Author Topic: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind  (Read 7180 times)

r3dt4rget

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NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« on: December 12, 2014, 03:13:32 PM »
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/the-vanishing-male-worker-how-america-fell-behind/ar-BBgGtwh

It seems to me everyone wants to blame the system. Blame the economy, blame stagnant wages, blame luck, blame China, etc. When are people going to take responsibility for themselves? The stats the author cites are correct. The workforce is shrinking and more people rely on federal benefits. But is it because of the economy or because most Americans suck at managing money?

The article starts out with a 49 year old unemployed man who is spending time in the mall eating from the food court. That right there had me shaking my head. What reason does he have for being at a shopping mall? Or eating expensive food? He said he was making $40/hr at his job before being laid off 4 years ago. At 45 years old, surely you have saved up a significant amount for retirement? Especially making $80k a year? But no, this guy is union. Continues to pay dues in hopes of getting that pension. He could get non-union work if he quit the union, but refuses to do that. He refuses to work for $20k a year despite being able to get one of these jobs easily.

It's this kind of main steam thinking that annoys me. Why do people feel entitled to a big house, big SUV, and big pension? They spend all their money while they have jobs to reach that status quo, then blame everyone when it falls apart.

RFAAOATB

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2014, 04:20:03 PM »
It's this kind of main steam thinking that annoys me. Why do people feel entitled to a big house, big SUV, and big pension? They spend all their money while they have jobs to reach that status quo, then blame everyone when it falls apart.

It's the American Dream, and the fact that it is less attainable now than previously is devastating.  Coping with a changing environment is not one of our more developed skills.

Johnez

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2014, 06:13:34 PM »
Quote
He used email for the first time last month.
Part of the electrician's problem right there, beside being fired twice from the two minimum wage jobs he found. Sucks about the pension though.

Guizmo

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2014, 06:39:28 PM »
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/the-vanishing-male-worker-how-america-fell-behind/ar-BBgGtwh

 But no, this guy is union.


Sorry boss, don't blame the union.

If my dad got laid off from his union job and they took away his pension, he would still have over $1 million in equity from his rental properties plus 200k in a 401k. And he wasn't a high earning union guy either, never made more than $50k a year.

thepokercab

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2014, 06:43:12 PM »
It's this kind of main steam thinking that annoys me. Why do people feel entitled to a big house, big SUV, and big pension? They spend all their money while they have jobs to reach that status quo, then blame everyone when it falls apart.

It's the American Dream, and the fact that it is less attainable now than previously is devastating.  Coping with a changing environment is not one of our more developed skills.

+ 1.  People want to cling to the 20th century version of the American Dream: McMansion, 3 cars and unlimited consumption.  No one wants to hear about a new, sustainable, less consumer centric American Dream. So we get a deluge of articles coming out, bemoaning the loss of the middle class, with almost no critical analysis as to the spending and consumer side of the equation. 

r3dt4rget

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2014, 07:01:24 PM »
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/the-vanishing-male-worker-how-america-fell-behind/ar-BBgGtwh

 But no, this guy is union.


Sorry boss, don't blame the union.

If my dad got laid off from his union job and they took away his pension, he would still have over $1 million in equity from his rental properties plus 200k in a 401k. And he wasn't a high earning union guy either, never made more than $50k a year.
I'm not blaming the union, I am blaming the guy. Here is a guy who has now overvalued his time (union was paying him $80k a year) and continues to believe he is worth that amount. That has kept him from accepting any kind of work for any money, including $20k jobs, and other jobs in his field that are non-union. Worst of all, he continues to pay in dues in the hopes of landing a job at $40/hr again (which hasn't happened in 4 years). His wife works and he continues to drain their savings because he simply doesn't want to contribute and make less that he was before. It's just basic economics. There is no demand for his work at that price, so there is no logical reason to punish yourself and miss out on other job opportunities in the hope that one day you will be worth $40/hr again.

Your dad was obviously good with money, and he was smart enough to invest in something other than the union job. My point about the union was that it gives some people a feeling of entitlement and they end up doing what the guy in the article is doing.

paddedhat

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2014, 07:44:31 PM »
I'm not defending the guy in the least, but as a former union electrician I will clarify a point that most never consider. The guy had a defined benefit pension coming. He is paying dues, not working assessments, at a fairly low level (in my case it's $36/month) to protect his interest in that pension. So, in my case, spending $430/yr on dues will net me a pension of $10-12K a year, fifteen years from now. Pretty good investment as far as I'm concerned. Secondly, working in the same trade, for a non-union outfit is a major violation of the contract you sign and can result in suspension of pensions, revocation of pensions and fines. Not defending anyone, but as usual, things are never as clear as they seem.

pzxc

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2014, 07:47:32 PM »
Unions suck pretty badly, no question about that.  They were very useful for getting rid of child labor and extreme working conditions, but workers have other remedies now so the bads of unions far outweigh the good in my mind.

No longer is it the case that the vast majority of people work for a single company their whole lives and depend on them for almost everything.  It is much easier to earn market-rate wages if job hop, it has been that way for some time now, and everyone knows it.

The worst part is that the few unions that still exist are actually VERY strong, because they have had lots of practice over many decades.  In fact, even though I'm not a "member", as an employee of the State of California myself, I get about $60 a month deducted from every paycheck and have no choice in the matter.  You see, the benefits of collective bargaining help every employee, so it is the law that every employee must contribute.

About half of the money the union collects this way is used for collective bargaining, and half is used for other things like supporting political candidates favored by the union, paying for fundraisers and other events, etc.  The half that is *not* collective bargaining (45% I think), I am supposed to be able to get out of paying (by law) -- however, the matter is opt-out not opt-in (so I was signed up without being asked and now have to try and get out), the only method of opting out is to submit a letter ONLY DURING THE MONTH OF JUNE (not kidding here) to a specified address at the union headquarters.  I did mine a few months ago, but I should have sent it registered mail I guess because they ignored it and nothing has changed on my paystub.

/shrug - It's something I think we would all be better without, but if it's there and I have no choice, I might as well take advantage of the healthcare and other benefits I'm presumably getting from it, I guess

pzxc

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2014, 07:51:52 PM »
I'm not defending the guy in the least, but as a former union electrician I will clarify a point that most never consider. The guy had a defined benefit pension coming. He is paying dues, not working assessments, at a fairly low level (in my case it's $36/month) to protect his interest in that pension. So, in my case, spending $430/yr on dues will net me a pension of $10-12K a year, fifteen years from now. Pretty good investment as far as I'm concerned. Secondly, working in the same trade, for a non-union outfit is a major violation of the contract you sign and can result in suspension of pensions, revocation of pensions and fines. Not defending anyone, but as usual, things are never as clear as they seem.

Are you sure about that?  I pay union dues, but that goes to fund the operations of the union. The pension that I have, that the union negotiated for, requires a separate deduction from my paycheck (in the amount of several hundred dollars a month, while the union dues are ~$60/mo).

It's a different union, of course, and a different employer -- but it seems very unlikely to me that $430/yr contributions over 15 years would come anywhere NEAR supporting a $12k lifetime annuity, actuarily speaking. (And most pension plans have very good actuarial tables behind the math of them).  I bet there is another deduction on your paycheck that is paying for the pension besides the dues

sheepstache

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2014, 08:09:31 PM »
Seems a little mustachian to me. Not the being on public benefits or running through savings faster than you can afford, but refusing to go back to work because the job isn't up to your standards.

I remember reading an article in 2009 about how a lot of men weren't going back to work because they couldn't find anything equivalent to their old jobs. So they just decided to trim their standard of living in retirement.

sidenote: my union allows you to work non-union jobs. You just have to report it to the business agent to make sure the company hasn't been blacklisted for unfair practices. This also allows the business manager to know a. you're not getting enough work through the union and b. there's work at this company that it might be worth seeing if the union could get jurisdiction over.

Unions suck pretty badly, no question about that.  They were very useful for getting rid of child labor and extreme working conditions, but workers have other remedies now so the bads of unions far outweigh the good in my mind.

No longer is it the case that the vast majority of people work for a single company their whole lives and depend on them for almost everything.  It is much easier to earn market-rate wages if job hop, it has been that way for some time now, and everyone knows it.

To be fair, that's a big benefit of my union. Everyone freelances at different companies so the union is an organized way to get health insurance and pension.

r3dt4rget

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2014, 09:06:44 PM »
Seems a little mustachian to me. Not the being on public benefits or running through savings faster than you can afford, but refusing to go back to work because the job isn't up to your standards.

I remember reading an article in 2009 about how a lot of men weren't going back to work because they couldn't find anything equivalent to their old jobs. So they just decided to trim their standard of living in retirement.

sidenote: my union allows you to work non-union jobs. You just have to report it to the business agent to make sure the company hasn't been blacklisted for unfair practices. This also allows the business manager to know a. you're not getting enough work through the union and b. there's work at this company that it might be worth seeing if the union could get jurisdiction over.

Unions suck pretty badly, no question about that.  They were very useful for getting rid of child labor and extreme working conditions, but workers have other remedies now so the bads of unions far outweigh the good in my mind.

No longer is it the case that the vast majority of people work for a single company their whole lives and depend on them for almost everything.  It is much easier to earn market-rate wages if job hop, it has been that way for some time now, and everyone knows it.

To be fair, that's a big benefit of my union. Everyone freelances at different companies so the union is an organized way to get health insurance and pension.

This guy is living off a small inheritance, which the author claims is draining quickly. The inheritance, along with his wifes part-time income, is getting them by at the moment. But the dangerous part here is that he is 49 years old. When the inheritance runs out he will surely need some income. But rather than work another low paying job for the last 4 years, he has just been burning savings and ruining his families future for the sake of pride apparently. I am sure he could have trimmed expenses and lived on the $20k restaurant job + his wife's part-time income of maybe $10k, and saved the inheritance.

It makes sense about the pension if that is true. I would probably be paying the dues as well, hoping to either land another job or secure the pension.

paddedhat

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2014, 07:07:55 AM »

Are you sure about that?  I pay union dues, but that goes to fund the operations of the union. The pension that I have, that the union negotiated for, requires a separate deduction from my paycheck (in the amount of several hundred dollars a month, while the union dues are ~$60/mo).

It's a different union, of course, and a different employer -- but it seems very unlikely to me that $430/yr contributions over 15 years would come anywhere NEAR supporting a $12k lifetime annuity, actuarily speaking. (And most pension plans have very good actuarial tables behind the math of them).  I bet there is another deduction on your paycheck that is paying for the pension besides the dues

Yep, I'm 100% sure, as I still carry a card with this guy's union, and have some similarities in age and circumstances. Where our stories take a different path is the part where I left my local shortly before the great recession and started a custom homebuilding company, which made me a considerable pile of coin, while he sits on his ass and waits for something magical to happen.

In the case of the IBEW locals in our area we have two sources of retirement income. A semi-self directed IRA and a defined benefit pension. The IRA is funded with significant mandatory payroll deductions,  roughly $16K annually, IIRC. This money is handled very much like an IRA you would open at Vanguard, you own it, and it is 100% yours without concern for your status in the union. The pension is a defined benefit set-up, based on years of service, and is managed by the international union, not the local chapter. You must "keep your card up" or be a member in good standing with the international by paying your monthly dues. That's why it has the concept of payments per month VS actuarial tables doesn't apply. The monthly fee is to keep you listed as an active member of your local chapter. Even though I am retired very early, and would never return to my local as an electrician, I'm listed as being on the book and "not seeking work at this time" Down the road I can "retire" at the IBEW pension age, and file for my monthly payment.

RetiredAt63

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2014, 07:10:23 AM »
Canadian viewpoint here. 

I was moderately active in my unions, in that I went to meetings, sat as a union rep on various work committees.  Never held a union executive position.

My main union (for CEGEP teachers) got maternity leaves/benefits before they were standard. Previously, if you had a baby, good luck coming back to your job.  It runs the health insurance for our members. Now that I am retired, my union has group health insurance for retirees (covers what Medicare doesn't, especially prescriptions).  Because of my union, men and women make the same amount at the same job category.  My union fights to have us (as para-public servants) in realistic job categories.

When I look at the last 20 years of contract negotiations, we would have been screwed without the union.  Governments always try to recoup money off their civil servants and para-public servants, while they happily waste money elsewhere.  It was true in Quebec, it is true in Ontario (look at ORNGE, the big payouts to previous Hydro-one presidents, the cancelled gas electricity plants, etc. etc.).

If all the unions suddenly disappeared, we would be creating them again.  They provide a balance to big business and big government. Don't like them?  Go work where they are not present.

bomgd3

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2014, 02:39:27 PM »
It's sad that there are all these underemployed folks out there, but these guys need to suck up their pride and do whatever it takes to survive, even if it means getting a minimum wage job.  It seems so foolish to go through life expecting that for your entire 40+ year career you will only do your one trade, and that the jobs will never dry up.  My mind is boggled that there are people out there looking for work in this economy with almost zero computer skills whatsoever, and then are shocked when they can only do low-wage service work.  I wish the government would cut back on "disability" benefits which is essentially another word for welfare for a large majority of the beneficiaries (not to denigrate the truly medically disabled who do need this benefit).  Many of those who are on disability aren't truly completely unable to work - they just lack the skills to work in whatever field they are accustomed to. 

paddedhat

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2014, 04:30:55 PM »
.  I wish the government would cut back on "disability" benefits which is essentially another word for welfare for a large majority of the beneficiaries (not to denigrate the truly medically disabled who do need this benefit).  Many of those who are on disability aren't truly completely unable to work - they just lack the skills to work in whatever field they are accustomed to.

Assuming that you are speaking of the US govt. you might want to give some thought to stepping away from Fox news and taking a few moments to learn the truth. My wife successfully qualified for SSD recently, after an extremely complex and draining application process. She is a left side hemiplegic (total left side paralysis) following a nearly fatal stroke, twenty years back. In the interim she taught school, drove her car, often walked a few miles a day, and even raised our young children. She only applied once her condition deteriorated to the point that she was unable to continue in the workforce. 

The application process involved a lawyer who only did SSD work in his practice. During the initial interview he was far from encouraging, and told us flat out that she only had a 30% chance of being granted benefits with the initial application. Of the 70% that are initially denied, those that appeal, succeed 45% of the time. Naturally there are many who end up at lawyers offices and are told to not even bother, since they have little chance of succeeding at all. The application process involves months of hard work gathering information, records, reports, evaluations and personal letters from physicians. Bottom line is that the fantasy world of Bill O'Reily, Rush, Beck and the other low information assholes, is quite a bit different that the real world. If you share their delusion that it's easy to qualify for disability because you are lazy, or lack needed skill sets, you are about as lost as they are.  The entire SS system is designed to find a way to deny your request to be certified as disabled, consequently it's FAR from a gravy train that's easily tapped by the unwashed masses.

Paul der Krake

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2014, 04:53:53 PM »
.  I wish the government would cut back on "disability" benefits which is essentially another word for welfare for a large majority of the beneficiaries (not to denigrate the truly medically disabled who do need this benefit).  Many of those who are on disability aren't truly completely unable to work - they just lack the skills to work in whatever field they are accustomed to.

Assuming that you are speaking of the US govt. you might want to give some thought to stepping away from Fox news and taking a few moments to learn the truth. My wife successfully qualified for SSD recently, after an extremely complex and draining application process. She is a left side hemiplegic (total left side paralysis) following a nearly fatal stroke, twenty years back. In the interim she taught school, drove her car, often walked a few miles a day, and even raised our young children. She only applied once her condition deteriorated to the point that she was unable to continue in the workforce. 

The application process involved a lawyer who only did SSD work in his practice. During the initial interview he was far from encouraging, and told us flat out that she only had a 30% chance of being granted benefits with the initial application. Of the 70% that are initially denied, those that appeal, succeed 45% of the time. Naturally there are many who end up at lawyers offices and are told to not even bother, since they have little chance of succeeding at all. The application process involves months of hard work gathering information, records, reports, evaluations and personal letters from physicians. Bottom line is that the fantasy world of Bill O'Reily, Rush, Beck and the other low information assholes, is quite a bit different that the real world. If you share their delusion that it's easy to qualify for disability because you are lazy, or lack needed skill sets, you are about as lost as they are.  The entire SS system is designed to find a way to deny your request to be certified as disabled, consequently it's FAR from a gravy train that's easily tapped by the unwashed masses.
To be fair, the criticism usually directed at SSI is about the fraud perpetrated by the lawyers and physicians who flat out lie about their clients' condition. In other words, it's easy for someone to claim SSI if they can find one of the aforementionned crooks.

But I know what you mean, the same folks spread out the misinformation about how immigrants get hand outs to turn them into voters.

sheepstache

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2014, 07:10:06 PM »
.  I wish the government would cut back on "disability" benefits which is essentially another word for welfare for a large majority of the beneficiaries (not to denigrate the truly medically disabled who do need this benefit).  Many of those who are on disability aren't truly completely unable to work - they just lack the skills to work in whatever field they are accustomed to.
Bottom line is that the fantasy world of Bill O'Reily, Rush, Beck and the other low information assholes, is quite a bit different that the real world. If you share their delusion that it's easy to qualify for disability because you are lazy, or lack needed skill sets, you are about as lost as they are.  The entire SS system is designed to find a way to deny your request to be certified as disabled, consequently it's FAR from a gravy train that's easily tapped by the unwashed masses.
To be fair, the criticism usually directed at SSI is about the fraud perpetrated by the lawyers and physicians who flat out lie about their clients' condition. In other words, it's easy for someone to claim SSI if they can find one of the aforementionned crooks.

But I know what you mean, the same folks spread out the misinformation about how immigrants get hand outs to turn them into voters.

Well to be fair the first article I ever read about the welfare numbers being essentially transferred to the disability program was by NPR.

Cressida

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2014, 07:24:36 PM »
It seems so foolish to go through life expecting that for your entire 40+ year career you will only do your one trade, and that the jobs will never dry up.

+1. Yeah it sucks, but you have to pay attention and make preparations if it looks like things are going south for your profession.

MoneyCat

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2014, 08:01:23 PM »
I don't like all the logical explanations for why people on SSI are legitimate.  It makes it harder for me to be arrogant and feel superior to them.

paddedhat

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2014, 06:47:15 AM »
I don't like all the logical explanations for why people on SSI are legitimate.  It makes it harder for me to be arrogant and feel superior to them.
 
Now that's funny. I'm continually fascinated by the "faith based" thinkers (non-thinkers) of our society when it comes to buying the right's propaganda.

My favorite is a real good friend who came from a poor background, little education and no real skill set. During an unusually long winded boom in the homebuilding industry, he accidentally hit it big. His trade is saturated with druggies, drunks, and never do wells, and he figured out that it he could lead a group of these half retarded pirates, he would have some appeal to large homebuilders, who got tired of babysitting these ass clowns. As he became pretty well off, naturally he became rabidly Republican, and as a man of means, thought the poor were all lazy and that 47% of this country lives on government handouts. At this point he became a true Glenn Beck worshiper, buying the books, listening to everything the guy says. During all this time, he earned millions, and saved exactly none of it. Literally had years where he found ways to piss nearly 200K away on everything but an IRA.

 Fast forward to the great recession. The work doesn't slow down, it completely stops. New construction starts drop 92% overnight, and he is screwed. The other issue is that he has a spouse who is dying and in need of millions in medical care, if she hopes to make it. In the end, the mansion, car collection, and other shit go to creditors, and they are dead broke.  The wife is on Medicare and SSD, and they are now truly poor. Scraping by after relocating to a much cheaper, far more conservative place. What did he learn from this?
Well, you can't give up your beliefs, so you have to adapt. He is now a Christian, Evangelical uber conservative, still spewing the same hate about the poor and those that don't think like him.  He is not the problem with this country, no sir, he is a God fearing white boy. According to him, we are doomed by all the minorities who are bleeding us dry, or as he once put it, it's the " Ni...... in the Escalade, that's dropping her kids off for the free school breakfast" That's the problem.

It's one hell of a fascinating train wreck to watch.

MgoSam

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #20 on: December 15, 2014, 02:54:51 PM »
I don't like all the logical explanations for why people on SSI are legitimate.  It makes it harder for me to be arrogant and feel superior to them.
 
Now that's funny. I'm continually fascinated by the "faith based" thinkers (non-thinkers) of our society when it comes to buying the right's propaganda.

My favorite is a real good friend who came from a poor background, little education and no real skill set. During an unusually long winded boom in the homebuilding industry, he accidentally hit it big. His trade is saturated with druggies, drunks, and never do wells, and he figured out that it he could lead a group of these half retarded pirates, he would have some appeal to large homebuilders, who got tired of babysitting these ass clowns. As he became pretty well off, naturally he became rabidly Republican, and as a man of means, thought the poor were all lazy and that 47% of this country lives on government handouts. At this point he became a true Glenn Beck worshiper, buying the books, listening to everything the guy says. During all this time, he earned millions, and saved exactly none of it. Literally had years where he found ways to piss nearly 200K away on everything but an IRA.

 Fast forward to the great recession. The work doesn't slow down, it completely stops. New construction starts drop 92% overnight, and he is screwed. The other issue is that he has a spouse who is dying and in need of millions in medical care, if she hopes to make it. In the end, the mansion, car collection, and other shit go to creditors, and they are dead broke.  The wife is on Medicare and SSD, and they are now truly poor. Scraping by after relocating to a much cheaper, far more conservative place. What did he learn from this?
Well, you can't give up your beliefs, so you have to adapt. He is now a Christian, Evangelical uber conservative, still spewing the same hate about the poor and those that don't think like him.  He is not the problem with this country, no sir, he is a God fearing white boy. According to him, we are doomed by all the minorities who are bleeding us dry, or as he once put it, it's the " Ni...... in the Escalade, that's dropping her kids off for the free school breakfast" That's the problem.

It's one hell of a fascinating train wreck to watch.

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Pooperman

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Re: NYT: The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind
« Reply #21 on: December 16, 2014, 05:21:25 AM »
I know people who need ssdi/ssi, but I also know people who don't and abuse it. The number of people who genuinely need it far outweigh the ones who are abusing the system. A friend of mine is half paralyzed from a bee sting as a kid. My SO has CP and can do part time only at best (thankfully not in a wheel chair). On the other hand, SO's SIL is on it and can work but chooses not to. Even worse, another friend's dad can work but instead sells his pain meds to buy drugs and is generally a redneck idiot (no offense meant to my grandfather, a very smart redneck).