Modern American Quality of Life

Discussion in 'Economy' started by Coloradomtnman, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. Coloradomtnman
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    Coloradomtnman Rational and proud of it.

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    Not long ago my grandmother died. At her funeral my uncles and father reminisced about their childhood memories of her and my grandfather. One of the things they spoke of struck a chord with me:

    My grandfather made $30,000 annually in 1960 having never graduated from college. He owned a large house with a big yard, two cars, his wife stayed home and managed their domestic affairs, and they raised four very hungry (and I mean VERY hungry) boys.

    I make $31,000 annually now. I rent a small one bedroom house for $600 a month that has a good-sized yard. Its in a lower-income neighborhood, is kind of a dump and needs some serious work (though my landlord, I suspect, can't afford to not rent the place so it can be renovated). I don't own a car because I choose to ride a bike, but also because car payments, insurance and registration, and maintenance or so costly. My girlfriend of two years works, making $12 an hour as an assistant web developer, and she has a car that was purchased by her parents for her as a graduation present. They also pay her insurance (her parents aren't rich, but she's the baby of the family and a princess if I do say so myself) and registration. We don't have any children, and if we did we'd have no time to raise them nor much money with which to raise them. We'd like to get married some day but that costs a lot of money if we want a nice wedding (which she does, of course). After student loans, bills, gas, food, and everything else we are able to save a little bit. We skimp. We don't have any credit cards. We shop at Sam's Club and Wal-Mart (which we don't like doing but can't really afford not to), we eat healthy but not well. We don't go out to eat (I'm a great cook). We don't go to movies except for a few times a year. We don't shop or spend frivolously and hopefully, by the time our one week of vacation time a year comes around, we'll have enough money to travel somewhere cheap and try to forget about our struggles for a while, if only to come back to the daily grind with only a week of vacation, a year away, to really look forward to.

    We'd like to start our own business but can't save up enough money to buy a decent home (and I qualify for the VA Home Loan!).

    So, why does it seem that my grandfather's income, which was less than mine is now and a lot less than the mine and my girlfriend's combined income, went a helluva lot further than it would now?

    Is it just inflation? Is it the recession? Is it companies sending jobs overseas and paying the domestic work force less? Is it the nature of capitalism that companies can slowly, almost imperceptibly increase prices and maintain lower wages over the course of decades? Is it legislation for which huge companies have lobbied that has caused such an increase in prices and maintaining lower wages? Is it a combination of these factors? Is it the wealthy becoming wealthier thereby reducing the amount of money which circulates within the economy?

    It seems like I work a lot, my girlfriend works two jobs (one's a part time), then we come home and have to pay bills, clean the house, buy groceries, etc. etc.; we don't get much vacation time, don't have much money, and don't have many options (we're both college grads and it was hard to find the jobs we have now - and there's little chance we'd find something better in this economy).

    Is it just me? It sure doesn't seem like the American dream is even within our grasp.

    Does anyone really know why this seems to be the case?
     

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