Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why I Love America!

America is really the best place on Earth!
Social mobility is still possible in this country - to an extent not possible anywhere else.


As I noted in a previous posting, many so-called and self-described "Patriots" like Glenn Beck, spend all their time running down our country which, to me, calls into question their patriotism.

If you really claim to love this country, you don't advocate overthrowing the government.  You don't spread rumors or lies or conspiracy theories.  And you don't tell poor working stiffs that the entire economy is on the brink of collapse and tell them all to buy gold - from a company you sponsor, of course.

A real patriot does not run down his country like that - or try to profit from its destruction.

What to me is great about America is that this is still the land of opportunity - for people willing work hard and think carefully.

But it is NOT a land of FREE MONEY for WEAK THINKERS.  And it is the WEAK THINKERS who are the self-described super-patriots.

I met a fellow the other day who is typical of the genre.  He got into debt over his head, lost a lot on Real Estate, and is now cashing in his 401(k) to pay off debt.  While he is in dire financial straits, he still has found money to spend on silver and gold, however, because the "guy on the teevee" said it was a good idea.

I'm sorry to hear that, and I tried to explain to him that instead of cashing in his 401(k) he should be investing in it, and not in gold or silver - and that he is sure to get creamed when the bottom falls out of those markets.  But he would hear none of it.  A weak thinker, and yet he expects to be made a millionaire as a birthright.

What's worse, he blamed all his woes - buying a mini-mansion and financing it with a toxic ARM, on the government.  It was Obama's fault, you see, that he had to have granite countertops.  Never mind that he bought the house while Obama was still a Senator.

While I was talking to him, a fellow came by and said "I've been trying to reach you for three days about a job I have for you!"  And the fellow I was talking to said, "Oh, yea, I got your message, been meaning to call you back..."

Um, gee.  Maybe Obama is preventing him from returning phone calls from people offering him jobs?

Laziness AND weak thinking.  It makes me sick.

There is opportunity in this country, but you do have to go out and look for it.  And yes, there are rip-offs galore in this country, but you have to do your part and not fall for them.

And when you make mistakes, don't blame it on your country.  Being a REAL man is to own up to what you've done wrong, and not try to palm it off on the government.  Because your actions have a far, far greater effect on your own finances than anything the government does.

Today, more than ever, it seems, people, particularly middle-ages "angry white males" want to blame their circumstances on others, rather than themselves.

The reason they are unemployed is because of affirmative-action, not because they took a week off for deer season with no notice, or showed up for work late and hung-over most of the time.

The reason they are broke is because of Wall Street - not the fact that they saved little and what little they saved they put into hair-brained schemes like gold.

And the reason they can't find a job is not because they never took school seriously and spend most of their time ridiculing anyone with intelligence or an education.

And you know, I find it hard to feel sorry for any of these clowns.  You see, these were the jerks who sat in the back of the class and threw spitballs at me while I tried to study, or knocked my books out of my arms when I was going to class.  These were people who treated me - or someone like me - like shit.

So, now the tables are turned, and its their time to roast over the pit - not just for four miserable years of high school, but for an entire adult life of missed opportunities, poverty, and suffering.

And you know what?  Sounds like a pretty square deal to me.

If you want to celebrate ignorance, lack of education, and weak thinking, in my opinion you will reap what you sow...

The Great Thing About America is Social Mobility

If you are poor in this country, you can get ahead and improve your lot in life.  It is still possible to get ahead and become wealthier in this country - but it does take hard work and sacrifice.

You can't get rich by leasing new cars or sitting in front of the TeeVee for 4.6 hours a day - as many, many Americans do (and the TeeVee tells them they are "victims").

But, regardless of your background, you can do better, simply by spending less, saving money, become more educated or learning a usable skill.  Granted, this is not guaranteed, as it also takes some luck - or absence of bad luck.  But it is possible.

I've worked for a number of wealthy people in my life.  And the funny thing is, they didn't come from wealth but rather had very impoverished backgrounds.  Through dedication and hard work, they managed to claw their way up the socioeconomic ladder to become quite well off.  It can be done, but you must first choose to do so.

Many people in this country attribute wealth to either "luck" or "coming from money".  People who think that the wealthy are "lucky" are sure to remain poor.  As Thomas Jefferson once said, "I find my luck improves the harder I work" - but of course he had slaves to help his luck as well.  But it is true that luck is only a part of the equation - and as I noted previously, you need only not have bad luck, not particularly have good luck.  You need good luck to win the lottery.  You need only not have bad luck to become wealthy - if you choose to work at it.

The other half of the equation - that wealth is largely inherited - is statistically untrue.   I grew up in some wealthy neighborhoods and knew some kids, growing up, who came from "rich" families.  While they may have stood to inherit small amounts, their parents inherited larger amounts.  What was a clear pattern was that within 2-3 generations, any wealthy family usually dissipates its wealth pretty quickly.  Ask the Carnegies.  Not only is wealth spread out over a larger and larger family tree, but succeeding generations, not having the training and economic drive of their ancestors, tend to dissipate wealth rather rapidly.  Far from being a bad thing, this effect keeps wealth circulating in America.

There are some who decry recent changes in the laws - particularly tax laws, that seem to favor the wealthy - cuts to the highest brackets (which we discussed earlier here - our tax laws are not progressive, but actually regressive after a point) as well as proposed cuts to the gifts and estate tax (including the loophole in the last two years that has basically eliminated it on a temporary basis).  Such changes may make it possible for dynastic wealth to be spread in this country, such as it is in most 3rd World countries - to the point where a few families end up owning everything.

Granted, this may be a threat, but it has not a threat that has fully materialized just yet - and may never materialize.

It is possible, in this country, to go from "Rags to Riches" and it still happens on a regular basis - perhaps within your own family (certainly within mine - rags to riches and back again, within a generation or two!).

Social Mobility is a great thing.  The next time someone tries to run down America, point this out to them.  Because in most parts of the world, the socioeconomic class you are born in, is the one you will die in, regardless of your efforts or luck.

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