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  1. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by whatever View Post
    Pathetic that what we hope for so rarely happens

    sorry- I'm from the rust belt... I'm kind of tired of seeing empty hopes
    If no one ever hoped for what rarely happens, where would we be then? A lot worse off than we are now.
    Everybody have fun tonight. Everybody Wang Chung tonight.

    Johari
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  2. #32
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FMWarner View Post
    If no one ever hoped for what rarely happens, where would we be then? A lot worse off than we are now.
    False hope keeps us from acheiving something that we realistically could in some cases

    As someone Studs Terkel interviewed said though- hope dies last

    I just don't like to see people when thier false hopes die- I've seen it too often
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

  3. #33
    Doesn't Read Your Posts Haight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hirsch63 View Post
    I believe that the "free" (talk to some aboriginals?) farmland that would have been available in the west was not provided out of sheer altruism...sending (or compelling) ambitious settlers west to tame the wilderness and act as a buffer against the wild frontier was a cost effective strategy carefully planned for a long term benefit...Did some pioneers benefit in the aggregate? Certainly. Were the efforts of those who fell short subsequently enjoyed by the vultures who only waited for the statistically inevitable?
    You got it!

    And getting people to do highly dangerous things on a continual basis in order that you may continue to prosper and they may continue to believe takes a ingenious myth, belief, and or concept. For that I both hate them and admire how perfectly the plan has planned out.


    Now start a thread about American Exceptionalism. Because it's interesting how they both tie together.
    "The only time I'm wrong is when I'm questioning myself."
    Haight

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hirsch63 View Post
    Can you define "middle class" for us?

    Do you feel that your "natural attributes and tendencies" would allow you to succeed in any of the current world economies,or only here in America?
    Is it soley the abilities that you have been gifted with and no other factors that have allowed you to excel?

    Can a theory be offered as to why the poor and under-educated inner-city dweller who has the very same opportunities as you to achieve the American Dream somehow seems to fall short of the realization?

    When you reference "heavy lifting" are you referring to the actual physical movement of objects, or simply using it as a metaphor?
    I come from a middle-class suburb of Philadelphia. I never wanted for much, but my parents were not wealthy people, taking vacations all the time, playing golf, etc. A week down the shore in NJ. Two cars. Small single home. Very normal. Fortunately for us in the United States, that is more wealthy than about 95% of the people on Earth.

    I feel that my mind and my ambition would serve me well in just about any economic context, but especially so in the United States. It's just easier to make money here. There are approximately 9 million millionaire households in the U.S., which is an amazing stat. Even with inflation, $1 million is still a lot of money. I am also going into an industry (motion picture producing) that has the ability for vast remuneration. I was also lucky to have parents who encouraged my gifts, and I won a full academic scholarship to a rather exclusive private school (which would have been out of the question financially, even with a half-scholarship). I also managed to get into and drop out of an Ivy League university, but I worked full-time and lived at home when I ran out of money, then got back into school to finish my Film degree. So, I was spoiled, but not rich.

    I don't think that the poor and uneducated have the same actual chance to succeed as I do (and I had less opportunities than most of my schoolmates at prep school and UPenn had). But equality in the United States is before the law, not of outcomes. Everyone has a shot to show what they've got. For someone from the inner city or Appalachia, they have to be pretty extraordinary or lucky to make it to "the top" (whatever that means). But that is OK. This is not a country of guaranteed, safe outcomes. It rewards the best, brightest, hardest-working, and lucky the most. Fortunately, this type of system also helps to secure one of the highest standards of living in the world. My mentality probably would have gotten me shot or sent to a gulag/concentration camp in the bad old days.

    I've had to do some literal heavy lifting in my day, but I like to use my brain instead. I chose my entire courseplan for Film and Media Arts beforehand I started school. I applied to work as a projectionist on my own (and I had at least one job during my college years at all times, and often two). I decided to take an internship in Los Angeles to get a sense of the business on my own. I read about the industry constantly, watch movies as often as I can in my free time, and I soak up as much info as often as I can. I always say, "I am not cut out for real work."
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by whatever View Post
    The American Dream I've been raised with was always the Horatio Alger style pull yourself by the bootstraps idea. Any little kid can grow up and be the president- if you work hard some day someone will notice and you'll get a lot of money- we can always continue to get richer and more successful forever and ever if we are creative and hard working enough.

    Of course, I think that's all absolute bullshit- as Haight said- it only works for a few people- and those people are usually those who had the means to succeed in the first place. The chances of moving up through the social classes in this country are depressingly slim- the best you can do is get a college education and maybe get a secure job and pay off your student loans and eventually get good enough credit to buy a house and a new car The ability to even get a good blue collar job with benefits is even becoming less today than it was 20 years ago- you can't graduate from high school, get a job down at the plant and marry your sweetheart anymore in most communities!

    that was a depressing post! I have actually been pondering if the American Dream is dead now and we're just trying to convince ourselves that social mobility is still a possibility. Not everyone can grow up to be the president- not everyone will get rich off of hard work- we cannot continue to get richer and more successful forever and ever. There's not really the reality of the dream around anymore- just the hope that maybe I will be the exception to it. Why do Americans play the lottery? They're optimists and think that they might strike it rich. Why do Americans protest against an interitance tax on large estates? Because we all hope to either inheret a large estate or leave one to our kids. Pathetic- but true
    That "get a college degree, pay off the loans, get a house" dream that you call "the best you can do" is absolutely out of the question for the vast majority of people in the world. That is paradise on Earth for the denizens of Africa, much of Asia, and a good portion of South America. For my part, however, I wouldn't be satisfied for that dream, since I have the ability and desire to shoot higher. Also, the United States has more motility amongst the upper quintile of earners than almost any other country.
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  6. #36
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    That "get a college degree, pay off the loans, get a house" dream that you call "the best you can do" is absolutely out of the question for the vast majority of people in the world. That is paradise on Earth for the denizens of Africa, much of Asia, and a good portion of South America. For my part, however, I wouldn't be satisfied for that dream, since I have the ability and desire to shoot higher. Also, the United States has more motility amongst the upper quintile of earners than almost any other country.
    Well... the question is about the AMERICAN dream, not the dream for the rest of the world- and we weren't discussing your dreams specifically either The bland, overall American Dream seems to be the get a degree, get a good job, pay off loans and get a house and such- at least where I'm from.

    And the Upper quintile is of no interest to me when discussing socioeconomic mobility and the American Dream- they already have it- the lower 4 quintiles are the ones who are striving for something better- which they too often do not attain!
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

  7. #37
    Senior Member nottaprettygal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whatever View Post
    Well... the question is about the AMERICAN dream, not the dream for the rest of the world- and we weren't discussing your dreams specifically either
    Good post, whatever. When discussing inequality and economic issues in the US, it's always a sign of weakness to me when people start bringing up the word "Africa."

    And also, one guy's personal story doesn't prove the existance or non-existance of the American Dream. It's just a story about a middle-class white dude who may or may not be on his way to making it in the film industry. There are probably quite a few kids in the US who have never even seen a movie. You don't pull yourself up by the boot-straps when you don't have any boots.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by nottaprettygal View Post
    Good post, whatever. When discussing inequality and economic issues in the US, it's always a sign of weakness to me when people start bringing up the word "Africa."

    And also, one guy's personal story doesn't prove the existance or non-existance of the American Dream. It's just a story about a middle-class white dude who may or may not be on his way to making it in the film industry. There are probably quite a few kids in the US who have never even seen a movie. You don't pull yourself up by the boot-straps when you don't have any boots.
    I resent the implication that I didn't have to work hard to get where I am. Also, bringing up other countries in the world is completely legitimate, since we are discussing the possibility of achieving one's dreams here, and that 90+% of the population here live a better lifestyle than the average (or even above-average) person in sub-Saharan Africa. Even in countries with lots of natural resources and large, young populations, they do not have even close to the same opportunities. Our system and infrastructure make all the difference in the world.

    Also, there is nothing inherently wrong with inequality when absolute poverty is so incredibly low in the United States. Unless you believe (insanely, I would argue) that some people are too rich, it's not really a problem. Having a ton of rich people in a country is infinitely better than having none or few. Shouldn't we want everyone to be better off than they are now?
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  9. #39
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    I resent the implication that I didn't have to work hard to get where I am. Also, bringing up other countries in the world is completely legitimate, since we are discussing the possibility of achieving one's dreams here, and that 90+% of the population here live a better lifestyle than the average (or even above-average) person in sub-Saharan Africa. Even in countries with lots of natural resources and large, young populations, they do not have even close to the same opportunities. Our system and infrastructure make all the difference in the world.

    Also, there is nothing inherently wrong with inequality when absolute poverty is so incredibly low in the United States. Unless you believe (insanely, I would argue) that some people are too rich, it's not really a problem. Having a ton of rich people in a country is infinitely better than having none or few. Shouldn't we want everyone to be better off than they are now?

    I really don't get where you are getting your figures- could you please provide me with a link to where you have obtained your knowlege that poverty is incredibly low in our country? I'm not really buying it- our country has the most unequal distribution of wealth of any developed country in the world, and perhaps any country in general- the distribution of wealth intranationally in the United States is something to be ashamed of- and which puts a certain 5 to 20% at a much greater advantage than the rest of us.

    It's called the American Dream for a reason- it's about America and in America- and most Americans don't reflect on other continents and countries in the assessment of thier lives- why? it's irrelevant. We're not there- that's not our lives- we can only reflect on our lives in that context.

    Please tell me that you don't beleive all that you have typed- because if you do you are rather depressingly naive and have been devoid of a good number of life's experiences. Sure you may feel that you're a self made man so far- but I'm sure that you didn't raise yourself- do all of your homework and school projects all by yourself while growing up, take yourself to any after school activity and forge your parents names on your report cards because they didn't care to sign it. I'm sure that you were told since you were young that college was expected of you, or at least a definite possibility for you and that your parents probably helped you figure out where to go and helped to pay for you to attend it. Not everyone has those opportunities. That puts you in a minority even in your own country.
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

  10. #40
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whatever View Post
    I really don't get where you are getting your figures- could you please provide me with a link to where you have obtained your knowlege that poverty is incredibly low in our country? I'm not really buying it- our country has the most unequal distribution of wealth of any developed country in the world, and perhaps any country in general- the distribution of wealth intranationally in the United States is something to be ashamed of- and which puts a certain 5 to 20% at a much greater advantage than the rest of us.

    It's called the American Dream for a reason- it's about America and in America- and most Americans don't reflect on other continents and countries in the assessment of thier lives- why? it's irrelevant. We're not there- that's not our lives- we can only reflect on our lives in that context.

    Please tell me that you don't beleive all that you have typed- because if you do you are rather depressingly naive and have been devoid of a good number of life's experiences. Sure you may feel that you're a self made man so far- but I'm sure that you didn't raise yourself- do all of your homework and school projects all by yourself while growing up, take yourself to any after school activity and forge your parents names on your report cards because they didn't care to sign it. I'm sure that you were told since you were young that college was expected of you, or at least a definite possibility for you and that your parents probably helped you figure out where to go and helped to pay for you to attend it. Not everyone has those opportunities. That puts you in a minority even in your own country.
    That is not true. Brazil, for one, has a significantly higher level of income inequality than does the United States. China does, as well (this should abate somewhat as their economy matures). And the country with the highest inequality rating in the world is (surprise!) in sub-Saharan Africa (Namibia, namely). But as I stated before, income inequality is not necessarily a bad thing. Certainly, someone in the lower 40% of income in the United States is better off than someone in the lower 40% of income in, for instance, Sri Lanka, which has a similar inequality coefficient. The levels of absolute poverty in the United States are shockingly low compared to the world overall. We have more people at the top and more people at the bottom of our "pyramid" than do other industrialized countries, but we end up with one of the highest GDPs per capita in the world. The average American is, by world standards, really really rich, and we have more motility (both up and down) between socioeconomic levels than most countries. People fall out of the richest quintile, or climb from the second or third quintile to the top with more frequency than, say, the United Kingdom (which happens to have a higher level of poverty than the United States does). Absolute or extreme poverty (which the World Bank qualifies as living on less than $1 a day at PPP) is practically nonexistent in the United States and other post-industrial countries. Income inequality is a fairly dishonest measure of poverty in a country that contains many of the richest people on Earth, because a Bill Gates or Warren Buffett really throws off the curve for someone making $30,000 a year who is not poor by any stretch of the imagination (although they may feel they are). But the Bill Gateses and Warren Buffetts are absolutely necessary to the continued affluence of the country.

    I had very supportive parents, and that helped tremendously. But I also was able to begin reading at the age of 3, and I would simply find out about anything that interested me. Neither of my parents went to college, and so they were happy that I did, but I made most of my decisions in terms of education, like to which schools to apply, taking the SAT more than once, which major to take, picking up a minor. They never had to do any of that, because both have been working full-time since the age of 18. And I never had to get parental OKs for too many school activities (I didn't like school much, and didn't do much in the way of extracurriculars, short of football in grade school and Academic Competition in high school). Frankly, school was easy and I had a bad attitude through most of it. I learned what I wanted on my own. I am not into the uniform, hierarchical scene.

    As to being "naive," I could turn around and tell you that your views are based on economic illiteracy and anecdotal evidence. And the crux of the matter, in my opinion, is that the American Dream really is what you make of it. You are (mostly) free to choose what that means for you. Personally, my American Dream consists of not having to work in an office building for clowns, which is what my parents had to do. I am determined not to do that, and to do something I enjoy. There are tradeoffs there. I will not make very much money for the next several years, because breaking into my industry takes quite a long time. With my B.A., I could easily get a job paying $50-60K a year now, and it would be steady work. But I'd be bored and it wouldn't provide opportunities to move up. I have the opportunity for more, so I feel that it's incumbent upon me to go for it. Another individual person might feel differently, and that is fine. If you really feel pressure to conform to some bland ideal, well, that isn't very American to me.
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

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