They Fell for the Hype and are now Disappointed

Earlier in the month  the Chicago Tribune ran a feature story on the Caterpillar workers. Caterpiller is an old Illinois manufacturing company.  They  used to manufacture farm implements and now it’s mostly road building equipment.

The thing about manufacturing—traditionally—is that you were  creating value added products.  Durable goods. Tangibles.  Those used to be good, middle class jobs for  men who had high school diplomas. The jobs currently pay between $11 and $25 per hour.  Sounds good, right? These  workers live in a rural area.  How can you NOT afford to live on $440—$1000 per week?

This is how: those jobs no longer  come with health insurance. So, that will bankrupt you right there.  Car payments.  Kids….but the  worst part of the problem is….these workers really  believed the  American Dream—that if you graduated from high school, got a job with a good company, and worked hard, you’d be able to retire at age 65 and travel.  They also never wanted to say to their kids, “we can’t afford it!”

My parents were not wealthy by any means, but they   thought saving and planning for the future was very important. I can’t tell you how many times I heard my mother  reply to a request, “We can’t afford it.”  & these were the days before  computers, everyone having a cell phone, or, dare I say it—-were living on credit.  The only monthly payments my folks had (1950s—1970s) were car  and mortgage.  Yet, I knew they were saving.  My father wanted to open his own company, and they borrowed from relatives and leveraged that against a bank loan. But it wasn’t for luxury goods.

One of the workers, the article reported, said he pays $95 a month for cable TV so his kids can watch a 24 hour cartoon channel.  I wanted to tell him, “Honey:  by a computer, pay for a DSL line. Get rid of your landline, and the kids can find anything on the computer they can find on TV. You Tube .  As for all your cell phones:  get a pay-as-you-go plan.”  But hey, wait a minute!  Did this guy ever think to say to his kids, “Nothing on TV? READ A BOOK!”

Clothing?  Try The Salvation Army, Good Will,  AmVets/Value Village, etc. & make a couple of trips into Chicago & try Plato’s Closet or any of the other resale stores if you absolutely have to pay more than $10 for a pair of pants.  You can get  discount underwear at Marshall’s.  They are cheaper than Target or Wallmart.

You must have land behind your home, Plant a vegetable garden.  Shop at Aldi’s, Their dairy products are 30% cheaper than just about everyone else, even Walmart.

I could go on and on.  It affects me:  I groom dogs for a living. Believe me:  that is the first to go!    many of the beauty schools give free haircuts in Chicago. my tenants furnished their entire house off of Craigslist & what they found in the alleys.    Their taste is incredible.  You can find a lot of nice stuff in the cast-offs.
However, if you have more than 2 kids, and  the surplus are not foster kids (the state gives foster families money and resources), you are right. You have beyond ‘replacement’ for you and your spouse.  Too bad you made a poorly informed choice.  You will not be able to game the system for these  three reasons:

1.  land rents 2. energy costs 3. health care

Land rents are  generally property taxes, and  because  our  legislators have been generous with pensions, we will never get out of this particular hole—having to pay way more than  it its worth.  This is not going to change in our lifetime, or our childrens’ lifetime, so  were I YOU, I’d look for a  state—or even a country—-where  the politicians haven’t been so  greedy;

Energy costs?  In a way, energy costs are tied to land rents and pension funds, as we are still seriously tied to  fossil fuels.  You either buy a Prius, build 18 inch thick walls around your house & triple pane your windows (&  don’t forget the roof), or you are  S O L;

Health Care? Same deal.  It’s not just physicians  & nurses that  deserve a living wage—its’ the health care administrators, and the many insurance companies—& they have a monopoly.  I have friends who’ve moved to France,  Panama, and Thailand—all countries that have superb health care systems.  They couldn’t afford to stay in the US.  I also know of people who’ve moved to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and a few other countries.

Face it, this country was not made for regular folks.  The mortgage interest tax deduction was really the  growth spurt that created the middle class in the USA, and  while the politicians were all patting themselves on the back & reminding us how great a country this is, and that the Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars preserved our freedoms, they robbed us blind.

Notice that nobody asked any of the presidential candidates about cutting or reigning in government pensions.

Now, we can all whine about how unfair this is, or we can determine to develop strategies to remove ourselves from the system.

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One Response to “They Fell for the Hype and are now Disappointed”

  1. Says:

    You actually said it effectively.

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