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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why Is America So Pessimistic?

 Random Rant.
The S&P 500 has set new all time records.  A simple buy and hold policy has more than quadrupled investment assets over the past 20 years.  It is fairly easy to get ahead, be financially secure, and enjoy a peaceful existence in this country.  Yet polls show a huge dissatisfaction.

Stock Market Surge Bypasses Most Americans, Poll Shows (David Lynch/Bloomberg)

After reading the article, take a gander at the comments.

At the risk of stirring the hornet's nest, I would argue that it isn't that hard to get ahead in this country. Sadly, more and more of those who understand this are trying to get across our borders.  They are willing to take jobs Americans turn their noses up at.  When I started college, I worked in the laundry at NIH in Bethesda.  I gathered the gowns, etc. throughout the hospital and delivered them to the cavernous laundry in the basement.  How many young people would take that job today, given the choice of working or not?  It was a nasty job.  But, for sure, it served a purpose - it kept me motivated in my studies.

But I'm in the weeds.  Back to the "getting ahead" proposition.  Just about anyone willing to work hard with a decent high school education can enroll at the local community college and, within two years, get  a "good job" in the medical field or elsewhere making good money.  Plumbers, construction workers, and automotive technicians make good money.

This, of course, raises one hurdle (that I saw firsthand by teaching 12 years at the community college level); and that is getting a solid background in high school.  I have experience here as well - I substitute taught for a year and a half in the public high schools, an experience I highly recommend. And the high schools are a huge part of the problem.  A goodly portion of the high school population is being cool by playing games and learning little of value for a free market capitalistic system.  In today's vernacular, many graduate with skills that are barely worth the minimum wage--if that.

They enter the local community college needing remedial courses for the material they should have learned in high school.

Some people like to fall back on the "I can't afford college" argument.  Guess what?  I and many others couldn't either.  I took a year off after high school, lived at home, and saved every penny I made for college.  I worked 60 hours a week that year and then entered community college.  After that, I was drafted into the Army and used the G.I. Bill to pay for the university level as well as worked part time. Instead of going the military route, a young person today can take those 2 years to work and save.

The bottom line is this:  most young people can gain the skills necessary to make a meaningful contribution to the economy without going into debt.   News flash:  Making a meaningful/valued contribution is what is required in a free market economy.  I'm not saying the journey is easy, but most would agree it is highly rewarding.  The hardest part for young people today is probably the removing of the headphones, the giving up of surfing the internet, and the limiting of gaming. 

IMHO, the glass is half full--not half empty.

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