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The Decaying Evolution of Education...

tonyb

I'll Lock Up
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9,907
Location
My mother's basement
Truth is, my dad would have enjoyed a more comfortable (and longer) retirement had he ever been satisfied with what he had and built on those modest successes rather than always trying to turn them into things that were truly over his head.

The consequences? Multiple bankruptcies, wrecked relationships, etc. A building in Seattle he held the paper on back in the late 1970s is worth millions today, but he couldn't hold on to it for more than a couple of years.
 
Messages
15,822
Location
New York City
At the bottom far left of the window for each post -- do you see a button/box with an icon of an eraser or a pencil or some inscrutable thing I can't figure out with my lousy vision on it? If you don't see one, please advise, and I'll alert the Service Department.

As for money/possessions/stuff, "getting ahead" was never presented as any kind of an important goal for anyone I knew growing up. You worked to support yourself and keep your head above water, but it never occured to anyone in my family or in our immediate circle of acquaintance that you were supposed to be constantly trying to get into a bigger pool. It simply wasn't a concept that we ever talked about or considered, so I've always felt kind of sorry for those who feel like they have to devote their lives to keeping ahead of somebody else. All it gets you in the end is a sunnier spot in the graveyard.

The focus in my family was trying to prepare for the next coming of the Great Depression. My dad never took on debt, always lived below his modest means, worried about every bill, and tried to build a small nest egg. His family lost their house, car and, nearly, small business in the Depression (and my mom's family had a similar, but worse, story as they lost their small diner). Every day, every single day growing up was about worrying about the next Depression. "Getting Ahead" wasn't the focus, but working hard, saving your money, living modestly and never, ever, ever, ever having debt was our religion so as to be prepared for the next Flood, um, Great Depression. Around me, in other families, there was talk of improving your lot, getting ahead, etc., but my upbringing was about preparing for the next Depression.

It worked to some extent. I have always worked hard, lived modestly, have never had debt - probably all good things for me (not judging others who have made other choices); but I have worried every single day of my life that the next Depression will come anyway and destroy whatever modest security I tried to build. Oh well, in a way, it's just life - nothing's easy, nothing's secure - you just keep trying.
 
Messages
10,747
Location
Germany
Yes, accumulating richness is senseless, I agree.

Like in Germany, you might be a hardship-case, someday. Then, you have to use your assets, before you can utilize the social-secure-system. Protected assets with the whole worth of 1.600 Euro (SGB 12).
 

LizzieMaine

Bartender
Messages
31,085
Location
Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
The focus in my family was trying to prepare for the next coming of the Great Depression. My dad never took on debt, always lived below his modest means, worried about every bill, and tried to build a small nest egg. His family lost their house, car and, nearly, small business in the Depression (and my mom's family had a similar, but worse, story as they lost their small diner). Every day, every single day growing up was about worrying about the next Depression. "Getting Ahead" wasn't the focus, but working hard, saving your money, living modestly and never, ever, ever, ever having debt was our religion so as to be prepared for the next Flood, um, Great Depression. Around me, in other families, there was talk of improving your lot, getting ahead, etc., but my upbringing was about preparing for the next Depression.

Pretty much the same deal as my grandparents, except that they were starting from a position of having next to nothing even before the Depression. They finally got on their feet when they took over the gas station where my grandfather had worked, and they ran it as a subsistence business almost to the very end of their lives. It provided a living, but that was all they ever really wanted out of it, and they were happy with the situation. They worked very very had between them, owed very little money once they paid off the mortgage on the house, and it seemed like things were going to work out. But then, in 1977, Texaco knifed them in the back -- they decided that they didn't want to lease stations to operators in small towns anymore, so they were forced to go into debt to buy the building and property if they wanted to stay in business. They basically lost every cent they'd saved on this proposition, and then three years later Texaco decided to pull out of our area entirely -- and that was it. Forty years of backbreaking, nose to the grindstone work, and they died broke.

Moral of the story -- even when you play by the rules, forces entirely beyond your control can screw you at any moment. That's the American Way.
 
Pretty much the same deal as my grandparents, except that they were starting from a position of having next to nothing even before the Depression.

How did my grandparents live through the Depression? The same way they lived before it...sharecropping tobacco and living in a two-room Cracker shack. After WWII they moved to the city so my grandfather could work in the shipyard and he eventually got a factory job in the 1950s.
 

tonyb

I'll Lock Up
Messages
9,907
Location
My mother's basement
Ever wonder if happiness is all it's cracked up to be?

There's a better word, but I don't know what it is.

There's something to be said for hunger, dissatisfaction, frustration, even, provided it prompts a person to DO SOMETHING.

We can all point to examples of people -- celebrities and everyday schmucks such as ourselves -- who were ruined by early success or money acquired a bit too easily.
 

LizzieMaine

Bartender
Messages
31,085
Location
Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
I think too many people spend their lives "looking for" happiness when it's actually right there under their noses if they're just willing to see it.

Sitting in bed on a cold rainy night, warm and dry, with the radio on, reading a good book, with my cat asleep next to me -- if there's more to happiness than that, I honestly can't imagine what it would be.
 

tonyb

I'll Lock Up
Messages
9,907
Location
My mother's basement
Sure. Comfort. Peace of mind. Satisfaction with one's lot. Can't say enough for that.

Much of the misery in this world would be alleviated if people avoided comparing themselves with others. This is not to say that one should sit still for unfair treatment, but rather that they not assume so much about what other people have, or think, or know.

Put it this way: I wouldn't trade places with anyone.
 

Bolero

A-List Customer
Messages
406
Location
Western Detroit Suburb...
Tony B...maybe the word you are looking for is "Contentment" I don't know you so I don't know......

but Contentment says a lot and it encompasses a lot...

I have mostly found mine, I hope you find yours, and it is not about How much money a person has...

It is about Family, Friends and relative security...
 

tonyb

I'll Lock Up
Messages
9,907
Location
My mother's basement
That's as good a word as any.

Still, there is value in discontent. But again, only if it prompts a person to action.

The best I can hope for myself is to find the sense of self that comes with true humility. You know, sufficient confidence in one's own value that the skills and accomplishments and possessions of others present no threat.

Not to devalue competition, as it generally serves to make the competitors better, but knowing that relative success in one aspect of a person's life doesn't bestow additional value upon that life.
 

LizzieMaine

Bartender
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31,085
Location
Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
I think there's many different kinds of "competition." The kind of competition where you're trying to match or exceed a goal you've set for yourself is one thing. Friendly competition where the "rivalry" is good-natured and casual is one thing. But back-stabbing, ladder-tipping, cut-throat dog-eat-dog and devil-take-the-hindmost competition is destructive, both to the society that sanctions it and the individuals who thus compete. The "there are WINNERS and there are LOSERS, I'm a WINNER and you're a LOSER" worldview that seems to dominate certain classes in modern society is the most harmful and destructive worldview that there could possibly be. And it produces a world that is hateful, vicious, and wasteful -- both of natural resources and of human ones.
 
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15,822
Location
New York City
Capitalism is a system that allows individual to "own the means of production." In our modern world, we think of it as private businesses competing. I've worked in the private sector my entire 30+ years of work and capitalism can fit into either type of competition that Lizzie describes.

I've seen business compete, but not in a destroy-my-competition-at-all-costs way, but in a fair, with-integrity way where they would never, cheat, steal, lie, undermine another, act in a destructive or evil way, because the community values they shared made that approach unthinkable. I've also seen business compete where they would almost be willing to destroy themselves if they could destroy "the other guy more," because the only value they understand is arrant winning unhinged from any social context or moral values.

My point is that capitalism is not the cause of the type of competition, IMHO, it is society's values, its cultural norms, its unwritten rules, its views of what is acceptable that determine the type of capitalistic competition we have. I believe the same of government. We can have good, honest government that works for the long-term good of its citizens or pernicious government where grubby corrupt officials use their power to enrich themselves and their connections at the expense of the broader community. Again, IMHO, it is the broader societal values - what is acceptable, are people shamed when caught being corrupt, what are the norms - that determine if we have good or bad gov't, good or bad capitalistic competition, a good or bad society.
 

LizzieMaine

Bartender
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31,085
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Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
I think the bigger a business gets, the less in touch with humanity it actually is. The little mom-and-pop shoe store downtown might be a "capitalist enterprise" in the strict dictionary sense of the word, or even in the Lenin's New Economic Plan sense of the word, but it has very little in common with the gigantic global shoe manufacturing operation which uses disposable Bangladeshi slave labor to undercut and eradicate its competition, and flushes its waste into the public water supply to boot. The company in such cases is no longer concerned with the well-being of the greater society in which it functions -- or if it makes a pretense of being so concerned, it's strictly for First World public relations purposes. All that it's concerned with is the will of its stockholders -- and morally, according to the common worldview, that's all it's obligated to care about. Or to put it another way, it's chosen who it will serve, and it's chosen Mammon. That's what I find objectionable in a practical sense, and immoral in a spiritual sense.

There have certainly been individual capitalist types who've resisted that attitude -- Aaron Feuerstein, the Mensch of Malden Mills, was a good example of this, but even he ended up being chewed up and spat out by the system he was trying to reform. You can only recap the tire carcass so many times before you need to just throw it out and get a new tire.
 

vitanola

I'll Lock Up
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4,254
Location
Gopher Prairie, MI
I live in a small town, and there's a co-op selling fresh vegetables and meat about a block away from where I live. And there's a bakery next door to where I work. And there's a fish market with right-off-the-boat fish two blocks south of where I work. The only problem with these shops is that they aren't priced for working-class people -- the day will never dawn when I pay six dollars for a loaf of bread, no matter how "artisanal" it is.
I grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland in the 1960's, and remember my mother's style of shopping as the typical round of Supermarket, Strip mall, regional mall. My grandmother, on the other hand, lived in an early automobile era neighborhood, of forty-foot lots. This density supported the small local stores of fond memory. She was two houses from the corner of a "shopping street", which was lined with a mixture of single family houses, storefront buildings, generally two stories with apartments above, and two or three story apartment buildings. The bus (formerly the streetcar) line ran right up the shopping street, at the end of which, a mile away, was a Sears Roebuck. On the corner stood a small grocery store, in the next storefront was a butcher shop, bpnext to that a candy store, next to that a bakery. A block down the street was a dry goods store, across the street from which stood a dry cleaners, a Kresge dime store, a music store, dress shop, a hardware store, and a haberdasher's. The grocery was the first to go, in 1970. Within three years the butcher shop, candy store, dry goods store, dime store, music store and haberdashers were no more. The dress shop held on until perhaps 1980, as did the hardware store. The bakery survived until 2014.

These little shops all seemed to be casualties of the two-car household and the two breadwinner family. Wives with cars no longer needed the social stimulation of meeting their neighbors while shopping every day, and working women simply had no time for the old way of shopping.
 

LizzieMaine

Bartender
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31,085
Location
Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
These little shops all seemed to be casualties of the two-car household and the two breadwinner family. Wives with cars no longer needed the social stimulation of meeting their neighbors while shopping every day, and working women simply had no time for the old way of shopping.

The arrival of Wal-Mart here was the big catalyst which turned our downtown into, largely, a street full of art galleries, overpriced bars and restaurants, and Ye Olde Quaint Maine Souvenir Shoppes, but I think another key factor that doesn't get mentioned often enough was that the local downtown department store, the local downtown hardware store, the local downtown men's shop, the local downtown dress shop, and various other such operations, were run by people who were getting old. They were all about the same age -- born in the 1920s, took over old family businesses when they were in their thirties or forties, and ran them for thirty years or so.

But their own kids, baby boomers that they were, had no interest in sticking around a hick town selling panty girdles to old ladies -- they went to college, they got ambitions of their own, and those ambitions did not include being part of an aging, dying town. So when it came time for Mom and Pop to retire -- there was no one left to carry on after them. I think that even if Wal-Mart hadn't come here in the '90s, our Main Street as we knew it was already done for.

Of all the businesses that were here in the Era, exactly two -- the theatre and an insurance agency -- are still operating today, and interestingly both of those were family businesses that managed to stay in the family. In the theatre's case, the founding family ran it until 2000, but after it was resuscitated and restored, the chair of the non-proft that now runs it is the granddaughter of the man who first opened it nearly a hundred years ago. The exceptions go to prove the rule.
 
The arrival of Wal-Mart here was the big catalyst which turned our downtown into, largely, a street full of art galleries, overpriced bars and restaurants, and Ye Olde Quaint Maine Souvenir Shoppes, but I think another key factor that doesn't get mentioned often enough was that the local downtown department store, the local downtown hardware store, the local downtown men's shop, the local downtown dress shop, and various other such operations, were run by people who were getting old. They were all about the same age -- born in the 1920s, took over old family businesses when they were in their thirties or forties, and ran them for thirty years or so.

But their own kids, baby boomers that they were, had no interest in sticking around a hick town selling panty girdles to old ladies -- they went to college, they got ambitions of their own, and those ambitions did not include being part of an aging, dying town. So when it came time for Mom and Pop to retire -- there was no one left to carry on after them. I think that even if Wal-Mart hadn't come here in the '90s, our Main Street as we knew it was already done for.

Of all the businesses that were here in the Era, exactly two -- the theatre and an insurance agency -- are still operating today, and interestingly both of those were family businesses that managed to stay in the family. In the theatre's case, the founding family ran it until 2000, but after it was resuscitated and restored, the chair of the non-proft that now runs it is the granddaughter of the man who first opened it nearly a hundred years ago. The exceptions go to prove the rule.


I read something not long ago, but cant' remember where, about how this is typical of the "third generation" of family business operators, and it doesn't matter if it was the 1880s, the 1940s or the 2010s...people just tend to not want to be in the same business as their grandparents. It was an interesting read, and I'll try to dig it up.
 
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