Where Did It All Go So Wrong?

It wasn't so long ago that you could go to college, get a job, buy a house and a car and live the "American Dream." What happened?

It wasn't so long ago that you could go to college, get a job, buy a house and a car and live the "American Dream."  What happened?

I grew up in a family where our father worked as a school teacher and our mother was a stay at home mom.  Having one parent work and one stay home wasn't unusual in the 60's 70's and even 80's.  When you look at it now it really wasn't that complicated.  In fact, it was rather simple.

School teachers have never made a lot of money (trust me) and back then was no different.  But somehow it all worked.  Even in a one income home we managed to take vacations every year going to  Disney World, driving across the country to California, or just hitting the beach.  We had new cars when we needed them and my parents managed to put all four of us through college.

There are certainly many factors that have contributed to the recession, but we may have the recession to thank for shining the spotlight on what is really ailing family, government and business budgets:  Credit!

When we want something nowadays and we don't have the money, we pull out the plastic.  When governments don't have the money for something, they spend it anyway.  Businesses over extend themselves knowing banks will be there to lend them money and they'll just keep adding it to their debt and hope to eventually pay if off, or borrow more to do it.

That house of cards has now collapsed.  People, governments and businesses that have used credit as a means to live are now finding out how flawed that thinking is.  Sure, credit is necessary for things like buying automobiles, houses, college, and perhaps a few other necessities.  But lets admit it, many of us, me included,  have probably borrowed money or used credit cards when we really shouldn't have.

While my dad was a teacher...I think it was the lessons he taught out of school that were the most important.  "It's not what you make, it's what you spend and don't spend it if you don't have it." 

That simple advice worked in a one income family years ago and just might be what's needed to get us, our government and ailing businesses back on track.

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  • by Ron Location: NC on Jun 7, 2009 at 06:52 AM
    College is a GREAT thing...UNLESS THERE ARE NO JOBS. Three reasons we are jobless. 1. A good percentage of our population just doesn't want to work, and when our gov keeps handing out freebies, well I guess some are making enough with that to get by. 2. Our companies are sending boocoo jobs oversea's. 3. Technology continues to eliminate jobs. So when we consider the population is growing continously, the job market can never catch up.
  • by Country Location: Wilson on May 15, 2009 at 10:52 AM
    Gouging is the way of life now. I dare say that everything is so expensive it is impossible to pay more than the regular monthly bills. I blame the gas prices for the past 4 years most. The average american cannot afford $3.00 plus a gallon. This was the beginning of the fall in my eyes. Now something needs to be done to add more taxes to the gov't bank acct. Well, don't tax the "average middle american" as was used so much during the campaigns last year. Do you wonder why you don't hear that phrase anymore???? "Average middle america" Well, it's because gov't depends on us to keep the bank acct stocked. We get the shaft, but do you even think that welfare will be reduced or even cut out?? A lot of young health people are living off us because they are lazy or they would be out getting jobs. I know immigrants are here doing seasonal work, but it's because you can't get these lazy americans off their butts. I want to retire, but my 401k dropped so bad that is out of the question.
  • by Ted Location: Greenville on May 4, 2009 at 01:35 PM
    I was born in 1967, my dad bought a house on an acre of land for $7,000. Today you couldn't even buy the land for that. Land and housing seems to me to be a larger percentage of everyone's take home pay than it used to be. We're trapped by payments, rent, insurance, light bill, taxes etc. There is nothing regular folks can do but pay these bills. I'm making payments on a double wide on rented land, I've got 2 cars, one paid for and one I'm still making payments on. My light/utility bill bounces between 300 and 400 per month. Sometimes I have trouble believing the odds were stacked as heavy against Mom and Dad as they seem to be against me and my wife, if they were they certainly hid it well.
  • by Tim Location: Vanceboro on May 4, 2009 at 10:17 AM
    Agreed Cactus, its pretty freakin' sad that probably the most American car we have here today is a Toyota!
  • by Mary Location: Washington on May 1, 2009 at 08:20 PM
    I think the american dream is a myth. People lived simpler 30 years ago and did not have all these expectations of having 2000 square ft houses and two new cars. I grew up with a family of 5 in a very small rancher and so did every one else in my neighborhood. Being a nurse and asking people about their education level, I find most didn't even finish high school. There are a great deal of poor people in this area, many working poor. We buy cars from other countries because the company does not have to pay for the workers health insurance in Canada and other countries and it is cheaper for them to do this.
  • by Gator Location: NC on May 1, 2009 at 05:54 PM
    Maybe if the little people stand up and do better than what's expected, we wouldn't have this problem.
  • by Mother Location: Washington on May 1, 2009 at 01:49 PM
    Greed. Selfishness. It's all about what I want. And if you notice it is not the lower class that has this problem. It is the ones in office thinking about no one but themselves. Granted I do have to commend the ones that will stand up for us little people.
  • by Cactus Location: Strabane on Apr 29, 2009 at 04:34 PM
    Welcome to the global world. Jobs now go to foreign contries, we have no real industrial base, we inport more than oil anymore, like food, clothing, shoes and toothpaste. From my view in the evening I see farmers planting tobacco, corn and wheat using Mexican labor. We need to bring jobs back to the US. I think that any company that exports jobs should have to pay a special tax. Why was my truck made in Canada? Why do parts for my Caddy come from Mexico?
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