Prudent Young People Can Still Live The Dream
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  • Mrs. Davis

    I’ve heard the rules are 1. finish high school, 2. don’t have children till you’re married, and then stay married and 3. hold a full time job. But #3 is getting pretty difficult for the young, even with a college degree.

  • ms

    Some young people should go to college, but more to the point, they should think hard about where their talents lie and get job training of some kind so that they have a skill with which to make a living. IMHO, too many young people go to college and contract serious amounts of debt in the process, when their talents lie elsewhere. Some should train on the job or vocationally, or use that college money to start a business. The point is to be prudent and responsible and use your time to gain useful skills when you are young. I agree that it is also really important to get married–and to have a family for that matter. Nothing concentrates the need to succeed in life like those little children needing a stable home.

  • Rick Caird

    How about #4: Don’t vote for someone who has no real world experience and is liable to make the economy worse?

  • Jim.

    “The keys to a financially successful life seem to be family, education, sobriety. Seems boring and obvious, doesn’t it? But it also suggests that American life isn’t quite as bad as the press wants to paint it.”

    Well, it’s bad for those journalism majors that figure they shouldn’t be required to keep sober, or keep their pants zipped if that’s not what feels groovy at the time.

    I’ve recently made a serious study to see what sort of virtues are necessary for the foundation of a good and prosperous society.

    After several years of reading and searching, it’s turned out to be pretty hard to beat the Ten Commandments and the Boy Scout Law.

  • Terry

    It is philosophically inaccurate to state that you can just turn around a statement and have it’s opposite. That being said it is also interesting to note the lack of empathy for being a minority which is impossible to turn around so that criteria was ignored.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @Terry: Actually, minorities apparently will enhance their life prospects even more by following those rules: going to college, getting and staying married, and avoiding hard drugs changes minority life prospects dramatically.

  • Luke Lea

    “Oh — and there’s a social injustice angle: minorities and single women have a harder time staying in the middle class as American life gets inexorably worse.”

    Why is growing inequality in the distribution of income (and that’s what we are talking about here) more unjust if it effects women and minorities than anybody else? Are they more human?

    Incidentally, what is your attitude towards income distribution? In a well-functioning market economy do you think the natural distribution is also the just one? Are you an old-fashioned liberal in that sense? Come on, fess up if you are. Please.

  • Toni

    Contrary to Luke, income mobility has always been more important to the American economic engine than income inequality.

    I’m a daughter of a daughter of the Depression. When at age 43 MS forced me to quit work, I could afford to. I never spent wildly, and I had saved.

    The Great Recession has been teaching people Life Lessons since it started. Americans have begun to pay down household debt from their tech & housing bubbles spending spree. No doubt they’re learning to budget. Surely many now understand that stock and housing prices can decline as well as grow, and that they should understand their mortgage before they sign it.

    Well, *of course* the Great Recession has caused some downward mobility, though nothing compared to the Depression. Some people will use their Life Lessons to build a more prosperous future. Some won’t.

    Thus it has ever been since antiquity. Esau and the Prodigal Son in the Bible; the Ant and the Grasshopper in Aesop’s fable.

    Americans will be far better off in the long run if they continue to experience income mobility, which means upward as well as down, than if the economy is ever more hobbled by government programs taking from the Ants to give to the Grasshoppers.

  • Terry

    What I was saying is that any argument that portends to provide a solution has to demonstrate causality between the problem and the solution. While it may be possible to show that lack of meaningful employment opportunities contributes to the use of drugs to overcome the boredom it is not very likely that the elimination of drugs will actually increase meaningful employment opportunities. If we were to take your arguments to their logical extension and were to have all of the adult millennials married drug free college graduates, without a significant change in the forecast for employment opportunities we will just end up with highly educated married drug free unemployed citizens. A middle class is about opportunities not about the character of the citizens.

    I think it is somewhat disingenuous to use visceral but faulty argumentations in a magazine dedicated to scholarship. Did Fox News recently purchase the American Interest?

  • Steve

    @Terry

    “A middle class is about opportunities not about the character of the citizens.”

    Nonsense. While opportunities certainly matter, without character and responsibility one could very easily fall out of the Middle Class. Paying taxes matters. Paying one’s mortgage matters. Staying faithful to a wife, loving one’s children, not fathering illegitimate children, saving money, etc. etc., these all matter to a Middle Class life, and these aren’t opportunities, but choices, obligations. If one makes mistakes, financially (not saving, too much credit card debt, etc.) or relationally (divorce, illetimacy), one can see a Middle Class life threatened.

    Yes, you’re right that economic opportunities are important, but don’t put all your eggs in that basket.

  • Armando

    “I’ve heard the rules are 1. finish high school, 2. don’t have children till you’re married, and then stay married and 3. hold a full time job. But #3 is getting pretty difficult for the young, even with a college degree.”

    I thought the third rule was “learn a skill”. I’d probably replace the word “a” with “at least one”, and add fourth and fifth rules (#4 Save your money. #5 Avoid debt when possible.), but otherwise, they’re all common sense.

    Of course, in some circles, common sense might as well be a superpower…

  • opportunities are captured by visionaries.and expressed.unless they are opressed.

  • Matt

    “While it may be possible to show that lack of meaningful employment opportunities contributes to the use of drugs to overcome the boredom it is not very likely that the elimination of drugs will actually increase meaningful employment opportunities.”

    This is absurd. Of course not using drugs will increase employment opportunities. Even if drugs had no behavioral effect, most companies will not hire you if you fail a drug test.

  • Terry

    @Matt @Steve
    I was referring to the total number of employment opportunities not a specific employment opportunity. I think it could be argued that the removal of drugs and the associated activities associated with illegal drugs would actually increase the unemployment. I am not in favor of doing this I am just trying to demonstrate that without opportunity all of the character issues are not relevant. If everyone agrees to act virtuously and with honor but there are no job opportunities there will be no middle class. It is like a baseline requirement. There were many honorable and virtuous slaves but they were not middle class.
    I also believe that the free market system which is responsible for producing opportunities is not moral or immoral. I think it is amoral and we need to depend on our political system to provide the platform for social justice and morality. I think it is wrong and misleading to expect that the free market will act morally. It may, it may not. If it does act morally I see it as accidental and not inherent in the framework of the system. I think leaving people with the impression that if they are good people that the free market system will necessarily reward them is misleading.

  • Bonfire of the Idiocies

    Stuff usually isn’t as bad as the media wants to paint it because (1) bad news sells newspapers and air time (2) the modern journolist (sic) profession is ever on the lookout for ways to verify their “capitalism is evil” worldview and advocate their favorite remedy, more gubbermint spending and programs. Does this sound cynical about the journalistic profession? Nah, that’s in the rear view mirror, I pretty much despise them now.

  • Matteo

    Armando said: Of course, in some circles, common sense might as well be a superpower…

    Superb!

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