, that these people may be guilty of being stupid, but not necessarily lazy, as you claim. In my opinion, there are millions of people born with very limited "mental resources". Do we condemn them for not being born as smart or as capable as we are? Do we say too bad you don't have health insurance and enough extra money to sock away for retirement. Not my problem. Get out of this country. I don't want to have to contribute my hard earned dollars to helping the rest of you? What other civilized country thinks this way?

I agree, we do have a certain percentage of free loading welfare minded individuals who are lazy and irresponsible, and I think we would all like to see them go away. But I don't think these people comprise the majority of low income families. There lies the difference in my perception and yours I guess.

I think these are good points. After I started looking at this thread (before I got very far in it) I went and watched the show online. I didn't get the feeling that either family was comprised of slackers. Both parents in both families worked hard and tried to take care of their families with - in retrospect - not the greatest amount of success.

It is easy to look back in retrospect and think that they should have made better choices. And, moving somewhere else, does seem like it would have been better for them. And, yet, I'm not sure that at the moment it would have been easy to make that choice.

Take the Neumann's. When the husband lost his job, they already had kids and had a house. When he finally found work it was at less than half what he was earning before and had no benefits. By the time they realized he wasn't going to find another good job, they had no money. I'm not sure it works well when you are broke to move across the country with no money. It is one thing for a single adult to do it - not as easy with 3 kids. I've seen homeless families myself who moved to a different area for work and the least little thing resulted in homelessness as they had no reserves.

It is also important to realize that people differ in, well, how smart they are and in their level of knowledge and education. What may be obvious to many of the bright people here may not be that obvious to the person who isn't so bright.
 
The Neumanns likely did not earn enough income nor have enough saved before they had their first child. They probably just figured the money would keep coming in, and possibly some raises, and it would all work out. There should be a lot of planning that goes into raising three children, and I would think you would need a fairly substantial emergency reserve to be sure you are ready, but again, most young people don't think that way. They just assume the good times will keep rolling.

Perhaps it's just how my brain is wired, but I've always approached every job like this may be the last day I will have it, so better not make any financial decisions that I would make differently if it went away. I'm sure I'm more conservative than many, but I see so many poor families with so many kids, and I just wonder what they were thinking. Of course they can't get ahead. With that much overhead they are just setting themselves up for failure.
 
What else could possibly be expected out of Bill Moyers and NPR? Certainly not a critical analysis. They specialize I heart strings, not brain appeals.

Ha

Very true.
 
This was what I meant when I said the Neumanns would have done much better letting their house get foreclosed on 21 years ago, then moving West.

Not every worker in the Western states is a high-tech worker. There are plenty of jobs for truck drivers, sales clerks in stores, warehouse workers, gardeners, etc... When the local economy is doing well from higher paying jobs, even people in the lower rung of the job hierarchy will enjoy the benefits of higher economic activities.

Yes indeed. Three of my blue collar cousins moved west to wealthier areas. All are tradesmen making very excellent livings as cabinet makers and home remodelers catering to high income home owners who patiently wait on lists to buy a chunk of their time. No college degrees for these guys. But no lack of decent paying work either. They just have to live where people can afford to pay for their skills.
 
Believe it or not, sometimes in engineering work one may be faced with a problem that can't just be cookbooked from practical training and prior solutions. All that useless theory suddenly becomes critical in the design of a possible solution, or proving that some solution is actually safe and practical.

It turns out that not everything has already been done, or is a minor tweak on a pre-existing practice. The really interesting challenges are often in things that have no current solution, that cannot be cookbooked up.

Also, sometimes all that useless theory comes in handy in heading off a debacle. "Um. You do realize that doing what you want involves solving The Halting Problem?" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halting_problem
 
She said the cost at Alabama State for him was only $7k. That's really cheap for out-of-state. I'd have to imagine he got a scholarship or something from them that made it about the same price as in-state, which the 7k figure seems much more on par with.

The family didn't seem to know much about high education, it doesn't seem too hard to imagine them not knowing a single thing about grants or financial aid aside from scholarships from specific schools.

I agree- he probably did receive some sort of scholarship. During the show he mentioned having a 3.5 GPA in HS. Who knows, maybe it was better for him to go away to college. If at home commuting to the local college, maybe he would have dropped out to get a job and help out his family. Who really knows? Towards the end of his college career he was self-supporting.

I liked the program. I thought the Stanley patriarch had a great work ethic. He sure worked harder than I ever did sitting in a cube. Sure, there were lots of things these families could have done differently to improve their lives, but I thought it accurately portrayed the reality of the job market today, especially when you are older and only have a high school education (or less).
 
I found the program interesting although it was too bad the father of the white family decided not to participate in the latest installment. The thing that struck me, although I know it shouldn't be surprising, was the children's future generally mirrored their parents or in some cases was looking worse.

You see a lot of stories in the media of kids breaking out of their circumstances to go on to a better life than their parents (I would consider myself in this category) but that is the exception and this show was an illustration of that although probably skewed to that narrative given the venue.

The other thing that struck me was the father of the black family getting a job with the county and going to work in, what was it landscaping or something like that but was really, 'sanitation' or garbage collection for half the year at the age of 59 if I remember correctly. A tough road at that age.
 
The Neumanns likely did not earn enough income nor have enough saved before they had their first child. They probably just figured the money would keep coming in, and possibly some raises, and it would all work out. There should be a lot of planning that goes into raising three children, and I would think you would need a fairly substantial emergency reserve to be sure you are ready, but again, most young people don't think that way. They just assume the good times will keep rolling.

Perhaps it's just how my brain is wired, but I've always approached every job like this may be the last day I will have it, so better not make any financial decisions that I would make differently if it went away. I'm sure I'm more conservative than many, but I see so many poor families with so many kids, and I just wonder what they were thinking. Of course they can't get ahead. With that much overhead they are just setting themselves up for failure.

+1000. Thank you!
 
I found the program interesting although it was too bad the father of the white family decided not to participate in the latest installment. The thing that struck me, although I know it shouldn't be surprising, was the children's future generally mirrored their parents or in some cases was looking worse.

You see a lot of stories in the media of kids breaking out of their circumstances to go on to a better life than their parents (I would consider myself in this category) but that is the exception and this show was an illustration of that although probably skewed to that narrative given the venue.

The other thing that struck me was the father of the black family getting a job with the county and going to work in, what was it landscaping or something like that but was really, 'sanitation' or garbage collection for half the year at the age of 59 if I remember correctly. A tough road at that age.

The one big exception in the Neumann family was the daughter, the only kid in that family who did not have a kid (yet, at least), while keeping a job with good pay and benefits. She and her boyfriend are struggling to find affordable housing, but as long as she is smart enough to not get knocked up, she has a fighting chance of doing better than her parents. Her two brothers have already had kids out of wedlock and are heading down a tough financial road.
 
Believe it or not, sometimes in engineering work one may be faced with a problem that can't just be cookbooked from practical training and prior solutions. All that useless theory suddenly becomes critical in the design of a possible solution, or proving that some solution is actually safe and practical.

It turns out that not everything has already been done, or is a minor tweak on a pre-existing practice. The really interesting challenges are often in things that have no current solution, that cannot be cookbooked up.

Also, sometimes all that useless theory comes in handy in heading off a debacle. "Um. You do realize that doing what you want involves solving The Halting Problem?" Halting problem - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Where did you see anyone suggest that theory is useless? Nowhere that I can find.

What I recall reading is a view that both theory and practice are equally important and that academia's disdain for practice was a problem.. I agree that where an unusual problem or issue exists that it is important to get both right as a theoretically good solution that can't be implemented or only at an excessive cost is also useless.
 
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DW's extended family is from a small town in the east. Half of the nieces/nephews got post secondary training/education and either scored good paying, secure jobs in town or simply never came back (majority of this group) after completing their education.

The other half stayed in town. No ambition. Some did not finish high schools, others took relatively useless (when it comes to employable skills) training. They did not have the ambition or initiative to leave for better pastures/opportunities. They are all working in low or in minimum wage jobs with little or no opportunity for growth. It was almost as if they were afraid to leave Mommy or afraid to leave their home town.
 
....The other half stayed in town. No ambition. Some did not finish high schools, others took relatively useless (when it comes to employable skills) training. They did not have the ambition or initiative to leave for better pastures/opportunities. They are all working in low or in minimum wage jobs with little or no opportunity for growth. It was almost as if they were afraid to leave Mommy or afraid to leave their home town.

It seems to me a heavy price to pay to remain inside your comfort zone, but I've always been more of an adventurer.
 
I didn't see the program, but looking at all the posts and the obviously bleak picture the program painted, I wonder what my parents would say if they saw it? ......<snip>.....Thankfully those times did not last forever and I'd like to think the circumstances described in this program will also improve given time - and the Bill Moyers of the world can focus on other gloom & doom topics.

The sinking ship gets the news coverage. Or, maybe I should say the burning airplane gets the top of the monitor space.

IIRC, John Templeton was fond of saying that the vast majority of the world's scientists were alive today. The vast majority of the great discoveries in medicine and technology were made in the last 1/2 century. :dance: And so on.... But, that's good news and points to a better world. No reason for that to be on the front page. :(
 
Say what you will about Bill Moyers, like him or hate him, how could you miss a documentary based own how 2 families have struggled over a 20 year span that started filming in the 90's? I found it very revealing. These families struggled through circumstances both out of their control and compounded by their lack of financial acumen. A common problem experienced by those with less means than those on this board with an abundance of financial prowess and drive to achieve more with less should feel sympathetic, and appreciative for our circumstances, especially in this new normal economy that is nothing like what my parents experienced.

It's a not to be missed show IMO.
 
Say what you will about Bill Moyers, like him or hate him, how could you miss a documentary based own how 2 families have struggled over a 20 year span that started filming in the 90's? I found it very revealing. These families struggled through circumstances both out of their control and compounded by their lack of financial acumen. A common problem experienced by those with less means than those on this board with an abundance of financial prowess and drive to achieve more with less should feel sympathetic, and appreciative for our circumstances, especially in this new normal economy that is nothing like what my parents experienced.

It's a not to be missed show IMO.

I remember another poster recently looking for things that might keep his son interested and pique an interest in finances.

This program would fit that bill. Financial reasons or no, I couldn't take my eyes off the screen, just because I was interested in these families. I was rooting for one, not so much the other, and couldn't wait to see how the kids turned up. There's no better education that watching people go wrong.
 
Here, I found a segment of the letter: (couldn't download the entire letter)
ITS A SCHOOL NOT A WORKER BEEHIVE:

THE MORE things change, the more they stay the same. Google and Microsoft are now calling for mandated computer science instruction in the public schools, urging public schools to include more “workforce development” so that foreign labor doesn’t have to fill technology jobs (“Firms call for tech classes,” Page A1, June 11).

More than 150 years ago, business leaders like Andrew Carnegie were calling for schools to tailor their teaching to fit the needs of manufacturing industries, the 19th-century version of “workforce development.” Increased standardized testing is seen as another key to making American student more competitive with their Chinese counterparts. Bill Gates seems to be providing the educational reform solutions to a public impressed with his business acumen.

The role of the American public school, as envisioned by Jefferson, was to educate a population to be thinking, activist contributors to a democratic society, not to provide worker bees. Public education today needs to be producing citizens: informed critical thinkers who can move our nation forward. We cannot continue to reduce education to a system that will simply provide human fodder for business and commerce.
And I suppose that these informed critical thinkers will be informed with the prejudices of their elitist and statist teachers, and help move us forward to a more fully implemented socialism. After all, they will be a natural constituency for this, as they will be entirely dependent on the state for their living, either as dole recipients or more likely as functionaries of various state bureaucracies. Think France.

A lot of highly but uselessly educated young people are found in many countries all over the world; think Egypt for an example in the news today. This is always a recipe for disaster.

The humanities professoriate are busily talking their books. They really care not at all for the well being of the students going heavily into debt to pay for their useless educations. Since ideas form attitudes and attitudes matter, this is a very dangerous group of people for our country. This character should be fired.

Ha
 
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Financial reasons or no, I couldn't take my eyes off the screen, just because I was interested in these families. I was rooting for one, not so much the other, and couldn't wait to see how the kids turned up. There's no better education that watching people go wrong.

This brings to mind the old quote (paraphrasing): "“Smart people learn from their mistakes. But the real sharp ones learn from the mistakes of others.”
 
And I suppose that these informed critical thinkers will be informed with the prejudices of their elitist and statist teachers, and help move us forward to a more fully implemented socialism. After all, they will be a natural constituency for this, as they will be entirely dependent on the state for their living, either as dole recipients or more likely as functionaries of various state bureaucracies. Think France.

A lot of highly but uselessly educated young people are found in many countries all over the world; think Egypt for an example in the news today. This is always a recipe for disaster.

The humanities professoriate are busily talking their books. They really care not at all for the sell being of the students going heavily into debt to pay for their useless educations. Since ideas form attitudes and attitudes matter, this is a very dangerous group of people for our country. This character should be fired.

Ha
Mr. Ha, that's quite a broad brush you paint.
 
"I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it is"

Wayne Gretzky

That's a principle that many of us have followed throughout our careers. It means continuous learning, moving to where the jobs are or will be, and having an overarching vision (FIRE) that guides decision making. In general, except for making sure Keith had a college education, these families didn't do those things.
 

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