Adventures of a Modern Day, Middle-Aged Hero, on the Glory Road(to family security)


The 99

Lack of posting the last two days has been caused by my 'oh-so-active' schedule.  Thursday evening, my wife went out to play Bunko at friends house, so one of my buddies came over with his kids, and last night my wife and I went out for dinner with my boss. Not super busy stuff, but just enough to keep me off the free ice cream machine. 

This weekend won't be much calmer.  This morning, we are hoping in the car and driving over to the Kitsap Peninsula to go to a Halloween Party, and see some folks we haven't seen in about a year. 

I just haven't had a whole lot of time to get all spun up about any stories in the news lately.  I'm going to admit I have no idea what this whole 'Occupy' protest thing is about.  My gut instinct is that 90% of the people protesting have no idea what they are protesting either....'Oooo...an excuse to go cause trouble and stick it to The Man, and not go to work tonight!  I'm there.'

Finally, a friend of mine tried to explain this whole 'We are the 99' thing me yesterday.  Ezra Klein ran with a story in the Washington Post, and referenced a tumblr  called 'We are the 99 percent', which was a bunch of folks with their sad stories written on card board signs. 

In Ezra's article, he tries to inject a little reality, saying, it's probably not 99% that aren't happy with things.  For instance, if you are in the 85th percentile, you are making over 100K, and probably don't have many sad stories(and I'm here to tell you that's wrong...I knew many couples where both husband and wife and working, and make over 100K, and they have sad stories too).  He really summed it up on the end with:

It’s that 99 percent of Americans sense that the fundamental bargain of our economy -- work hard, play by the rules, get ahead -- has been broken, and they want to see it restored.
 On that statement, there is a potential he is correct.  But...I would attack his statement.  I think 'Most Americans(maybe even 99%) have been misled/lied too about what it means to 'Work Hard', Play by the Rules' and 'Get Ahead.' 

I'm too lazy to get into actual statistics, but An Overwhelming Majority of those sad stories involve a discussion of debt, and almost always student debt.  'I've been going to school for 4/6/8 years, and I have 25,000/50,000/100,000 worth of student debt.   I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts/History/Masters in Education, and was a good student, I had a 3.17/3.24/3.29 GPA.'

I'm not sure what 'play by the rules' means....stay out of Jail maybe?  I never received a Rule Book for lifeand don't know anyone who did(unless you count The Bible, which involves being a Good Person). 

As far as 'Getting Ahead'...this might be the number one problem in America....people wanting to 'Get Ahead' RIGHT NOW, and taking out more loans for a house that is bigger/more expensive than you need with a 56-inch TV and surround sound system in the living room.

So, yes....being convinced that you NEED to go to college, even if it means starting your professional life with 2-3 years worth of your salary having to go to student loans, might be a problem.  Going to school and graduating with a degree of dubious usefulness is also a problem(If we have to blame someone, let's blame the guidance counselors). 

Buying a house that you really can't afford, because you don't understand what a variable rate mortgage is, or that an 'interest only loan' only works if the housing market keeps going up FOREVER.  I'm not saying the banks aren't to blame aso, but things don't exist in a vacuum.....they wouldn't be able to loan money out if people weren't begging for it. 

As someone who is getting ready to once again drop the price on a house I bought 7 years ago, to the point where I am going to asking $25K LESS than I paid for it, I'm more than willing to admit that things are broken.  I'm also willing to admit there IS no easy answer...not for politicians, and not for crowds in the street. 

The sad stories are going to get sadder, because things are not going to get better, without them getting worse first. 

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