T Nation

Upward Mobility

US was once touted as th eland of opportunity, but with a disappearing middle class and a growing lower class, it seems the ladder of upward mobility is getting harder and harder to climb.

Studies show France, Denmark and Canada are beating the US in upward generational mobility. Americans are arguably more likely than they were 30 years ago to end up in the class into which they were born.

I read through the posts in the Gas prices thread and it seems the consensus is that the gas prices are OK if it makes some people wealthy, but it seems to me the only people getting wealthy are the wealthy.

[quote]Petedacook wrote:
I read through the posts in the Gas prices thread and it seems the consensus is that the gas prices are OK if it makes some people wealthy, but it seems to me the only people getting wealthy are the wealthy. [/quote]

From my understanding, this is the unspoken premise of capitalism. Yes, some like to quote stories of self-made billionaires who worked their way up from the bottom, but for every one that makes it, go figure how many stay at the bottom. Of course, in this day and age of patents and almighty transnational corporations, your claims can easily be demonstrated.

You might find this piece of interest:

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=12416

I grew up in inner-city Detroit. I worked nights in a factory while getting my degree. As a teacher, I don’t earn big $$$, but am proud of every dollar I earn, in honest exchange with the parents who pay my salary.

My wife inherited a good deal of money from a man who slaved all his life, invested and saved.

We are now quite well off. Do you, Pete, propose that we be taxed for the benefit of those who didn’t want to be bothered? For those who give up and become crack heads? To those who drop out of school and have baby after baby, usually with a different father for each kid?

If so, you’re motivation is destruction. You wish to destroy those who work and produce, for the benefit of those who don’t…for the benefit of the human incompetent, the lazy, the shiftless, the ‘if-only’ ones. In the name of benevolence, you wish to sacrifice the honest and the just, to those who’re neither. This we call moral cannabalism.

[quote]Petedacook wrote:
US was once touted as th eland of opportunity, but with a disappearing middle class and a growing lower class, it seems the ladder of upward mobility is getting harder and harder to climb.

Studies show France, Denmark and Canada are beating the US in upward generational mobility. Americans are arguably more likely than they were 30 years ago to end up in the class into which they were born.

I read through the posts in the Gas prices thread and it seems the consensus is that the gas prices are OK if it makes some people wealthy, but it seems to me the only people getting wealthy are the wealthy. [/quote]

So, Pete - do tell. What are the barriers? Lack of access to education? Overburdensome taxes?

“Land of opportunity” means success awaits you if you make good choices, work hard, put off self-gratification, invest in yourself, live within your means.

“Land of opportunity” does not mean a guaranteed income or standard of living regardless of your effort or work ethic.

So, I am curious - what are the barriers?

[quote]Petedacook wrote:
US was once touted as th eland of opportunity, but with a disappearing middle class and a growing lower class, it seems the ladder of upward mobility is getting harder and harder to climb.

Studies show France, Denmark and Canada are beating the US in upward generational mobility. Americans are arguably more likely than they were 30 years ago to end up in the class into which they were born.

I read through the posts in the Gas prices thread and it seems the consensus is that the gas prices are OK if it makes some people wealthy, but it seems to me the only people getting wealthy are the wealthy. [/quote]

Then move to Denmark and get rich.

Work hard, get an education, improve your credentials, don’t whine = success

Minimal education, poor work ethic, bitching and complaining, complacency = failure.

Don’t blame anyone but yourself for your failures.

Pete’s political posts lately are in dire need of musical accompaniment.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:

We are now quite well off. Do you, Pete, propose that we be taxed for the benefit of those who didn’t want to be bothered? For those who give up and become crack heads? To those who drop out of school and have baby after baby, usually with a different father for each kid?

[/quote]

No man, I do not recommend we tax the well of more. In fact I think taxes should be equal across the board. I do not have the answer and I do not claim to have the answer, but I do recognize a disappearing middle class and an increasing generation gap in upward social mobility.

When I was in college I worked as a night time loader at UPS, and a cook in a restaurant in the evenings and weekends; hence my username here. I could barely afford books, tuition, and clothing, let alone a vehicle to get me to my jobs and school.

To propose that the people I went to school with that had theiir tuition paid , a brand new car paid for, insurance for the car, taxes, clothes, party money, lodging, all paid for, worked harder than me, or even as hard, is simply not true.

In an extreme example Paris Hilton did nothing but be born, be a skank, and get drunk, and she is set for life. I fail to see how she worked hard for anything, ever.

I just don’t see blanketing the wealthy with “they are wealthy because they earned it,” and on the other side blanketing the poor with “they are poor because they are lazy and smoke crack.”

You guys are rough, but I guess I deserve it. Yet at the same time, I see you all beat up anyone differing with your view point, so I question whether your response would be so rough had I not posted crap in other threads. My guess is you would be just as harsh.

The only reason I see for you catching crap is that this is basically whining. You weren’t constructive, just posting an obvious fact of life.

This sums it all up. If you had an interesting idea on the topic to share, okay, but this is common-knowledge complaining. If you join/start more interesting, in depth conversation with intellectual potential, I suspect you’ll enjoy yourself much more, as will those who partake with you.

Don’t take it so hard, folks. There isn’t a single society in the world that isn’t a class society, US included. Sometimes there are more potential roads upwards, sometimes they are few. Even in hard times a person who is dedicated can get lucky, but there are no guarantees. Someone will lose.

[quote]karva wrote:
Don’t take it so hard, folks. There isn’t a single society in the world that isn’t a class society, US included. Sometimes there are more potential roads upwards, sometimes they are few. Even in hard times a person who is dedicated can get lucky, but there are no guarantees. Someone will lose.[/quote]

Maybe, but I`d rather lose in the US or in Europe where 4 cheeseburgers are 4$ and even the public parks are better than the streets of Calcutta.

[quote]orion wrote:
karva wrote:
Don’t take it so hard, folks. There isn’t a single society in the world that isn’t a class society, US included. Sometimes there are more potential roads upwards, sometimes they are few. Even in hard times a person who is dedicated can get lucky, but there are no guarantees. Someone will lose.

Maybe, but I`d rather lose in the US or in Europe where 4 cheeseburgers are 4$ and even the public parks are better than the streets of Calcutta.
[/quote]

Yes, I agree, but on the other hand, in Calcutta no-one will harass you for your pot.

[quote]karva wrote:
orion wrote:
karva wrote:
Don’t take it so hard, folks. There isn’t a single society in the world that isn’t a class society, US included. Sometimes there are more potential roads upwards, sometimes they are few. Even in hard times a person who is dedicated can get lucky, but there are no guarantees. Someone will lose.

Maybe, but I`d rather lose in the US or in Europe where 4 cheeseburgers are 4$ and even the public parks are better than the streets of Calcutta.

Yes, I agree, but on the other hand, in Calcutta no-one will harass you for your pot.
[/quote]

Damn.

If you have a good idea and the will to work, Denmark or France are the last places you would go. Unspoken Class barriers and lack of capital for someone not in touch will prevent you from doing anything with it.

The US has no barriers for opportunity. My dad was a carpenter and I own a fairly large company. Class didn’t prevent me from doing a dam thing. Hard work and a little luck is what it takes to be successful in life and business.

I hire a ton of legal immigrants. They all want to work and make a good life for themselves. Something they were prevented from doing back home. Let me tell you they are becoming solid middle class citizens thru hard work and the risks they took.

[quote]Petedacook wrote:
Headhunter wrote:

We are now quite well off. Do you, Pete, propose that we be taxed for the benefit of those who didn’t want to be bothered? For those who give up and become crack heads? To those who drop out of school and have baby after baby, usually with a different father for each kid?

No man, I do not recommend we tax the well of more. In fact I think taxes should be equal across the board. I do not have the answer and I do not claim to have the answer, but I do recognize a disappearing middle class and an increasing generation gap in upward social mobility.

You wish to destroy those who work and produce, for the benefit of those who don’t…for the benefit of the human incompetent, the lazy, the shiftless, the ‘if-only’ ones. In the name of benevolence, you wish to sacrifice the honest and the just, to those who’re neither. This we call moral cannabalism.

When I was in college I worked as a night time loader at UPS, and a cook in a restaurant in the evenings and weekends; hence my username here. I could barely afford books, tuition, and clothing, let alone a vehicle to get me to my jobs and school.

To propose that the people I went to school with that had theiir tuition paid , a brand new car paid for, insurance for the car, taxes, clothes, party money, lodging, all paid for, worked harder than me, or even as hard, is simply not true.

In an extreme example Paris Hilton did nothing but be born, be a skank, and get drunk, and she is set for life. I fail to see how she worked hard for anything, ever.

I just don’t see blanketing the wealthy with “they are wealthy because they earned it,” and on the other side blanketing the poor with “they are poor because they are lazy and smoke crack.”

You guys are rough, but I guess I deserve it. Yet at the same time, I see you all beat up anyone differing with your view point, so I question whether your response would be so rough had I not posted crap in other threads. My guess is you would be just as harsh.

[/quote]

I had no intention to be harsh, only fair. I am pretty soft-hearted and try to give as much to those in need as I can. Trouble is, I grew up poor. I know most are not worth a fart in hell. When people you grew up with beg money from you to pay their gas bill and use your money for a drunken party,…well, you learn a few things.

God bless ya, Pete. Your heart’s in the right place, but most of the people you empathize with are simply human debris.

[quote]Petedacook wrote:

You guys are rough, but I guess I deserve it. Yet at the same time, I see you all beat up anyone differing with your view point, so I question whether your response would be so rough had I not posted crap in other threads. My guess is you would be just as harsh. [/quote]

I wasn’t intending to be rough here - I was legitimately curious what the barriers are to upward mobility.

Your disdain for “unearned privilege” is well-received by me - I have been surrounded by tons of arrogant snotbags who were the proverbial “born on third base and went through life thinking they hit a triple”.

That said, a free society that has opportunity will always include those people. But, Paris Hilton’s existence has zero impact on my ability to do well for myself - she is irrelevant to my success or lack of it, regardless of my opinion of her.

Economics is not a zero-sum game - Hilton doesn’t have something that has been otherwise taken from me.

[quote]Petedacook wrote:
US was once touted as th eland of opportunity, but with a disappearing middle class and a growing lower class, it seems the ladder of upward mobility is getting harder and harder to climb.

Studies show France, Denmark and Canada are beating the US in upward generational mobility. Americans are arguably more likely than they were 30 years ago to end up in the class into which they were born.

I read through the posts in the Gas prices thread and it seems the consensus is that the gas prices are OK if it makes some people wealthy, but it seems to me the only people getting wealthy are the wealthy. [/quote]

Not really sure what the point of your post is. Maybe you are just feeling sorry for yourself today? Dead end job. No motivation. This may or may not be the case with you.

Regardless, this attitude IS the problem. And it’s becoming pervasive in our culture. A lot of whining and no DOING. A lot of excuses and no action. In the enviroment I’m in, that kind of attitude does not exist. I am surrounded by people who have worked to acheive and they have to some degree.

When I go to Wal-Mart, though, I see the people you are talking about.

Here’s my story:

1993: Retail manager making 40K per year. Tired of the hours, decided to start over due to average of 70 hours per week and no life. I was 24 years old.

1994: Moved to new industry. Started at the bottom making $8 per hour (16K), 40 hours per week.

1996: Making $9 per hour(18K).

Took a promotion. Had to travel for it. Did it.

1997: Making 47K per year. All expenses paid for being on travel.

1998: Same as above.

1999: Same as above.

2000: Went to work as private contractor for 80K per year. Hours up again around 60 hours per week.

2001: Hired by organization I was contracting for at 50K per year (yet another pay cut in order to secure future employment). Back to 40 hours.

2002: Same as above. Got married.

2003: Promoted to Manager. Earning 65K per year.

2004: Same job. Raise to 70K per year. Had child.

2005: Another promotion to Sr. Management (VP). Raise to 90K.

2006: Same job. Raise to 97K.

2007: Same job. Raise to 104K. Still working 40 hours per week. Time for family. All is great. I’m 37.

Upward mobility at it’s best. No one GAVE me anything. I took chances and did my best at each stop along the way. I’m nothing special. Can happen for anyone.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
I grew up in inner-city Detroit. I worked nights in a factory while getting my degree. As a teacher, I don’t earn big $$$, but am proud of every dollar I earn, in honest exchange with the parents who pay my salary.

My wife inherited a good deal of money from a man who slaved all his life, invested and saved.

We are now quite well off. Do you, Pete, propose that we be taxed for the benefit of those who didn’t want to be bothered? For those who give up and become crack heads? To those who drop out of school and have baby after baby, usually with a different father for each kid?

If so, you’re motivation is destruction. You wish to destroy those who work and produce, for the benefit of those who don’t…for the benefit of the human incompetent, the lazy, the shiftless, the ‘if-only’ ones. In the name of benevolence, you wish to sacrifice the honest and the just, to those who’re neither. This we call moral cannabalism.[/quote]

HH, again you have taken the premise of the post and twisted it into your demented world-view. The OP was about how many of the working class do not raise up out of that “class”. The fact that you get a free ride because your wife’s father was enterprising enough to save, invest, etc. proves the point that you couldn’t make well to do on your own.

Do you have any concept of the “working poor”? One summer I needed the cash while I was finishing up my degree so I took an “internship” in a factory building test equipment for laser printers. Basically, an internship is code for “we aren’t paying you shit”. I was glad for the $9.50/hour I made because it paid the bills. I was also receiving the GI Bill at the time so I was ok.

I was working along side some of the hardest working people I have ever known who never complained about their work whom subsequently made barely enough to survive and consequently had to take a second job after having been on their feet all day. I lasted the summer because I knew it was just a means to an end. My coworkers didn’t have that luxury.

I really take offense at people like you who turn these hard working people into victims. They are not. They need the same things to survive that you do–most of them had barely enough health care to pay for an emergency room visit. Paying the 20% not covered by their insurance would break them.

You are just a hack, surviving off his wife…tell us how the poor are stealing from you some more. I need a good laugh today.

[quote]Petedacook wrote:
In an extreme example Paris Hilton did nothing but be born, be a skank, and get drunk, and she is set for life. I fail to see how she worked hard for anything, ever.
[/quote]

This is one more data point that proves the estate tax needs to remain unchanged. We should change the name of the tax to “anti-king tax” to get more people on board–since the entire point is to keep people from riding on their parents laurels and stifling the rise of an aristocracy . Not that she should not get some inheritance. I just hope that her father is smart enough to give his money away before he dies.

Warren Buffet’s take on it, taken from:

http://www.pgtoday.com/pgt/articles/the_estate_of_the_union.htm

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
Headhunter wrote:
I grew up in inner-city Detroit. I worked nights in a factory while getting my degree. As a teacher, I don’t earn big $$$, but am proud of every dollar I earn, in honest exchange with the parents who pay my salary.

My wife inherited a good deal of money from a man who slaved all his life, invested and saved.

We are now quite well off. Do you, Pete, propose that we be taxed for the benefit of those who didn’t want to be bothered? For those who give up and become crack heads? To those who drop out of school and have baby after baby, usually with a different father for each kid?

If so, you’re motivation is destruction. You wish to destroy those who work and produce, for the benefit of those who don’t…for the benefit of the human incompetent, the lazy, the shiftless, the ‘if-only’ ones. In the name of benevolence, you wish to sacrifice the honest and the just, to those who’re neither. This we call moral cannabalism.

HH, again you have taken the premise of the post and twisted it into your demented world-view. The OP was about how many of the working class do not raise up out of that “class”. The fact that you get a free ride because your wife’s father was enterprising enough to save, invest, etc. proves the point that you couldn’t make well to do on your own.

Do you have any concept of the “working poor”? One summer I needed the cash while I was finishing up my degree so I took an “internship” in a factory building test equipment for laser printers. Basically, an internship is code for “we aren’t paying you shit”. I was glad for the $9.50/hour I made because it paid the bills. I was also receiving the GI Bill at the time so I was ok.

I was working along side some of the hardest working people I have ever known who never complained about their work whom subsequently made barely enough to survive and consequently had to take a second job after having been on their feet all day. I lasted the summer because I knew it was just a means to an end. My coworkers didn’t have that luxury.

I really take offense at people like you who turn these hard working people into victims. They are not. They need the same things to survive that you do–most of them had barely enough health care to pay for an emergency room visit. Paying the 20% not covered by their insurance would break them.

You are just a hack, surviving off his wife…tell us how the poor are stealing from you some more. I need a good laugh today.[/quote]

Personal decisions. I do not disagree with what you said, but your lot in life is 100% your choice.

I’m sure you remember those guys in the military who were always broke, in debt, and in lots of financial trouble, yet his friend who is the same rank, receives the exact same pay does just fine and even manages to save a little. Personal choices.

[quote]Petedacook wrote:
In an extreme example Paris Hilton did nothing but be born, be a skank, and get drunk, and she is set for life. I fail to see how she worked hard for anything, ever.[/quote]

I’m split on this issue Pete. I’m definitely a capitalist in the short term and Paris Hilton has every right to the money her father earned, or rather, her father has every right to give her the money.

However, long term I believe the gov’t prints, valuates, and regulates all the money and that individuals are only “granted access” to it in the same short term. Many argue against the inheritance tax, in combination with income tax, as “double-dipping”.

IMO, of the two, income tax is in err and the gov’t deserves more of its money back two, three, and four generations down the line (we don’t have a right to money) and double-dipping is a retarded argument that should be saved for discussions of efficiency.

I also believe that the tax base for a protracted society shouldn’t belong on the most transient of that society’s entities. Populations rise and fall, and gov’t is often required to act in the opposite direction. Lastly, I think any corporate entity, while not inherently evil, stands in direct opposition to the thematic organization of a democratically-elected federal republic and that gov’t spending $ on corporations through welfare as well as direct market consumption is, in varying degrees, a betrayal to “We the People”.

I think first, however, ours (or any gov’t) needs to be more worthy of those cumulative efforts of several generations.

What I know is that writing whiny posts about how others have more than you or that one person has more than another is not helping things any. We have actual data and numbers to tell us things like that.