Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Are We Too Rich? (Take 2)

     My second attempt at this topic. As you may have noticed, My train of thought got derailed in my first post and I never strung two coherent sentences together. First of all, I'm not some tree-hugging, commie-loving, America-hating hippie. (did I get all of your buzzwords right?) I don't believe having money is wrong and I don't believe I want to live on the street after redistributing my wealth. I do believe in social supports, but that's another topic.
     This topic is about the affects of too much money on us and especially on our kids. There's been a lot of talk about the new Time article on slackers titled, "Grow Up? Not So Fast", especially within the blogosphere. It seems large numbers of disaffected youth blogging say, "Hey, that's me!"
     Here's my take on the article in a nutshell. It basically highlights a group of twenty-something losers with no career, no house, no family of their own, and no goals. It then calls them "twixters" and goes on to say that perhaps this is a wonderful new stage in life for them to discover themselves between childhood and adulthood. The article says that this is not just a phase America is going through - this could be a permanent shift in American lifestyle for generations to come. Maybe permanently.
     I am absolutely disgusted with this idea. The article points out that this affliction impacts across all sociological lines, but really mostly the kids of affluent parents. Here's what this tells me: the parents are too rich. The parents have too much money for their own good and are probably not fit to be parents in the first place. In the old days, had they had old union jobs in the factory, their kids would be pushed out the door at 18 from necessity. Now that the parents have moolah to spare, they felt no need to teach them any useable life skills.
     Delightful, say the fraudulent psychologists who can't find honest work. This period in their lives will enable them to be better adults who have "found themselves". But for all the articles I've read on loser twenty-somethings, I have yet to hear one success story. I have yet to read one article on a 30-something or 40-something who overcame his or her inability to handle life and became a happy success. The only success stories out there are those of people whose parents are so wealthy and powerful they can support their kids to their grave. (E.g. Paris Hilton, Donald Trump, Dubya) (and by support, I mean wink-wink connections, deals, etc, like getting out of failed S&L's and baseball teams).
     I know my fair share of these losers. Some have jobs, but most live at least partially off their parents. There are common themes: No ability to budget; no desire to own a house; still rebelling years after they are "independent". How many people do you know who bought overpriced condos because they "didn't want the responsibilty of a lawn"? How many of those people now can't sell those condos and are paying out the nose for realtor and association fees? Maybe you know someone who says very proudly, "I don't use any credit cards anymore" and then reveals it's because when they have one they act like a 2-year old with no self control. Maybe you know the person going back to grad school full time at 29 years old because they don't like what they're currently doing?
     I got my MBA part-time from Georgia State. Now, admittedly, GSU is not a top tier school. But it's cheap and the hours are flexible enough that I can work full-time so I can get an MBA without losing my income stream. I can't tell you how mny people I met who quit jobs (or never had one) to do a GSU MBA full-time. Keep in mind that full-time means 3-4 classes a week. I took 2 part-time classes after work. These people have never learned how to be responsible for themselves and it's not likely they ever will. An article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution a few weeks back interviewed a UGA grad saying, "They never taught me how to do stuff like balance a checkbook or pay rent or anything" as if it's the college's fault.
     Parents: You are ruining your child for life because you felt you had too much money to deny them anything. In reality, you've denied them the ability to grow up. They are stuck at the me-me-me stage of 13-year old. Ours will be the lost generation, as we watch the next generation coming up now take our jobs, our political offices, and our futures. This has happened before - to the kids growing up in the boom times of the 1920's, to the kids growing up in the boom times of the 1840's. Remember what happened when the next generation took power? (Civil War, WW2) These middle- and high-schoolers you see today are probably the next century's "Greatest Generation", thrust into history because of whatever world cataclysm our rich parents neglected us into.

Friday, January 21, 2005

More Unbelievable Headlines

I'll write another entry soon, but these are just too good to pass up:

Poll: Nation split on Bush as uniter or divider - With all due respect to 50% of the country, if the other 50% doesn't agree with them about the President, by definition, he's not a uniter. I don't make this stuff up. I mean, deciding whether he has united us isn't something you can determine by a majority rules poll.

From Fox News ("We Report, You Baaaa, er, Decide"): A pop-up that says, Let everyone – your friends, family and even liberals – know you're proud to be living in Bush Country!. It's a T-shirt (or a poster or a mouse pad) with a county-by-county map colored red and blue to show the geographical results of the 2004 election. "You can win every argument with your liberal friends - just wear Bush Country and point to the map!" Despite the fact that approximately 50% of the country lives in the fwe blue counties and that the majority of the red counties are devoid of human life, this now absolves Bushies of having to think (phew!)

County MapCounty Cartograph
(size by population)

Christians issue gay warning on SpongeBob video - Hey, if you want to debate whether a fictional character (Spongebob Squarepants, Bert & Ernie) is gay, fine. Hey - debate whether a real person is gay (Abe Lincoln, Jennifer Garner). When it comes to gossip, I can't get enough. But what's with the "warning"? Are these people so insecure with themselves and their parenting skills that they think cartoons will make their children enjoy anal sex? Just another example of right-wing scare tactics to keep the herd from straying.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Miscellaneous News

Harrisburg, PA student are taught Christianity in public school. See article. Not only is this bogus, illegal, and immoral, the school district knows it, allowing any student or teacher opposed to opt out.

There's an ongoing discussion about Social Security on Ben's blog. I think I made a good case. Hopefully the coming reply won't be, "Yeah, well all liberals suck!"

This has been a while coming - finally there is a Darth Vader Mr. Potato Head. I know this is something we've all been waiting on for a long time.

I've scheduled a week of vacation for mid-September to visit the Titanian Beach. I understand the weather's nice there that time of year.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Pre-Emptive Strike

     In the spirit of the Great and Powerful G. Dubya, I wanted to make a pre-emptive strike at my naysayers and tell this to the native Jawjans who are fond of saying, "Eef you don't layke it here, go to (enter favorite destination for liberals. e.g. New York, California, France, etc), yoo damm lib'ral!"

     The proper response: "I'm here to stay for as long as I damn please, and I'm going to work my hardest to improve this godforsaken bit of America as much as I can."

The State of Science in the State of Jawja.

     Two articles came out in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution today. One was about the Creationism stickers on Cobb County science books entitled,"Evolution Appeal Cites Flawed Logic". The other was about how thousands of high school seniors can't pass the science section of the state graduation test, entitled, "Wanted: Science exam tutoring".
     Now, neither of these stories is really new news. The details are new, but it should come of no surprise to anyone living in Georgia or following Georgia news in the national media. Georgia has long been weak on education - 49th in the SAT's. When UPS was moving its headquarters from Connecticut in 1991, it almost passed by Atlanta because of the poor education, but they finally decided that cheap housing and a low cost of living would help them pay for private school for their children. Georgia has also long been a hotbed of ignorance, intolerance, and religious fundamentalism. The KKK was founded here. Countless Blacks were lynched here since the civil war (which the people here have never fully gotten over, but that's another story), plus the only Jew lynched in the United States met his end in Cobb County.
     Georgia has its good points, too, but for the most part, those have come from transplants from up north and not so much from the natives. The point is, am I the only one who finds it ironic to see both articles in the paper at the same time? Am I the only one who sees a connection between this fundamentalism and our inability to educate our children?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Lazy Weekends

    When was the last time you can honestly say you had a lazy weekend? I mean one of those 2-day vacations that seemed to stretch out forever and you arrived at Monday refreshed and ready to go. I can't say I've had one of those recently. Not to say that I actually did anything productive. I just didn't feel refreshed on Monday.
    I can't really remember what weekends were like when I was a kid, but I have trouble believing they went by as quickly as they do now. 2 days is just enough to wind down but not nearly enough to rejuvenate me. I took a 5 day weekend around New Year's because I had to burn some vacation days. Now that was a weekend. Am I just worse at letting go of stress and sleep deprivation than I was 20 years ago? Or is time just moving that much faster for me? If that's the case, I shudder to think how fast life will blur by when I'm at the ripe old age of 40.
    Of course, I know that my days of watching endless TV and playing video games all day will end eventually - probably when I have kids. What will weekends be like when I never have time off?

Friday, January 14, 2005

Urgent Newsflash - President has epiphany!

At the tender age of 58 years old, our highly esteemed President has discovered that "sometimes, words have consequences"! The White House has not yet commented on whether George Bush has learned Big Bird's lesson that "Everyone makes mistakes".

Are we too rich?

I've been wondering about this a lot lately. I don't really enjoy working, and sometimes I try to think about why I do it. I mean, I enjoy my job inasmuch as it's still a job, and I know that I do it for the paycheck. But I'm living way over the survival level.
I was thinking about my grandparents and great-grandparents and how they worked. It wasn't an option for them. They were born, grew up, and went to work to support the family. Otherwise they would die. There was no talk about work/life balance. They did it because they had to. Do I have to? Standards of living have increased since then, that's for sure. But if I wanted to live the lifestyle they lived in say, the 1940's, I certainly wouldn't have to work terribly hard. To have one small black and white TV without cable; one car without leather, power windows, fuel injection, or airbags; a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom bungalow in the suburbs; health care that couldn't protect against the chicken pox, much less against polio or cancer.
But I have more stuff, and I like the stuff. And companies work very hard to make sure I buy even more stuff. So here's my problem: we're losing ground to emerging economies like China and to the new superpower of Europe. We're in a situation much like the one we were in during the 70's and 80's, when American manufacturing, lulled by 30 years of world dominance (due to monopoly status), was toppled by the Japanese and brought to a crisis. You remember that time - maybe you just saw the pictures - American cities in ruin, without enough money to clean up their subways or streets. Small towns in Pennsylvania and Ohio practically deserted. We reclaimed our cities in the 1990s, which not coincidentally saw the longest period of sustained growth in peacetime. So what's happening now?
We're lulled into malaise because our money (the dollar) has been the only dominent currency in the world for the past hundred years. Well, ever. And because we've been the world's largest consumer for the past 60 at least. But that's changing. The EU has their own currency, and we're finding that the competition is not treating us kindly. People worldwide choose the Euro now that they have a choice. The Federal Reserve ( estimates that two-thirds of all dollars are outside the United States. What would happen if those businesses and countries and people traded it in for the Euro? Certainly Europe isn't running deficits as scary as ours.
We are also not the world's largest consumer any longer (although not for lack of trying). China is surpassing us and guess what? The rest of the world isn't catering to us any more because they don't have to. We've squandered our goodwill when we had monopoly status. Now we're being voted off the island.
What do you think?