America is the world's first poor rich country,

Jane

Americans are too poor to survive whether or not they're working

A new study from the United Way claims that 43% of American households are in a status called "asset limited, income constrained, employed" (ALICE), which denotes employed people who can't afford housing, food, childcare, healthcare, transportation, and a cellphone -- the basics of modern living.

Umair Haque (previously) connects this to the idea of America as the world's first poor rich country, a country that is awash in wealth, yet so unequal that nearly half its residents sink deeper into debt every month -- and most Americans die in debt.

As Haque says, if you work hard all your life and die with no assets, no savings, and debt, that's not employment, it's serfdom. America's former middle class have now hit the limits of their ability to survive with stagnating wages by taking on debt secured by their meager assets -- the family home, pensions and so on. Now, Americans are both kinds of poor: asset-poor and wage-poor. Americans aren't poor because they don't work hard enough: they're poor no matter how hard they work.

And unlike poor people in countries like Pakistan or Nigeria, American poor people live in a country where things like childcare, medicine, rent and food are very, very expensive. American poor people are poorer than the poor people in poor countries.

  • Poverty in America, in other words, has become endemic and ubiquitous because its systemic and structural. It’s baked into the system. It’s a feature, not a bug. And most Americans these days, I’d wager, understand this intuitively. Work hard, play by the rules, become something, someone worthy. Be a teacher, engineer, writer, coach, therapist, nurse etcetera. What do you get? You get your pension “raided” (read: stolen) by hedge funds, you get your income decimated by “investment bankers”, you get charged a fortune for the very things you yourself are involved in producing but never earn a fair share of, you get preyed on in every which way the predatory can dream up.
  • But it’s a new kind of poverty too — or at least one unseen since the Weimar Republic, really. It’s the poverty of decline, degeneration, decay. It’s the poverty of a middle class becoming a new poor. It’s the reversal of an upwards trajectory — not the failure to launch. It’s people who expected to live better and better lives finding themselves in the grim, unfamiliar predicament of never being able to reach them, no matter what they do. Except maybe sell out and become one of the predators. What happens when that takes place? Something strange, something difficult, something paradoxical and backwards.
  • If I say to the average American — “hey, I know you’re poor. Listen, I’m not trying to insult you. I’m trying to help you. I know it. The statistics tell me so. I can see it in on your stressed out, depressed face. I can see it in everything about you now” — what will the average American say? Well, he or she will respond defensively, probably. “Hey, go to hell buddy! I’m not poor!” That’s understandable. Nobody likes to be called poor — and especially not Americans, because living in a hyper capitalist society, poverty is stigmatized, scorned, mocked, and hated. To call an American poor is something like calling a Soviet a bad communist party member — or maybe even a capitalist. Comrade! To the gulag with you!

Half of Americans Are Effectively Poor Now. What The? [Umair Haque/E and O]

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Jess(10)

the poverty of a middle class becoming a new poor.

Didn't Trump claim to be a friend of the middle class?

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Lars(Z11a, Sunset 24)

There is no doubt about income disparity in America, and this is what was one of the main reasons for the Great Depression of the 1930s.

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Chi

Historically, such huge income disparities don't end well. Here's an interesting article about the only thing that curbs income inequality being catastrophy in the form of wars, epidemics and collapsed states.

It doesn't bode well for the US future when most people are a few paychecks away from being homeless, and the cost of living continues to rise. Eventually we will hit a breaking point and it won't be pretty.

https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/517164/

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arthurm2015(Micro-Climate, Zone 10b Sydney, Australia)

Australia has a minimum wage set by the Fair Work Commission. Every time it gets increased there is the usual chorus of "We'll all be rooned".


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ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9

I do agree that the income disparity is greater than it's ever been, and the present government is so unashamedly on the side of the rich that it's absolutely disgusting. I will say though, that a lot of middle class poverty comes from poor planning, the wish to buy things that you can't afford and even having more children than you can afford. Add to that the ruinous costs of divorce for men and women both, but probably on a greater scale for men, which affects at least 50% of all families, and it takes hypervigilance to stay on your feet. Many Americans nowadays don't have the kind of self-control and ability to make do that people had in the past, especially when all the media urge you to buy, buy and buy some more.

You get your pension “raided” (read: stolen) by hedge funds, you get
your income decimated by “investment bankers”, you get charged a fortune
for the very things you yourself are involved in producing but never
earn a fair share of, you get preyed on in every which way the predatory
can dream up.

I would say the above paragraph is vastly exaggerated and doesn't hold true for most people. Most people retain their pensions, their incomes are not decimated by investment bankers and they are not charged fortunes for the necessary things in life, unlike in many other countries.

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jama7(6)

Most people don't have pensions or investment bankers. There's still too many people making a little over $7 hr...I cannot, CANNOT imagine how one survives. That is only about 3x what I made @ min wage when I was 17 in 1969 during HS summers. Compare to the costs of food, rent, homes, services since then.....a hell of a lot more than 3x!

Apts and rentals have gone the way of the dinosaur with most converted to high priced condos. My DD and niece who live in Denver and Boston respectively are terrified their apts will be converted...they can't afford to buy even though they earn decent salaries. There are NO rentals that they can afford....there's no inventory. Every 2 bedrm apt I rented in Boston in the 70's for about $300 per month is now a condo valued at well over $1.5-$2 million. What 2 bedroom rentals there ARE are about $2000-$3500 and even more in larger cities depending how hot an area you're in.

Young professionals making big $$$ have driven up rents/home prices to obscene, competitive levels in expanding urban/suburban areas which is another reason for the tragic homeless situation we have. Too much gentrification looks pretty but it's created a disastrous situation for a large sector of the population. Cities need to create a balance of housing options as we used to have.... unfortunately unchecked capitalism has done the opposite. Everytime I drive through downtown Denver when I visit and I see of blocks and blocks of what were lower income areas now all re-developed/ prettied up I ask myself, "where do all these people go??" Neighborhood after neighborhoods all transitioning...thousands are thrown out of their homes. I have NO idea where they end up because I can't find an area of Denver that isn't undergoing this transition the last 10 yrs and what lower income areas still exist probably have no inventory.

And no.... I'm not a socialist but out of control capitalism is what has created this new world. Some govt intervention/controls have to be enacted to address both the housing situation and wages. We're so out of balance now it's like 2 different countries.

If this is the "TERRIFIC, BEAUTIFUL" economy we're celebrating, we need to take a much closer look at reality and how 50% of the population is struggling.

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Jenn "My kingdom for a nap!" Mom(5)

I'm not sure that men are the ones left worst off after a divorce compared to women, being a family law attorney that's certainly not the scenario I saw most frequently. Women generally earn less, and often have a gap in their employment because they stayed home with the children for at least some period of time (the length of that time period varies) - if they stayed home with the kids and didn't have something arranged with their employer pre-baby about their job still being there for them to go back to, they'd usually need to update their skills before starting a serious job hunt. These days the decision of who gets the house has gotten more contentious, with the court ordering the house be sold and the proceeds split between the parties in a significant proportion of cases.

With the rise of 401ks and the disappearance of defined benefit pensions, it's very much possible for someone to see their income dealt a crushing blow because the investment bankers and hedge funds that were entrusted with the money and responsible for investing it made poor decisions. Medicare doesn't cover everything and healthcare costs go up a lot during the 'golden years'. There have been various private companies who offered employees a pension, but the pension fund failed for different reasons (usually because the employer hadn't kept up on their obligations, sometimes they'd put the money into poor investments and then the business itself began to struggle before ultimately shuttering completely or declaring bankruptcy.)

A cell phone and internet access were once considered 'extras', now the world is such that you have to have a cell phone (landline phone service is almost non-existent these days and the phone companies have begun the process of extricating themselves from the obligation to provide landline service or maintain the copper lines), and you have to have internet access.

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HamiltonGardener

I’m not an expert on the situation in the USA but if commenting on Canada, I agree with Ingrid. We have the exception of healthcare, of course.

I see a lot of poor planning and purchasing decisions by people who should be able to save and live a comfortable life. Multiple vacations to Cuba by someone behind on their mortgage, purchases of expensive jewelry by someone drowning in credit card debt, upsizing houses by people who are already living paycheque to paycheque (current discussion on another thread), and cars. OMG, why do people need the shiny car, Jeep, pickup truck, whatever.


We had one guy who needed a yard to store his multiple toys. Skidoos, Sea-doos, boat, motorcycles, pickup truck modified to be on those oversized wheels... he was telling us how much everything cost, but this guy couldn’t afford his rent. For what he paid for the toys, ho could have purchased his own house with no mortgage. For the cost of his insurance payments on these toys, he could have paid rent.

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Mina

A cell phone and internet access were once considered 'extras', now the world is such that you have to have a cell phone

For many, many people, the internet is accessed only by cell phone. Cable TV and internet service is very expensive.

A cheap phone with a cheap plan will get them online.

17% of students in America don't have internet access at home, a serious impediment in 2019.

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Mina

I see a lot of poor planning and purchasing decisions by people who should be able to save and live a comfortable life.

That's very judgemental

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Stan Areted

Income disparity and being poor are two diferent things.

Our poor are richer than most people in the world.

Mainly, it's their own fault.

Unless someone is not mentally functional, if they can't make it in this country,

it's their own fault.

It's sickening--all these opportunities and people WHINE about what other people have.

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Jenn "My kingdom for a nap!" Mom(5)

Wow, Stan. Good thing we have you to remind us that if someone is poor it's all their fault and they're just whining losers.

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HamiltonGardener

Mina, you are correct. I judge, as does everyone all the time.

Their landlords, mortgage holders, banks, credit card companies, car loan company, local grocery store, utility companies, cell phone company etc will also judge so they can either accept the truth and change some habits, or just sit back and wait for the inevitable.

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dandyfopp

We have the best poor, but if you are poor, there is something wrong upstairs.


Pure unrefined GOP Jesus.

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Stan Areted

"jama"

Of course many people overspend, some are lazy but to assume ALL have the same opportunities, the same skills/ abilities, the same solid childhood education, parenting, the same opportunities where they live, the same ability to afford college..the right skin color that doesn't invoke racism? How wonderfully naive and self righteous you are Stan. It's the usual "Christian" charitable attitude towards their fellow man. I use quotes because I DO know some real Christians.



This comment you made is why discourse is not possible--it's emotional, it assigns a perspective and words that I DID NOT SAY ANYWHERE. You made assumptions, you made a declarative statement about me, you had to bring in "Christian" and attack Christians, you attacked me personally, and none of that had anything to do with the topic. Christianity is not part of the conversation, has nothing to do with why people are truly poor or not.

Your post is a defensive, accusatory, attacking response to try to shore up excuses for not having a plausible response to what I said.

Oh for the days of conversations in this country that aren't hysterical, accusatory, off the head, emotional attacks.

The media and losing has taught you well, how is it working for you?

We see.





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Webuser 107388825(7a)

I don't disagree that some poverty is due to poor management for quite a few people.

We were landlords for over 20 years and saw a lot.

However, there are way to many people in this country that have nothing much to manage after they feed themselves and put a roof over their heads.

And please , please , please stop with this idea that people have a pension.

For most people in the upper tier of workers, pensions are long gone, having been replaced by 401K's . Bad idea as far as I'm concerned because 401K's have to be managed in a way that pensions don't. The skill set required to manage your 401K is not something that can

be taught to everyone. Some people will never be able to be taught the basics of investing.

They just don't have what it takes.

The rest, the vast majority, have no pensions and no 401ks

If you want a currant day example of what happens to a country with great disparity, look to

Venezuela.

The disparity of the upper class and everyone else was huge. The peasants finally rose up.

Wouldn't it be wise to , instead of just screaming socialism, socialism, to

make some policy changes to start to correct the huge wage disparity in this country.

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Ann

"And unlike poor people in countries like Pakistan or Nigeria, American poor people live in a country where things like childcare, medicine, rent and food are very, very expensive."

From the OP. American poor people couldn't even begin to fathom to conditions the poor of Pakistan or Nigeria live with.

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tony jelly

The surest way to become rich is to be born rich, and the surest way to become poor is to be born that way. The lack of social mobility is one cause of the inequality that exists, with CEO's making 400 times what the average worker makes and useless degrees coming with huge debt, and the best universities filled with rich kids destined to be future lawmakers that will guarantee things stay as they are.

Ann says: From the OP. American poor people couldn't even begin to fathom to conditions the poor of Pakistan or Nigeria live with.

I think the point is that in such a rich country like the USA, poverty should not exist. Obviously (and naturally) there would be grades of wealth, but not the disparity we have now that favors a small portion of the population.

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Ann

"Many Americans nowadays don't have the kind of self-control and ability to make do that people had in the past, especially when all the media urge you to buy, buy and buy some more."

My goodness yes! Some of us simply need to look back one or two generations to people we clearly knew and remember well to see this stark difference. I'm in my 60s and how well I remember one black and white TV (which was quite exciting). This was in my own childhood. And, how much more my parents had than my grandparents. My grandmother had her wringer washing machine on the back porch of her tiny home and felt incredibly lucky to have it. When I spent the night, she'd show me how she used it. They never owned a car (but they had a bus stop nearby). Again, this is just one and two generations ago! The expectations now are incredible.

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Ann

"I would say the above paragraph is vastly exaggerated and doesn't hold true for most people. Most people retain their pensions, their incomes are not decimated by investment bankers and they are not charged fortunes for the necessary things in life, unlike in many other countries."

Agreed (this was a poster's response to pensions being raided).

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adoptedbyhounds

A country whose citizens are "too poor to survive whether or not they're working" sounds like a country suffering from poor stewardship.

What benefit do Americans enjoy from the imported poverty all around us?

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Ann

"I see a lot of poor planning and purchasing decisions by people who should be able to save and live a comfortable life. Multiple vacations to Cuba by someone behind on their mortgage, purchases of expensive jewelry by someone drowning in credit card debt, upsizing houses by people who are already living paycheque to paycheque (current discussion on another thread), and cars. OMG, why do people need the shiny car, Jeep, pickup truck, whatever.


We had one guy who needed a yard to store his multiple toys. Skidoos, Sea-doos, boat, motorcycles, pickup truck modified to be on those oversized wheels... he was telling us how much everything cost, but this guy couldn’t afford his rent. For what he paid for the toys, ho could have purchased his own house with no mortgage. For the cost of his insurance payments on these toys, he could have paid rent."

So true and extremely common.

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Ann

"I see a lot of poor planning and purchasing decisions by people who should be able to save and live a comfortable life.

That's very judgemental"

You may view it as judgmental, but it's very common and a very fair statement!

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Ann

"Our poor are richer than most people in the world."

True!

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HamiltonGardener

Ann, and Mina,


Regarding the poor spending and planning decisions, keep in mind that I stated I was talking about people who SHOULD be able to save money and get ahead. I am not talking about people in low wage or minimum wage jobs.


There are many middle class earners, even upper middle class, who are struggling to pay credit card debt or mortgages, rent, etc yet buy new (status symbol) cars, bigger houses, vacations, jewelry while bemoaning their inability to save or have a retirement fund.

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Chi

There's no denying that the cost of living has skyrocketed and wages have been stagnant for many years. I made $10 an hour as a teenager in 1996, where you could buy a home in CA for less than $150k. Now, minimum wage is only $2 more and good luck buying a house in this area for less than $800k.

And let's not pretend that all low-income people are those who didn't bother, or were too lazy, to educate themselves. There are many low paying but essential jobs that require education, like teaching, social work, just to name a few. We should want highly educated, professional people teaching and caring for our children, but the economic issues in this country have forced many wonderful teachers into other careers.

And just educating yourself is not as easy as it was in the 70's, where a part time job could pay for college. Now someone is looking at $200k in tuition for a bachelors degree. That's not exactly an option for everyone.

And yes, we all have anecdotes of some irresponsible people but I think most people are doing their best to get by in the world increasingly stacked against people of modest means.

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arthurm2015(Micro-Climate, Zone 10b Sydney, Australia)

Way up above, I mentioned the Australian Minimum wage which is among the highest in the world in US Dollar terms. "we will all be rooned!" .

Perhaps not, there is trickle up theory!





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Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

This income inequality issue is not my cup of tea.

I believe American taxpayers should not support the profits of low wage employers like Walmart. There needs to be a way to ensure those who have the least skills and power are not totally taken advantage of with us paying the tab in the end.

In addition, I think we need universal healthcare. I would like to see an end to the mortgage interest deduction. And I would like to see some reform to how public K-12 education is paid for. Tying public school funding to the price of my house is cruel.

I am sure there are other worthy policy issues that need addressing, but, I also strongly believe also everything Ingrid wrote. Too many people expect too much luxury.

People complain about the cost of housing- have they considered how much bigger their houses are today than in the 1950s? Consider how little people used to eat out, or buy $5 cups of coffee (loaded with sugary syrups, no less.) Manicures and eyebrow grooming salons exist inside of Walmarts in low income areas. How on earth is that possible? I saw it with my own eyes in Apopka, Florida last year. The median income for Apopka is 37k per year. And while real estate is cheap there, I don't see how that income supports those luxuries.

Of course there are some people who truly struggle. But there are far more self inflicted problems, from not prioritizing education, using drugs, having children before you can afford them, these things happen a whole lot, sadly.

Focus on policies that need addressing. Stop complaining about what other people have. If you think they got what they have unjustly, look to the policies or laws you disagree with and deal with those. But waving this income inequality flag around willy-nilly is not going to change a single thing.

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Jenn "My kingdom for a nap!" Mom(5)

Walmart has been introducing automation in some of their stores, as time goes by, there will be more of that until all of their stores have robots checking shelf inventory and cleaning the floors (after a human employee re-trains them every time the layout is changed so that holiday stuff can be put out in the ideal places and various other things are moved around...The current model robot that does the floors has to be reprogrammed every time there's the slightest change in the retail/public facing floor layout or it runs into things. People shopping have done things like kick the robots - the floor cleaner and the one that goes through and scans the shelves to make sure that the items are in the right place according to the barcodes of both shelf and item. Some have told the store employees (the human ones) that the robots creep them out.) So, never fear my fellow citizens, automation will completely change retail.

And by change, I mean that stores will have robots doing most things and very few jobs for humans.

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Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

We have been aware of this trend for decades. There is nothing new about automation- especially for unskilled jobs. Archie Bunker knew Meathead had to get an education in 1970.

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don_socal

This song is getting more popular recently.





Lyrics
Then that's got shall have
Them that's not shall lose
So the Bible said and it still is news
Mama, may have, papa, may have
But God, bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own

Yes, the strong gets more
While the weak one's fade
Empty pockets don't, ever make the grade
Mama, may have, papa, may have
But God, bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own

Money, you've got lots of friends
They're crowding 'round your door
But when you're gone and spending ends
They don't come no more
Rich relations give
Crusts of bread and such
You can help yourself
But don't take too much
Mama, may have, papa, may have
But God, bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own

Money, you've got lots of friends
They're crowding 'round your door
But when you're gone and spending ends
They don't come no more
Rich relations give
Crusts of bread and such
You can help yourself
But don't take too much
Mama, may have, papa, may have
But God, bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own
He just don't worry about nothin'
'Cause he's got his own
Yes he's got his own
Songwriters: BILLIE HOLIDAY / ARTHUR HERZOG JR

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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

Being well groomed is a job requirement for most people. That can include nails and eyebrows.

If it's a requirement for employment, it's not a luxury.

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Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

Seriously people need help doing their own nails and eyebrows? I absolutely do not buy that. Keeping your nails trimmed and clean, and your eyebrows tweezed was once something all middle class people did on their own. When I was a child manicure places did not exist on every street corner. They were in fancy salons like Elizabeth Arden. The mothers at my country club in Dallas did their own nails most of the time. Manicures were for special occasions. Talk about luxury creep.

I will tell you a true story from 1994- which is right around the time all the cheap nail salons started popping up. I was on the North Shore of Long Island getting my nails done. I am chatting away with the woman doing my nails- she is an older German immigrant who still has a heavy accent. I don't remember what I said that precipitated the following comment: So long as there are dummies like you, I will always earn a decent living in places like this.

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catkinZ8a


Umair Haque is a London-based consultant. He is director of Havas Media Lab, founder of Bubblegeneration and frequent tweeter and contributor to the online Harvard Business Review. Haque’s initial training was in neuroscience. He studied at McGill University in Canada, went on to do an MBA at London Business School and is the author of The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business (2011).


LOL!

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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

Rita I never said going to the salon was a requirement...

But yes, it is about "luxury creep" if that's what you want to call it.

Given all the vast wealth represented by the USA, a $20 manicure should not be beyond the reach of anybody.

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catkinZ8a


What a JOKE this guy Umair Haque is.

"Why are American kids killing each other? Why doesn’t their society care enough to intervene? Well, probably because those kids have given up on life — and their elders have given up on them. Or maybe you’re right — and it’s not that simple. Still, what do the kids who aren’t killing each other do? Well, a lot of them are busy killing themselves.

Why would people abuse opioids en masse unlike anywhere else in the world? They must be living genuinely traumatic and desperate lives, in which there is little healthcare, so they have to self-medicate the terror away. But what is so desperate about them? Well, consider another example: the “nomadic retirees”. They live in their cars. They go from place to place, season after season, chasing whatever low-wage work they can find — spring, an Amazon warehouse, Christmas, Walmart.

In no other country I can see do retirees who should have been able to save up enough to live on now living in their cars in order to find work just to go on eating before they die — not even in desperately poor ones, where at least families live together, share resources, and care for one another. This is another pathology of collapse that is unique to America — utter powerlessness to live with dignity. Numbers don’t capture it — but comparisons paint a bleak picture".

And on and on and on...

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Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

Given all the vast wealth represented by the USA, a $20 manicure should not be beyond the reach of anybody.

I do not believe non-essential goods should be in everyone's reach. They can be if you save your money, build up your skills, and are prudent in your affairs. This is a rich country. You can earn the money. It's a matter of priorities and will, not entitlement.

And yo know why we have such cheap manicures, right? Immigrants + exploitation. But that is a whole other kettle of fish.

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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

I think this discussion has been had before; I'm sure of it in fact.

Little luxuries that used to be easily attainable now have to be saved for.

Necessities (I'm talking food water shelter) have to be put in priority queues. Do I eat today, or do I have enough money at the end of the month to pay next month's rent on time?

If the economy really is growing, if we are on the right path with our economic system, life will get easier and more luxurious for everyone. It isn't a question of work ethic or valuing the "right" things. Either the system benefits all (excluding those who choose to opt out of which there will always be some) or the system can be improved.

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Webuser 107388825(7a)

Yes Archie knew Meathead needed to get an education. But......................


Education is getting less and less affordable for people. $25,000 a year in my state.

Have you looked at costs for trade schools.

This is an example of costs in my area for beauty schools.





Probably easily doable for you and easily doable for me. But, probably not very doable for

the people who want to be a beautician.


yes, some people don't manage their money well.

Yes, some choose to spend it on unnecessary things. Yes, some live in too big of a house.

However it is simply wrong to assume that the reason all people can't get ahead is due to poor management.

As a landlord for multiple properties for over 20 years I saw it all. I could out story all of you .

If the blame is put on the increasing automation, how is it that other countries are

managing so much better than we are













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ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9

I don't believe that a country as large and diverse as the US can survive without socialized medicine, childcare and education. So much of the hardship that dogs lower-income people, and even those in higher brackets, could be eliminated. The runaway spending of the military and the entitlement of the rich, when done away with, could easily pay for these necessities. The corruption and waste in this country under the present system in the political and economic arena, bolstered by laws enacted by entrenched Republican politicians, keep us on a merry-go-round that only the entitled few can enjoy.

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Linda

Pension? That's what a lot of people had back in the good old days. Even then many didn't have it. Employee-provided health insurance? Hard to remember...but it's only for the very few nowadays. Now they're trying to take Obamacare, Medicaid and Medicare away. Ouch!

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catkinZ8a

lol.

Where are the 2019 figures showing all the college professors/administrators salaries?

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Ann

"Being well groomed is a job requirement for most people. That can include nails and eyebrows.

If it's a requirement for employment, it's not a luxury."

This is ridiculous IMO. One can groom their own nails and eyebrows. I'm in my 60s and I've never in my life spent a dime on my eyebrows (outside of the cost of tweezers). I've had one manicure and never had a pedicure, though I once paid for a toe polish change only while traveling and didn't have my DIY supplies with me. I'm groomed and I worked in a white collar career as well as management for years of my career. While I agree it's tough to paint one's own fingers (and with house cleaning, gardening, and such, I prefer mine natural - always clean and nicely filed), toes are quite accessible and with a little practice and a few supplies, one can do a fine job themselves. My grandmothers were also very well groomed without any of these services done for them. My mom paid for lots of unnecessary stuff. I live in CO where I don't wear open toe shoes in the winter months and during those months, I don't paint my toes. After a month or so of no polish my nails are so healthy looking. After a summer of polish, they require polish. So, I think it's very healthy to give your nails a natural break. In any case, I think it's silly to think that people need manicures, pedicures, and eyebrow waxing to be and look groomed!

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Ann

Lol, I hadn't yet read Rita's comment when I typed mine. Rita, complete agreement from me!

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Ann

"Given all the vast wealth represented by the USA, a $20 manicure should not be beyond the reach of anybody."

Are you joking?

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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

"Are you joking?"

About which part?

Never mind, it doesn't matter. I'm not joking.

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jama7(6)

Have you looked at costs for trade schools.

This is an example of costs in my area for beauty schools.

____________

Holy smokes. My sis is a stylist and went to beauty school 40 yrs ago for $1000 per yr/2 yr program. So now they're at least 10x per year more according to those figures. Astounding for trade schools. I know we're desperate for tradesmen...maybe that's part of the reason!

Wages are kinda falling behind me thinks .....

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blfenton

When I went to university 40 years ago $600 would take care tuition for the year, books, parking pass and all fees. The cost is now way more than 10x and minimum wage is not 10x.

There was a quick news report the other night about debt cases for those in the 20-30 year old age group, rising 16% from last year to this which is the biggest growth in several years. The reason given - FOMO.

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HU9999

Nitpicking over whether someone should pay $20 for a manicure or do their own is missing the point. Intentional? I don't know.

The point is the income disparity in this country is ridiculous and getting worse. Tony said it well -

CEO's making 400 times what the average worker makes and useless degrees coming with huge debt, and the best universities filled with rich kids destined to be future lawmakers that will guarantee things stay as they are.

I think the point is that in such a rich country like the USA, poverty should not exist. Obviously (and naturally) there would be grades of wealth, but not the disparity we have now that favors a small portion of the population.

Of course there are some irresponsible people that won't or can't manage their finances. There were those back in the day too. But I think they're a small percentage of the problem. The problem is wages are not rising but cost of living is. The problem is CEOs are raking in all the money while those working for them cannot get ahead. It's wrong.

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Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

Goodness, what a simple solution to your problem. CEO pay is all that is the matter. That should be easily fixed, after all most shares in public companies are held by retirement plans. Surely those workers don't want to compensate CEOs extravagantly without merit.

I have no idea if you are being intentionally ignorant or not, but railing against CEO pay can be addressed by shareholders- and most shareholders are average Americans. All they have to do is put their money where their mouth is.

https://www.businessinsider.com/who-actually-owns-the-stock-market-2016-5

As I said before, the focus should be on public policies that can address injustices. Neither the Democrats, nor the Republicans are going to run a platform that changes CEO compensation, because they can't. CEO compensation is not subject to SEC regulations. But you go ahead and stoke resentment all you want. It's so much simpler than thinking about policies and laws.

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ubro(2a)

Given all the vast wealth represented by the USA, a $20 manicure should not be beyond the reach of anybody.

I agree miss lindsey, I am considering that the $20 is used as a treat and in that context everyone should have the ability to have a spare $20 a month to do something nice for themselves or others, that is not too much to ask. Either you spend it on a manicure once a month, the movies, pizza, or a trip to the zoo.


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tony jelly

Are we assuming that it a choice between a $20 manicure and a hot meal for the family if so we have definitely resurrected the Drama Queen corpse?


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arthurm2015(Micro-Climate, Zone 10b Sydney, Australia)

Car Park Members are alive and well at the local golf course. I do not know of a good Universal term for them. We even have them at the local orchid Society.... they turn up, enjoy the refreshments at the break after General Business and NEVER buy a raffle ticket.

These guys and gals just enjoy not spending money and every country has a population overload of them.

I've related before how I started work many many years ago filling the inkwells in an Actuarial Department. Go forward years years and my Daughter with a University Degree starts work in the Mail department of an organisation.

At least she didn't start work with a Student Loan Debt.

So, like everything else choosing a course to study at college or uni is a lottery.

At least this thread has some sensible discussion. Not the usual political nonsense.

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Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

No, tony, I am not arguing about the difference between $20 and a meal. I am arguing that the $20 manicure and the $5 latte need to go in the $400 emergency fund, which reliable sources tell us most Americans do not possess. Once that is funded, I would suggest the discretionary income be tucked away for skills improvement so that - wait for it- you can get to the point where you can waste $20 on whatever you like. There are many ways of improving your skill set- not all of them involve a full formal education. Classes in coding and welding for example are available and do not cost a fortune.

Not being well off means not having much discretionary income. I have been there. I bet lots of people have. Knowing the difference between needs and wants and planning for the future matters. Because if you can forgo luxuries for a little while now, you will be able to have some of them in the future.

Is personal responsibility the only problem we face in this country WRT to poor people? No. We have social and institutional responsibilities we are shirking. I have made that abundantly clear. And unlike the income inequality chorus's chant of coveting their neighbor's goods, I offer concrete policy changes that need to be addressed.

Health care- get everyone covered. De-couple this from employment. Look to Germany and Singapore as well as Canada and France for possible models. Stop pretending there is only one possible solution and then rejecting that solution think the work is done.

K-12 education- stop tying the price of your parents' home/neighborhood to the quality of your public school education. That is not right. Poor children are being trapped this way.

Exploitive employers who profit from taxpayer subsidies for their employees

Mortgage interest deduction (this fuels the upper middle class, while subsidizing the real estate and banking industries- no need for it.)

Unless you are post-economic, you have to make trade-offs and sacrifices with your money. As the Chinese say, Eat bitter today.


EDITED to add explanations to my policy issues on k-12 and healthcare.

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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

Rita, I'm completely unaware of how old you are and I'm curious.

How long did it take you to reach the point where you could pay your bills (for necessities), tuck away an emergency fund ($400 is not even close to enough btw. That will feed a family of 4 for about a month but doesn't pay their rent/mortgage, gas, heating/cooling, utilities, phone), be able to save for the future/kids/retirement, pay down your student loans, and have $20 to spend on something nice just for you?

I am a strong proponent for living at or below our means, for prioritizing necessities and charity first, and have an almost professional level ability to make do with less. I have no interest in taking anything that belongs to anyone else.

But I can still see the truth that people are taking longer to get to a point where they are doing more than treading water than they used to.

I can't see the truth in our "fantastic economy" when people who work tirelessly are still caught in a cycle of precarious finances and living paycheck to paycheck.

Something is broken in the system when that happens imo.

ETA I completely agree with the policies you want to focus on.

ETA again: my curiosity is not about your age, but about my following thoughts :)

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Ann

You asked Rita, but I think reaching financial security takes a very long time for many a family. It did for us, but I'm not sure we ever expected anything but a long road with super careful budgeting for years and years and years. Earlier, we talked about previous generations and their ability and willingness to do without. It's a good plan and it still works. It's just that many people have grown to have significantly different expectations these days.

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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

But what does "a very long time" mean?

Late 20s, 30s, 40s?

I'm defining this not as "I can buy/do/go wherever I want."

I'm defining it as "I can pay all my bills, save a little, and still have money for a cup of coffee out or a manicure or a new book or a magazine subscription" or whatever you're little indulgences are.

I don't mind answering it, we were in our mid-late 30s when we achieved that, and we had three enormous advantages:

-no student loans due to having less expensive post secondary schooling. Neither of us works in our field (well, we work in our literal fields haha). I spent about $5000 on two years of post secondary, Husband spent about $12,000 total for four years. Neither of us entered the marriage with student debt.

-free room and board for about 13 years while we were living on the farm, before we bought our own place. Our only housing expenses were upkeep on the trailer, electricity, and firewood.

-healthy support from the government via tax credits, child tax benefits, and the Canada Child Benefit. Of course other social programs like MSP helped us in a way that people living in the US don't have access to as well.

From my childhood, the adults I remember as being well settled and on good financial footing as I described above were so from about their late 20s/very early 30s. They all had their mortgages paid off in their mid 40s-50s, and had the "toys" on top of that.

In my generation, people aren't thinking of purchasing a house until they are in their mid-30s or later, if then. They aren't expecting to have it paid off until they are in their 60s.

Do I not have a firm grasp on reality? I'm asking sincerely, my perceptions might be very wrong and/or my childhood experiences might be anomalies.

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Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

Lindsey, I am 50. I agree, $400 is not much of a cushion, but that is the figure we hear about people not being able to lay their hands on. Answering your question about how long it took me to be able to afford small splurges is really difficult to say. My financial life went in some stages. Schooling for me, marriage, grad school for my husband, being a stay at home mother, living in Northern California, these seasons of my life all had different financial flavors WRT what I could afford.

I am not sure I understand your question. I have never been truly poor since I have always had a strong education, even out of high school while I was an undergrad and grad student I was able to earn more money than many of my peers. I realize I am fortunate. I won the birth lottery of a loving, educated, upper middle class family. But I still had trade offs to make. Most everyone has to make sacrifices for some period of time. It is best if you can look at the sacrifices kindly.

I am sorry, I don't think I have answered your question. I wrote a much longer and more detailed reply that was way more than anyone would ever want to know about my life what I have struggled with financially- but I don't think that go to your point any better.

I have nothing but sympathy for people who are born into hardships. And nothing but contempt for corrupt people who exploit them. At some point you have to exercise control over the factors you have agency over.

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Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

Lindsey, I spent so much time writing and rewriting my answer I did;t see your latest post. I will ponder and answer it shortly.

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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

Thanks for answering Rita :)

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Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

Again, my answer would be long and complicated. My husband and I were good students. We had full scholarships- he had stipends even. But we lived in a two bedroom, one bath, 800 square foot rental house for two decades- and that is with four children. However- we had money in the bank, sent our children to private school, could afford plenty of small luxuries since we were in our mid-20s- but not a decent house- no international travel until our children were in their teens. We chose to invest in my husband's company. It was the right decision in the end. We bought our first house outright in our mid 40s.

There is no cookie cutter answer. I realize my life is extremely different from most people's. My childhood was very different from most as well- in good ways and bad ones too, so I have no clue what normal people's financial lives were like back then.

I can tell you there was only one other couple in our circle of friends who chose to rent all these years (aside from our friends who are expats). Everybody else we knew bought a house within a year or two of finishing grad school.

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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

I appreciate you elaborating Rita. It sounds like even though you've made sacrifices in the interest of accomplishing a goal, you've always had the financial ability to be able to set goals and also to choose between "optional" spending opportunities (school tuition and investing in a business rather than taking on a mortgage). Is that a good summary?

That's the American/Canadian/world reality I believe every human deserves.

I really do believe we can change our systems so that people who work hard and use their money wisely actually come out ahead at the end of it all, and it has nothing to do with wanting to take something that someone else has worked hard for.

(I would obviously be really interested in other people's experiences too.)

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Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

I don't think I have ever accused you of Bolshevism, Lindsey ;-)

I have no problem with improving our safety net and paying my fair share. My husband and I have always paid our taxes cheerfully.

Your assessment is right, to a point. I have had a lot of choices, that is true. I earned most all of them- aside from what I consider the most important which is the family I come from- and I don't mean that financially at all.

I went to school for eight years on scholarships, and worked most all that time. I planned my studies, my extracurriculars and my work with the goal of being able to have a successful, professional career. Some of the jobs I took were unpaid, but I felt offered important experience. There were no semesters abroad, no spring breaks at the beach, just a lot of work, which honestly I enjoyed and felt privileged to have the opportunities I had. None of it was given to me without my doing a lot in return.

What do you propose we do differently?

One of the subjects I am most vocal about on HT is immigration. I think there is precious better evidence of how it is quite possible to come out ahead in this country, no matter where you come from (the exception to that being people who come from abusive, addicted, negligent families.)


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tony jelly

The failing of 'personal responsibility,' or lack of is that it is presented as the cause of the problems being discussed here, and this shifts the blame. The anecdotal evidence that it is possible to rise above the situation you were born into offers nothing to address why those conditions exist in the first place. What we see is the development of a subculture determined to survive the best they can, a big difference between the 'then' talked about, and now is one that the gap between them and us has never been wider, and that difference is more visible now. There is also the fact that materialism has overtaken spirituality or any sense of common good, and a devil takes the hindmost attitude.

Many of the causes could be easily addressed without removing personal responsibility, but laying the blame for poverty on the poor is not in the least helpful.


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jama7(6)

My comment here isn't going to point fingers so maybe let's not go there but just try and imagine "pulling up your bootstraps" at like 10 yrs old. There are farrrr too many factors that can impact income levels and your "lot in life".

Having been blessed with a vivid imagination and a habit of observing people, I often imagine how almost impossible it would be to be a child born into poverty. To try and rise above my circumstances? That kid doesn't even see other lives and what's possible other than what's on TV and that's not a great influence IMHO so he/she isn't even really familiar with what's possible...it's a kid! IF they do see what they want, they certainly don't know or have the tools necessary to get there. He/she just sees what they see every day. To be without many, if any role models, to do well in school (or even think of doing well in school) despite probably having parents( and more commonly one parent who's working 2-3 jobs and not around much) to whom education wasn't a positive experience. To have a poor diet, to live in a depressing, dirty low income neighborhood while seeing others much luckier than youself, to go to a less than stellar inner city school system all the while surrounded by other kids and gangs constantly trying to convert you to a life of violence and perhaps easy $$ from dealing drugs or taking drugs yourself as an escape. To observe shootings, death, abuse on a pretty regular basis. You're beat before you're even out of the gate. The will and and inherent intelligence and/or talent such as a sport that it takes to pull out of this has to be exceptional and far from common; those are the outliers who escape PERMANENTLY. Just really try and put that kid's shoes on; I'm betting no one here commenting grew up like that.

They're punched down before they even hit pre K... If they go. It doesn't matter if the blame lies with their parents; if they're in jail, drug dealers or whatever. That KID didn't ask to be born into that and what he/she sees dictates their view on life..which isn't terrific. The birth lottery is at work here and so the awful cycle continues....




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dandyfopp

Six years olds begging for donations so her classmates don't go hungry.

Maybe Eva will come up with a plan to help her classmates afford college.

Let's hope so.




https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Living/year-collects-1000-jars-pbj-classmates-meal/story?id=63563693&cid=social_twitter_abcn


A little girl with a big heart is ensuring none of her classmates will ever go hungry by collecting jars of her favorite food combination, peanut butter and jelly.

Eva Chapman has donated 1,033 pieces of PB&J to nine schools including her own. Strangers as far as Canada have donated jars to the 6-year-old's cause.

"It's just been such a wonderful outpouring of support," mom Nicole Chapman of Florida told "Good Morning America." "For whatever reason, this really just touched people and moved them. I'm very proud of her. She has a huge heart."

Eva, a soon-to-be first grader at Spruce Creek Elementary School in Port Orange, launched her project in mid-April. Eva told her mom she wanted to have a food drive after learning a fellow classmate might not have enough to eat at home.

"She got fixated on [another child] she went to school with," Chapman said. "It became apparent to me that [the child] didn't have a great home life. My advice to her was, 'Go ahead and love from afar because they don't have everything you have."

Chapman said her daughter's school offers free and reduced hot lunch to students whose families struggle financially. Eva knows this, but wondered what those kids have to eat when they're at home.

So with the help of her mom, Eva launched a kid-friendly food drive where in true 6-year-old fashion, she aimed to gather a whopping 10 million jars of PB&J.

While she hasn't reached her overly ambitious goal, mom said Eva is thrilled with the outcome.

"We are getting more and more peanut butter and jelly so we could have some for the children that have hot lunch and so they could have peanut butter and jelly for the summer," Eva said in a video interview with Volusia County Schools.

Eva's PB&J campaign has been featured on local news and in turn, inspired spin-off projects in nearby schools.

"Other parents, other students, other schools and even other districts I'm hearing, students are following her lead and wanting to impact other students in a positive way and make sure that no kids go hungry over the summer break," said Spruce Creek's principal Andrea Hall.

Chapman said Eva is very thankful to those who contributed to her cause.

"It's quantifiable to her at this young age when she sees all the jars come and go from our house, from my office," Chapman added. "She can feel that sense of pride and accomplishment and I think more than anything else, she's happy that she was able to help other kids."

The Chapmans have been advertising Eva's PB&J drive in the Facebook group Gabriella’s Light, where they promote an annual diaper drive in memory of their still born daughter.

Eva's school was able to start a food pantry with some of the jars she collected.

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Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

jama, I have spent years working with the kind of poverty you are referring to. I do not think you can make economic policy for the country based on that kind of poverty. I have seen what this population looks like up close and personal. I have worked with a non-profit that tries to help parents regain custody of their children once CPS steps in. There are no good or easy answers. There are generations of families who are trapped by substance abuse. I cannot fathom how some children manage to climb out of a hole that deep. I know we have one regular popster here who is a foster parent. Some of those foster parents are absolute angels, selfless people doing work that is emotionally hard. Some foster parents are just doing a job. And consider, my experience was working with people who had found an advocacy group to help put a floor under them. To get them treatment, therapy, social services, parenting and nutrition classes, mentors and doctors all working to get their families back together- and the success rate was dismal. What about the people who were left to their own devices to navigate all that?

I have listed the four policy areas I think need addressing to help people get to the middle class and stay there.

That would not be the same plan that would help people facing generational poverty. I have yet to see a plan to tackle that problem. It is utterly heart breaking for the children born into such distress.

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Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

The Rosalie Rendu Center in East Palo Alto does an amazing job of helping people move out of poverty. Here is some information about what they do and how they do it. I have worked with this organization for over 20 years.

https://www.rosalie-rendu-center.org




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Ann

"I went to school for eight years on scholarships, and worked most all that time. I planned my studies, my extracurriculars and my work with the goal of being able to have a successful, professional career. Some of the jobs I took were unpaid, but I felt offered important experience. There were no semesters abroad, no spring breaks at the beach, just a lot of work, which honestly I enjoyed and felt privileged to have the opportunities I had. None of it was given to me without my doing a lot in return."

This is such a great attitude. Everyone can just imagine how a potential employer would have viewed young Rita in some of her first interviews!

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jama7(6)

That would not be the same plan that would help people facing generational poverty. I have yet to see a plan to tackle that problem. It is utterly heart breaking for the children born into such distress.

____________________

Agreed. That's why I said in my post, please don't point fingers. It's a complex, many layered series of conditions that are going to be very difficult to solve. Economic policies would only be part of a solution and even then, it would still be a very long term process and surely never successful for all. But..we have to try something.

I agree pretty much with your 4 suggestions re: healthcare for all, education not being dependent upon how great a neighborhood you live in etc. Think about healthcare for a moment everyone. A private company having to provide for your heathcare coverage is more acceptable than the govt?? Now that's plain weird. So you could only get a good deal and coverage if you are of working age...or had a parent/spouse working....maybe. Some plans make putting a family member on almost prohibitive. How supremely ridiculous! Thank goodness for Medicare for seniors huh?? Darn socialist plans! It's also one reason so many people are in poverty because so many employers stop right at a 30 hr work week so they can avoid having to provide benefits. Other's keep wages low to compensate for the costs of healthcare.

How did this come about? The corporate healthcare biz began in the 30's when BC/BS saw a whole new way to profit and laid out plans for companies to offer it. The second motivator was when wages were frozen during WW2 and to compete for a shortage of workers, companies began offering it...and so it began. But it shouldn't be a private companies responsibility when it impacts the entire populace and general welfare of a country. (it's also supremely unfair to companies) That's when govt should step in; to promote the best life possible for and to protect it's citizens.

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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

No time to comment, I have so much to say!

Will watch Rita's posted video at a more opportune time :)

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jama7(6)


Ann

"I went to school for eight years on scholarships, and worked most all that time. I planned my studies, my extracurriculars and my work with the goal of being able to have a successful, professional career. Some of the jobs I took were unpaid, but I felt offered important experience. There were no semesters abroad, no spring breaks at the beach, just a lot of work, which honestly I enjoyed and felt privileged to have the opportunities I had. None of it was given to me without my doing a lot in return."

This is such a great attitude. Everyone can just imagine how a potential employer would have viewed young Rita in some of her first interviews!

_______________

Yep and I know this wasn't highly unusual in terms of how of our Boomer generation lived; maybe not all on scholarships or grad school oriented but other than that pretty identical. I grew up in a solid middle class neighborhood/somewhat affluent town and I don't know anyone my age who had a car or who had one bought for them, took spring breaks, went abroad, didn't work part time or FT summers and didn't have to contribute towards or totally pay for college while working. We lived in crap rentals and closely counted our pennies...and I mean PENNIES. When I was out of college, my guy and I were broke, having just started new jobs, out of food once and sat down one night and counted our "door stopper" pennies. It got us a carton of eggs, milk and a brownie mix...yes we were young...how practical! I never remember feeling cheated or even remotely angry about it. I looked at many others around me on the bus/subway and felt fortunate. I always wonder how/why did the next generation turn out so differently from so many of us, so entitled?? So poor with their money, addicted to credit cards like a drug? Many factors beyond just parenting I suppose because I know very few Boomers who spoiled their children to the degree that those kids felt they were owed so much.

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batyabeth

"It’s people who expected to live better and better lives finding
themselves in the grim, unfamiliar predicament of never being able to
reach them, no matter what they do."

I am 62 years old. I did everything "right". I now have basically nothing, except a no-mortgage one bedroom, which I consider to be my only financial saving grace. No health insurance in the US, and the Social Security I can expect will be the absolute lowest amount. I am terrified of being elderly and broke. I pay my bills and buy nothing except food - don't go out, clothes second hand or on sale, and I don't have a car. I have been poor enough to be hungry with three hungry kids, who are all grown now, and two of them married, working and financially stable enough to not be scared anymore. Bless them, they learned how to be financially responsible the hard way, but they learned. Now they worry about me. I made good choices, saved, worked hard and raised good men. I have to work another 2-3 years to get a teacher's pension (in Israel) which, if things work the way they should, might make sure at least I'm not hungry, but that's about it. I'm one paycheck away from disaster, and I didn't do anything wrong, nor was I spend-y or foolish with money.

I know about personal responsibility. Know all about it, thank you very much. But my expectations and dreams and hopes of not being scared throughout my older years have been blown out of the water. The grim, unfamiliar predicament of never being able to
reach them, no matter what they do,
is my new reality. And I am virtually certain that I am not alone.

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blfenton

I've been thinking about this thread and batyabeth's post prompted me to comment.

The new emerging and quickly growing group of the "poor" are seniors with the biggest group of those being women - either widowed or divorced. They (seniors) did everything right but if they have a pension, it isn't keeping pace with costs, many were/are unsophisticated investors and may not have made educated choices, many put their kids first by paying university tuition and helping with down payments and so depleting their own capital or borrowed against their own home to pay those bills and so also depleted the equity in their homes.

Medical costs naturally increase as one ages, the costs of assisted living are ever-increasing - I don't know how many are going to make it

Women are even in a more precarious position with having earned, in general, less than men their pensions are smaller, investment portfolios are smaller and that's making the assumption that either actually exist..


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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

I've been thinking about this post too.

I'd like to answer this question:

"What do you propose we do differently?"

There are a few things I'd like to see done differently. Most of my suggestions involve disrupting the systems at play in the lives of children. After batyabeth's comment I see I have a lot more thinking to do!

-I mentioned how much tax credits and Canada child benefit have helped us. The CCB functions somewhat like universal basic income, in that every family with children receives a payment each month. It has made a big difference for us, making it easier to say "yes" to things like piano lessons, horseback riding, etc. I am almost completely sold on the UBI idea.

-I would completely overhaul the education system. Year round school (on paper, I like 6/7 weeks on, 2/1 weeks off). Fluid grade levels or none at all for ages 4-12 yrs. So that a child (like my daughter) who can't read at age 8 but can do higher math can work at their level, at their speed, without holding back the rest of the class or being pulled out. Or one like my son, who is far ahead of the older grade in his split class in all areas can work up to his potential. That would be more possible with year round school because instead of learning in fits and starts (and spending weeks and weeks re-learning in September), it would be a continuous process. Year round school would be beneficial to kids who are either low-income or in precarious financial situations because they would have consistent access to services that are provided through schools. The two weeks off might be a stretch but nothing like 2-3 months. It could be beneficial to parents too, who might end up paying less for childcare and vacation programs for their kids. The Sept-June school year exists because during the founding of our countries farm kids were needed in the fields during the summer. No longer an issue.

-In high population areas I would run duo session high schools. One session would go from 8-2:30, the next would go from 3:30-10. It sounds kind of crazy, but it would result in twice as many students being able to use the same facility. In our community there are almost as many students in portables (mobile classrooms parked in a field or parking lot) as there are in the school building. It is a less than ideal learning situation, with no windows, no AC, far from the main building (bathrooms, lockers, etc). The school district has no money to build the extra 1/3 more (or higher) capacity they need. I'd rather send my high schoolers to school in the afternoon-evening than have them spend half their days in an airless box. They would probably learn better at that time of day too. Yes, I know that it would cost school districts more in salaries and bussing (but not more in energy costs or heat/AC since building temps are maintained 24/7 and much less than brand new schools). It's job creation! And investing in the future by giving kids the best shot at a great education.

-daycares at most schools. Convenient for parents so that it is easier for them to work, convenient for teachers who have kids, potentially a source of revenue for school districts, and it could potentially make it easier for teen parents to stay in school.

-universal health care (including optometry and dentistry).

Whew.

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haydayhayday

How to retire with a million dollars:

Don't have three kids.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2018/02/26/raising-child-costs-233-610-you-financially-prepared-parent/357243002/

" Raising a child costs $233,610. Are you financially prepared to be a parent?"

Hay

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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

I can guarantee you we will spend nowhere near that amount per kid. The cost per kid goes down as more kids are born too.

They can all wear the same clothes, sleep in the same crib, get buckled into the same carseat. If the first costs 233,000 the next probably costs 100,000. The third costs about $5. That's a little joke.

Hay's article's number includes a college education (which kids can reasonably be expected to save towards as well) and seems to inexplicably also include fertility treatments or adoption costs which are hardly universal.

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arthurm2015(Micro-Climate, Zone 10b Sydney, Australia)

I wonder how many people retire with Hay's one million dollars in mind Or plan to have no more than two children. Lol.

In our household, the Dragon Woman sets the plans and her main ambition was to have a Daughter. Just say the first two born were, horror upon horrors boys, no doubt there might have been another child.

I retired aged 55 purely because I designed a system at work that made me obsolete. Plan X included my retirement job and income on being a house hubby.

Plan X only lasted a year or two. Sigh!




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Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

Ann, your comment was incredibly sweet & kind. Thank you.

batyabeth, I am so sorry you find yourself in a precarious financial position after a lifetime of hard work.

jama7, yes, of course.

blfenton, there is a policy issue that should have been addressed eons ago, companied being allowed to renew on pensions, all the while executives tear apart the firm's assets and enrich themselves. It seems almost too late to do anything about this issue. Do any employees have company pensions anymore, outside of public sector ones? The public sector ones where I live are a menace to our state's fiscal stability, but that is a topic for another time.

lindsey, I never thought to translate the Canadian childcare dividend into a framework for thinking about UBI. How interesting, something to think more about.

Has the extra childcare money resulted in increased fertility rates, so that the Canadian equivalent of Social Security is better funded than here, where our demographics are completely upside down?

You have clearly given great thought to how to better make use of our schools. I think grouping children by ability as opposed to age is a reform a long time in coming. And I think it makes great sense to use schools year round and expand how those campuses are used.

We need to also find a way for students to obtain tertiary education at a reasonable cost. The current model resembles a country club with inflated fees for questionable purposes (even state schools have piled on the amenities to justify their ask). College administration costs have exploded these past few decades surely impacting prices for tuition.

And students need reasonable guidance about career paths from an early age. Simply proclaiming STEM is the answer is not going to help children who struggle with math.

And I will add one very conservative suggestion to this list. Neuter the teachers' unions and you will see how much more responsive and creative the teaching will become. (I know there are many wonderful public school teachers out there. They should not fear losing union representation.)

And yes, of course to expanding healthcare to include optometry and dentistry. I am sure we would save money by putting together a coherent plan. I am always annoyed when people say the cost of our taxes would increase if we covered everyone. When you consider how much we pay in our taxes already for covering uninsured people, and the cost of medical insurance, medical expenses and medicine, that number in aggregate would be bound to go down, not up.

Another thing that comes up a lot for me these days is age discrimination. There was just a piece in the NYT or WSJ, I don't remember, about a 50-something year old lawyer applying for a job where there was a limit to how much experience you could have- so you had to have practiced law for no more than seven years in this case. The man took the company to court of this form of age discrimination, and lost. I remember being a teenager watching a 60 Minutes piece about age discrimination and having the clear impression that I needed to be bullet proof in my career (whatever that meant to me at the time- because I now know there is no such thing) by the time I was 40. Now people in SV are saying 35 is old. How ?????

Thank you all for this lovely conversation. So much food for thought.

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bry911

Where are the 2019 figures showing all the college professors/administrators salaries?

Most are released at the end of the fiscal year. Only public universities release full salary data for individual employees, while private schools release key employee salaries.

However, public schools account for about 70% of professors so you should get some idea.

ETA: if it helps you sleep better, my salary is 37% of what it was 12 years ago and that is in one of the three highest paying fields for professors.

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bry911

As noted many times in the past, I think the wealth disparity problem is an alluring trap. The problem is that the poor have too little, not that the rich have too much. We should focus on the poor.

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haydayhayday

Miss LIndsey:


" Hay's article's number includes a college education (which kids can reasonably be expected to save towards as well) "


Not terribly interested in nitpicking the number, but,


"The cost of raising a child today is $233,610 – excluding the cost of college – for a middle-income family, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture."


That number, I presume, is also meant to represent "out of pocket" costs and wouldn't then include lost "opportunity costs". Looking after three kids doesn't give you much time to do much else.


Like make the money needed to send them to college.



Hay

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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

Hi Hay, I really wasn't trying to nitpick, just making a lighthearted comment. I misunderstood the article to mean that college was included in that figure, terribly sorry.

The first child does incur most of the cost of raising kids.

Can I give an illustration of how that $233,000 is suspicious to me? Using my family as an example, according to that figure averaged out on a per-year basis we have already spent about $975,000 on raising our kids.

In that time we have earned about $478,332.80 (that includes tax credits and benefits which are taxable income. I determined it by figuring our highest income multiplied over the years we have had children, even though at the start we earned much less).

We also had free housing most of that time. And we didn't have to buy a lot of food. Food and rent together those years would have set us back around $298,958.00.

We should have starved to death years ago apparently.

**Note, most figures are converted from CAD to USD, so these numbers are necessarily a bit inaccurate die to varying exchange rates over the past 16 years.

Another note, I'm not trying to quarrel or nitpick at Hay (or anyone else for that matter). I have found that "how much does it cost to raise a kid" numbers are usually arrived at without considering the actual ways that families function. It's just my experience.

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tony jelly

I will add one very conservative suggestion to this list. Neuter the teachers' unions.

This is indeed a Conservative suggestion that leaves individuals to face parsimonious employees alone to negotiate conditions and pay. The advantage to the employer is obvious, and the advantage to the employee is zero. Would wages have stagnated if the unions that brought about the five day week and eight hour day, still existed?

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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

I'm not anti-union. I have a LOT of educators in my family.

I think the teachers' union is too focused on trivial entitlements (like 6 professional development days per year) and it dilutes their voices about issues that are vital to students' success, like having a say on class size and composition.

Here's an example. On various pro-d days (when our kids aren't in school) teachers have gone to the zoo to learn about endangered species, spent an entire day problem solving how to save farm livestock from flash floods using scale model animals and 3d printers, and taken dance lessons.

To me, none of that is professional development and the union refuses to put it on the table in contract negotiations. In fact they fought very hard to get/keep them. Remember, every teacher in BC gets 6 days of that kind of stuff every single school year for their entire career while our kids sit home. A few teachers that I know (not my fam) use their sick days on pro-d days. ETA: that is 40-50 hours of professional development every year. Lawyers are required to get 12 hrs of pro-d per year. Doctors must do a certain number of credits per year. I can't find info on specific numbers, but there were about four courses listed for 2019 and each was one day.

On the other hand, teachers want a say in the maximum size of their classes as well as how many students with special needs are allowed in each classroom.

That's an issue I want the teachers' union fighting for.

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numbersjunkie

Thought this was a good visual. But yeah, the bottom 50%, it's all their own fault!

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ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9

Here is a reality check which relegates this discussion to the category of the useless: We are the only animals on the planet who do no longer have balanced numbers, i.e. so many die and so many are born, and in the long run this works, and has worked for millions of years. We are the only ones, and this holds especially true in industrialized societies, who must ever increase the number born to run the industrialized machine and care for those who no longer work and receive money to live on without working. Growth and increased consumption has ever been the goal of industrialized societies. The final and insoluble problem is that this huge mass of humanity is destroying the planet on which it lives. Improved medical care, greater longevity and fewer infant deaths have all lead to this disaster of overpopulation. The very things that we feel have improved our lives have inexorably led us to the doomsday scenario that we now face. It defies belief that any kind of solution will be found to this conundrum before we wipe out most of the insect and animal species and, inevitably, our own. Homo sapiens just hasn't been that sapient.

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numbersjunkie

Have no idea how the above post relates to this topic.....

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Jess(10)

Here is a reality check which relegates this discussion to the category of the useless

Huh?

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bry911

I always hate discussions on wealth disparity because it makes me seem firmly in a camp that I am not in.

Having said that, I am not sure that quoting statistics on wealth disparity is realistically informative in a discussion. Certainly, the lifestyle of the poor is a real problem, however, that doesn't necessarily equate to the rich being a cause of that problem.

We have lots of data in certain demographic situations that speak to the perils of wealth disparity but really no data that does that for modern Democratic free market economies.

-----

First, let's discuss the idea that over the last 30 years the top 1% have gotten so much richer. That is true, but it is more a statement of modern efficiency and perspective than it is about economic changes. Companies reach more customers now, and they produce and ship more efficiently than in the past. This allows what once took fifteen companies to get done by three and those companies who survive almost always have some competitive advantage for consumers.

If you change the metric just a bit, you find a much more stable picture of wealth disparity. For example, suppose we look at the wealth concentration over the last 30 years for people who employee at least 100 individuals. The number of people who employee 100 individuals has declined such that they take up much less space in that 1%, but they still retain wealth similar to that metric in the past.

----

Next, wealth is largely a created number that isn't realized. It is important to understand that Jeff Bezos owns 12% (16% before divorce) of Amazon. What that means is that Jeff Bezos owns 12% of every building, truck and piece of equipment that Amazon owns and 12% of the profit it makes. That money is being used to buy more stuff and hire more workers. The question becomes would redistribution stifle creativity and innovation? It just might.

This isn't to say that he needs a tax cut, I am not a fan of trickle down economics. I do think we should empower innovators to keep innovating. We can recapture the wealth at transfer points much more effectively and with few of the downsides that exist in other methods of redistribution.

----

The problem is that the poor have too little money, too little security and far too few opportunities. Instead of focusing on how we are going to get the rich to pay for it, we should just focus on that problem. Because we can starve quite a few people while arguing over why some rich guy should give up his wealth rather than just working the problem and increasing taxes on everyone who can pay.

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numbersjunkie

Interesting discussion Bry. I have some thoughts and questions, but have also had a few wines tonight so I will pass for now.

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Ann

"We also had free housing most of that time. "

Lindsey, that's great for you but this would simply not be the case for almost all. I know you weren't suggesting it is, but this situation would be very unusual, I would think.

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arthurm2015(Micro-Climate, Zone 10b Sydney, Australia)

This has been an interesting discussion. One problem might be insular America. Look at the countries that are best in various Areas. No! USA is number 1 in everything. Suggest something that might help the poor be a little better off and the tired old "Socialism" is dragged out.

Just asked my Daughter about the very rich as Doners. She said that they are like the rest of the population, most do donate to one or two charities and there are very few total stingy mo's.

I go back to the minimum wage.....yes I know you can work hard and get.....

But really, have a look at the figures in Google.

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Zalco/bring back Sophie!

I missed the comments about the US being the best at everything. The US economy is certainly stronger than most. And I thought we were having a productive discussion about how the poor could move up and the middle class could not lose ground.

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bry911

I go back to the minimum wage.....yes I know you can work hard and get.....

But really, have a look at the figures in Google.

I really think adjusting the minimum wage alone is a poor strategy. There is often this perception that raising the minimum wage will increase pay for low wage workers, and for many it will. However, for others they will just no longer be worth the money and the jobs will be eliminated.

Realize the worst position in the job market is the guy whose work is worth $9.75 an hour to an employer when minimum wage is $10 per hour. That guy is permanently unemployed. In the end, companies look at the benefit of adding a position and that benefit is income generation or expense saving in excess of employment cost.

----

The real culprit in low wage work is employment cost. I just looked at the 2018 tax return for a single father with a 6 year old daughter who brought home about $34,000 when netted with his 2019 tax refund. His cost to his employer is around $60,000. The guy maxes his health and dental insurance, contributes to a flex spending and puts in the employee match to his retirement and pays FICA. In other words he is a responsible parent. His employer pays an employer portion of FICA, an employer portion of health insurance, retirement, FUTA, SUTA, generous paid absences, and admin costs.

The problem with low wage workers is that too little of the employer costs of low wage workers ends up in the checking account of low wage workers. It costs about $30 an hour to pay an employee $20 an hour, and a lot of that $20 an hour gets used up for FICA, retirement, health insurance, etc. That problem gets worse as pay goes down.

We are going to have to find a way for low wage workers to directly pocket more of the money they cost employers. That will do a lot more than increases to minimum wages.

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jama7(6)

We are going to have to find a way for low wage workers to directly pocket more of the money they cost employers. That will do a lot more than increases to minimum wages.

Well, for starters taking the burden off companies of offering healthcare would allow a LOT of improvement in wages. It was only started as a bargaining tool to attract workers during WW2 when there was a scarcity. Then it became the norm. Profit making entities responsible for healthcare? It makes NO sense.

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jama7(6)

I also might mention many are still at $7.50 which is dark ages level, many do NOT have benefits because they are kept at 30 hrs or less or have poor benefit packages. I believe I read that wages have not risen in TEN years in some states....TEN years. If these employers aren't able to pay more than that, they need to close up shop.

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bry911

"If these employers aren't able to pay more than that, they need to close up shop."

If you want companies to pay workers more, then start paying more for crap. It seems a bit disingenuous to take employers to task for low wages, while Walmart is the country's biggest retailer and fast food joints have to advertise value menus.

You can't have well paid workers and the benefits of low wage work. If America's desire for well paid workers doesn't extend to the cash register, it is just lip service.

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numbersjunkie

"However, for others they will just no longer be worth the money and the jobs will be eliminated."

This sounds wrong to me. You are assuming that there are enough other workers who are "worth" the wage, and that the employer will keep hiring and firing until they find one? How much will that cost them in the long run? Who is going to make those judgements? The "manager" making $18 an hour? Does the manager have time to properly evaluate all those workers, or really even care? Are these employees being treated in a manner where they would put forth the effort to be "worth" what they are paid? Would they feel any any loyalty or responsibility if they are shown none or not acknowledged for it?

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numbersjunkie

"It costs about $30 an hour to pay an employee $20 an hour, and a lot of that $20 an hour gets used up for FICA, retirement, health insurance, etc. That problem gets worse as pay goes down.

We are going to have to find a way for low wage workers to directly pocket more of the money they cost employers. That will do a lot more than increases to minimum wages."

How about we expect these companies to cover the their costs of doing business? If they can't, they are either bad managers, or their business model sucks.
Maybe they cut back on corporate retreats, executive comp, executive perks, raise their prices, or just accept a lower profit margin? What is proposed above is like trying to squeeze water from a rock. Yeah, let's do away with Heath insurance or cut worker retirement benefits! I question how many of these low wage people even have those benefits unless mandated by law. Even then, they can't afford to participate in these plans unless they have an alternate source of support (parents).

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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

Lots to get through, just wanted to note that I mentioned our lack of housing expenses as a specific way that we got a leg up.

I know that our situation is far from the norm, and I believe it contributed enormously to our financial stability.

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numbersjunkie

"Profit making entities responsible for healthcare? It makes NO sense."

Back when this began, it was viewed as a form of compensation to attract workers. If you understand anything about insurance, you know it is more cost effective to buy group coverage rather than individual coverage. The law of averages only works with a large group. Otherwise, the insurance company assumes you know something they don't, and want the coverage because you think it will financially benefit you. Also, marketing costs and billing costs when selling to individuals are excessive. And then there's the agent commissions...

So if employers don't offer it, the next level up is the government. This is where we're headed. IMO, this is the only workable solution in this environment where medical care is now so advanced and costs for many common ailments are too high for people to absorb with savings. Lifestyle is no guarantee of avoiding these serious conditions. A lot of them are environmental and unavoidable.

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woodnymph2_gw

I applaud Ingrid for truly looking at the BIG Picture. The planet cannot support all the increasing numbers of humans. More being born and living longer and more dependent lives. Automation increasing. It's a bad scenario all around and will only get worse. With global warming will come more fighting for natural resources, which are finite. What would be most helpful would be population control. But no one will admit this is a partial solution. It's the old "NIMBY" and " I got mine; who cares about you."

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jama7(6)


numbersjunkie

"Profit making entities responsible for healthcare? It makes NO sense."

Back when this began, it was viewed as a form of compensation to attract workers. If you understand anything about insurance, you know it is more cost effective to buy group coverage rather than individual coverage.

Yes, I'm aware how it began....I stated that in my post. Most certainly it needs to be taken out of employers hands by govt. Ones health shouldn't be dependent upon what is one of the greediest industries in existence. I had one battle after another with Aetna for 2 years battling a foot disorder. SO thankful when I finally hit Medicare age.

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bry911

"This sounds wrong to me. You are assuming that there are enough other workers who are "worth" the wage, and that the employer will keep hiring and firing until they find one?"

No, that isn't really how it works. A company should accept workers when their net income contribution is above the weighted average cost of capital. In practice it is much simpler yet less exact.

The most common example is productivity or sales goals. However, the other very common example is a job that a company decides is only with so much. For example, a Walmart greeter may be a job the company will keep at $8 per hour but not at $10.

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numbersjunkie

I somewhat agree with the above post about the growing population. I agree that if we stay on the path we're on, fighting amongst ourselves for our own piece of the pie, we will suffer greatly.

But we have the ability to do much better. First step is to admit we have a crisis brewing. Republicans seem incapable of doing that with regard to climate change, and are therefore blocking any effort to take productive steps. Sometimes I think they want to with old healthcare from the poor, and non-white population so that many will die and "their kind" will survive.

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numbersjunkie

If we admit to the problem, we can take steps to alleviate it. We could be much more efficient in the way we use the limited resources of our planet. Right now we are very wasteful. I think this is the vision of those who put forth the New Green Deal. We could do so much, while creating jobs at the same time, if we really made the effort. If we just keep saying "it's too hard" or " it's too expensive", we're doomed.

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palisades_

I somewhat agree with the above post about the growing population.

I think it’s the most important factor. China has long seen it first hand. It’s their numero uno. While the world is working on to reduce pollution in air, water and soil, the government should pay attention to the growing population. Japan is a good example of overly populated country with few natural resources. During my extended stay there, I saw how well they managed to keep pollutions in check and implemented automation extensively due to reduced birth rate (by choice) for several decades.

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numbersjunkie

"For example, a Walmart greeter may be a job the company will keep at $8 per hour but not at $10."

How does the company set the $8 limit? What data do they use? Can the greeter job simply be eliminated? if so, why does the job exist at all? At what point is the wage limit so low it could be considered slavery?

I'm fascinated by the Uber/Lyft situation. It seems that these firms are taking advantage of people who are desperate for income. If the stories are true, many of these people are actually losing money doing this. These people usually aren't financially savy enough to do the math and consider their long term vehicle costs, etc.

Similar to people who are so desperate to better themselves by going to a trade school that turns out to be a scam.

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bry911

"How does the company set the $8 limit? What data do they use? Can the greeter job simply be eliminated? if so, why does the job exist at all? At what point is the wage limit so low it could be considered slavery?"

Walmart uses shrinkage numbers. It really isn't that complicated. A greeter must eliminate inventory shrinkage in excess of his pay and be the most economical method of reducing shrinkage.

A greeter's net cost must be less than alternatives. This is why automation is on the rise. For example, grocery stores know that self checkouts increases inventory losses, but the cost and maintenance of the machines plus the increase in inventory losses is less than the cost of hiring an employee.

These are not overly complicated calculations and the cost of alternatives is known. Most anyone who has had a managerial finance class could NPV this out.

It will never be slavery as you don't have to work there.

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numbersjunkie

"These are not overly complicated calculations and the cost of alternatives is known. Most anyone who has had a managerial finance class could NPV this out."

In my experience, plugging numbers into to a formula isn't the hard part. The hard part is getting accurate data and/or realistic assumptions to produce a valid result. This is why the models often prove to be false.

So how how about the CEO and other high level executives? What metric is used to determine their value to the organization?

Yeah, you don't have to work there. You could just starve to death or become homeless... and just drop out of the workforce and rely on welfare. Or we could require a livable wage for people who want to work and maybe the stockholders and company executives could pay for part of the cost instead of making the poor greeter shoulder the entire cost.

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bry911

Please understand, I am not trying to be disrespectful but this is one of those times when I find myself defending commonly accepted labor economics. The labor market is no different than any other market, when price goes up, demand goes down. If you want to argue against 200 years of accepted economics tilt away.

You seem stuck on the idea of making a calculation with good data. Why in the world do you think firms are anywhere near that efficient? The real answer is even worse, any job even perceived not to be worth the cost will be eliminated.

I study firm efficiency, and while the theoretical answer is firms accept employees and projects at the weighted average cost of capital, in reality the required rate is much higher because firms are not that efficient.

As for CEO pay, most of what people rail against are the bonus structures that are paid from owners equity. But to answer your question, there is a lot of research CEO compensation and shareholder goal alignment.

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bry911

The poor need more opportunities and more purchasing power. Simply increasing minimum wages hasn't been effective anywhere, so there is no legitimate reason to continue to raise minimum wage to solve the problem. At best minimum wages are a small part of a real solution and and are only going to be effective when combined with more comprehensive solutions.

Removing employer based healthcare and making FICA, FUTA and SUTA progressive are better answers, because they preserve purchasing power while increasing pay.

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numbersjunkie

"Simply increasing minimum wages hasn't been effective anywhere."

Really? Proof? The unions negotiated wage minimums and built the middle class. Which promptly disintegrated when unions lost their power.

If the employer no longer provides healthcare, it has to be government run program. Individual healthcare will never work, as I noted above.

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numbersjunkie

"I find myself defending commonly accepted labor economics".

Doesn't work when corporations gain as much power as they have now. You have the individual worker fighting against mega corporations. Not a "fair" market. Economic theory flies out the window.

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Zalco/bring back Sophie!

Let me understand, corporate boards can't be trusted to determine CEO compensation. Uber drivers are too dim to know whether or not they are earning enough money for their efforts. And the markets can't be trusted with supply and demand of labor prices, but some people on this thread think they are more capable than all of them to run our economy.

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arthurm2015(Micro-Climate, Zone 10b Sydney, Australia)

It is a discussion thread! I put forward the thing about the minimum wage and it is set by an Indepentant commission here where everything seems simple when compared to Wacky and Wonderful.


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numbersjunkie

Zalco, yeah you pretty much summed it up. I worked with executive compensation in my career. It's all a bunch of crap. Who pays the "consultants" that put together the recommendations for the Board of Directors? Who appoints the BOD? I have stories that would make your skin crawl.

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tony jelly

I can't remember, is it Maslow? When basic needs are covered, a minimum salary is enough to live on.

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ubro(2a)

The poor need more opportunities and more purchasing power.

The poor need a living wage.

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