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QOTD #83: What is The American Dream?

Discussion in 'Tilted Philosophy, Politics, and Economics' started by genuinemommy, Jul 27, 2016.

  1. genuinemommy

    genuinemommy Moderator Staff Member

    It's a phrase that gets thrown around quite a bit. But what does it really mean?
    The concept of The American Dream seems to be somewhat different depending on the demographic polled.

    What policies do you feel should be in place to make The American Dream a reality?
    Which political party do you view as most in-line with The American Dream?
    Do you view the concept in the same light that you did 5 or 10 years ago?

    What is Your American Dream?
  2. ASU2003

    ASU2003 Very Tilted

    Where ever I roam
    That seems a bit off. Having enough money to retire is nice, but I think people's expectations are too high there. Both in the amount of money that is needed, and that 47% ranked that as #1.

    Having a good home, in a nice, safe, clean neighborhood, along with a loving spouse would be what I would say. Vacations, road trips, friends, and freedom to quit a job and start your own business would also be on the list.
  3. rogue49

    rogue49 Tech Kung Fu Artist Staff Member

    Being successful.
    On having options.

    I'm not focused on retirement, I'm focused on here & now.
    And I don't need things, I'd rather do things.

    While I'm 48, I seem to be similar to Millennials in thinking and dynamic.

    Also I don't trust SS will be there when I'm ready to retire...nor do I plan on retiring early
    ...actually, I plan to keep going, setting myself up with progressively more & more scenarios that leverage my experience & connections more and impact my body & time less.
    (my great uncle did this, he finally retired at 85, fully loaded...and only then because Lehman Brothers collapsed and he saw it coming)

    Perhaps I will be fortunate to have a family, but that's not guaranteed, especially as I get older.
    Loans will be paid and then some.
    I had and have a business...this comes as projects and negotiations succeed. Maybe they will, maybe they won't.

    My dream isn't what most Americans have or want.
    I'm a weird bird, it includes a Nobel Prize. (and yes, I'm audacious enough to want it and think it may occur)

    Successful business will happen, because my inventions and projects will be out there and making money.
    The goal may happen, if proven (haven't been wrong yet...)
    The family may happen if I fully click with a woman and the baby happens to pop out.
    All else is circumstance, aggregation and a bit of sweat & discipline.

    I want to live life, experience.
    Not accumulate.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2016
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  4. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member

    A house, 2 cars, 2 kids, and enough money to be able to go into the store and buy what I want while still saving money.

    Obstacles: student loan debt, housing costs, healthcare costs, daycare costs, and the need for a 2-income household in order to deal with all of that because wages are flat. So for now, the house and kids are on hold, especially since we may need to move in order to increase our wages.

    What galls me is that these are issues that can be dealt with with policy changes: additional childcare credits, single-payer health insurance, additional incentives for first-time homebuyers, debt relief for student loans--yet due to gridlock in Washington, most of the "fixes" so far are little more than bandages on a gaping wound. Over the time my husband and I were in school, the cost of going to school skyrocketed, which then left us holding the bag with student loan debt, as it became impossible to work enough hours to pay our way through school. Yay. If we weren't paying on our SL debt, we would be pumping an extra 1k a month into savings, investments, or spending. Think about the economic power of that for a minute.
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  5. genuinemommy

    genuinemommy Moderator Staff Member

    We have a portion of this.
    The fact that we were able to get through school without amassing student loans has been a huge help to us achieving those dreams.
    We have come to realize that a house really doesn't factor into our family's personal dreams. But we didn't come to that conclusion until after we purchased our dream-home (in a non-dreamy location). We don't enjoy home ownership, and overall see it as a burden. We view renting as a luxury now, especially since it would be significantly more expensive to rent (even a much smaller place) than our mortgage payment.

    Our family's dream is still evolving.
    Though more and more, it involves spending time together.
    We do want to have a family business someday.
    We save some, but it never seems like enough, and I constantly wonder if our savings will be worth anything in a few years.
  6. Stan

    Stan Resident Dumbass

    Damn, I made it.

    I stress over retirement with healthcare being the bulk of that. I'm 60, it comes with the territory.
    I'd wish for my daughters to have an easier, better path to this, than I did. I do what I can; but that isn't happening.
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  7. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member

    I pretty much anticipate working until I'm at least 70. My husband and I have gigs worked out for after that point just in case.
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  8. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member

    Also, many Baby Boomers and Gen Xers don't understand the position Millennials find themselves in, which makes it difficult to change policy. "Why didn't you just work your way through school?" Um, because after about 2005, that pretty much became impossible as tuition skyrocketed, and then it continued to increase throughout the Great Recession, at which point jobs were limited and wages terrible.

    My dad made as much money as a lifeguard on the beaches of Miami in 1970 as I make with a Master's degree. Those kinds of wages can put people through school--but those kinds of wages are long gone.

    "Why don't you have children yet? Daycare can't be that expensive." Um, infant care in my town is about $1200/mo. "Go to an in-home daycare!" Uh, yeah, that worked out so well for your grandson when he got slapped by his care provider, and his mom only found out because the kiddo said so. As a former childcare worker, I'm not buying into a potential conspiracy of silence. "Oh, you'll make it work!" Money doesn't magically appear out of nowhere, and student loan debtors really like to be paid. "Do you really have to work?" Uh, yeah. My husband's income is nowhere near enough to cover even basic bills. I make a little less than half of our income.

    "Why don't you have a down payment saved up?" Because rent is so expensive I can only save so much? Because even with only having to have 6%, that's still $15k? Because my husband's wages are flat, we don't get much of an increase year-to-year? Because every time I turn around, some medical expense eats up a few hundred dollars of what I have saved? Because I pay a mortgage payment every month in student loan debt?

    That said, we are pretty comfortable, but there are a lot of aspects of life that are catch-22s.
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  9. Stan

    Stan Resident Dumbass

    To be fair, many of us baby boomers have millennial offspring. We're painfully involved, understand, helping as best we can, and struggling to manage retirement vs the needs of our kids.

    Sitting at the tail end of the baby boom, I'm watching everything regarding retirement erode, just as I'm looking to use it. We're doing well; but a single medical emergency could change that instantly.
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  10. genuinemommy

    genuinemommy Moderator Staff Member

    I was insanely lucky to receive grants to cover the bulk of my undergrad costs, including fees and a living stipend. Otherwise I would never have finished. My husband and I chose to go to a smaller school out of state for graduate school where we were both offered grants/scholarships/assistantships to pay for our education. Again, not an option for most people. We look at where we've been and where we are now and are grateful we jumped at the opportunities presented to us. That said, my husband has a very difficult time wrapping his mind around why it can't work like this for more people, and why so many people "choose" to go into debt for their education. He forgets the waiting game and contortions we both went through to make it this way, and forgets that not every hard-working person gets opportunities like the ones that were handed to us.

    I have a good friend who just finished her PhD and landed a faculty teaching job at a good school. She has $200k in student loan debt. These sorts of debts take a lifetime to repay.

    That's a difficult place to be. Not all are supportive of their millennial offspring. You're one of the good ones.

    Exactly. Medical insurance only covers so much. Emergency funds are critical. There's basically no way to plan for it.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2016
  11. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member

    Maybe you are, but my parents and in-laws are just realizing some of the problems we have to manage. Most of what I wrote up above are words that have come out of the mouths of either my parents or my in-laws.
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