Author Topic: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans  (Read 216248 times)

JLee

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #200 on: May 02, 2016, 10:27:35 AM »
This. One reason why people go out to eat so much and spend so much on "luxuries" like instant food is because both parents are working full-time plus commuting and picking their kids up from daycare. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it takes a lot of planning and hard work  to meal-plan for the week, prep for tomorrow night's meal, clean up everything from the day, pack lunch for the kids and ourselves, do laundry, minimally clean the house, and get organized to go to work. All of that unseen, unrewarded work that Marx called "reproductive labor"-- labor that is required for us to go on living. We still have to do it, and now we're both working full-time.

I don't even have kids (or pets) and I've noticed that it's far more difficult to make my own food when my work schedule goes insane. Working on-call nights/weekends can completely destroy my good habits of making lunches/etc...

mizzourah2006

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #201 on: May 02, 2016, 11:07:42 AM »
Quote
In 1985, when a new car cost $15,000, college tuition at my state university was about 20% of that cost or $3,000.  In California, public university tuition was about 10% of that cost or $1,500 per year.  Private school tuition was even cheaper than a car - at about $8 or $9,000 per year.  Tuition was even cheaper in the 1960s and 1970s.  In the 60s, 70s and 80s, you could realistically flip burgers and make it through college without any debt.  From 1960-1990, there wasn't nearly as much credentialism that pigeon holes certain majors into certain jobs and mandates (via law or business practice) a diploma to even get an interview as there exists today.  If you borrowed money, you could work it off fairly easily even if you didn't use your degree for a job.  The car example is a good one to demonstrate the impact of higher education inflation on Millennials and Generation Z and how their debt burden is much more significant than previous generations.

Your car quote is WAY off base unless you are talking larger luxury cars.

The base price of a Honda Civic in 1985 was $5400

In 1992 I bought a used Escort for $6300.

While tuition has gone up, it is going to vary a lot on where you go:
1985:
Civic: $5400
Tuition at Penn State: $2555

1992:
Escort: $6300
Tuition: $4350

Today:
Civic: $18640
Tuition: $16570

So yes, Tuition has gone up since 1985 by a factor of 6.5
A civic has gone up by a factor of 3.4

(but the car's going to last longer)
Civic

Man, that's really high for tuition at a state school. My alma mater's in-state tuition price is $10,586. The way I see it if you go in-state to most state schools for 2 years after spending 2 years at a CC you can still get a college degree for under $30k.

TRBeck

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #202 on: May 02, 2016, 12:48:23 PM »
This. One reason why people go out to eat so much and spend so much on "luxuries" like instant food is because both parents are working full-time plus commuting and picking their kids up from daycare. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it takes a lot of planning and hard work  to meal-plan for the week, prep for tomorrow night's meal, clean up everything from the day, pack lunch for the kids and ourselves, do laundry, minimally clean the house, and get organized to go to work. All of that unseen, unrewarded work that Marx called "reproductive labor"-- labor that is required for us to go on living. We still have to do it, and now we're both working full-time.

I don't even have kids (or pets) and I've noticed that it's far more difficult to make my own food when my work schedule goes insane. Working on-call nights/weekends can completely destroy my good habits of making lunches/etc...
My wife and I have 10-minute commutes and our two kids are in only one after-school activity each. We do well as far as getting housework and yard work done, and we do a ton of cooking and food prep - bake our own bread, scratch-made dinners most nights, and making/packing the kids' lunches daily - but can't squeeze one extra thing into the daily routine as it stands now. Doctors' appointments, staying late at work, and other little things can throw off the delicate balance dramatically. I can't imagine having more kids, longer work hours, longer commutes, a bigger house, a bigger yard, etc., and keeping up with everything. We could certainly live on one income, but it would be tough to save much. We put away pretty much all of the second salary. Whether this means we have it tougher than the previous generation I can't say, but I do think it's tough to maximize efficiency when both spouses are working.

mm1970

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #203 on: May 02, 2016, 03:40:51 PM »
Quote
This. One reason why people go out to eat so much and spend so much on "luxuries" like instant food is because both parents are working full-time plus commuting and picking their kids up from daycare. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it takes a lot of planning and hard work  to meal-plan for the week, prep for tomorrow night's meal, clean up everything from the day, pack lunch for the kids and ourselves, do laundry, minimally clean the house, and get organized to go to work. All of that unseen, unrewarded work that Marx called "reproductive labor"-- labor that is required for us to go on living. We still have to do it, and now we're both working full-time.

Yes, it's a struggle.  We manage it (though we do have a cleaning person every 2 weeks, sorry not sorry!).

It's hard to explain if you aren't in the thick of it, because it's easy to forget.  I've got 2 kids, and only one is school-aged, and in a sport, and man, the scheduling!  Figuring out meal plans based on what day is practice, what day is a game (not the same days every week).


mm1970

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #204 on: May 02, 2016, 03:47:35 PM »
What are your thoughts on public school? The government takes money from hardworking taxpayers and GIVES it to young immature citizens for 12 years!

You mean the public schools that consistently rank near the bottom in OECD rankings, those schools? Where about 19% of high school graduates are illiterate? The ones designed to prepare our children to be factory workers in a country with few factory jobs? Where children are generally forced into districts based on where they happen to live and have little choice to switch to a better school? Yes, those are the schools my taxes have paid for for decades now. Since I have little hope of recovering what I've paid into these, now that my kids are approaching school age I'll take some vouchers for private schools or homeschooling please!
This is interesting because I have a school-aged child.  And being involved in the school over the last few years makes me wonder how to fix things.  I'm an engineer, so I like experimentation and data.  But I think data-driven answers at school often fail, because it's simply test scores.

In my area, the difference between a failing school and a succeeding school is nothing more than how white the students are.  Our public schools aren't trying to train people to work in factories.  They are pushing college, to families who wouldn't have the first idea how to pay for it or what to major in. What a joke.

So what the answer other than white flight?  I don't really know.  The fact of the matter is, my son is getting a fine education in a failing school.  For lack of a better empirical measure, the white kids at our school score as well as the students at the rich school a half mile down the road.

And how to fix the illiteracy?  Advancing students has been happening forever.  My 70 year old step dad graduated from HS and couldn't read.  My son has kids in his 4th grade class who can't do 1st grade math.  Who decides to advance the kids?

From what I can see, our schools and our teachers are doing their very best with what they have - increasing enrollments, increasing # of kids who: don't speak English, are poor, have parents in jail, are homeless.  I can't imagine how easy it is to teach to my 10 year old who can read and do math at the 8th grade level, along with kids barely at 1st grade level, who don't speak English.  Or are borderline disabled.

Cassie

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #205 on: May 02, 2016, 03:53:25 PM »
One way to prevent eating out a lot is to have some easy things in the freezer and just pop them in the oven. I also used to make breakfast for dinner 1 night a week and the kids loved it. Even though easy stuff costs more (convenience food) is still cheaper then eating out.  My kids are long grown but it is hard with both working and have to make dinner, etc after getting home. It can all feel like a blur.

SwordGuy

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #206 on: May 02, 2016, 06:45:18 PM »
Quote
This. One reason why people go out to eat so much and spend so much on "luxuries" like instant food is because both parents are working full-time plus commuting and picking their kids up from daycare. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it takes a lot of planning and hard work  to meal-plan for the week, prep for tomorrow night's meal, clean up everything from the day, pack lunch for the kids and ourselves, do laundry, minimally clean the house, and get organized to go to work. All of that unseen, unrewarded work that Marx called "reproductive labor"-- labor that is required for us to go on living. We still have to do it, and now we're both working full-time.

Yes, it's a struggle.  We manage it (though we do have a cleaning person every 2 weeks, sorry not sorry!).

It's hard to explain if you aren't in the thick of it, because it's easy to forget.  I've got 2 kids, and only one is school-aged, and in a sport, and man, the scheduling!  Figuring out meal plans based on what day is practice, what day is a game (not the same days every week).

Why don't you buy your kid a bike and let them bike to practices and local games?

That will take a load off of you.

FYI - you don't have to be at every game...   They just need to know you really care and are interested.

FINate

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #207 on: May 02, 2016, 09:35:20 PM »
What are your thoughts on public school? The government takes money from hardworking taxpayers and GIVES it to young immature citizens for 12 years!

You mean the public schools that consistently rank near the bottom in OECD rankings, those schools? Where about 19% of high school graduates are illiterate? The ones designed to prepare our children to be factory workers in a country with few factory jobs? Where children are generally forced into districts based on where they happen to live and have little choice to switch to a better school? Yes, those are the schools my taxes have paid for for decades now. Since I have little hope of recovering what I've paid into these, now that my kids are approaching school age I'll take some vouchers for private schools or homeschooling please!
This is interesting because I have a school-aged child.  And being involved in the school over the last few years makes me wonder how to fix things.  I'm an engineer, so I like experimentation and data.  But I think data-driven answers at school often fail, because it's simply test scores.

In my area, the difference between a failing school and a succeeding school is nothing more than how white the students are.  Our public schools aren't trying to train people to work in factories.  They are pushing college, to families who wouldn't have the first idea how to pay for it or what to major in. What a joke.

So what the answer other than white flight?  I don't really know.  The fact of the matter is, my son is getting a fine education in a failing school.  For lack of a better empirical measure, the white kids at our school score as well as the students at the rich school a half mile down the road.

And how to fix the illiteracy?  Advancing students has been happening forever.  My 70 year old step dad graduated from HS and couldn't read.  My son has kids in his 4th grade class who can't do 1st grade math.  Who decides to advance the kids?

From what I can see, our schools and our teachers are doing their very best with what they have - increasing enrollments, increasing # of kids who: don't speak English, are poor, have parents in jail, are homeless.  I can't imagine how easy it is to teach to my 10 year old who can read and do math at the 8th grade level, along with kids barely at 1st grade level, who don't speak English.  Or are borderline disabled.

There are schools with low test scores, and then there are truly terrible schools. If a school has a low rating but is otherwise functional then I think it's still very possible to get a good education since it's largely a function effort invested. My wife taught K at a school like this before we FIREd. The students were poor and mostly non-white, but they and their families valued education and were motivated to learn. So although they did not test well because of ESL issues, they still made rapid progress.

I, on the other hand, had the misfortune of attending a truly terrible school for my Jr High years. The school had low test scores, but it was also totally mismanaged and there were serious behavioral issues. Lots of fights, kids bringing drugs and weapons to school, and so on. The administration basically shrugged their shoulders and looked the other way. It's nearly impossible to learn after being knocked down a few levels on Maslow's hierarchy and having to worry about physical safety. This school district did not have funds for basic essentials like books or teaching supplies, but they managed to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars redoing the sports field, which then had to be redone within a year because they did it incorrectly. This same district had another several hundred thousand dollars vanish from its accounts without any accounting or audit trail (we still don't know what happened to it). It also spent millions on the construction of a new middle school only to get shut down in the early phases of construction because they didn't pull any permits or do any of the EIR work. Turns out the area is not buildable because it's sensitive habitat. I did not grow up rich, but I begged my parents to send me to a local private school for high school, which they did at great sacrifice. The private school was not prestigious, it's tuition was about 2/3 of what the state paid per student to public schools, yet the experience and quality of education were far superior.

My kids are about to enter school and the public schools in our district are excellent (affluent neighborhood, lots of support from the PTA). We have people moving to our town for no other reason than the schools, and I personally know of several cases where people have falsified their address to get in. This entire setup is absurd. Why should something as arbitrary as location dictate what school a kid attends? The wealthy have the option of moving, or sending their kids to private schools. The poor should not be condemned to a failed education because they have no other choice. This issue for me is one of social justice - each kid who would otherwise be a good student but cannot learn because of a dysfunctional environment, is a tragedy. It's a personal tragedy for the life they could have had, and it's a tragedy for society because that person was not able to achieve their full potential. Vouchers would at least (largely) equalize educational opportunities for motivated students/families of all income levels.

randymarsh

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #208 on: May 02, 2016, 10:26:29 PM »
Why should something as arbitrary as location dictate what school a kid attends? The wealthy have the option of moving, or sending their kids to private schools. The poor should not be condemned to a failed education because they have no other choice. This issue for me is one of social justice - each kid who would otherwise be a good student but cannot learn because of a dysfunctional environment, is a tragedy. It's a personal tragedy for the life they could have had, and it's a tragedy for society because that person was not able to achieve their full potential. Vouchers would at least (largely) equalize educational opportunities for motivated students/families of all income levels.

I think vouchers end up basically covering up the real problem. The reason for vouchers is that the school district I live in sucks, so I should be able to use the money the state would pay to that shitty district and use it for the school I want. Sounds fair enough.

But the shitty school district still exists and gets worse and worse since the only parents using vouchers are ones who care at least a little bit about their kids' educations. The students with parents who couldn't care less are left at schools receiving less and less funding.

Students without much opportunity are then surrounded by students without much opportunity. That can't be good for economic mobility. I suspect that most poor kids and young adults who "make it" can look back and think of a best friend who encouraged college, a supervisor at an early job who took an interest, etc. This social capital is under appreciated IMO.

Sid888

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #209 on: May 03, 2016, 05:39:58 AM »
The stats are there. This is one guy's story of how he fits into them, and there are millions of others. Probably a few made a lot of mistakes, like him, some made just a few mistakes but were on the edge, and this pushed them over, while a smaller proportion had a lot of really, really bad luck. Still, I appreciated the glimpse onto one person's life who fits the shocking stats. I know a few people IRL that have variations but it would be a bit socially awkward to get the level of detail here.

It's very interesting to see the cherry picking of statistics on this thread.  There is an affordability crisis brewing in the United States.  The popularity of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders is strong evidence that middle class Americans are fed up with the current economic system because they can't maintain previous lifestyles and, at the same time, help their children climb the economic ladder.  Yes, nipping around the edges of the middle class's personal financial situations would help a bit but real (and realistic) systemic change will be necessary to restore the economic security that Americans have known over the last 50 years years and expect from their government and economy.  Below are some of the macro-economic issues (I'm sure I'm missing some) that are driving American economic insecurity.  Because we have not properly and pro-actively addressed these rotten macro-economic statistics, these issues will fuel American politics until they are properly fixed on a macro-economic level.  Telling Americans to adjust their expectations down on the American dream or that the American dream was a myth is not a recipe for winning elections.  Also, shaming the individual for arguably poor financial choices will become more and more resented by middle class Americans who don't want to have to choose between saving for retirement AND living in a safe neighborhood with good schools for the benefit of their children.  This type of "Catch 22" argument worked very well with seniors who - because of the nation's health care system in the 1990s - had to make a choice between food and medications.  This tidal wave is coming.  The current status quo will likely change to address the macro-economic issues raised in this article.

Middle Class Wages are stagnant: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-american-middle-class-hasnt-gotten-a-raise-in-15-years/

Health care costs are increasing: http://www.npr.org/2016/05/03/476517927/politics-in-real-life-rising-health-care-costs-weigh-on-voters

Child care costs are increasing: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/05/child-care-costs_n_4215659.html

Tuition is increasing (since 1978, it is up1,120%): http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/11/08/credit-dotcom-tuition/18417721/

Regressive taxation is increasing: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2015/02/15/247-wall-st-worst-taxes-average-earners/23361553/

Governmental fees and fines are increasing: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/08/22/725811/fees-fines-and-debt-how-governments-and-companies-are-jailing-poor-people-to-make-a-buck/ and http://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/gov-ferguson-missouri-court-fines-budget.html

Retirement savings are non-existent for 1/3 of Americans: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/03/18/retirement-confidence-survey-savings/6432241/

Middle class Americans have only about $20K saved for retirment: http://time.com/3536683/retirement-savings-middle-class/

Business group's fiercely lobby against opt out (and mandatory) retirement savings plans making structural change even more difficult: http://www.chicagomag.com/city-life/January-2015/Illinois-Gets-the-Nations-First-Automatic-Retirement-Program/ and http://www.ibtimes.com/middle-class-americans-living-regret-about-retirement-savings-1710270


Sid888

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #210 on: May 03, 2016, 05:46:56 AM »
The average student loan debt load now stands at about $35,000. That's the price of a new mid-sized car. Has this gone up in recent years? Yes. Is it the end of the world? No, it's doable. This can be paid off by working a few years full time wil living as cheap as possible. Also, that's the average amount owed. The median among borrows is closer to $15,000 because there's a small percentage of borrowers skewing the results on the high end, so for the majority of college students their loan burden is really very manageable.

The previous posters say that the cost of a mid-size car is now about $18-19,000.  You are off by a lot here.

Metric Mouse

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #211 on: May 03, 2016, 05:55:37 AM »
The stats are there. This is one guy's story of how he fits into them, and there are millions of others. Probably a few made a lot of mistakes, like him, some made just a few mistakes but were on the edge, and this pushed them over, while a smaller proportion had a lot of really, really bad luck. Still, I appreciated the glimpse onto one person's life who fits the shocking stats. I know a few people IRL that have variations but it would be a bit socially awkward to get the level of detail here.

It's very interesting to see the cherry picking of statistics on this thread.  There is an affordability crisis brewing in the United States.  The popularity of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders is strong evidence that middle class Americans are fed up with the current economic system because they can't maintain previous lifestyles and, at the same time, help their children climb the economic ladder.  Yes, nipping around the edges of the middle class's personal financial situations would help a bit but real (and realistic) systemic change will be necessary to restore the economic security that Americans have known over the last 50 years years and expect from their government and economy.  Below are some of the macro-economic issues (I'm sure I'm missing some) that are driving American economic insecurity.  Because we have not properly and pro-actively addressed these rotten macro-economic statistics, these issues will fuel American politics until they are properly fixed on a macro-economic level.  Telling Americans to adjust their expectations down on the American dream or that the American dream was a myth is not a recipe for winning elections.  Also, shaming the individual for arguably poor financial choices will become more and more resented by middle class Americans who don't want to have to choose between saving for retirement AND living in a safe neighborhood with good schools for the benefit of their children.  This type of "Catch 22" argument worked very well with seniors who - because of the nation's health care system in the 1990s - had to make a choice between food and medications.  This tidal wave is coming.  The current status quo will likely change to address the macro-economic issues raised in this article.

Middle Class Wages are stagnant: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-american-middle-class-hasnt-gotten-a-raise-in-15-years/

Health care costs are increasing: http://www.npr.org/2016/05/03/476517927/politics-in-real-life-rising-health-care-costs-weigh-on-voters

Child care costs are increasing: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/05/child-care-costs_n_4215659.html

Tuition is increasing (since 1978, it is up1,120%): http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/11/08/credit-dotcom-tuition/18417721/

Regressive taxation is increasing: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2015/02/15/247-wall-st-worst-taxes-average-earners/23361553/

Governmental fees and fines are increasing: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/08/22/725811/fees-fines-and-debt-how-governments-and-companies-are-jailing-poor-people-to-make-a-buck/ and http://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/gov-ferguson-missouri-court-fines-budget.html

Retirement savings are non-existent for 1/3 of Americans: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/03/18/retirement-confidence-survey-savings/6432241/

Middle class Americans have only about $20K saved for retirment: http://time.com/3536683/retirement-savings-middle-class/

Business group's fiercely lobby against opt out (and mandatory) retirement savings plans making structural change even more difficult: http://www.chicagomag.com/city-life/January-2015/Illinois-Gets-the-Nations-First-Automatic-Retirement-Program/ and http://www.ibtimes.com/middle-class-americans-living-regret-about-retirement-savings-1710270

Quite right! One should be allowed to make as many poor decisions as possible with no shaming or repercussions. It's disgraceful.  And really, no one should have to choose between a luxury SUV, a beach side vacation home, an ivy league education, yearly international vacations AND saving for retirement. I mean, I'm middle class! I should have all of those things! 'Murica!

Sid888

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #212 on: May 03, 2016, 05:58:30 AM »
Quote
In 1985, when a new car cost $15,000, college tuition at my state university was about 20% of that cost or $3,000.  In California, public university tuition was about 10% of that cost or $1,500 per year.  Private school tuition was even cheaper than a car - at about $8 or $9,000 per year.  Tuition was even cheaper in the 1960s and 1970s.  In the 60s, 70s and 80s, you could realistically flip burgers and make it through college without any debt.  From 1960-1990, there wasn't nearly as much credentialism that pigeon holes certain majors into certain jobs and mandates (via law or business practice) a diploma to even get an interview as there exists today.  If you borrowed money, you could work it off fairly easily even if you didn't use your degree for a job.  The car example is a good one to demonstrate the impact of higher education inflation on Millennials and Generation Z and how their debt burden is much more significant than previous generations.

Your car quote is WAY off base unless you are talking larger luxury cars.

The base price of a Honda Civic in 1985 was $5400

In 1992 I bought a used Escort for $6300.

While tuition has gone up, it is going to vary a lot on where you go:
1985:
Civic: $5400
Tuition at Penn State: $2555

1992:
Escort: $6300
Tuition: $4350

Today:
Civic: $18640
Tuition: $16570

So yes, Tuition has gone up since 1985 by a factor of 6.5
A civic has gone up by a factor of 3.4

(but the car's going to last longer)
Civic

Man, that's really high for tuition at a state school. My alma mater's in-state tuition price is $10,586. The way I see it if you go in-state to most state schools for 2 years after spending 2 years at a CC you can still get a college degree for under $30k.

A little perspective on car and tuition costs from the New York Times: "If over the past three decades car prices had gone up as fast as tuition, the average new car would cost more than $80,000."

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/opinion/sunday/the-real-reason-college-tuition-costs-so-much.html?_r=0

Sid888

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #213 on: May 03, 2016, 06:02:23 AM »
The stats are there. This is one guy's story of how he fits into them, and there are millions of others. Probably a few made a lot of mistakes, like him, some made just a few mistakes but were on the edge, and this pushed them over, while a smaller proportion had a lot of really, really bad luck. Still, I appreciated the glimpse onto one person's life who fits the shocking stats. I know a few people IRL that have variations but it would be a bit socially awkward to get the level of detail here.

It's very interesting to see the cherry picking of statistics on this thread.  There is an affordability crisis brewing in the United States.  The popularity of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders is strong evidence that middle class Americans are fed up with the current economic system because they can't maintain previous lifestyles and, at the same time, help their children climb the economic ladder.  Yes, nipping around the edges of the middle class's personal financial situations would help a bit but real (and realistic) systemic change will be necessary to restore the economic security that Americans have known over the last 50 years years and expect from their government and economy.  Below are some of the macro-economic issues (I'm sure I'm missing some) that are driving American economic insecurity.  Because we have not properly and pro-actively addressed these rotten macro-economic statistics, these issues will fuel American politics until they are properly fixed on a macro-economic level.  Telling Americans to adjust their expectations down on the American dream or that the American dream was a myth is not a recipe for winning elections.  Also, shaming the individual for arguably poor financial choices will become more and more resented by middle class Americans who don't want to have to choose between saving for retirement AND living in a safe neighborhood with good schools for the benefit of their children.  This type of "Catch 22" argument worked very well with seniors who - because of the nation's health care system in the 1990s - had to make a choice between food and medications.  This tidal wave is coming.  The current status quo will likely change to address the macro-economic issues raised in this article.

Middle Class Wages are stagnant: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-american-middle-class-hasnt-gotten-a-raise-in-15-years/

Health care costs are increasing: http://www.npr.org/2016/05/03/476517927/politics-in-real-life-rising-health-care-costs-weigh-on-voters

Child care costs are increasing: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/05/child-care-costs_n_4215659.html

Tuition is increasing (since 1978, it is up1,120%): http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/11/08/credit-dotcom-tuition/18417721/

Regressive taxation is increasing: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2015/02/15/247-wall-st-worst-taxes-average-earners/23361553/

Governmental fees and fines are increasing: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/08/22/725811/fees-fines-and-debt-how-governments-and-companies-are-jailing-poor-people-to-make-a-buck/ and http://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/gov-ferguson-missouri-court-fines-budget.html

Retirement savings are non-existent for 1/3 of Americans: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/03/18/retirement-confidence-survey-savings/6432241/

Middle class Americans have only about $20K saved for retirment: http://time.com/3536683/retirement-savings-middle-class/

Business group's fiercely lobby against opt out (and mandatory) retirement savings plans making structural change even more difficult: http://www.chicagomag.com/city-life/January-2015/Illinois-Gets-the-Nations-First-Automatic-Retirement-Program/ and http://www.ibtimes.com/middle-class-americans-living-regret-about-retirement-savings-1710270

Quite right! One should be allowed to make as many poor decisions as possible with no shaming or repercussions. It's disgraceful.  And really, no one should have to choose between a luxury SUV, a beach side vacation home, an ivy league education, yearly international vacations AND saving for retirement. I mean, I'm middle class! I should have all of those things! 'Murica!

Were you Bobby Jindal's campaign manager?  Rather than deriding the middle class for making bad financial decisions (or in many cases, not making perfect financial decisions), maybe you can spend some time thinking about ways to conduct a very serious public financial education campaign that harshly derides consumerism, credit card use and current advertising and reality TV practices so the middle class has a fighting chance of making this rigged system work for them?
« Last Edit: May 03, 2016, 06:09:17 AM by Sid888 »

Metric Mouse

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #214 on: May 03, 2016, 06:27:13 AM »
Quite right! One should be allowed to make as many poor decisions as possible with no shaming or repercussions. It's disgraceful.  And really, no one should have to choose between a luxury SUV, a beach side vacation home, an ivy league education, yearly international vacations AND saving for retirement. I mean, I'm middle class! I should have all of those things! 'Murica!

Were you Bobby Jindal's campaign manager?  Rather than deriding the middle class for making bad financial decisions (or in many cases, not making perfect financial decisions), maybe you can spend some time thinking about ways to conduct a very serious public financial education campaign that harshly derides consumerism, credit card use and current advertising and reality TV practices so the middle class has a fighting chance of making this rigged system work for them?

I've got no issues with their decisions. They made them, they are more than welcome to live with the consequences. They can even whine about how they couldn't possibly save for retirement while making boat payments.  If the American Dream is to be in debt up to one's eyballs, just like one's parents were, it isn't that hard to accomplish these days. Infact, I'd say it's easier than ever.

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #215 on: May 03, 2016, 06:53:03 AM »
  Also, shaming the individual for arguably poor financial choices will become more and more resented by middle class Americans who don't want to have to choose between saving for retirement AND living in a safe neighborhood with good schools for the benefit of their children.  This type of "Catch 22" argument worked very well with seniors who - because of the nation's health care system in the 1990s - had to make a choice between food and medications.  This tidal wave is coming.  The current status quo will likely change to address the macro-economic issues raised in this article.


+1 to all of your excellent points - but especially the above. I was trying to express this in my posts but you did it so succinctly and well! (and then you provided stats and links - yay!)

ooeei

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #216 on: May 03, 2016, 06:55:59 AM »
My parents' first house in the 80's when they were in their late 20's was a little 2 bedroom craphole that my dad had to re-wire himself because it was dangerous to live in otherwise.  They both had college degrees and had been in the working world for 4-5 years.  I know people in their 20's today who whine about their 3-4 bedroom houses not having the right countertops or bathroom layouts. 

The problem I as a 27 year old see, is a lot of people in my age group remember what their parents had when they were kids (the parents were probably in their 40's) and expect to emulate that instantly after leaving home/college.  That is their "baseline" and they only expect to go up from there.  Eating at restaurants or driving new cars on long commutes are also huge money sink that most people don't even notice.  How is paying someone else to make your food for you considered a standard middle class thing?  That's freakin royalty status, yet I know people whose ovens are never used.

This certainly isn't everyone, but it's very frustrating to see. 

mm1970

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #217 on: May 03, 2016, 09:17:20 AM »
Quote
This. One reason why people go out to eat so much and spend so much on "luxuries" like instant food is because both parents are working full-time plus commuting and picking their kids up from daycare. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it takes a lot of planning and hard work  to meal-plan for the week, prep for tomorrow night's meal, clean up everything from the day, pack lunch for the kids and ourselves, do laundry, minimally clean the house, and get organized to go to work. All of that unseen, unrewarded work that Marx called "reproductive labor"-- labor that is required for us to go on living. We still have to do it, and now we're both working full-time.

Yes, it's a struggle.  We manage it (though we do have a cleaning person every 2 weeks, sorry not sorry!).

It's hard to explain if you aren't in the thick of it, because it's easy to forget.  I've got 2 kids, and only one is school-aged, and in a sport, and man, the scheduling!  Figuring out meal plans based on what day is practice, what day is a game (not the same days every week).

Why don't you buy your kid a bike and let them bike to practices and local games?

That will take a load off of you.

FYI - you don't have to be at every game...   They just need to know you really care and are interested.
He has a bike, but the games aren't close by and drivers are crazy.  And he's not allowed to leave the elementary school grounds without a parent to sign him out. (not until he's 12, which is another 2 years).

I don't actually go to every game.  The mid-week games I drop him off and then get the toddler and go home and make dinner.  My husband picks him up after he eats dinner.

We've been getting lucky a few weeks in a row that his mid-week practice has been Thursday, at a different park right next to where his music practice is (on the same day!)  So we tell him "When you get out of music practice, just walk across the field to baseball!  But change into baseball clothing in the junior high school bathroom NOT the public park bathroom" (too many homeless).  So he gets bussed to music class from the school, then goes to baseball, then we got pick him up after.

FINate

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #218 on: May 03, 2016, 10:02:15 AM »
Why should something as arbitrary as location dictate what school a kid attends? The wealthy have the option of moving, or sending their kids to private schools. The poor should not be condemned to a failed education because they have no other choice. This issue for me is one of social justice - each kid who would otherwise be a good student but cannot learn because of a dysfunctional environment, is a tragedy. It's a personal tragedy for the life they could have had, and it's a tragedy for society because that person was not able to achieve their full potential. Vouchers would at least (largely) equalize educational opportunities for motivated students/families of all income levels.

I think vouchers end up basically covering up the real problem. The reason for vouchers is that the school district I live in sucks, so I should be able to use the money the state would pay to that shitty district and use it for the school I want. Sounds fair enough.

But the shitty school district still exists and gets worse and worse since the only parents using vouchers are ones who care at least a little bit about their kids' educations. The students with parents who couldn't care less are left at schools receiving less and less funding.

Students without much opportunity are then surrounded by students without much opportunity. That can't be good for economic mobility. I suspect that most poor kids and young adults who "make it" can look back and think of a best friend who encouraged college, a supervisor at an early job who took an interest, etc. This social capital is under appreciated IMO.

I ask that you take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of a student stuck at a terrible school who values education and is motivated to learn. Why should you be forced to stay in a dysfunctional environment just for the sake of propping up the average? Your wealthier peers are either home schooled (they can live on one income), or they go to private school, or they moved to a better neighborhood. You, on the other hand, are poor so you don't have options. So you struggle to learn while being surrounded by people who don't care, and the deck is stacked against you. Your values place you in the minority and single you out as a 'nerd' so it's not like you're influential among your peers. I find this extremely unjust.

Vouchers don't fix everything. They certainly don't address the problem of students/parents who don't value education. But they equalize opportunity for the most disadvantaged who do value education. It's highly inconsistent that, in every other context, education decisions are primarily driven by what is best for the individual needs of a student. Only in the case of poorly performing schools do we say that it is the duty of good students, those who are too poor to have other options, to stay put for the sake of a community that does not value education. These poor students didn't create the problem, why should it be their burden to fix it, especially since they are the least equipped to solve the problem?

Forcing poor students to stay in poorly performing schools is classist, a form of economic redlining.

MoneyCat

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #219 on: May 03, 2016, 10:08:06 AM »
My wife and I both work long hours (11-12 hour days are typical) and when we get home we cook our meals and clean our house. That leave us maybe an hour or two for watching TV or something except for the weekends. Luckily, we don't have children or it would be impossible. I completely understand how families fall into the trap of ordering takeout every night, hiring cleaning companies and landscapers, paying ridiculous amounts for day care services, etc. It would be so much simpler just having one person work and the other person stay home and take care of the house. However, our world has changed and that's usually not something available to most families anymore.

That being said, if people want to be successful financially, they need to suck it up and put in the long hours. Otherwise, they are just delaying the financial pain.

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #220 on: May 03, 2016, 10:09:57 AM »
My parents' first house in the 80's when they were in their late 20's was a little 2 bedroom craphole that my dad had to re-wire himself because it was dangerous to live in otherwise.  They both had college degrees and had been in the working world for 4-5 years.  I know people in their 20's today who whine about their 3-4 bedroom houses not having the right countertops or bathroom layouts. 

The problem I as a 27 year old see, is a lot of people in my age group remember what their parents had when they were kids (the parents were probably in their 40's) and expect to emulate that instantly after leaving home/college.  That is their "baseline" and they only expect to go up from there.  Eating at restaurants or driving new cars on long commutes are also huge money sink that most people don't even notice.  How is paying someone else to make your food for you considered a standard middle class thing?  That's freakin royalty status, yet I know people whose ovens are never used.

This certainly isn't everyone, but it's very frustrating to see.

+1 on the Baseline Inflation. I've been saying this for a few years to family, friends, and coworkers. Only the savvy get it.

randymarsh

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #221 on: May 03, 2016, 10:11:38 AM »
Why should something as arbitrary as location dictate what school a kid attends? The wealthy have the option of moving, or sending their kids to private schools. The poor should not be condemned to a failed education because they have no other choice. This issue for me is one of social justice - each kid who would otherwise be a good student but cannot learn because of a dysfunctional environment, is a tragedy. It's a personal tragedy for the life they could have had, and it's a tragedy for society because that person was not able to achieve their full potential. Vouchers would at least (largely) equalize educational opportunities for motivated students/families of all income levels.

I think vouchers end up basically covering up the real problem. The reason for vouchers is that the school district I live in sucks, so I should be able to use the money the state would pay to that shitty district and use it for the school I want. Sounds fair enough.

But the shitty school district still exists and gets worse and worse since the only parents using vouchers are ones who care at least a little bit about their kids' educations. The students with parents who couldn't care less are left at schools receiving less and less funding.

Students without much opportunity are then surrounded by students without much opportunity. That can't be good for economic mobility. I suspect that most poor kids and young adults who "make it" can look back and think of a best friend who encouraged college, a supervisor at an early job who took an interest, etc. This social capital is under appreciated IMO.

 Why should you be forced to stay in a dysfunctional environment just for the sake of propping up the average? Your wealthier peers are either home schooled (they can live on one income), or they go to private school, or they moved to a better neighborhood. You, on the other hand, are poor so you don't have options. So you struggle to learn while being surrounded by people who don't care, and the deck is stacked against you. Your values place you in the minority and single you out as a 'nerd' so it's not like you're influential among your peers. I find this extremely unjust.

I knew that was coming and I don't really expect people to "sacrifice" their children for the good of others'. Vouchers seem like a quick dose of morphine though. The pain goes away, but the underlying problem is still there. The issue is that we have entire school districts that suck so bad to need vouchers in the first place.

FINate

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #222 on: May 03, 2016, 10:50:32 AM »
Why should something as arbitrary as location dictate what school a kid attends? The wealthy have the option of moving, or sending their kids to private schools. The poor should not be condemned to a failed education because they have no other choice. This issue for me is one of social justice - each kid who would otherwise be a good student but cannot learn because of a dysfunctional environment, is a tragedy. It's a personal tragedy for the life they could have had, and it's a tragedy for society because that person was not able to achieve their full potential. Vouchers would at least (largely) equalize educational opportunities for motivated students/families of all income levels.

I think vouchers end up basically covering up the real problem. The reason for vouchers is that the school district I live in sucks, so I should be able to use the money the state would pay to that shitty district and use it for the school I want. Sounds fair enough.

But the shitty school district still exists and gets worse and worse since the only parents using vouchers are ones who care at least a little bit about their kids' educations. The students with parents who couldn't care less are left at schools receiving less and less funding.

Students without much opportunity are then surrounded by students without much opportunity. That can't be good for economic mobility. I suspect that most poor kids and young adults who "make it" can look back and think of a best friend who encouraged college, a supervisor at an early job who took an interest, etc. This social capital is under appreciated IMO.

 Why should you be forced to stay in a dysfunctional environment just for the sake of propping up the average? Your wealthier peers are either home schooled (they can live on one income), or they go to private school, or they moved to a better neighborhood. You, on the other hand, are poor so you don't have options. So you struggle to learn while being surrounded by people who don't care, and the deck is stacked against you. Your values place you in the minority and single you out as a 'nerd' so it's not like you're influential among your peers. I find this extremely unjust.

I knew that was coming and I don't really expect people to "sacrifice" their children for the good of others'. Vouchers seem like a quick dose of morphine though. The pain goes away, but the underlying problem is still there. The issue is that we have entire school districts that suck so bad to need vouchers in the first place.

Except that morphine is not a good analogy in this case. Morphine provides short-term relief whereas vouchers allow good students to attend good schools, and this provides a life-long benefit to them and to society. Ideally vouchers would not be needed, but after decades of experimentation to fix the problem, nothing has improved. In the meantime poor students should not bear the cost of poorly managed districts, the human cost is too high.

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #223 on: May 03, 2016, 11:30:19 AM »
I agree that vouchers don't help the kids who need them the most-- the poorest kids and/or the ones with checked-out/overworked parents. Vouchers also don't solve the issue of location and busing-- how are the kids going to get to the good schools? And who pays for that in time/money?

The problem with our schools is that too large a percentage comes from real estate taxes... and parents propping up schools through donations to the PTO/PTA (though of course I'm paying higher city taxes and making donations to my PTA-- this is where politics collides with the personal). Our schools are inherently un-equal. And as others have said, a culture of disengagement from school (fights, etc.) harms all students.

And with regard to the other conversation, yes, we make poor financial choices because we are ignorant. I had no idea what I was signing on for with my student loans-- it seemed like free money. Now I wish I could talk some sense into my past self. It seemed perfectly normal to accept loan money and go out to eat all the time. Alas. Now I'm paying for it... with interest! (bada-bing!)

We also live in a consumerist culture where we are bombarded with ads suggesting that our worth as human beings depends on the crap we buy. You can resist, but you have to go against the neighbors, the TV (low information diet to the rescue!), and what most people model. My neighbors live in a house that costs 3 times what our house did and just leased a brand new car with two miles on it (literally). I know that this is not the financial behavior I want to emulate... but it is easy to drool over her car and enormous house. I know, I know, I'm not supposed to covet shit. And I'm thankful that I have this community to model different norms and remind me why I don't want that lifestyle and to be proud of frugality and aim to be more frugal (one day I would love to bike to work... to live close enough to bike to work!)





Jack

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #224 on: May 03, 2016, 11:51:06 AM »
I agree that vouchers don't help the kids who need them the most-- the poorest kids and/or the ones with checked-out/overworked parents. Vouchers also don't solve the issue of location and busing-- how are the kids going to get to the good schools? And who pays for that in time/money?

The problem with our schools is that too large a percentage comes from real estate taxes... and parents propping up schools through donations to the PTO/PTA (though of course I'm paying higher city taxes and making donations to my PTA-- this is where politics collides with the personal). Our schools are inherently un-equal. And as others have said, a culture of disengagement from school (fights, etc.) harms all students.

You can't really say if that's actually the problem without first figuring out whether the lack of achievement is due to lack of funding or some other cause (e.g. bad parenting). I don't know what the cause really is (for example, I don't trust the Heritage Foundation to be impartial), but I think it's safe to say that there's disagreement about it.

I think it is at least possible that, instead of increasing funding for schools in poor areas, it might be better to (for example) keep the funding the same but turn them into boarding schools (even though the money spent on instruction would decrease because of the costs to house the students).

mm1970

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #225 on: May 03, 2016, 12:07:30 PM »
I agree that vouchers don't help the kids who need them the most-- the poorest kids and/or the ones with checked-out/overworked parents. Vouchers also don't solve the issue of location and busing-- how are the kids going to get to the good schools? And who pays for that in time/money?

The problem with our schools is that too large a percentage comes from real estate taxes... and parents propping up schools through donations to the PTO/PTA (though of course I'm paying higher city taxes and making donations to my PTA-- this is where politics collides with the personal). Our schools are inherently un-equal. And as others have said, a culture of disengagement from school (fights, etc.) harms all students.

You can't really say if that's actually the problem without first figuring out whether the lack of achievement is due to lack of funding or some other cause (e.g. bad parenting). I don't know what the cause really is (for example, I don't trust the Heritage Foundation to be impartial), but I think it's safe to say that there's disagreement about it.

I think it is at least possible that, instead of increasing funding for schools in poor areas, it might be better to (for example) keep the funding the same but turn them into boarding schools (even though the money spent on instruction would decrease because of the costs to house the students).
The problem is that lack of achievement = a lot of reasons.  All types of individual reasons.  The old principal at our school could NOT figure out why we had such a problem with absenteeism.  I suggested that she do a statistical analysis (heck, I could have done it for her, just if she had given me student #'s not names). 

- Do we have a lot of offenders, or a few people who offend a lot?
- Is it mostly the 55% of the kids who are bussed?  Or the other kids?
- How do the worst offenders get to school?  If their parents drive them, can they carpool?  Do they miss on certain days?

Some of these kids are homeless.  Living in cars.
Some of them have parents who work until 3 am.  Good luck having them get up to get you to the bus stop by 7 am.
There's a kid in my son's class who has been "fragile" lately.  The teacher and my spouse (who volunteers at the classroom), have noticed it.  Well, his dad is either just out of jail or back in jail, not sure which.  I mean, no wonder.  Poor kid.

Some of it is cultural.

Sid888

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #226 on: May 04, 2016, 05:45:17 AM »
Why should something as arbitrary as location dictate what school a kid attends? The wealthy have the option of moving, or sending their kids to private schools. The poor should not be condemned to a failed education because they have no other choice. This issue for me is one of social justice - each kid who would otherwise be a good student but cannot learn because of a dysfunctional environment, is a tragedy. It's a personal tragedy for the life they could have had, and it's a tragedy for society because that person was not able to achieve their full potential. Vouchers would at least (largely) equalize educational opportunities for motivated students/families of all income levels.

I think vouchers end up basically covering up the real problem. The reason for vouchers is that the school district I live in sucks, so I should be able to use the money the state would pay to that shitty district and use it for the school I want. Sounds fair enough.

But the shitty school district still exists and gets worse and worse since the only parents using vouchers are ones who care at least a little bit about their kids' educations. The students with parents who couldn't care less are left at schools receiving less and less funding.

Students without much opportunity are then surrounded by students without much opportunity. That can't be good for economic mobility. I suspect that most poor kids and young adults who "make it" can look back and think of a best friend who encouraged college, a supervisor at an early job who took an interest, etc. This social capital is under appreciated IMO.

 Why should you be forced to stay in a dysfunctional environment just for the sake of propping up the average? Your wealthier peers are either home schooled (they can live on one income), or they go to private school, or they moved to a better neighborhood. You, on the other hand, are poor so you don't have options. So you struggle to learn while being surrounded by people who don't care, and the deck is stacked against you. Your values place you in the minority and single you out as a 'nerd' so it's not like you're influential among your peers. I find this extremely unjust.

I knew that was coming and I don't really expect people to "sacrifice" their children for the good of others'. Vouchers seem like a quick dose of morphine though. The pain goes away, but the underlying problem is still there. The issue is that we have entire school districts that suck so bad to need vouchers in the first place.

Except that morphine is not a good analogy in this case. Morphine provides short-term relief whereas vouchers allow good students to attend good schools, and this provides a life-long benefit to them and to society. Ideally vouchers would not be needed, but after decades of experimentation to fix the problem, nothing has improved. In the meantime poor students should not bear the cost of poorly managed districts, the human cost is too high.

It seems to me that vouchers allow "good" students to flee perceived "bad" schools and spend money on private or religious schools or transfer to "good" public schools within the same school district.  Vouchers seem like the kind of fix that has the potential to erode public education in many poor communities if the voucher systems is not implemented properly.  The real problem is how public education is funded in the United States.  Property taxes pay a large portion of K-12 public education in the United States.  Even though every school district takes state money, they limit enrollment to their geographical boundaries which coincide with the property taxing district.  I might be for a voucher system if students were allowed to transfer (with busing) from any urban or suburban district to any urban or suburban district.  This would allow for much greater diversity in both urban and suburban schools which is greatly lacking now.  If this type of broad freedom to transfer is denied students in a voucher system, then I think it's better to focus on fixing the current system rather than complaining about it.  As a result, I think vouchers are bad because they create larger problems by concentrating the "bad" kids all in "bad" schools that will serve as a breeding ground for all kinds of bad problems.  As another poster suggested, and if we can't get a regional school choice voucher system, it is much better policy to use resources to simply make the "bad" schools better so the "good" students don't want to leave their neighborhood school.  Running away from problems never fixes problems although moving from a "bad" public school district to a "good" public school district would help solve some short term problems that your own children might be experiencing rather than staying put and hoping to use a voucher to pay for a private or religious school or transferring to a different public school within the same school district.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2016, 06:33:21 AM by Sid888 »

Sid888

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #227 on: May 04, 2016, 06:05:46 AM »
Quite right! One should be allowed to make as many poor decisions as possible with no shaming or repercussions. It's disgraceful.  And really, no one should have to choose between a luxury SUV, a beach side vacation home, an ivy league education, yearly international vacations AND saving for retirement. I mean, I'm middle class! I should have all of those things! 'Murica!

Were you Bobby Jindal's campaign manager?  Rather than deriding the middle class for making bad financial decisions (or in many cases, not making perfect financial decisions), maybe you can spend some time thinking about ways to conduct a very serious public financial education campaign that harshly derides consumerism, credit card use and current advertising and reality TV practices so the middle class has a fighting chance of making this rigged system work for them?

I've got no issues with their decisions. They made them, they are more than welcome to live with the consequences. They can even whine about how they couldn't possibly save for retirement while making boat payments.  If the American Dream is to be in debt up to one's eyballs, just like one's parents were, it isn't that hard to accomplish these days. Infact, I'd say it's easier than ever.

I don't understand why you would be okay with a system so broken that a majority of Americans think the system is rigged against them to cause them to fail?  The DIY retirement system is an absolute disaster.  I'm not sure why anyone backing the status quo - especially on this site - would oppose a vigorous MMM face punch style public education campaign on over-spending, debt, emergency fund, college and retirement saving, etc. that would properly attack the root causes of individuals making dumb short and long term financial decisions?  Is it because business owners fear that middle class workers might discover that they can't live in a decent K-12 school district AND save for retirement and college on the wages and benefits they are earning now?
« Last Edit: May 04, 2016, 06:13:03 AM by Sid888 »

ender

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #228 on: May 04, 2016, 06:12:47 AM »
I don't understand why you would be okay with a system so broken that a majority of Americans think the system is rigged against them to fail?  The DIY retirement system is an absolute disaster.  I'm not sure why anyone backing the status quo - especially on this site - would oppose a vigorous MMM face punch style public education campaign on over-spending, debt, emergency fund, college and retirement saving, etc. that would properly attack the root causes of individuals making dumb short and long term financial decisions?

For most folks, information is not the problem. Most people know they "should" save for retirement (particularly the middle class that the original quote was referring to). And even if it is, billions upon billions get spent every year convincing people they need X and must buy it.

But think about how many people smoke. Or are alcoholics. Information is normally not the primary problem - behavior change is hard, in general.

The problem is most people expect to have everything. They want their cake, they want to eat it, they want to take loans out against future cakes, and then they want to be guaranteed that future cake. And when people act in this way, what do you expect them to think? Clearly they will think the system is rigged against them.

Sid888

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #229 on: May 04, 2016, 06:22:13 AM »
I don't understand why you would be okay with a system so broken that a majority of Americans think the system is rigged against them to fail?  The DIY retirement system is an absolute disaster.  I'm not sure why anyone backing the status quo - especially on this site - would oppose a vigorous MMM face punch style public education campaign on over-spending, debt, emergency fund, college and retirement saving, etc. that would properly attack the root causes of individuals making dumb short and long term financial decisions?

For most folks, information is not the problem. Most people know they "should" save for retirement (particularly the middle class that the original quote was referring to). And even if it is, billions upon billions get spent every year convincing people they need X and must buy it.

But think about how many people smoke. Or are alcoholics. Information is normally not the primary problem - behavior change is hard, in general.

The problem is most people expect to have everything. They want their cake, they want to eat it, they want to take loans out against future cakes, and then they want to be guaranteed that future cake. And when people act in this way, what do you expect them to think? Clearly they will think the system is rigged against them.

I think how the information is presented is a problem.  For example, if, after a public education campaign, the general public were to perceive an urban or suburban F-150 driver as a wasteful idiot (as many of us do on this site) rather than an urban cowboy, then attitudes and behaviors would change.  In our DIY retirement system, not aggressively educating those making less money (and who cannot afford to make mistakes in managing their money starting in their twenties) and don't come from financially sophisticated, white collar backgrounds, is really rigging the system against them.  As you can see with the Trump and Sanders vote totals, the middle class is rejecting the United states current economic model because they don't believe they have a fighting chance.  Running away from giving them the tools to make the system work only reinforces the notion that the US economic system is rigged against the middle class.

With regard to retirement savings, an opt out or mandatory system would help solve this problem.  Not saving for your retirement in your twenties is very normal for most people.  The United States' current system fails to take that into account.  Many business leaders oppose this change in the system.  How can a system work if it ignores basic human nature?
« Last Edit: May 04, 2016, 06:53:43 AM by Sid888 »

infogoon

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #230 on: May 04, 2016, 09:42:42 AM »
Except that morphine is not a good analogy in this case. Morphine provides short-term relief whereas vouchers allow good students to attend good schools, and this provides a life-long benefit to them and to society. Ideally vouchers would not be needed, but after decades of experimentation to fix the problem, nothing has improved. In the meantime poor students should not bear the cost of poorly managed districts, the human cost is too high.

Wouldn't vouchers just lead to the same sort of problems that "free money" loans did in secondary education?

If every poor kid in Buffalo got a tuition voucher for $20k/year, all that would do is make the private schools raise their tuition by $20k/year. The same students would attend, the parents would pay the same amount out of pocket. Meanwhile, for-profit K-12 companies would spring up to offer new schools with terrible education but really impressive computer labs and athletic programs.

shelivesthedream

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #231 on: May 04, 2016, 10:06:41 AM »
My parents' first house in the 80's when they were in their late 20's was a little 2 bedroom craphole that my dad had to re-wire himself because it was dangerous to live in otherwise.  They both had college degrees and had been in the working world for 4-5 years.  I know people in their 20's today who whine about their 3-4 bedroom houses not having the right countertops or bathroom layouts. 

The problem I as a 27 year old see, is a lot of people in my age group remember what their parents had when they were kids (the parents were probably in their 40's) and expect to emulate that instantly after leaving home/college.  That is their "baseline" and they only expect to go up from there.  Eating at restaurants or driving new cars on long commutes are also huge money sink that most people don't even notice.  How is paying someone else to make your food for you considered a standard middle class thing?  That's freakin royalty status, yet I know people whose ovens are never used.

This certainly isn't everyone, but it's very frustrating to see.

+1 on the Baseline Inflation. I've been saying this for a few years to family, friends, and coworkers. Only the savvy get it.

Argh! I wrote a really long post about this put it didn't post, so here's the short version.

Is the 'problem' that people are having children later? Assuming everyone's life generally goes like this:

Early twenties: cockroach infested basement
Late twenties: no cockroaches but no luxuries
Early thirties: first 'family home'
Late thirties: interest in landscaping and granite countertops

If you have children in your early twenties then they'll mostly remember "no cockroaches" and the big deal that was moving into "first family home". Late twenties, it's "first family home" and the upgrades that came through landscaping and granite countertops. Early thirties and all they'll remember is the landscaping and granite countertops.

My parents had me and my brother in their mid to late thirties and we moved into "big forever family home" when I was five so that's all I remember. I am aware that we lived in a small house for five whole years of my life but that's not really a part of my experience. And my parents have mentioned crappy places they lived earlier in life but obviously I've never seen them and they've never gone into detail. My whole conception of "how people live" (in the sense that children can only extrapolate to generalities from what they know) was based on "big forever family home". How can it be any different for children who are born when their parents are in their thirties?

ooeei

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #232 on: May 04, 2016, 12:14:58 PM »
My parents' first house in the 80's when they were in their late 20's was a little 2 bedroom craphole that my dad had to re-wire himself because it was dangerous to live in otherwise.  They both had college degrees and had been in the working world for 4-5 years.  I know people in their 20's today who whine about their 3-4 bedroom houses not having the right countertops or bathroom layouts. 

The problem I as a 27 year old see, is a lot of people in my age group remember what their parents had when they were kids (the parents were probably in their 40's) and expect to emulate that instantly after leaving home/college.  That is their "baseline" and they only expect to go up from there.  Eating at restaurants or driving new cars on long commutes are also huge money sink that most people don't even notice.  How is paying someone else to make your food for you considered a standard middle class thing?  That's freakin royalty status, yet I know people whose ovens are never used.

This certainly isn't everyone, but it's very frustrating to see.

+1 on the Baseline Inflation. I've been saying this for a few years to family, friends, and coworkers. Only the savvy get it.

Argh! I wrote a really long post about this put it didn't post, so here's the short version.

Is the 'problem' that people are having children later? Assuming everyone's life generally goes like this:

Early twenties: cockroach infested basement
Late twenties: no cockroaches but no luxuries
Early thirties: first 'family home'
Late thirties: interest in landscaping and granite countertops

If you have children in your early twenties then they'll mostly remember "no cockroaches" and the big deal that was moving into "first family home". Late twenties, it's "first family home" and the upgrades that came through landscaping and granite countertops. Early thirties and all they'll remember is the landscaping and granite countertops.

My parents had me and my brother in their mid to late thirties and we moved into "big forever family home" when I was five so that's all I remember. I am aware that we lived in a small house for five whole years of my life but that's not really a part of my experience. And my parents have mentioned crappy places they lived earlier in life but obviously I've never seen them and they've never gone into detail. My whole conception of "how people live" (in the sense that children can only extrapolate to generalities from what they know) was based on "big forever family home". How can it be any different for children who are born when their parents are in their thirties?

Everyone thinks they should be doing better than their parents (up, up, up!), and easy credit makes it possible, temporarily. 

I think another part of it is parents shielding their kids from crappy sacrifices they have to make, or at the least downplaying them.  Nobody tells their 5 year old "Daddy's working this weekend because he took out too much of a loan for his new car, so he can't quit his job even though his boss is a complete asshole."

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #233 on: May 04, 2016, 12:25:52 PM »
I don't think real estate tax bases are the real problem. The local horrible, unsafe urban district spends on the high end per student compared with nearby districts that are among the best in the state. Baltimore spends $15,287 per student every year. Newark, NJ spends $23,946. Throwing more money at it is not a fix.

pachnik

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #234 on: May 04, 2016, 12:36:13 PM »
Everyone thinks they should be doing better than their parents (up, up, up!), and easy credit makes it possible, temporarily. 

I think another part of it is parents shielding their kids from crappy sacrifices they have to make, or at the least downplaying them.  Nobody tells their 5 year old "Daddy's working this weekend because he took out too much of a loan for his new car, so he can't quit his job even though his boss is a complete asshole."

I think this assumption about everyone thinking they should be doing better than their parents is unrealistic (in my opinion).  It is also something that is very rarely questioned.  Of course, it would be nice if every generation did better than the previous one but I don't think this is economically possible.  Things can't always be on an upswing.

stoaX

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #235 on: May 04, 2016, 01:29:48 PM »
I don't think real estate tax bases are the real problem. The local horrible, unsafe urban district spends on the high end per student compared with nearby districts that are among the best in the state. Baltimore spends $15,287 per student every year. Newark, NJ spends $23,946. Throwing more money at it is not a fix.

Agreed - my tale of 3 school districts confirms this.  I sent my kids to school in 3 different school districts over the years.  One school district had property taxes of $1000 per year, the other two cost me about $5000 per year.  One of the $5000 per year districts was the best, the $1000 district was a close second.  The other $5000 district was the worst.

rosaz

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #236 on: May 04, 2016, 01:37:15 PM »
The problem with our schools is that too large a percentage comes from real estate taxes... Our schools are inherently un-equal.

I think the idea that failing schools are failing because they spend less per student is a misconception (generally - of course there will be exceptions). In Massachusetts at least, some of the worst school districts spend far more money than the statewide average - and the best school districts frequently spend average or less.

That's not to say that more money wouldn't help these schools, but if we ever did go to just a statewide tax funding for the schools, a lot of our urban schools would be worse off.

FINate

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #237 on: May 04, 2016, 03:03:47 PM »
Except that morphine is not a good analogy in this case. Morphine provides short-term relief whereas vouchers allow good students to attend good schools, and this provides a life-long benefit to them and to society. Ideally vouchers would not be needed, but after decades of experimentation to fix the problem, nothing has improved. In the meantime poor students should not bear the cost of poorly managed districts, the human cost is too high.

Wouldn't vouchers just lead to the same sort of problems that "free money" loans did in secondary education?

If every poor kid in Buffalo got a tuition voucher for $20k/year, all that would do is make the private schools raise their tuition by $20k/year. The same students would attend, the parents would pay the same amount out of pocket. Meanwhile, for-profit K-12 companies would spring up to offer new schools with terrible education but really impressive computer labs and athletic programs.

Assuming $20k is per student per year is enough to fund a school, then this would result in the creation of more private schools. So existing ones may raise their tuition, but others will step in to fill the gaps.

yourusernamehere

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #238 on: May 04, 2016, 03:12:18 PM »

My parents' first house in the 80's when they were in their late 20's was a little 2 bedroom craphole that my dad had to re-wire himself because it was dangerous to live in otherwise.  They both had college degrees and had been in the working world for 4-5 years.  I know people in their 20's today who whine about their 3-4 bedroom houses not having the right countertops or bathroom layouts. 

The problem I as a 27 year old see, is a lot of people in my age group remember what their parents had when they were kids (the parents were probably in their 40's) and expect to emulate that instantly after leaving home/college.  That is their "baseline" and they only expect to go up from there.  Eating at restaurants or driving new cars on long commutes are also huge money sink that most people don't even notice.  How is paying someone else to make your food for you considered a standard middle class thing?  That's freakin royalty status, yet I know people whose ovens are never used.

This certainly isn't everyone, but it's very frustrating to see.

+1 on the Baseline Inflation. I've been saying this for a few years to family, friends, and coworkers. Only the savvy get it.

Argh! I wrote a really long post about this put it didn't post, so here's the short version.

Is the 'problem' that people are having children later? Assuming everyone's life generally goes like this:

Early twenties: cockroach infested basement
Late twenties: no cockroaches but no luxuries
Early thirties: first 'family home'
Late thirties: interest in landscaping and granite countertops

If you have children in your early twenties then they'll mostly remember "no cockroaches" and the big deal that was moving into "first family home". Late twenties, it's "first family home" and the upgrades that came through landscaping and granite countertops. Early thirties and all they'll remember is the landscaping and granite countertops.

My parents had me and my brother in their mid to late thirties and we moved into "big forever family home" when I was five so that's all I remember. I am aware that we lived in a small house for five whole years of my life but that's not really a part of my experience. And my parents have mentioned crappy places they lived earlier in life but obviously I've never seen them and they've never gone into detail. My whole conception of "how people live" (in the sense that children can only extrapolate to generalities from what they know) was based on "big forever family home". How can it be any different for children who are born when their parents are in their thirties?

Everyone thinks they should be doing better than their parents (up, up, up!), and easy credit makes it possible, temporarily. 

I think another part of it is parents shielding their kids from crappy sacrifices they have to make, or at the least downplaying them.  Nobody tells their 5 year old "Daddy's working this weekend because he took out too much of a loan for his new car, so he can't quit his job even though his boss is a complete asshole."
Interesting point. I remember asking my dad for some spending money once (around age 10 maybe?) and his reply was to walk me into the den and show me which bills he was choosing to pay late to get caught up on the others from last month. He showed me how it was a constant balancing game, and the $5 I wanted would be coming from the grocery money. During this time my parents both worked multiple jobs, and I later learned they had really bought too much house - though not much at all by today's "standards." That memory stuck with me as a Thing I Never Want to Have to Do. I'm sure it made a difference.

FINate

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #239 on: May 04, 2016, 03:15:44 PM »
It seems to me that vouchers allow "good" students to flee perceived "bad" schools and spend money on private or religious schools or transfer to "good" public schools within the same school district.  Vouchers seem like the kind of fix that has the potential to erode public education in many poor communities if the voucher systems is not implemented properly.  The real problem is how public education is funded in the United States.  Property taxes pay a large portion of K-12 public education in the United States.  Even though every school district takes state money, they limit enrollment to their geographical boundaries which coincide with the property taxing district.  I might be for a voucher system if students were allowed to transfer (with busing) from any urban or suburban district to any urban or suburban district.  This would allow for much greater diversity in both urban and suburban schools which is greatly lacking now.  If this type of broad freedom to transfer is denied students in a voucher system, then I think it's better to focus on fixing the current system rather than complaining about it.  As a result, I think vouchers are bad because they create larger problems by concentrating the "bad" kids all in "bad" schools that will serve as a breeding ground for all kinds of bad problems.  As another poster suggested, and if we can't get a regional school choice voucher system, it is much better policy to use resources to simply make the "bad" schools better so the "good" students don't want to leave their neighborhood school.  Running away from problems never fixes problems although moving from a "bad" public school district to a "good" public school district would help solve some short term problems that your own children might be experiencing rather than staying put and hoping to use a voucher to pay for a private or religious school or transferring to a different public school within the same school district.

Vouchers are one way to increase school choice. Charter schools are another option. Or it may be possible to allow more movement across district boundaries. Increased parent choice is always better, we should be pursuing all options. If a school is "bad" because the vast majority of students don't value education, then no one will notice if they lose a few good students to other schools. If, on the other hand, a large number of students (and parents) really care and a school is simply poorly managed, then it's better for that school to be forced to shut down. Voting with your feet is not "running away from problems," it's keeping schools and districts accountable.

BigoteGato

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #240 on: May 05, 2016, 09:19:26 AM »
My parents' first house in the 80's when they were in their late 20's was a little 2 bedroom craphole that my dad had to re-wire himself because it was dangerous to live in otherwise.  They both had college degrees and had been in the working world for 4-5 years.  I know people in their 20's today who whine about their 3-4 bedroom houses not having the right countertops or bathroom layouts. 

The problem I as a 27 year old see, is a lot of people in my age group remember what their parents had when they were kids (the parents were probably in their 40's) and expect to emulate that instantly after leaving home/college.  That is their "baseline" and they only expect to go up from there.  Eating at restaurants or driving new cars on long commutes are also huge money sink that most people don't even notice.  How is paying someone else to make your food for you considered a standard middle class thing?  That's freakin royalty status, yet I know people whose ovens are never used.

This certainly isn't everyone, but it's very frustrating to see.

+1 on the Baseline Inflation. I've been saying this for a few years to family, friends, and coworkers. Only the savvy get it.

Argh! I wrote a really long post about this put it didn't post, so here's the short version.

Is the 'problem' that people are having children later? Assuming everyone's life generally goes like this:

Early twenties: cockroach infested basement
Late twenties: no cockroaches but no luxuries
Early thirties: first 'family home'
Late thirties: interest in landscaping and granite countertops

If you have children in your early twenties then they'll mostly remember "no cockroaches" and the big deal that was moving into "first family home". Late twenties, it's "first family home" and the upgrades that came through landscaping and granite countertops. Early thirties and all they'll remember is the landscaping and granite countertops.

My parents had me and my brother in their mid to late thirties and we moved into "big forever family home" when I was five so that's all I remember. I am aware that we lived in a small house for five whole years of my life but that's not really a part of my experience. And my parents have mentioned crappy places they lived earlier in life but obviously I've never seen them and they've never gone into detail. My whole conception of "how people live" (in the sense that children can only extrapolate to generalities from what they know) was based on "big forever family home". How can it be any different for children who are born when their parents are in their thirties?

Excellent post. I had noticed the increase in expectations, but had not connected it to later births. Thanks for the insight.

golden1

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #241 on: May 05, 2016, 09:58:51 AM »
There is a follow up article to this in the Atlantic: 

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/05/american-financial-hell/481107/

It essentially tries to tie increasing wealth inequality to people spending like they are living on the edge.  I think there is some truth to that.  I live in MA, and people around here are definitely house poor since we have great schools here.  It is just assumed that you will live in the most expensive town you can afford in order to get your kids in the best schools. 

dogboyslim

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #242 on: May 05, 2016, 11:10:44 AM »
He has a bike, but the games aren't close by and drivers are crazy.  And he's not allowed to leave the elementary school grounds without a parent to sign him out. (not until he's 12, which is another 2 years).

We don't let our kids bike to soccer or swimming because we live in suburbia and the roads are all 4 lane 45 mph roads. We do let them bike to school since that is within our neighborhood and no major streets are involved.  We had to sign something saying that he could leave school on bike and understood that he would not be under supervision if he did so.  School is about .7 miles from home.  I'm not sure your situation or if you are even interested in having the kids bike to school, but the school may have some alternative checkout for kids that walk/bike to school.

ardrum

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #243 on: May 05, 2016, 11:15:43 AM »
Quote
In the absence of a good understanding of what is going on, people frequently disparage those who are suffering. There are two common reactions to The Atlantic’s May cover story. On the left there seems to be a lot of, “Boohoo, a rich person who spends too much. We have real poverty to worry about.” On the right there was more of, “He made bad decisions and blames the system, our glorious system, for it!”

The author seems quick to dismiss any critique of the featured individual's situation here.  She implies for someone to raise either of these critiques (which could be both put forth by the same person rather than dependent on left/right leanings as she suggests), they must be lacking "a good understanding of what is going on.". Hah!

She then fails to adequately address either of these "common reactions," instead going on and on about housing being too expensive.  If these "suffering" middle class Americans (itself an insulting characterization to over a billion people on the planet at the true bottom of the economic barrel) presented their financial situations in case study format on this forum, I would love to see the average amount of complete waste in their spending (look, I levied both common reactions!).  Of course, most people couldn't present this information because they don't bother to even pay attention to their own economic behavior over time.

I am in probably the perceived "best" school district in my area and live comfortably at $18k/year, including housing expenses, with a bit of waste still in my budget that I will reduce further when I move. 

Nobody NEEDS to be spending $50-100k of earned income to "get by" and have children be adequately educated.  I would start to question one's perception of what constitutes a good education rather than blindly think the most expensive school is necessarily the best.  Last I checked, hard work had something to do with learning, and many college students aren't even cracking open books in expensive private schools. 

Overall, these kinds of articles just reek of complainypants sentiment and a deep desire to play the victim card.


golden1

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #244 on: May 05, 2016, 11:37:07 AM »
It is definitely possible to live in a good school district and live frugally, but the supply of those living situations is limited.  The point isn't that you CAN"T live frugally, it is that our society's incentives to get your kids in the best possible school district are very strong and hard to ignore for a variety of reasons.  Not all of these are logical reasons, but they are driving people en mass to spend a lot of money.  So to me the stereotype of the wasteful spender who is buying large screen TVs and expensive cable isn't what I see.  I see people paying 50+ percent of their income in housing so their kids can go to a highly ranked school district so they can get into a good college and have a shot at moving up the ladder.  And it isn't just the parents, it is the culture at large that is pushing this path to prosperity.  Changing culture is hard. 

infogoon

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #245 on: May 05, 2016, 12:02:49 PM »
Assuming $20k is per student per year is enough to fund a school, then this would result in the creation of more private schools. So existing ones may raise their tuition, but others will step in to fill the gaps.

Oh, I'm sure others will step in. Any time there's an exploitable source of government cash, people are happy to step in and try to get a piece of the action. I just have my doubts that the people stepping in will be able to actually run a better school than the ones in the public system they're taking money from. I imagine a lot of it will end up like Deion Sanders' charter school, or the other for-profit corporate charter schools that are failing all over America.

Tyson

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #246 on: May 05, 2016, 12:42:29 PM »
Assuming $20k is per student per year is enough to fund a school, then this would result in the creation of more private schools. So existing ones may raise their tuition, but others will step in to fill the gaps.

Oh, I'm sure others will step in. Any time there's an exploitable source of government cash, people are happy to step in and try to get a piece of the action. I just have my doubts that the people stepping in will be able to actually run a better school than the ones in the public system they're taking money from. I imagine a lot of it will end up like Deion Sanders' charter school, or the other for-profit corporate charter schools that are failing all over America.

The problem with private anything is that the companies are motivated by profit, so they will always try to cut costs as low as possible (such as teacher salaries and buildings and supplies) as low as possible.  First, drive out the competition, then ruthlessly lower standards and costs in order to maximize profit.  Its the American Way!

Sid888

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #247 on: May 05, 2016, 12:51:08 PM »
There is a follow up article to this in the Atlantic: 

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/05/american-financial-hell/481107/

It essentially tries to tie increasing wealth inequality to people spending like they are living on the edge.  I think there is some truth to that.  I live in MA, and people around here are definitely house poor since we have great schools here.  It is just assumed that you will live in the most expensive town you can afford in order to get your kids in the best schools.

Thanks for posting.  This paragraph pretty much sums it up.

"There’s no escaping the pressure that U.S. inequality exerts on parents to make sure their kids succeed.  At its core, this relentless drive to spend any money available comes not from a desire to consume more lattes and own nicer cars, but, largely, from the pressure people feel to provide their kids with access to the best schools they can afford (purchased, in most cases, not via tuition but via real estate in a specific public-school district). Breaking the bank for your kids’ education is, to an extent, perfectly reasonable: In a deeply unequal society, the gains to be made by being among the elite are enormous, and the consequences of not being among them are dire. When understood mainly as a consequence of this rush to provide for one’s children, the drive to maximize spending is not some bizarre mystery, nor a sign of massive irresponsibility, but a predictable consequence of severe inequality."

MrMoogle

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #248 on: May 05, 2016, 12:53:16 PM »
Assuming $20k is per student per year is enough to fund a school, then this would result in the creation of more private schools. So existing ones may raise their tuition, but others will step in to fill the gaps.

Oh, I'm sure others will step in. Any time there's an exploitable source of government cash, people are happy to step in and try to get a piece of the action. I just have my doubts that the people stepping in will be able to actually run a better school than the ones in the public system they're taking money from. I imagine a lot of it will end up like Deion Sanders' charter school, or the other for-profit corporate charter schools that are failing all over America.

The problem with private anything is that the companies are motivated by profit, so they will always try to cut costs as low as possible (such as teacher salaries and buildings and supplies) as low as possible.  First, drive out the competition, then ruthlessly lower standards and costs in order to maximize profit.  Its the American Way!
If parents homeschool, can they get that $20k?  I bet a lot of parents with a lot of kids would do that.

If you successfully drive out competition, and it becomes a monopoly, then yes, you can cut costs, but as long as there is choice, some people will see the difference.  It's the same on the teacher side.

Paying teachers as low as possible isn't a bad thing, as long as you still get results.  It's when you choose less quality because it is cheaper, that's the problem. 

Frugal vs cheap, we want frugal, not cheap.

FINate

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Re: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans
« Reply #249 on: May 05, 2016, 01:00:30 PM »
Assuming $20k is per student per year is enough to fund a school, then this would result in the creation of more private schools. So existing ones may raise their tuition, but others will step in to fill the gaps.

Oh, I'm sure others will step in. Any time there's an exploitable source of government cash, people are happy to step in and try to get a piece of the action. I just have my doubts that the people stepping in will be able to actually run a better school than the ones in the public system they're taking money from. I imagine a lot of it will end up like Deion Sanders' charter school, or the other for-profit corporate charter schools that are failing all over America.

The problem with private anything is that the companies are motivated by profit, so they will always try to cut costs as low as possible (such as teacher salaries and buildings and supplies) as low as possible.  First, drive out the competition, then ruthlessly lower standards and costs in order to maximize profit.  Its the American Way!

Many private schools are non-profits. As I mentioned earlier in the thread, I attended a private high school with a budget substantially less than that of the local public schools, and yet it had much better outcomes. If private schools, charters, or other options don't do a better job then parents can pull their kids and go elsewhere. Some charter schools have failed whereas others have succeeded. The charter schools in my area outperform the other public schools. YMMV. I don't understand what's so scary about giving ALL parents, regardless of wealth, choices for their kids education.