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Thread summary:

Middle Class: loan, Cable TV, High Speed Internet, credit card debt, save money.

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Old 02-19-2013, 10:53 AM
 
Location: "Daytonnati"
4,244 posts, read 6,380,831 times
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You may not agree with what others posted there, but I truly doubt you don't understand it unless you haven't read the previous threads or talked about this with others. Regarding your personal situation that you described; I'd have to agree with you and say, wow, you are doing fantastic and that itself is wonderful. In actuality, in a similar way, my family is doing quite well too (as a snapshot in current time).

I would ask to you to imagine how the following people feel today:
#1 - Those who have gone into debt to obtain costly college educations, started a career, but then who ended up going back to school to learn something else for a new career (because their old career/profession is by and large now outsourced to lower cost employees).
#2 - Those people who despite college educations in once promising professions or career paths, now do much lesser work for less pay than their predecessors with similar educations & work experience.
#3 - Those people who despite high performance within their own corporate professions, have seen stagnant income for over 7 years (income not keeping up with inflationary costs).
#4 - Well-educated people who planned to have a parent stay at home during the raising of their children, but due to cost pressures (inflationary or stagnant income or both) need to both work, spending a significant amount of one of their incomes on child care and having less influence/time with their own children.
#5 - Those who have seen a rise in their monthly healthcare expenses soar way above inflationary pressures year after year - even though in many cases they have remained in relatively good health.
#6 - Those currently paying into a national social security system which is going to be bankrupt by the time they are due to actually collect.
#7 - Those who's ancestors could retire by in large decades earlier with financial security of either a pension, social security, or via significant savings (or a combination thereof), but whom realize that they will have no choice but to work well into their 60s and perhaps 70s - perhaps never actually experiencing a retirement at all.
#8 - Those who see the disappearance of pension systems altogether - a trend which is accelerating today. People who thought they had a pension have found out ops... guess what, the corporations can take them away from you even after paying years into them.
#9 - Those who see the disappearance of job security altogether. Professors aren't being offered tenure nearly as often these days. Corporations have a variety of well proven ways to "reskill" their workforce legally (aka replace experienced/aged employees with younger and cheaper ones) and frequently.
#10 - Those who see that college education costs which have soared well beyond inflationary increases. The debt load required to get a first rate education is already forcing young middle-class raised adults into a virtual indentured servitude situation where they will have to work off the debts for many years (heck, even the parents in many cases are left with debt that needs to be worked off for a few years). The costs don't even reflect the quality of the education nor income potential of the profession anymore.
#11 - Those who know that the best Ivy League educational centers indeed accept applicants in large part based upon ancestoral attendance (Legacy acceptance), while the middle class of today who didn't have family members that attended these places need to have perfect applications to even be considered (and sometimes that's not even enough). In a world where you would like to believe a middle class citizen can achieve anything with intelligence and diligence , this is definitely not encouraging.
#12 - Those who are watching/observing the outsourcing of America with visions of the future rather than focus on the snapshots of their lives today - these people see some bad things happening. To ignore this trend is like refuting that the polar ice caps are melting. Bush Senior and many others in the 80s and 90s really refuted such things - is it going to be too late to save the middle class when the majority of the US opens their eyes to the trends?
#13 - Those who are watching/observing how the majority of the US leadership - both government and corporate today is filled with people who inherited their wealth and educations and connections. That itself isn't a bad thing, but when you need to be very wealthy to seek (much less achieve) a position of influence, that doesn't bode well for today's middle class.
#14 - Those that recognize that most economic and financial indicators used to refute the claims that the middle class is disappearing are in fact unobjective nor fair. Numbers which show improvement are inevitably either false or off-kilter due to inclusion of the new wealth that the upper class/wealthy individuals have been able to grow and experience. Indeed the wealthy are getting wealthy much faster than the middle class or even lower class. Corporations may be doing better, but the middle class and lower class employees are not enjoying the fruits of the labor (I know this is debatible - but I thought I would throw in anyway).
#15 - Those who because of inflationary costs cannot afford to put 20% down on a mortage, even if they save for years while renting.

Most of those statements could be pulled out of context and probably picked apart via personal or regional experiences - but by in large this is the pattern of the world or even the US as a microcosm many of us are interested in debating about.

It's irrefutable that with penny pinching, people in families like ours can become wealthy - it'll just take many years of saving and sacrificing - and no mistakes made along the way while seeking to invest or expand wealth. I know this, we all do. If I bought a small/older house, give up cable, give up using the AC in the summer/some heat in the winter, give up eating out, keep driving old cars, in fact keep driving to a minimum in general, do my own home and product repairs/upgrades, and otherwise live humbly - yeap tis true, I could bank a fantastic percentage of my family's income. I could even buy 99% of my things second-hand and not participate in recreational activities/hobbies which cost money.

Where there's a disconnect is that it would seem that this day in age (in particular, this generation of American citizens), only the middle & lower class has to make such sacrifices AND they need to do it in combination with making pretty decent income, staying employed, remaining in good health, and not making any investment misteps with that which they do save.

Is this a pessimistic point of view I've just represented. Perhaps, I recognize it could be - I like to be objective and positive, but sometimes when I write things which as I progress in my observations go down a negative path. If I've depressed any of you readers, I apologize.

Perhaps the largest problem middle class and lower class people have today is the awareness and exposure to how the wealthy are doing vs how the non-wealthy have it. Objectively, 70+ years ago, most middle class and lower class families didn't know that the Kennedy's or Hollywood Actors/Celebrities had multiple multimillion dollar residences, $10,000+ per day spending habits, and that while toiling away 8-10 or more hours per day, the wealthy were living their lives much much differently. The boomer generation seemed to kind of figure this out and encouraged their children to get more education, to really seek out something better - but what a lot of us are now realizing is that it's almost a carrot being dangled in front of everyone which we cannot reach without some incredible luck or wealthy connections. We're going to have to work our as* off for decades to get millions of dollars, and by the time we do, that will be normal - not exceptional. There's a certain normal disatisfaction you can easily develop when you see that others have much more than you, especially when you cannot discern any real rational reason for it (they aren't smarter, they aren't well connected, they aren't well educated, they don't work hard, etc...). I think this is where we're at today. Heck I think this is why record numbers of the middle class are on prescription anti-depressants. Toiling every day, realizing that the majority of the middle and lower class have a debt load greater than their assets with no end in sight, that's not a happy thing.

I'd like to think that the future is going to be bright despite all this because rationality will win in the end for the human race. If the pursuit of happiness, and actual achievement of some happiness (during the pursuit and at the end) is something we rationally feel we each deserve then that's where we should be heading or will eventually be. Since I believe people in most part are "good" and could see this, then we're going to be ok. Right now, I think we're just in a valley - along the many peaks and valleys leading to the top of the mountain which is our goal to reach (where we all find happiness). It's not good to ignore the facts because it is from them we can learn something and get back on track towards the goal.
This is an old thread and an old post, but it's one of the better things posted at C-D.
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