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Moxie

Rich getting richer, hard to get ahead, etc...

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Most people try. Being realistic about how far that trying may get people as a class is a place to begin social and political reform, not a place to give up.

. But if someone is discouraged that what they are trying isn't getting them what they want, should they be discouraged from trying something else? Should they just give up? Edited by happysmileylady
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I'm glad my family wasn't too proud to accept advice and donations (like in the form of my scholarship). It definitely helped the whole family. I can definitely see where similar pride hurts kids in my school district when parents won't sign up for free lunches or fill out a FAFSA for their kids.

 

I'm pretty sure folks in your country would get upset if I tried to vote there... I do what I can in my own country - haven't once missed a vote, but it is pretty obvious to me at this point that there are certain things even policy can't fix.

Oh seriously, I'm a smart cookie. If I need advice, I know where to get it. All the advice in the world doesn't fix being locked out of secure housing.

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they aren't. But right now, this thread was posted by an individual who was talking about being discouraged.

 

I still consider what I said relevant.  When someone is discouraged, it doesn't always help to just say "get over it".  Sometimes it helps to acknowledge that the reasons for discouragement are real.  It sounds like the OP is doing what she can to raise responsible and productive human beings.  She's already doing that part.  

 

Maybe I don't understand your comment?

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. But if someone is discouraged that what they are trying isn't getting them what they want, should they be discouraged from trying something else? Should they just give up?

No, they should stop buying the line that they are the failure, and start agitating to change the failed system.

 

As well as doing whatever it takes to get by, obviously.

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What options? Other than be a good parent and keep your chin up? Work three jobs? News flash - the poor do that already. Between the two of us, dh and I have five paid jobs. He never takes a day off.

 

These issues are systemic. Not individual.

the options though, are individual. The answer to what options depends on the individual family. Maybe person A can't work 3 jobs, but maybe person B can. Maybe person A can do something different instead. What, I don't know exactly. Depends on their circumstances.
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What options? Other than be a good parent and keep your chin up? Work three jobs? News flash - the poor do that already. Between the two of us, dh and I have five paid jobs. He never takes a day off.

 

These issues are systemic. Not individual.

I really don't know enough about your country or your personal situation to advise anything.

 

While I definitely agree there are systemic issues in the US, at least occasionally, there are also personal choices involved. I definitely see it in my own extended family.

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I still consider what I said relevant. When someone is discouraged, it doesn't always help to just say "get over it". Sometimes it helps to acknowledge that the reasons for discouragement are real. It sounds like the OP is doing what she can to raise responsible and productive human beings. She's already doing that part.

 

Maybe I don't understand your comment?

i don't think making suggestions is the same as telling people to "get over it." And I don't think anyone said "get over it," anyway. At least not here in this thread. I do think what people have said is to try not to compare herself to others.
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the options though, are individual. The answer to what options depends on the individual family. Maybe person A can't work 3 jobs, but maybe person B can. Maybe person A can do something different instead. What, I don't know exactly. Depends on their circumstances.

In other words, continue to expect individuals to deal with the fallout of a system designed to perpetuate inequality, rather than get serious about changing the system.

 

Poor people are masters at coming up with creative solutions, at hustling, at getting up and trying again.

 

They - we - need better.

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No, they should stop buying the line that they are the failure, and start agitating to change the failed system.

 

As well as doing whatever it takes to get by, obviously.

so.....figure out what it is that they *can* do? Which is really what all the folks offering suggestions are saying.
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so.....figure out what it is that they *can* do? Which is really what all the folks offering suggestions are saying.

No. What I do to get by - further study, multiple jobs - are not what is needed to enact systemic change.

 

Without systemic change my efforts will go so far and no further.

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In other words, continue to expect individuals to deal with the fallout of a system designed to perpetuate inequality, rather than get serious about changing the system.

 

Poor people are masters at coming up with creative solutions, at hustling, at getting up and trying again.

 

They - we - need better.

no, I have already said the answers are somewhere in the middle. I already said that the two things aren't mutually exclusive. I am saying do both. If you (general you) are unhappy/discouraged about your situation, figure out what you can try to change it, both on a a societal AND individual level.
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No. What I do to get by - further study, multiple jobs - are not what is needed to enact systemic change.

 

Without systemic change my efforts will go so far and no further.

it really does sound like you are saying not to try. It really reminds me of the things my father in law would say to my DH.
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Maybe I should manifest myself a house so I don't end up homeless in my old age. After all, it must be my attitude getting in the way, and not a system designed to enrich the wealthy at the expense of the poor.

 

Silly stupid me, off to think my way into the housing market.

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Ok. We're back to poor people just needing to change their attitude. Lovely.

i didn't say poor people need to change their attitude. I said it sounds like you are saying that because nothing is going to help, don't try. If that isn't what you are saying, then what ARE you saying?
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Maybe I should manifest myself a house so I don't end up homeless in my old age. After all, it must be my attitude getting in the way, and not a system designed to enrich the wealthy at the expense of the poor.

 

Silly stupid me, off to think my way into the housing market.

i didn't say that either. I am actually not making ANY suggestions to you specifically.
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Ok. We're back to poor people just needing to change their attitude. Lovely.

 

Well, you gotta admit, yours sucks ATM - presumably due to your situation.  ;)

 

In our country folks starting trying to change the system in the 1930s.  It's been awhile and many folks are continuing to try to change it.  It'll still take awhile I suspect.  It's a nice goal to keep aiming for, but in the meantime I think advice and donations trying to help each other get a hand up are still helpful for many - at least - in my local area.

 

I guess you're upset that none of us are Grand Pumba of the Universe and can instantly make everything into the Ideal World many of us would like?

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Jeez you people can bring out the rude and nasty. No, my attitude doesn't suck. I'm a hard, creative worker setting up a business, someone who literally never gives up. Still isn't enough because political context matters.

 

If y'all stopped buying the neoliberal line, that might help, ta very much.

Edited by StellaM
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Thanks for sharing these experiences.  I do think though that it requires a pretty specific combination of circumstances (in addition to awesome physical and mental stamina-kudos to you guys!) that not everyone is capable of, even if they desired it.

 

May be.  I know that for me  - I didn't envision any other options.  I had to get an education bc I was raised with the idea that you get a profession and support yourself.  There were no alternatives in my mind.  So, I worked to pay for college as I went.  If I thought I could do hair and nails or be a dog groomer or anything else - I probably wouldn't have gone bc I didn't like it.  It was years later, when I was getting my Master's that I actually enjoyed school.

 

We were only in the country for a few years at that poing, I only heard of things like scholarships and financial aid.  And I thought scholarships were only for people with excellent grades in HS ( and I didn't even have a standard HS diploma) and financial aid was for people who couldn't work but wanted to go to school.  But since I could work - why would I be eligible for govt assistance?

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Jeez you people can bring out the rude and nasty. No, my attitude doesn't suck. Im a hard, creative worker setting up a business. Still isn't enough because political context matters.

 

If y'all stopped buying the neoliberal line, that might help, ta very much.

I think people are asking fair questions. I haven't seen any "rude and nasty." Asking for answers from you on your points/opinions is fair game in an online forum. I was still wondering if you had an answer for me, in fact, a few pages back, I asked you about what "real disadvantage" is and how you would describe that. Maybe you did answer it and I missed it in the shuffle, if so, I am sorry and I'll have to go back.

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You could start by reading the article I linked. There's plenty of info out there about what disadvantage looks like for people who care to inform themselves.

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I always find the emphasis on getting a college degree and moving up the job chain to get out of poverty a bit myopic. Yes, that can work for some people, but the reality is that a lot of the available and necessary jobs in this country are not high prestige white collar jobs. Our economy needs construction workers, sewer technicians, child care providers, fast food servers, grocery store clerks, farm laborers, bus drivers, etc.

 

It shouldn't actually be necessary for people to move "up" from these jobs in order to provide a decent quality of life for their families. A sustainable solution to generational poverty needs to provide for actual living wages, affordable healthcare, etc. for people who are willing and able to work regardless of what kind of job they do.

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Why is it not possible to do both of those things? To advocate for better policy that makes it easier for those who want to get out of poverty, AND to teach our own children that they can and should do everything they can to better themselves? To be both thankful for what you have, and yet still wish and advocate for a more fair playing ground? I don't see why any of these things are mutually exclusive.

They aren't. Which is why it seems very condescending and patronizing to tell people they need to learn to be happy with what they have. They are learning to be happy as they can be with what they have. They don't have much choice otherwise.

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You could start by reading the article I linked. There's plenty of info out there about what disadvantage looks like for people who care to inform themselves.

Um ok. But I asked you, as in a dialogue. I do care, but I was trying to converse not just get a link. You obviously have an opinion. And, what if I wanted yours and not an author's?

 

Also, let's say I was considering learning more on a topic from someone with whom I likely disagree. How likely am I to care anymore, or listen as well, if someone gives me a link versus taking some time to write a response to my fair question that may also include said link?

 

N/m.

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My town is having quite a budget crisis due to too much of those non-collected tax dollars.  I disagree that there is a "big difference" between the two.  At the end of the budget year, the effect is the same, the money in the coffers is reduced by the amount.

 

Re zoning, not sure if this is zoning specifically or more control exercised directly by the city?  We had an area open for development, and the city specifically either zoned or approved that area for a certain level of housing that was deemed "affordable".  I assumed it was through zoning, but maybe it was something else.  I do think the city has ways of controlling things how they want.  In our area, the city can approve or not approve an area of new development be zoned for multifamily homes, townhomes, homes with tiny lots, homes with large lots, etc. They're not controlling prices, but all those factors will affect the prices.

 

In the trailer park example, the city can condemn or target an area for violations with the intent of driving the owner to sell.  Of course they could argue they didn't "intend" the trailer park be replaced by nicer looking $500,000 homes... but it's pretty obvious how it works. Getting rid of the park through political or other pressure accomplishes the goal. 

I am not in favor of tax incentives, but there is a difference in the amount in the city's coffers at the end of the year.

 

Scenario 1--Property is of low value--city collects $0 in property taxes.  City pays $100 for subsidy--net effect is -$100

Scenario 2--Property is sold and now has a property value of $1000.  Instead of taxing at a 30% rate, the city gives an incentive of taxing it at only 20%.  City collects $200--net effect is +$200.  

 

The argument for the tax incentive is that without it the property wouldn't be developed and the city would collect $0.  (This assumption depends greatly upon local market conditions.)  The city officials have a financial incentive for the land to be used for the highest value use because of property tax collections.  

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I always find the emphasis on getting a college degree and moving up the job chain to get out of poverty a bit myopic. Yes, that can work for some people, but the reality is that a lot of the available and necessary jobs in this country are not high prestige white collar jobs. Our economy needs construction workers, sewer technicians, child care providers, fast food servers, grocery store clerks, farm laborers, bus drivers, etc.

 

It shouldn't actually be necessary for people to move "up" from these jobs in order to provide a decent quality of life for their families. A sustainable solution to generational poverty needs to provide for actual living wages, affordable healthcare, etc. for people who are willing and able to work regardless of what kind of job they do.

Yes, and in fact the problem is that many Americans do not want to do these jobs - many Americans think these jobs are beneath them. There is a glut in the job market - so many have BAs and cannot find good jobs - they are all going after the same finite number of jobs in the same industries.

 

Electricians, welders, plumbers, hair stylists, etc.. This is where the money is now for most people who are willing to learn the trades and do them.

 

Two or three years ago, FIL who is a farmer, reported to DH and me that there was a local job posting for a heavy machinery operator - starting pay = $80k. No joke. DH's cousin taught himself to be an electrician and went to get his necessary licenses, etc.. Now he employs a few of his brothers and he is rolling in the business - just a low income Iowa farm kid who saw a need and was willing to fulfill it. Farmers cannot find good laborers. I have a friend whose husband owns a large recycling business that they started from scratch. They cannot find long-lasting, good workers. People come for like a week or two and quit - often without giving notice. See, I think there is money to be made and opportunity to be grasped, but maybe people think they are too good for it or that they HAVE to go to get a degree.

 

A past boyfriend of mine, had to make ends meet so he began loading UPS trucks at night. He did a great job. Now, he manages 3 UPS hubs. Another old boyfriend's dad worked tossing bags for Delta. He worked his way up and retired from executive management. One of the CEOs of USBank began his career as a teller. I'm sure others can share similar stories.

 

Now that several of states are going to or have increase minimum wage significantly, hopefully there can be more sustainable living situations for people.

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You could start by reading the article I linked. There's plenty of info out there about what disadvantage looks like for people who care to inform themselves.

 

 

I read the article. I could agree with some things. For example, anyone should be able to attend a different school than what they are zoned for as far as public school is concerned. I don't understand the concept that people must prove they live in a certain zone and if not they are charged with stealing an education. Kind of defeats the purpose of public education doesn't it?

 

 

I realize the author wasn't promoting the following but writing about it.

 

 

The problem with framing the whole thing as a competition though is messed up. We are supposed to compete on some arbitrary idea of "fair" for limited resources? To make it fair we restrict what others can do? This is like saying there isn't enough food and to make things equal we won't let parents garden to feed their children. That makes the problem worse.

 

If you want to make housing more affordable you don't just give some people money to help them afford a unit which is then not available for someone else who also needs a unit. That just raises the cost. You focus on policy that increases the number of units. It is hyper focusing on equality that can get you in trouble.

 

Sticking with the housing theme for this post I would say our government does unfairly use eminent domain and zoning. In many areas (I can only speak for the places I know about) people use zoning to keep others from using their own property how they need to by ,say, building a mother-in-law apartment, by not allowing high density housing which would start at a lower price point, and by making codes not just about safety. This makes it hard for families to share space, to sub rent, or to afford a smaller space. This means it is harder to find ways to save or spend on other things like education.

 

The end goal should be to make things better for everyone not to make sure that person over there can't do something for their kid that you can't do. In the end that attitude makes everyone worse off.

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Yes, and in fact the problem is that many Americans do not want to do these jobs - many Americans think these jobs are beneath them. There is a glut in the job market - so many have BAs and cannot find good jobs - they are all going after the same finite number of jobs in the same industries.

 

Electricians, welders, plumbers, hair stylists, etc.. This is where the money is now for most people who are willing to learn the trades and do them.

 

...

 

Now that several of states are going to or have increase minimum wage significantly, hopefully there can be more sustainable living situations for people.

 

The top depends upon where one is.  Around here, hair stylists don't really make all that much.  Even places that have trade jobs listed are advertising roughly $20/hour (or less). That beats minimum wage, but not a lot of college degreed jobs.  The glut you mention doesn't really show up TBH.

 

Here are the stats for the US:

 

https://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm

 

ep_chart_001.png

 

Personally, I think the best job for an individual is the one that suits them the best - not any one particular path.  A good tattoo artist is going to make a better living doing that than trying to become an engineer (in most cases).

 

I fully agree that folks doing any legal job (well) should be making a living wage for it.  A good part of our personal way of trying to fix a small segment of inequity is tipping very well at restaurants and hotels when we travel.  I don't care if a waitress or maid makes a 6 figure income TBH.  If they're doing their job well, we like to do what we can to reward that since the real world doesn't.

 

We vote - always - but that's not where we end trying to make things better for others.

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Let me sum up something Sadie that maybe we can agree on. Yes, there is inequality in how government is used. The educated and/or those with more money can use the government to their own advantage more so then those busy working 3 jobs to stay afloat. We should work to stop this.

 

We probably disagree on how to get there. I would rather see a smaller government. Others want it large to provide things but I can never figure out how they are going to control it to do just what they want. It doesn't seem to work after that.

 

I don't see how or even why we should stop parents from doing the best for their kids though I think we should help each other and those without friends and family more. I think we are more helpful to others when we recognize how much we have to offer. There are times in my life I didn't have much to offer but now I'm trying to make up for it because people were helping me all along the way. That is where being thankful comes into play.

 

It is very likely I have more to be thankful for and for that I'm sorry if I offended someone. Life can be hard. It helps me along the way and no it doesn't mean I don't want to see some change.

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I think it takes a few generations to get there. Kind of like that old story that a professor told the med students on the first day of class, He showed the slide of a relaxed student napping under a tree and told the med students that if they studied really hard, this could,be one of their grandkids.

Look at the lifestyle of your grandparents. In most cases, I see a dramatic lessening in amount of work and physical difficulty of such. You help your kids . Sometimes that entails giving advice. My grandfather didn't get to see go to high school and made a huge impact telling his kids ," I hope you can have a job where you get to sit down ." His kids graduated high school and many of them went to night school to get a college degree. My generation gets to sit down as much as we want.

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Sticking with the housing theme for this post I would say our government does unfairly use eminent domain and zoning. In many areas (I can only speak for the places I know about) people use zoning to keep others from using their own property how they need to by ,say, building a mother-in-law apartment, by not allowing high density housing which would start at a lower price point, and by making codes not just about safety. This makes it hard for families to share space, to sub rent, or to afford a smaller space. This means it is harder to find ways to save or spend on other things like education.

 

The end goal should be to make things better for everyone not to make sure that person over there can't do something for their kid that you can't do. In the end that attitude makes everyone worse off.

Re:zoning. Zoning in many places is limited by infrastructure..you can move a family into every bedroom, garage, and barn stall,but at some point cash is needed to expand the sewer and water system. The wells aren't going to drill themselves, and the sewer plant will need more capacity. That costs money. Edited by Heigh Ho
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The city officials have a financial incentive for the land to be used for the highest value use because of property tax collections.

True! The city does the best financially if all the property is of high value. The question then is what moral and societal obligations do we have to our fellow (low income) humans, and how do we BALANCE that with financial considerations?

 

I don't hold that you can ignore financial considerations, but right now it seems tilted the other direction. I don't believe that all decisions should be made primarily based on profitability. I think we've gone too far that direction, and I don't see how more free market fixes it.

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Re:zoning. Zoning in many places is limited by infrastructure..you can move a family into every bedroom, garage, and barn stall,but at some point cash is needed to expand the sewer and water system. The wells aren't going to drill themselves, and the sewer plant will need more capacity. That costs money.

That is true but often developers in my particular area aren't shut down by city inspectors they are shut down by neighborhood meetings, petitions and complaints. It would be cheaper for developers to pay or the state to pay for upgraded sewer then expanding the sewer system further and further down the road and then having to build the roads to go with it for everyone to live one of the most spread out cities in the nation.

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I think this is because immigrants are a different breed of people.  How many people would have the courage, drive, and cleverness to pack up a few belongings, move to a country where they did not know the language, had no social support, had no family support, and often are starting out working a job that is less prestigious than the one they worked in their country of origin?  It's a huge jump off an unknown cliff, and if you don't succeed there is the risk of crashing into the ground.  Not many of us would be willing and able to pull that off, so people who can already have drive, determination, and grit that many don't have, and this provides what they need to be successful.  Contrast that with a person of the Hillbilly Elegy variety - someone born into the richest nation in the world, who has a safety net (even if it's imperfect) to catch them if they careen off a cliff,  who's family culture does not push (for example) academic success, and who is tempted by the (opioid) drugs and alcohol that are so prevalent in their communities, and the drive, determination, and grit that carries an immigrant through is never developed.

Thank you for explaining this. If these cutural aspects are such a big obstacle to social mobility, isn't that something that no policies etc can cure? If parents aren't not just pushing their kids to better themselves, but instead ostracize them and hold them back, what can society do to counteract this?

 

It also raises another question: why do some cultures of immigrants not have this problem? They arrive with nothing, and parents who often have little education themselves value and push education for their kids. What makes them different? Why do they not suffer from the hillbilly elegy syndrome?

 

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I think this is so very true, especially the bolded.  It goes right to the heart of individual choices affecting life outcomes, what a person can do to make their circumstances better, and setting yourself up for those "lucky breaks" that can propel you forward.

I do want to say two more things.

First there a lot of ways to help your kids "get ahead," that aren't financial. I was a single mom going to school full time and working, my parents usually babysat for free. They also let me live at home for really inexpensive rent. They STILL often babysit for free for all 10 of their grandkids. You (general you)do other things like not just provide support, but also encouragement to keep trying. Just ensuring your kids believe they CAN take steps to help themselves will help them.

The other thing is, I believe that the vast majority of people can do *something* to improve their situation, even if they can't do EVERYTHING. So maybe someone can't go to school for whatever reason. But maybe they can start babysitting a neighbors kid to try to put some money in savings. Or maybe they trade babysitting with the neighbor in order to pick up a class. Or maybe they find a way to manage an online class or two. Or whatever. I am not suggesting any one or all of these are in any way *the* answer for anyone or even any one person. All I am really saying is that I think in most situations there are choice that can be made or things that can be tried. And I think this is true for all income levels. Saying that is NOT saying "just work harder". It's saying...what choice are you making and are there other choices you could make. It's saying, on an individual level, you aren't going to change big policies over night and can't change anything that has happened in the past. But, what can you do or change? That answer is going to be different for everyone because everyone is in different situations.

 

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That is true but often developers in my particular area aren't shut down by city inspectors they are shut down by neighborhood meetings, petitions and complaints. It would be cheaper for developers to pay or the state to pay for upgraded sewer then expanding the sewer system further and further down the road and then having to build the roads to go with it for everyone to live one of the most spread out cities in the nation.

The existing eighbors know new dense housing means they get the bill for expanding sewer,finding and piping enough water, and expanding and running the school system..of course they vote no. If dense housing was taxed enough to pay for the costs it generates..it would be welcomed.

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I look at things this way, too.  My father was a farmer, came of age during the Great Depression, didn't graduate high school, and had nothing.  Mom graduated high school, but was poor, as well.  Their lives were hard, all through, but they worked not for themselves, but for the betterment of their kids (my siblings and I).  Their kids have lives that are substantially more comfortable and secure, so by this measure, they were successful.  I think not many rise from poverty to upper middle class in one generation, but most take several steps to rise several socio-economic levels.

I think it takes a few generations to get there. Kind of like that old story that a professor told the med students on the first day of class, He showed the slide of a relaxed student napping under a tree and told the med students that if they studied really hard, this could,be one of their grandkids.
Look at the lifestyle of your grandparents. In most cases, I see a dramatic lessening in amount of work and physical difficulty of such. You help your kids . Sometimes that entails giving advice. My grandfather didn't get to see go to high school and made a huge impact telling his kids ," I hope you can have a job where you get to sit down ." His kids graduated high school and many of them went to night school to get a college degree. My generation gets to sit down as much as we want.

 

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True! The city does the best financially if all the property is of high value. The question then is what moral and societal obligations do we have to our fellow (low income) humans, and how do we BALANCE that with financial considerations?

 

I don't hold that you can ignore financial considerations, but right now it seems tilted the other direction. I don't believe that all decisions should be made primarily based on profitability. I think we've gone too far that direction, and I don't see how more free market fixes it.

If the government benefits from high property values, then a bigger government (and less free market) does not fix it, either.  The government decisions are then based upon financial considerations, also.  More  government intervention adds another layer of expense and an additional possibility for fraud and kickbacks.  It can also misallocate resources from their optimal use by sending the wrong message regarding the opportunity cost of resources.  

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The existing eighbors know new dense housing means they get the bill for expanding sewer,finding and piping enough water, and expanding and running the school system..of course they vote no. If dense housing was taxed enough to pay for the costs it generates..it would be welcomed.

So instead taxpayers pay millions and millions on roads. Makes sense. I really think the developer could pay for the upgrades and still make a profit and deals be made but people really don't want cheaper housing anywhere near them. I didn't realize when you paid for one little lot you should have control of miles around you.

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An astounding thread. Predictably full of people who have worked three full time jobs, attended full time college and birthed a baby or two. Yes, some people can do that. But why should they have to, especially when others can do just college and relax on the weekends and live a normal non stress free life. The point of the thread is that life. Is. Not. Fair. And it really really sucks.

 

I fully recognize that I am the beneficiary of someone this surplus of the good portion. I rarely take a hot shower without thanking God for hot running clean water. Doesn't change the fact that others are getting jot clan showers along with the rest of their easy life. College paid for in full, a connection to get a job.....health care paid for, parents who have money to help you with clothes for your interviews....the list goes on.

 

Life isn't fair. I don't see how acknowledging that keeps us from doing our best.

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I think this is a fascinating thread. There have been lots of ideas presented about what people should do to improve their situation, but I think it is important to understand that there are actually things to be known about social mobility in the US that should inform our decisions as a public. As inequality has increased more and more, social scientists have been studying it over multiple generations. The US has some of the lowest social mobility rates in the developed world. Social mobility rates in the US have regional variations (they are particularly low in the South and the Rust belt). The US does much less than other similar developed countries to even out disposable income. And we have seen a significant decrease in government spending/investment in what political scientists call "the commons," i.e. education, infrastructure and other things whose benefits are shared by all, especially since the 1980s. So it doesn't really make sense to compare what our parents or grandparents did to what we experience now. If it feels like the rich are getting richer and the rest of us are running like hamsters on a wheel and staying in the same place, that's because that is in fact what is happening. 

 

There are lots of public policies that could address these changes (we know this because it was public policy that put us in this place). Here is a good survey article that clearly explains some of these changes and solutions, and the work of some of the researchers who are studying this problem. The point of understanding these policy changes is to understand that the rise and fall of social mobility in the US has never really been about attitude, but rather about public policy. That is what people in this thread mean when they say they can't change things by changing their attitude. It might be good for your mental health to cultivate an attitude of optimism or acceptance, to be grateful for what you have etc.., but it is not going to change the actual situation on the ground. Public policy matters. It has a real effect on people's lives. 

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it really does sound like you are saying not to try. It really reminds me of the things my father in law would say to my DH.

 

This discussion makes me wonder to what extent the "average joe can't get ahead" statistics are caused by people telling average joes that they can't get ahead.

 

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This discussion makes me wonder to what extent the "average joe can't get ahead" statistics are caused by people telling average joes that they can't get ahead.

 

 

Seems to me that when you look at the whole picture we have other better, more comprehensive and more plausible explanations than just a bunch of average joes throwing in the towel.

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I look at things this way, too.  My father was a farmer, came of age during the Great Depression, didn't graduate high school, and had nothing.  Mom graduated high school, but was poor, as well.  Their lives were hard, all through, but they worked not for themselves, but for the betterment of their kids (my siblings and I).  Their kids have lives that are substantially more comfortable and secure, so by this measure, they were successful.  I think not many rise from poverty to upper middle class in one generation, but most take several steps to rise several socio-economic levels.

 

I agree that not many do it, but with the thought of providing some incentive for those who can do it, I posted this NYT article last month which shows data regarding income levels and college degrees.  Those who start off in the lowest income levels and make it into and through college often end up moving up at least two quintiles in economic status.  From this thread, I suspect the majority come from the "parents want better for their kids" rather than "parents are jealous of their kids" group:

 

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/18/upshot/some-colleges-have-more-students-from-the-top-1-percent-than-the-bottom-60.html?_r=0

 

A reader shouldn't get hung up in the top half of that article, although it can fit with the idea of lack of fairness.  Instead, look farther below at quotes (with data proving them) like this:

 

"Even though they face challenges that other students do not, lower-income students end up earning almost as much on average as affluent students who attend the same college."

 

"An affluent student who attends one of 12 “Ivy plus†universities (the Ivy League colleges, DukeM.I.T.Stanford and the University of Chicago) ends up around the 80th percentile of the income distribution on average. A lower-income student who attends one of those colleges ends up around the 75th percentile. Lower-income students who attend less elite colleges also have outcomes similar to others from the same college."

 

And of course, we all know the obvious, stated here:

 

"By contrast, the steeper gray line shows outcomes for the entire American population. Most students who grow up poor remain poor as adults, and most students who grow up affluent remain affluent."

 

There are ways out of poverty for capable kids, but one has to actually get there preferably with support.  Then we also need to fix policy to see that those who aren't capable of college level work/jobs also can earn a decent living.  The first is a path through the woods now for those who can find it and walk it.  The second... some of us are trying, but I wouldn't hold out hope of that happening anytime soon.

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Couple things I have to say if I'm going to be honest.

 

1. Sometimes I compliment another person's child and my kids take that as an insult to them.  Example:  "She is so pretty."  "Are you saying I'm ugly?!"  No, I'm saying she's pretty.  It has nothing to do with you.  The fact that the neighbor kid may have an inheritance has nothing to do with us.  Everyone is dealt a different hand and needs to play it.  So ... what are our talents, and how are we going to use them?  And that has nothing to do with anyone else's kids.

 

2. Sorry because I know this is gonna offend some people.  But honestly.  If I had 11 children, I wouldn't be able to pay for their college either.  If I had been home with my kids for the majority of my adult life, I probably wouldn't own a home, let alone a college fund.  BUT, my kids would still be able to make their own way to and through college with the right attitude, barring special needs.  As a matter of fact, this is a little off topic, but there would be a LOT more out-of-family help for each of my kids if we were in that situation.  I'm not dissing it since that's how I got my education in the first place.  But how bad is it, really, that a family with 11 kids can expect that all of them have a chance to be college educated (barring disabilities)?

 

Yes there is room for improvement in our system as in others.

 

But remember.  If we set it up so the taxpayers are paying for higher education, we're going to have to limit who gets to go, like other countries do.  And you know realistically that the ones who have the money are going to be the ones who get to go.  So you are really advocating a transfer of income / wealth from the middle class to the wealthy.  I don't think that's going to make things more equal.

 

I think there are better ways.  We need to make a real education much more affordable i.e. less costly, and with technology, there is NO reason this can't be done.  Focusing on who's rich and who had their bed made is not how to get this done.

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One little remark about encouraging young people to work in trade labor: let us not underestimate that that sort of work is physically hard to do. It is hot, exhausting, dirty work that can ruin your hands, your knees, your back, your hearing, your lungs. My DH wotks this sort of work and, while he is thankful that he has been gainfully employed his whole adulthood, he is not urging our kids to be blue collar workers. Yes, you can put bread on the table as a Master Plumber, but it is not accurate to say that people don't want to be in those fields because they think it's beneath them.

 

There are a lot of people who have zero ability to physically put a bathtub on their backs and go up a flight of stairs. They cannot do it one time, let alone choose a career field in which they would need to do it repeatedly. My son is working with his father this summer and I joke that it is to train him in why he wants to complete a college degree. Digging a sewer and water line in 95-degree heat is a good way to make a 17yo realize that he wants to not have to do this for the rest of his life.

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This discussion makes me wonder to what extent the "average joe can't get ahead" statistics are caused by people telling average joes that they can't get ahead.

 

Ditto.  I plan to try to finish reading The Hillbilly Elegy today.  I think that's the main point of that book.

 

But still... there's a bell curve of humans and not all are able to get the education needed for better jobs.  They need to have decent livings too.  With money and/or connections it's not as difficult.  Without... our system is better than 2nd or 3rd world, but it could still be improved upon - esp with universal healthcare.

 

One little remark about encouraging young people to work in trade labor: let us not underestimate that that sort of work is physically hard to do. It is hot, exhausting, dirty work that can ruin your hands, your knees, your back, your hearing, your lungs. My DH wotks this sort of work and, while he is thankful that he has been gainfully employed his whole adulthood, he is not urging our kids to be blue collar workers. Yes, you can put bread on the table as a Master Plumber, but it is not accurate to say that people don't want to be in those fields because they think it's beneath them.

 

There are a lot of people who have zero ability to physically put a bathtub on their backs and go up a flight of stairs. They cannot do it one time, let alone choose a career field in which they would need to do it repeatedly. My son is working with his father this summer and I joke that it is to train him in why he wants to complete a college degree. Digging a sewer and water line in 95-degree heat is a good way to make a 17yo realize that he wants to not have to do this for the rest of his life.

 

Great point, but with respect to the underlined, it could actually show kids it IS what they want to do in life.  We've had students shadow the trades and come back feeling that's exactly what they want to be doing.  Shadowing (or sometimes summer jobs) is a really useful tool at helping students sort things out.

 

Couple things I have to say if I'm going to be honest.

 

2. Sorry because I know this is gonna offend some people.  But honestly.  If I had 11 children, I wouldn't be able to pay for their college either.  

 

This is a good point.  The choices we make definitely affect what we can afford (for those of us who need to live on a budget - meaning most of the world).  I know we planned on two kids because we felt that's how many we could afford with the lifestyle we wanted to provide them (travel, college, etc).  God gave us a third.  We love him and are glad he's here (wouldn't send him back!), but adding the third definitely affected the budget (clothes + food in addition to the "extras" we like).  We made sure there wasn't another surprise because we wanted to provide them with "our" lifestyle.  My mom is one of six kids.  If we'd had six there's no way we could have done as much as we did with our budget - not even movies or dinner out as much as we do.

 

But that's a choice we made.  I have no issues with others who prefer more kids to travel or activities, etc.  We all get to decide for ourselves where our money goes.  Different priorities are ok.

 

And I still think we need universal health care because health needs should never have to be cut... I'm in favor of more money for higher ed too.

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I think this is because immigrants are a different breed of people. How many people would have the courage, drive, and cleverness to pack up a few belongings, move to a country where they did not know the language, had no social support, had no family support, and often are starting out working a job that is less prestigious than the one they worked in their country of origin? It's a huge jump off an unknown cliff, and if you don't succeed there is the risk of crashing into the ground. Not many of us would be willing and able to pull that off, so people who can already have drive, determination, and grit that many don't have, and this provides what they need to be successful. Contrast that with a person of the Hillbilly Elegy variety - someone born into the richest nation in the world, who has a safety net (even if it's imperfect) to catch them if they careen off a cliff, who's family culture does not push (for example) academic success, and who is tempted by the (opioid) drugs and alcohol that are so prevalent in their communities, and the drive, determination, and grit that carries an immigrant through is never developed.

Further, most immigrants coming here are already self selected. They're not exactly handing visas like candy in most places. Even the green card lottery has a minimum high school graduation requirement. Immigrants may be "poor" financially (though again that's a relative term) but they may have had a strong family culture of education or whatever.

And not all immigrants reach peaks of society. In fact few do. Many continue working the jobs they did when they first came.

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An astounding thread. Predictably full of people who have worked three full time jobs, attended full time college and birthed a baby or two. Yes, some people can do that. But why should they have to, especially when others can do just college and relax on the weekends and live a normal non stress free life. The point of the thread is that life. Is. Not. Fair. And it really really sucks.

 

I fully recognize that I am the beneficiary of someone this surplus of the good portion. I rarely take a hot shower without thanking God for hot running clean water. Doesn't change the fact that others are getting jot clan showers along with the rest of their easy life. College paid for in full, a connection to get a job.....health care paid for, parents who have money to help you with clothes for your interviews....the list goes on.

 

Life isn't fair. I don't see how acknowledging that keeps us from doing our best.

 

I am replying to you only bc you put the sentiment of many very concisely.

 

In my opinion, that's EXACTLY the difference between people.  I never wondered "why should i have to".  It never really mattered to me what others were able to do, what kind of resources they had and how "lucky" they were.   My family was poor in our old country and was poor in US for a long time.  My  goal was to provide for  myself.  My parents'  goal was to provide for themselves.  And every other family we knew who came to US same time we did was doing the same.

 

We didn't have time or inclination to think about "rich getting richer".  We did what we could to have a better life.

 

For the first few years of being in US I didn't have any American friends bc I didn't speak English very well.  It wasn't until later that I was able to talk to people more proficiently.  We were living in a fairly poor are and I was working as a teller in a small bank.  You start to get to know your customers and have conversations and it was striking to me to listen to people - there was so much complaining about unfairness of life and how hard it was - all while cashing govt checks with their weekly manicured nails and hair dos.

 

I know that the issues of poverty and resources and achievements are complex and there are no "one size fits all" solutions.  But in my personal (may be limited) experience  people who thought that they can only do anything if there was outside help - new laws, new programs, etc - didn't get very far.  Bc there are a LOT of that out there and it still doesn't seem to help.

 

I see a person doing well - my first inclination is not to wonder why they have so  much better  or whether mommy and daddy helped them.  My first inclination is to see if I can learn anything from them so I can duplicate it and do better for myself.

 

Oh and as a side note re: hot showers - you just reminded me.  Where I am from, we used to have hot water cut out for weeks at a time to preserve resources.  Again, bc everything was govt controlled.  I still remember how my mom was giving me bath by boiling water on the stove and then mixing with with cold water in the bathtub so I could wash my hair.  :)

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Great point, but with respect to the underlined, it could actually show kids it IS what they want to do in life. We've had students shadow the trades and come back feeling that's exactly what they want to be doing. Shadowing (or sometimes summer jobs) is a really useful tool at helping students sort things out.

Yes, the reverse is also true. My husband was attending college while working with his father and then just realized one day, "Well, I'm good at this. I might as well get my Master Plumbing license and quit Computer Science." (which, I must say, the idea that my DH ever studied computers is so laughably out of character...) It just annoys me that some people think anyone who struggles with academics is automatically well-suited to work in the trades. Trades can be brutal. If you get hurt while running a plumbing business, it is livelihood-threatening many times.

 

One of my friends owns a cleaning company and makes a good living at it. She was saying she didn't want her daughter to continue in the field. I didn't understand this and I protested, "But you make a good living at it..." And she said, "Yeah, and I'm half crippled from arthritis. I work in the middle of the night all weekend long. It pays the bills, but honestly, it pretty much sucks."

 

That is part of what I mean. Many times white collar people think it's just dandy to urge young people to become blue collar tradesmen becuase "Plumbers can make a good living." Well, yes, it can pay the bills, but let's not underestimate that it takes a physically hardy person to do some of those jobs...and it can wear a body out by 55-60, if not sooner. Why does the general public imagine plumbers as large men with big shoulders and computer technicians as skinny guys wearing glasses? Because it takes physical power to be a plumber.

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