A Confederacy of Wusses

It's been almost a year since The Autumn of the Massive Collective Pants-Soiling, which itself was a (lamentably laundry-intensive) phase of The Year of Moral Hazard. I'd hoped these calamities would inspire people to wise up and take greater responsibility. Unfortunately, it seems they've become even wimpier, whinier, and grabbier instead. Unless I'm wrong, we're in heaps of trouble -- and so is our economy.

The invisible hand wants a handout
A dizzying array of government programs and ideas now seem hellbent on taking from some to give to others. Cash for Clunkers recently secured an additional $2 billion from Congress, all so that some of us can basically help others buy new cars. (Not to mention give the economy, and the fortunes of companies like Ford (NYSE: F  ) and GM, an artificial, short-term boost.)

Perhaps Cash for Clunkers appeals to people who felt justifiably ripped off by the bailouts of financial companies like Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) , Citigroup (NYSE: C  ) , and AIG (NYSE: AIG  ) . Still, I don't know that a little help buying new wheels is such a great consolation prize, especially when we're all on the hook for the expense.

I won't rant too much about the popular notion that everybody has a right to health care, even when our government doesn't have the money it's already been throwing around on other recent programs.

All the same, Americans generally seem to feel way too entitled in the face of a serious fiscal crisis. Life isn't always easy, and we can't and shouldn't expect the government to solve all our problems.

Would you like some cheese with that whine?
The government's attempts to save the day seem only to have left everyone wondering what's in it for them. The final straw for me was a Wall Street Journal article mentioning 80 Million Strong for Young American Jobs, an advocacy group of young people seeking Congressional aid in various forms. They're upset that they've got college degrees and can't find jobs (or at least, the kind of jobs they feel they're entitled to; one young person interviewed in the article appears to be bummed that the best job he could get involved waiting tables).

I'm not sympathetic. The plea on the group's home page: "With tens of thousands of dollars in debt from student loans and credit cards, young people need jobs, yet in times like these the newly graduated are forced to compete with more experienced workers for even the most entry-level positions."

Sorry about the credit cards, kids, but you probably shouldn't have had 'em in the first place. Sorry about the college tuition bubble, but that matched the overall bubble; musical chairs ended, and a lot of people crashed on their behinds.

I'm pretty sure that competing with more experienced workers for positions is par for the course for a kid right out of college with no real work experience; at least, it used to be, before the bubble artificially adjusted everyone's expectations to expect easy money everywhere.

When my generation, Generation X, left college, plenty of young people worked retail, slinging coffee, and doing other jobs that could have been considered "beneath" their degreed status --because there were hardly any jobs. (And we got labeled "slackers!") Many of us lived with our parents after college, or in jam-packed group houses.

Create, don't stagnate
Innovation and positive change will eventually come; it did for my generation, as Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) , and Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) led us into the Internet Age. That's the creative force of capitalism in a free society.

I don't like the idea of 80 million "strong" young people asking Congress for help. There's nothing strong about begging for government intervention, in my book. The more the government meddles, the more that unforeseen consequences could stagnate our economy.

Sure, it wasn't fair that big bankers got bailouts and big bonuses. I thought the bailouts were a sucker punch to the American people. However, we'll get a worse body blow if everybody else goes into parasite mode, too, instead of bucking up and trying to rebuild our economy on firmer ground. If we keep waiting for someone else to make everything better, I fear we'll face a bleak future for investing ... and for our general quality of life.

Apple and Amazon.com are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 4:20 PM, TMFMarlowe wrote:

    You rock, Alyce.

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 4:31 PM, BNJAPAN wrote:

    Welcome to America! The land where each individual selects what Constitutional Admendment applies to them, and forgets the rest of them. All the Bush lovers who voted him in TWICE, watched him bring this country to it's knee's, with "No Govt" attitude, and we saw what america did while no one was watching. "Cash for clunkers" has helped a few people, and will help a few companies, will help the economy!! Americans are masters of genocide, masters of greed and hypocrosy!! Why does it bother you so much to help someone else??

    If you are such a master investor which all of you claim to be....your money is good, and that's all you care about, so be happy!!

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 5:07 PM, SmallWords wrote:

    BNJAPAN :

    Hey big guy, not everyone who invests is a Republican, but the people on this site are planning ahead and investing so that we can take of ourselves and our families. The fact that you think that only Republicans invest I think shows that you don't and that all Democrats you know likewise do not plan ahead. Be responsible and take care of yourself and this enables you to take care of others. If you're so concerned with helping others, help them with your own money and let me help them with mine.

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 5:19 PM, outoffocus wrote:

    Great article. The sense of entitlement in this country sickens me and I think its one of the chief reasons there is so much corruption in politics right now. All the politicians have to do is dangle a carrot in front of our faces and we'll focus on that carrot while the politicians perform all kinds of corrupt and unconstitutional acts right in front of our noses unchecked. When will people realize the more you depend on someone, the more power they have over you? We've essentially made the government our god and we are willing to sacrifice our rights and freedoms for the government's blessings.

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 5:26 PM, CatfishMcCoy wrote:

    I, too, get annoyed by college graduates with a sense of entitlement. I graduated top 10% from a top 25ish undergrad school and I worked 2 years at a crappy office job that was "beneath" me and lived with my parents one year and a crappy studio apartment the next. Guess what? That's life.

    At 25, I still consider myself a young American, but the road to jobland or wealth or wherever you want to go isn't through some quasi-Marxist/populist/unionist website demanding jobs. It's to get off your arse, stop whining, and create jobs, start a business, build a service.

    With what happened last fall, what do these idiots want, a job at B of A or AIG? Give me a break! If you think waiting tables is beneath you, buy a cart and start selling street food. Then you're a business owner. Or do what I'm doing: go back to school and add additional skills while building a business plan on the side. The people behind that website are no better than beggars, as far as I'm concerned.

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 5:36 PM, TMFMitten wrote:

    Great article as usual, my friend, from a fellow Gen Xer who also felt the pain when he finished with school. I didn't get a full-time job for three years after I graduated. But things eventually turned around. They can this time, too, as long as we ditch the growing sense of entitlement and stem the tide of creeping government that's all too willing to pander to the entitlement class.

    Oh, and if Bush was "small government," I'm the pope. The problem is NOT limited to one political party in this country. It's pretty much system-wide these days, the only difference being whether you're going to tax people now, or make their kids pick up the tab.

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 5:39 PM, agreewithme wrote:

    The moral hazard issue is real and goes to the heart of what makes any people free, including Americans. When bad judgement is rewarded with a pass (or worse, a profit) we risk "de-moralizing" all those who tried to live wisely and righteously and undermining the character of all those who didn't. Cash for fallen assets and cash for clunkers risk both.

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 6:00 PM, aeons451 wrote:

    You realize there is already a government program for relief from burdening student loans and expenses. The military will wipe most of that out, provide you with a steady (albeit limited) income, pay for housing, and give real world experience. That, too, is most likely beneath the majority of today's grads.

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 6:17 PM, TexasChris wrote:

    This a back asswards article. I guess the New Deal did not work. For those who don't think government spending can pull (or at least stave off) a country out recession/depression, think again.

    For another example: What was WWII, but a massive government spending venture which employed everyone, including spouses (when spouses entering the workforce was unheard of!).

    This hand out drivel that I hear is such a load of BS. It's about restarts when private industry is too chicken to jump start things on their own.

    The only thing I agree on is investing more in innovation. New tech always a good choice, especially when we are talking a green revolution which doubles the benifits for our country.

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 6:49 PM, Howard1ii wrote:

    Great editorial.

    Maybe it's time to re-instate the draft, then they would all have jobs waiting for them and hopefully it could turn them into a "few good men & Women." instead of Wusses.

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 7:13 PM, MFSheridan wrote:

    I'm with TexasChris. If full employment existed in Britain during WWII, then why not during peacetime, a realization that lead to their national health care programme--a "right" not a privilege.. If we're going to reference the greatest generation, let's consider what in part made them great--a belief that we are all in this together and we'll fight the good fight for the rights of all (well--all white men). Triumphant American individualism sounds pretty tired right now looking at the form of capitalism we're practicing here--a dog eat dog, cook the books, murky market system that rewards speculation and dings long term investors. Wish I didn't feel so cynical about our markets, but I am astonished that we as United States settle for so little yet pay so much for health care and other rights neighbors would never question.

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 7:29 PM, Lango60 wrote:

    There's a new group of millionaires since the March tank, I question why some stocks like TEN and DTG went from under a dollar to over 15 and 20 dollars in this short time. Only in America

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 7:44 PM, OneLegged wrote:

    Right on! As a fellow Gen Xer I can relate wholeheartedly. When I got out of college (100% paid for by myself) what was waiting? A year of living in my car and working 6am to 6pm for $10 per hour. Big deal. That's life.

    News Flash: Unless you are born into a rich family you are entitled to exactly NOTHING! No one owes you a stinkin' thing!

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 8:07 PM, BNJAPAN wrote:

    Wow, I love how everyone ASSUMED that I was not an investor! I am good, my family is set up for this and the next generation! But knowing that, why is it so "wrong" for me to not mind helping others? Freedom of choice......you (and I am not saying republicans) can choose to care about your life and only your family, or you can do like me, choose to help others and be sympathetic to those who didn't grow up in Oak Park, IL like I did. Oh, please check out my site: Investmenteam.com, or email me at Brian@Investmenteam.com if you would like to have a mature "debate".

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 8:31 PM, mattius10 wrote:

    This "article" was actually the lead "Must Read Story" on fool.com. Can i ask what it has to do with equity investing? Which, by the way, is why i signed up for this site. At this moment THIRTY-THREE people actually "Rec'd" it? Can i Anti-Rec it?

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 9:32 PM, mattius10 wrote:

    72 SIGAR do you think they erased you original comment because it was...

    A. Offensive

    B. Incoherent

    C. Ridiculous

    or

    D. All of the Above

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 9:59 PM, 72SIGAR wrote:

    I would say none of the above of your mentioned choices.

    I am only talking about animals and making an analogy. It it is offensive to, you, then maybe your are not an eagle, and leave it at that. Incoherent, George Orwell mastered this form of literally satire in The Animal Farm. Maybe I had a few spelling errors, so what. Ridiculous....I don't think so, neither do many others, and as long as we are forced to pay through our noses in taxes to educate, medicate, etc. people who don't belong here, or people who consitantly seem to beat the system we are doomed. Dallas and LA alone pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year delivering illegal children and The facts are on the table. The truth hurts.

    http://www.amren.com/news/news04/05/07/hospitaldeport.html

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 10:06 PM, catoismymotor wrote:

    Alyce,

    Well said! You are one of the brightest lights in the Fool chandelier.

    TexasChris,

    "I guess the New Deal did not work." Oh, brother! The true legacy of the New Deal was what turned out to be the Great Depression. The length and breadth of the crisis was magnified by the government acting as the savior of the little man. It took WW2 to pull us out of the fiscal marsh FDR built with his hefty taxes and entitlement programs. If the financial system had been left to run it's course the whole mess would have been settled in three or four years, not eleven.

    Love you long time,

    Cato

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 11:00 PM, wolfhounds wrote:

    I was born in 1947 and lived in a working class area of Brooklyn. What I and all my of post war generation of friends learned from our parents was sacrifice and hard work (the bedrock of this country). On my block lived two veterans who lost a leg in combat. We never heard a word of complaint from them. What we did learn was the world was changing, and we had better go to college or acquire good skills or we wouldn't be part of that change. We weren't rich, but we had everything we needed. And most of all, we didn't expect to be handed anything even though we lived through Johnson's Great Society.

    Many of my friends joined the service in 1964 upon graduating from high school because we were expected to serve our country. Others, like myself, interrupted college to join during the Vietnam war. After 5 years in the army I finished college on the G.I. Bill, and was in graduate school in 1974 when I needed to get a job. We were in the middle of a bad recession - for most of you who obviously were not alive yet - so I wrote letters to about 100 corporations until I landed a job in a corporate tax department. It turned out, that as unpopular as the war was, my 5 years of army service made me stand out as leadership material.

    I'm not advocating joining the service to straighten out some of your sorry asses. I am pointing out that this generation is so much better off despite this nasty recession than my generation was, and you don't even know it. So you blame all on the country, call it things which displays your ignorance of our history, and never bother looking into the mirror.

    I have three grown children. They knew that their parents would pay for a college education, and then they were on their own. They knew it when they were old enough to make a buck doing their own laundry. They, and many others like them I know, are doing just fine. The two youngest (30 and 27) changed jobs the past year for much higher salaries and better positions in NYC and DC. They did it with the same attitude that generations before them did.

    If the sorry asses complaining here are representative of the young people of this country we have a problem. I don't believe that to be the case. I meet too many people under 30 and hear plans for the future. Stop thinking how to get rich in the stock market for a minute and maybe the fog will lift.

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 11:09 PM, Tacomatight wrote:

    Great article!

    Don't agree with all the points made but excellent writing. Yeah students guranteed jobs...my God, are we turning into France?!?

    I have to admit that I am part of this entitled generation...it stinks. I get that 'I should have this kind of job' bias sometimes and it get's me into trouble everytime.

    My Grandpa (part of the greatest gen.) once sat me down and explained to me how my generation expected his generation's wealth(house, portfolio etc.) right after graduation. He said we didn't understand that it took him and his counterparts a lifetime to build their castle.

    I think he was right. We don't get it.

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 11:10 PM, FoolishJayhawk wrote:

    Lomax in da house - rock on!

  • Report this Comment On August 14, 2009, at 11:13 PM, Tacomatight wrote:

    wolfhounds ,

    Awesome post!

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 2:08 AM, warrenrial wrote:

    I think Walmart is hiring.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 2:28 AM, ozzfan1317 wrote:

    Heres my take the sense of entitlement in America is sickening. I grew up dirt poor worked two Jobs at one point and spent four years in the navy to pay for college. Too many expect it to be given to them you have to go out there and take it for yourself. I am 24 and have a strong start to life and my family had there share of problems growing up but noone should expect to just sit back and have things given to them they didnt earn.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 3:46 AM, Atrossity wrote:

    I'm a Gen. X'er and live in a West Coast coastal college town and have had the displeasure of the company of more then my share of the entitled Gen. Y'er.

    I have continually been astonished at their helicopter parents who spoil them rotten and how they expect me and the World to follow suit. Not only do they tend to expect to be given handouts but they seem to be completely unfamiliar with the concept of reciprocity.

    It makes me a bit less sorry for them, that they'll be paying down the Borrow and Spend politics of the Bush administration and the Republican Congress and the current administrations continued borrowing to bail out the irresponsible banks, dysfunctional businesses and the rest of the inherited economic mess, in the years to come.

    Our school system is not educating our youth and focusing primarily in fostering out of proportion self-esteem bordering on megalomania.

    Complaining about their credit card debt and having to compete with more experienced workers??? Did they think they were gift cards and that they’d be competing with less experienced workers? It seems like you don't have to understand logic to obtain a college degree anymore. Gen whY? are wusses indeed. Stop wingeing, pull your heads out of your sun-shinny behinds and buck up!

    Great article Alyce!!!

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 5:20 AM, wuff3t wrote:

    Ease up on today's young generation. You can't complain that people's expectations have been adjusted to become unrealistic, then complain that people have unrealistic expectations. Young people go to college because they're told all the way through school that if they do they'll get a well-paid job at the end of it. Why would anyone incur the massive debt students do if they felt there was only a job waiting tables (and hence no way to pay off that debt) at the end of it?

    I'm not saying young people don't need to adjust their expectations - they do. We all do, and maybe that's the one really positive thing that will come out of the current crisis. But when they've been led to believe (throughout their very short lives) that life is easy, of course they seem naive and childish. Blaming them seems overly harsh.

    Those of us who are a bit older and have seen the economy fluctuate and have graduated and then worked in factories etc while waiting for that well-paid job to turn up, have the benefit of greater experience. Let's not be too dismissive of a generation who don't yet have the same experiences to learn from.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 6:09 AM, bmialone wrote:

    My grandparents and their friends claimed the New Deal saved their lives. They were starving until the New Deal provided jobs. Before the Depression, my grandmother's first husband died of TB in a cabin and no one would help her because of fear of the TB. She was alone with three little boys and an infant boy. The infant died of malnutrition and my grandmother almost died of the same. There were no programs to help poverty stricken widows and their children. That's what life was like in the this country before programs were put in place to help widows, the elderly, and the poor!

    College students are coming out of school deeply in debt with bills due because the Bush administration basically turned financial aid over to the private sector as a money machine for them, while also slashing all aid that left only loans available for the vast majority of students. Beginning with the Clinton administration allowing credit card companies the same privileges as banks, and then the Bush administration assuring no protection for consumers, credit card companies have been preying on young people for the last ten years, at least!

    As for healthcare, our healthcare system has been sucking the economic strength our this country for the last 25 years and only growing worse. We can't afford Not to do something about it.

    It is both funny and sad when people say things like, "What are we becoming, France?" If only we were that lucky. Our friends in France live a much nicer lifestyle, in their large high rise condo overlooking the Eiffel Tower, even with all those taxes they pay, because they still earn and get to keep good incomes and they do not live with the daily stress of worrying about being bankrupted by an illness, how to keep from being dumped by their insurance company once they reach middle age and develop "pre-existing conditions, how to insure their young adult children, or even how their children's college educations will be paid for! They wouldn't trade places with us for anything!

    The government is merely a vehicle for managing and implementing programs on behalf of us, the people. The government is ours and it employs Americans, Americans who pay taxes. Government programs are the pooling of our resources to invest in our people and our infrastructure. For those of you who don't think that is important, well it used to be buildings and bridges only fell down in third world countries with no regulations, but now they are falling down in ours. Further, some European countries and China are kicking our butts in the pursuit of alternative energies because their governments subsidize the private sector to pursue it. If the American way glorified here is so much better, then why have we tanked our economy and the world's economies? Why are other countries kicking our tails in a number of areas and while we are losing influence? It is time to quit coasting on old glories because doing so has kept us blind to our downhill slide.

    The very title of this article is mean and intolerant, and so are most of the letters of support. Frankly, the snotty attitude devoid of deep understanding and empathy is repulsive.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 6:53 AM, grendeth wrote:

    I like this article, however the government will be swiftly leading towards to left in a short time. With that our competitive edge will dissapear.

    I think college kids asking for government intervention because they cannot find highly paid jobs are unreasonable. I took had to work in fast food joints to support my college fees. However, it is in the best interest that the government encourages the economy to be better able to absorb these new force of labor.

    It does not benefit anyone that a college grad is unemployed. How they go about doing it is debatable & in the US it will be split between party lines.

    Cash for clunkers?. I am from the auto industry & while I think this will help the auto industry, in the long run what does it gain for the nation?. Now if you think it eliminates waste in energy, less dependancy in oil imports, cleaner environment I am with you on this. However, if this is to solely benefit the auto makers with no benefit to other parts of society, that it is rubbish.

    While the auto industry is mighty important to manufacturing America which I still believe in, it is vital that decisions are made not to just support one political allies. I think the cash for clunkers program is good & other nations (such as Germany) are also on it. Let's wait for the outcome down the road. Maybe news comes back that we have greatly reduced our oil consumption.

    Everyone is also blaming the banking industry for credit card debts etc. Look while I agree that regulation needs to happen, please don't stop looking at the banks only. Look at the consumer driven economy of America & how it has let its once mighty manufacturing sector dissapear & depends on unrestricted credit spending to keep ot afloat. You know this was never going to last the way people were spending beyond their means.

    Hopefully, this will wake up people's common sense & moderate spending but it probably won't. Looks like the government stimulas is directly affecting the stock market so pretty soon everyone will think this recession is over & back to their old ways.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 7:32 AM, outoffocus wrote:

    bmialone

    Providing government programs that helped feed the people who are not able to work is one thing. Spending tax money we DONT have to bail out people and BUSINESSES' mistakes, and expecting the government to provide high paying jobs is another. One is a need, the other is a want. We ALL make mistakes. Should we expect the government to fix everyone of them? If so, then when will we ever be required to think? Creativity is often born out of necessity. If we never have necessity, then where is our creativity?

    I, also being apart of the Y generation, understand how starting out of college with no job or a low paying job can be tough. I also had to stay with family before I could go out on my own. As a matter of fact there are many people out there who could be so lucky. However, the people you describe in your story are people on their last legs. I'm sure they tried everything they could before asking for help. Also, those people were NOT college educated. So their options were truly limited. Thats not what I've observed in my generation. What I've observed are people who, after college, came RIGHT back home and either aren't really trying that hard to do what it takes to find a good job (which is some cases requires you to take a lesser job) or taking their sweet time. Why? Because they can. They live with their parents so the don't have the pressure of bills and other responsibilities to motivate them to go to the next level. They've had their parents bailing them out all their lives and now the expect the government to do it. Do I need to mention again that the government is broke? We truly can't afford another government program.

    As far as healthcare reform is concerned, the attitude that seems to permeate this country (or at least scream the loudest) is this all or nothing, its Obama's plan or status quo attitude. Why does everything in this country have to be all or nothing? Why is there never any middle ground? I'm not for the current plan because the government is broke, and I believe the current proposal is merely a giant bandaid. Yet I'm also not for the status quo. Yet I hear very few instances of anyone entertaining alternatives.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 7:46 AM, WhatIsABlog wrote:

    It is okay for everyone to spend TexasChris....just not beyond their means. The gov't did not have enough money to spend so it is "making" some. That doesn't instill confidence in the dollar as evidenced by some of our country's investors....ie China.

    One small program out of a 2 trillion dollars does not a wise gov't spender make. You relate to gov't spending in WWII. While many companies did well during that phase, there were many more that closed because the "other" spenders quit. The "other" spenders are us...john & jane doe public. Do you feel great about spending your harder to earn money now? If you do...go for it! Stimulate away. If you don't feel like spending....then you are just beginning to sense that something is a little rotten in America and now isn't the best time to spend like a fool.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 8:46 AM, WhatIsABlog wrote:

    I'm okay with "some Americans in general" but I wouldn't call the younger generation wussy's. There are some seriously skilled, hard working young people out there, I know as some of them are working for me.

    ATTENTION HERE ALYCE LOMAX.....

    There is another "youngest generation group" that you totally offended - one I have great respect and admiration for. My nephews, daughter, and sons...and all their fellows which comprise the "youngest generation" of our military. You SERIOUSLY owe that "youngest generation group" an apology.

    So Alyce Lomax I think you are way off the mark intimating that the youngest generation is begging....and perhaps now YOU should be the one to"beg"....for their "forgiveness".

    Sign me,

    Veteran and Defender/Supporter of Veterans :-)

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 9:11 AM, bmialone wrote:

    People lobbying for policies that they believe will create better jobs is not the same things as demanding the government give them high paying jobs. Only a simpleminded cursory glance at the issue would equate them as the same thing.

    Expecting young people to withstand the marketing forces of the credit industry that has been screaming "Use me!" at them since before they left high school is grossly unrealistic; but ain't it just like us to blame the victims-the youth now living as indentured servants to the credit card industry for God knows how many years of their lives because of predatory, unethical practices on the part of banks and credit card companies.

    Labeling an entire generation so insultingly because some people have entitlement issues is ignorant. There are people like that in every generation.

    My own children work hard and stay employed and so do all of their friends and cousins. The younger generation, whatever they expect, and whatever horrendous debt load they are beginning their adult lives with, do so because we taught them going to college was a must at the same time the cost soared and financial aid dried up; and because we as a society, their elders, allowed industries in this country to prey upon them without restraint.

    Any time consumer protection groups tried to get some lending/credit restraints passed, they were shot down by the powerful lobbying interests. That isn't the fault of the young, because they are YOUNG. It is our fault for being so short sighted and uncaring as long someone somewhere is making a profit off of them. That is called savage capitalism.

    If we would stop telling ourselves we can't be a manufacturing country again, we could be. If we invest in our infrastructure and our people we will grow jobs which will pay for the investments, just like with businesses. It is how businesses and countries grow and prosper.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 9:57 AM, Usnzth wrote:

    Might I suggest a solution.

    Leave America. Go somewhere where everyone is already living your ideal lifestyle - if you can find one. And then live with all of the unexpected reprecussions from your ideals because you only have theories and life never does follow anyone's theories.

    No matter where it is, there is a good chance that you will be ready to be back soon.

    If not, then you are the happy one.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 10:07 AM, krypizza wrote:

    Lessons Learned.

    1. No matter who you are or what country you live in you can't take care of or help someone else unless you take care of yourself first. Hard work, educated & intelligent decisions, and long term planning are universal requirements for productive lives. There is no such thing as INSTANT success!

    2. You don't have to have a college degree to get a high paying job. Only 20 to 25 percent of current high school students graduating will complete a college degree in their lifetimes. What is "the world of education" doing to prepare the other 80 to 75 percent of students in your local community?

    3. Students (high school) are intelligent and capable. They have no problem understanding how to manipulate a government or any other type of system that encourages dumbing down, handouts, excuses and laziness. They're intelligent but they don't GET IT when it comes to lesson 1, maybe because as a whole, Americans don't GET IT.

    4. All the above begins with self initiative and individual responsibility which is highly encouraged by a democracy and why it should be a humbling experience to be an American.

    5. Government would change a lot quicker if we had a system where each individual vote counted and we did not have to depend on delegates or politicans to speak for us.

    6. What does this have to do with investing? Without the above we won't have any opportunites to invest unless you think giving all your money to the government is a grreat investment.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 10:47 AM, BNJAPAN wrote:

    72Sigar: My My My....GENOCIDE: have you ever heard of Native Americans (you know, the culture of people Americans named "indians" because you thought you were somewhere else), or maybe the African's you brought to America. I find it amazing how everyone in America keeps referencing the "Nazi's" now with all this govt intervention (on a system that Bush and his flunkies created) when Hitler was the master of Genocide, and he did exactly what Americans did to the Native Americans, and everyone in America doesn't care about them. But I digress, yes, genocide, greed, hypocrisy, please 72Sigar ask me how america was created on these 3 fundamentals, and since your history books must have been blank, I will remind you. Matter of fact, you don't need history books for greed and hypocrisy, just read the news. I want everyone who reads this posting today, to go to your local homeless shelter, and help someone, show love, show kindness, I am sure you will find someone who has desire to do better, but not the means and maybe you can guide them. Join the Big Brothers and Big Sister's Program (or similar program in your area) and help influence children early, because we see that you will be blaming them later for their lack of knowledge/guidance when they are 22+.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 11:40 AM, cmitchellw wrote:

    Great title. But it went down hill from there. Some good points but overdrawn due to ideological dogmatism.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 12:00 PM, TMFTrog wrote:

    Great article, Alyce...I liked it a lot. I hadn't heard about the "Young American Jobs" group, but it doesn't surprise me.

    Also, since I can't resist a good New Deal debate. I just want to throw a little historical context in there. Anyone care to remember what the rest of the world looked like in 1932? It wasn't exactly a sterling moment for constitutional democracy and capitalism. You had facism rising in Europe, communism going strong in Russia, and a lot of really poor folks in America thinking that both of those models had some merit to them. In fact, there were beliefs that without some sort of strong government move toward assistance, the Red flag would be flying over a lot of places in the Midwest within the year.

    I'm not going to debate the merits of the different programs, or whether they worked or not, because let's face it, the New Deal ran its course. But without Roosevelt, and the hope he provided people, who knows where our country would be right now.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 12:43 PM, JibJabs wrote:

    Have a little faith. I tend to be deeply pessimistic but when I have doubts about the American character, no less a sage than Bill Murray of Stripes guides me through my existential crises.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nb7ARpsu0GQ

    Remember: we are the descendants of the decadent and depraved, the refuse of the world. Therein lies our strength. "We're mutts!"

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 2:05 PM, mk96804 wrote:

    Alyce,

    I enjoyed your article. I especially liked your term "parasite mode." I have noticed that even the most ambitious, energetic, and educated people can be sucked into becoming a tick if fed long enough. Unfortunately it also applies to large and small companies. Initiative and hard work slowly disappears into entitlement. Don’t get me wrong, I believe we should help someone when they are down but that is only a short term solution. The entitlement mentality means you "owe me". You have money, give it to me. I don’t want to work, you support me. I am the victim, it’s your fault. Don’t you feel bad for my children, feed me. I am helpless, take care of me. I don’t have health care, I have a right to free healthcare, give me yours. Don’t you have a feelings, give me more money.

    I cannot support going down this road. Well meaning people can create ticks of people and companies. At some point we have to stop and do what some people call “tough love.”

    The country is currently bogged down by the Healthcare reform. Why? We knew how to fix it 20 years ago but no one had the will to do it. Our system needs to be overhauled, not scrapped. The two problems are, it’s too expensive and not everyone is covered.

    Answer:

    1. Make all healthcare insurance companies Not For Profit. Any excess monies made could be used to cover the uninsured and decrease monthly cost.

    2. Serious Tort reform. Stop frivolous law suits by capping compensation. This will cut doctors from practicing defense medicine and save money.

    3. Cut the cost of all drugs to come into line with what it costs in countries that have universal healthcare. Canada, UK and Europe do not pay what we pay. The US is being ripped. Apply that money to creating lower cost health care. Perhaps incentivizing non workers to get a job.

    4. Cut the paper work out of the insurance mess. Let doctors see patients instead. The government and insurance says it won’t tell doctors how to take care of their patients. But when they won’t pay for a procedure, medication or surgery, they are telling the doctor what to do. Is that what you want?

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 2:39 PM, theHedgehog wrote:

    More hatist drivel from the far right. Yawn

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 3:57 PM, ozzfan1317 wrote:

    I agree with the sentiment of helping others when they are down. I agree that you must not give handouts but there is nothing wrong with a helping hand.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 4:25 PM, OneLegged wrote:

    http://80millionstrong.org/

    How about a fresh, hot cup of Shut the Hell Up?

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 4:40 PM, bucheron wrote:

    Get a real job, a job that actually makes progress, work in a farm, construction, lumberjack, mining and oil rigs. Getting out of the city and doing a job that actually produce something is the solution to the recession.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 5:30 PM, icehercdriver wrote:

    Nail hit firmly on head. I am also tired of my entitlement society of whiny, grabby, pathetic, irresponsible citizens. At least we have a government that is representative....give me my free health care and new car, I'm quitting my job tomorrow.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 6:54 PM, NoMoeMoney wrote:

    If you think about it, whats it really matter? Were all doomed! (wheres Alstry when you need him). The last few years of the 'free money' era was the countrys high point. The US is sliding into the abyss fast. With the conflicts that are sure to come (just look at he emotions of healthcare) we will destroy ourselves. Its happened to many great societies of the past, why not us? Doesn't matter what generation you belong to, only skill you'll need will be survival and even that might not help. Enjoy life while you can, things can get alot worse.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 7:43 PM, desertfox43 wrote:

    I'm sorry, but this is the most irredeemably antihuman, socially myopic piece I've ever read in Motley Fool.

    Whatever happened to compassion for our fellow Americans who, for a variety of profound socioeconomic reasons, are less fortunate than others?

    Jeez, the author seems to be promoting some sort of Hitlerian Master Race. Yeah, let the victims of poverty, ignorance and despair--among other variables--simply die.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 8:25 PM, QwertyHero wrote:

    Desertfox,

    This is what you libtards don't understand. Charity = chrarity. Government = Government.

    If you want to help people that are les fortunate than you, by all means do it!. Just do it with your money, not with mine. I worked hard for my money, I have earned it and it is mine - not yours.

    This is a very charitable country, like all other things in life - the government has intruded FAR too much and is trying to take over charity work in much the same way as they intend to take over healthcare and apparently industry.

    Charity is done by the individual and the church, not by the government.

    Build the roads, fight the wars and get the hell out of the way.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 10:58 PM, johnhenr wrote:

    Fantastic article. It's amazing how people think they are entitled to someone else's money, whether it's "Cash for Clunkers", guaranteed health care or other outrageous government spending. And yes, TexasChris, the New Deal was a complete and utter failure. We've been saddled with Ponzi schemes like Social Security and other government boondoggles for decades. It's clear you know nothing about history. How about reading the "Forgotten Man" by Amity Shayles? Nah, that would be too much to ask. The only thing that saved Roosevelt's bacon was WW II. You socialists are all the same. Well. it's not your money - ITS MY MONEY and KEEP YOUR STINKING HANDS OUT OF MY POCKET!

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2009, at 11:02 PM, johnhenr wrote:

    Hey, Desertfox43. If you want to be compassionate and caring for your "fellow human being", I'll have no objection if you turn over your entire paycheck and all your assets over to the government. You seem to think that they can handle it better than the individual. But no - you want to be compassionate with SOMEONE'S ELSE MONEY! Like I said before, keep your hands out of my pocket and off my wallet, you thief!

  • Report this Comment On August 16, 2009, at 10:15 AM, theHedgehog wrote:

    Desertfox says: "I'm sorry, but this is the most irredeemably antihuman, socially myopic piece I've ever read in Motley Fool."

    You and I are taking issue with the entitled few who don't want their own entitlements diluted. What they don't understand is that there are people above them who would just as gleefully leave them bleeding in the ditch. What a sad company they must be, in person.

    Keep the faith.

    Hedge

  • Report this Comment On August 16, 2009, at 10:27 AM, theHedgehog wrote:

    Here are a couple of things for you boys and girls to thing about.

    If you had been born in Appalachia, chances are you'd still be there; living in poverty without much hope of any other future.

    If you hadn't been born in America, chances are you'd be non-white and even poorer than those poor souls living in Appalachia.

    The mere fact that you've somehow managed to be mostly unaffected by the recession doesn't make you someone special - only someone who was lucky; this time.

    The saddest thing about this "article" is that the author takes a stand against the very things that makes most of his supporters successful.

    Hedge

  • Report this Comment On August 16, 2009, at 12:10 PM, chelfert wrote:

    Here, here Alyce! I'm not sure when life or or American citizenship suddenly became a risk-free proposition. It's usually the relatively privileged who bitch about not getting their just desserts. The garbage collectors, and coal miners, and single mothers of three working at McDonalds aren't forming an advocacy group to launch an internet campaign - they're hustling their asses off to do what they gotta do to make ends meet. Hard times are nothing new to them - or to this country. This country was built with a lot of sacrifice by a lot of people who never had the good life and could never even imagine it well enough to dream about it.

    With all the (inaccurate, inappropriate) comparisons of this recession to the Great Depression, it's very noticeable how many people are omitting the American people's response to that crisis. People doubled up their living arrangements with friends and family. They patched clothes and wore hand-me-downs instead of buying new ones. They took the bus or streetcar instead of buying cars.

    When I graduated from college I took a VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) job that paid me at exactly 105% of the federal poverty line. During the aforementioned Autumn of Collective Pants Soiling I saw my income significantly decreased. My family responded by moving into cheaper housing, putting our plans to buy a new car on hold, and eating out A LOT less among other things.

    Stuff happens. Suck it up, people!

  • Report this Comment On August 16, 2009, at 12:38 PM, whereaminow wrote:

    Alyce,

    Possibly your best post ever, and you've already written so many great articles. Thanks for this.

    David in Qatar

  • Report this Comment On August 16, 2009, at 1:01 PM, TMFLomax wrote:

    Hi everyone,

    I'm really enjoying reading the comments on this article. I do find it interesting it was called "anti-human and socially myopic." I certainly like the idea of helping those less fortunate, I try to donate to organizations that help the less fortunate as much as I can and I would never speak out against such (voluntary) acts of altruism. I think it's a more beautiful display of what it really is to be human when one searches one's own heart and tries to figure out what they can do, voluntarily, without coercion, to make the world a better place. And yeah, sometimes that may be doing what you have to do to keep your family afloat. If you have extra, it may be to help a neighbor or friend. If you have even more, it may be starting an enterprise of your own and employing people in your community. Asking what the government can do and feeling so entitled (and that it's unfair that the bubble busted and one didn't get one's own piece of that and hoping the government can smooth things out for you) is not really such a great impulse, in my book.

    Also true, people who lived through the Great Depression did what they had to, and learned to live a lot less wastefully and to help their neighbors; there are anecdotes in my family about such things and I'm sure lots of people have heard the same stories about that time. (And in another aside, sure, many people say the New Deal saved the day, but there's just as strong an argument that it was World War II.)

    And yeah... I think many of us have had our moments when misfortune came and we bucked up and adjusted, maybe even adjusted our expectations.

    I recently met someone who described a life where all the chips would seem to have been completely stacked against him growing up. Not only does he not have a college degree, he dropped out in 9th grade. He started his own business that has just celebrated its 2-year anniversary. Now that's inspiring, and that's the spirit that I would hope more people would try to display.

    And how does this have to do with equity investing... if we lose our can-do entrepreneurial spirit, then there won't be much left to invest in. In good times it's easy to forget the relationship between economics and investing, I guess. And for those who like the government option to try to "heal" the economy, it seems woefully easy to forget where the funding comes from, and the fact that borrowing and the printing press are not sustainable and without business and entrepreneurship (if people just lay down and say somebody else do something for me), that's all we have, and that's frightening.

    Alyce

  • Report this Comment On August 16, 2009, at 1:07 PM, twofourfour wrote:

    I agree with this on many levels, I vote both ways, so I guess I'm an independant.

    I went to college and picked my major based on what kind of job and how likely it would be for me to get that job after school. Isn't that the point of college?

    With an engineering degree and license I worked a job 'below' me while I ran around on site doing sample collection and minor inspection work. Kids with a high school degree were doing the same as I and getting paid the same.

    but...that lead to another job, and that to another, and now I make a pretty good living wage and work in my field it just took effort and time.

    I do feel a little sorry for some of the kids getting out of school now (and I stress SOME, I don't feel sorry at all for those who majored in something that doesn't lead to a job after school) but suck it up, take something that'll get you some work experience and when the opportunity to move on presents itself, jump on it.

    Things will work out, its just going to take some time.

  • Report this Comment On August 16, 2009, at 1:37 PM, tuckman52 wrote:

    As I read the original post, and many of the responses, it occurred to me that, just as the money for the programs comes from us, so do the politicians...Unfortunately, after elected, our politicians contrive programs to help themselves STAY elected. Whenever we passively accept a bailout, we add a chip to the stack of incumbency. Politicians will respond to public opinion--and will do as we ask--if forced to do so. Otherwise, they will think up many ways to "help." (For which we all pay.)

  • Report this Comment On August 17, 2009, at 9:35 AM, dudemonkey wrote:

    What a great article!

  • Report this Comment On August 17, 2009, at 9:42 AM, outoffocus wrote:

    Alyce I enjoyed and wholeheartedly agree with your second comment. Its one to believe in charity ( I strongly believe in it and have a proven track record of displaying that belief) its another thing to expect everyone else to perform the charity for you. I heard a good message yesterday that its time we stop talking about it and just do it!

  • Report this Comment On August 17, 2009, at 10:14 AM, greenvillewolf wrote:

    Amen, sister!

  • Report this Comment On August 17, 2009, at 10:57 AM, dragracerdad wrote:

    Just like an umpire. Call'em the way you see them.

    Young people, how about being 18 without a college degree competing against 30-somethings with 10 years of experience? I sold my abilities to a very lucky employer who quickly viewed my all-out efforts as an extreme value. A few years later, I was making the same money as the 30-somethings.

    Market the value of your abilities. Give an honest, credible effort in every aspect of your life and good things will follow you. Do things that seperate you from the pack. You will stand out and be noticed.

    Things are tough... but it's been way worse.

    We're all still living... maybe just not the way it says in the brochure. I got over it and the newbies will too.

  • Report this Comment On August 17, 2009, at 2:10 PM, KWT8011 wrote:

    As a member of the recently graduated generation (with a job in my field that pays a livable wage) I object to placing the "entitlement" tag on only my generation. I see it as more of a societal issue than a specific age issue. I happen to be a reasonable, grounded 24-year-old, but I know plenty of people, my age or otherwise, who are too self-centered to see the forest for the trees.

    Remember, while I was up studying until 1am, people in Gen X, Gen Y, and older were the ones ATM'ing their houses.

    I recently bought a house and a coworker said "Where's my 8 grand? Where's my tax break?" He also complained about not being able to get a Cash for Clunker deal because he bought his car 3 years ago. Sound entitled? He's older than me (not that much older, but old enough to not be a part of my generation, in my eyes).

    There's a reason why social security, socialized medicine, etc. isn't going to work in our society: it's the "What-about-me?" attitude Americans (of all ages!) have.

  • Report this Comment On August 17, 2009, at 6:08 PM, spinindog wrote:

    How'd that work out for the Bolshiviks? Anyone got some newspaper to wipe my hiney? The government didn't allocate enough toilet paper this month... Gee, I wish there was a better way to allocate toilet paper. I wonder why the Americans always have toilete paper.

    I feel sick, but there is no use going to the doctor. The government sent us a doctor that was appointed through political connections. The government gave him a medical degree because his father was a faithful democrat (er, Bolshivik). Why is it that the American doctors are so good. They must have some secret way of allocating bright people to be doctors. Some way of providing incentive...

  • Report this Comment On August 17, 2009, at 6:56 PM, spinindog wrote:

    Hedgehog wrote>>

    >>If you had been born in Appalachia, chances are you'd still be there; living in poverty without much hope of any other future.

    >>If you hadn't been born in America, chances are you'd be non-white and even poorer than those poor souls living in Appalachia.

    If I was born in Appalachia, I'd have Medicade and access to a great public healthcare system that rides on the back of of powerful free market health care system.

    If I wasn't born in America, I would probably be living under an oppressive regime that controlled every aspect of the economy. So I'd be living with poor health care.

    Fact is, a capitalist society creates wealth for everyone, even the poorest. The poorest of our society are covered by Medicade, and you would have a hard time finding a single American that begrudges them that benefit.

    Medicade is only good because it is pulled along by an overwhelmingly strong free market health care system. If you put everyone on Medicade, you get the crappy healthcare system that the rest of the world deals with.

    The proposed system would provide "free" health care to those who somehow find money for cable TV, new shoes every year, children, fast food, beer, movies, etc. We wouldn't be paying for their health care, we would just be making sure they can buy a bunch of luxuries with the money they don't spend on healthcare.

  • Report this Comment On August 17, 2009, at 7:37 PM, pnfer wrote:

    "Life isn't always easy and we can't and shouldn't expect the government to solve our problems."

    That's deep, man.

    Now that financial flimflammers and D.C. scum have fleeced American taxpayers to the tune of trillions, they send this tool out to wag his finger at the greedy unwashed.

    "Please be respectful with your comments."

    I will if you'll upgrade your content.

  • Report this Comment On August 17, 2009, at 7:59 PM, milts44 wrote:

    What a joke! Worrying about a 2 billion payout to actual consumers, when we pay the 4 largest food conglomerates 4 billion a year to over-produce corn, so they can sell us artificially cheap junk food. Not to mention the 12 billion a month we spend in Iraq, what a great boost to the economy that is. Get a realistic approach about what affects our economy.

  • Report this Comment On August 17, 2009, at 8:11 PM, hoosierhick wrote:

    Health Care. Are we afraid of France? Each citizen of France spends about the equivalent of $3500.00 on taxes for their free health care. We in the USA spend about twice that! Do we get better health care? France is rated as best in the world by the WTO. We are somewhere around 16. So be being afraid of turning into France we spend twice to get less? In France every EMT vehicle is manned by a doctor who can make instant and aggressive decisions about emergency care. Ours have to call the hospital to get permission to make some procedures.

    Are we concerned about rationing of health care? In England, contrary to what the scare mongers are saying, health care is not rationed. The 96 year old friend of my daughter's mother-in-law had his leaky aorta repaired--free. He is now almost 101. My daughter has had excellent care. When her second son (delivered naturally after #1 had to be delivered by C-section) was 3 weeks old, she took him to the doctor as he was having trouble breathing. Within minutes he was in hospital where he stopped breathing. He was resuscitated and in a breathing chamber almost instantly. For three days he had one on one care with a nurse 24 hours a day!

    Please don't be taken in by the hype put out by the health insurance industry, which is spending ridiculous sums of our premium money trying to keep form having to compete with a public option.

    Social Security administration costs are 3 % of the benefits. The health insurance industry spends 20 % on admin costs and profit.

    You can continue to be afraid of France, England, Big Government, or you can look at the facts and decide (it is still a democracy, after all) that you can hjave a better plan.

  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2009, at 12:28 AM, xetn wrote:

    TexasChris, MFSheridan:

    I don't think either of you know what you are talking about. Perhaps if you really studied history you might learn what Hoover/FDR actually did to PROLONG the great depression, and Bush/Obama have/are repeating the same mistakes.

    Take this quote for example:

    In his private diary, FDR’s very own Treasury Secretary, HenryMorgenthau, seemed to agree. He wrote: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before

    and it does not work. ... We have never made good on our promises. ... I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started ... and an enormous debt to boot!”

    If you really wish to understand economics, you might read:

    http://www.mackinac.org/article.aspx?ID=4013

    or

    http://jim.com/econ/

    Both are free. But it is up to you.

  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2009, at 4:40 AM, Racovius wrote:

    I work for the largest socialist organization on earth. The U.S. Military. It's nice not to worry about what you guys are arguing of.

    I have MY healthcare, my pay, and my food. I go on plenty of business trips along with 45 days vacation. Man it's nice. Thanks for paying for my benefits everybody!

    Plus I don't have to worry about student loans! Even THAT will be taken care of! :D

    -Regards!

    Ray from East Africa

  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2009, at 9:55 AM, RavenandSunny wrote:

    I was 17 when I graduated in 1960, and I was the last one to come down from the bleachers at graduation because it hit me like a sledgehammer right then and there, that I was NOW responsible for ME. My parents were no longer going to be paying for MY clothes, MY dental bills, MY medical bills, MY future car or whatever education I may have decided to pursue in the future. I sat there with tears running down my face because it was scary leaving childhood behind and becoming an adult in literally a matter of seconds! Graduation was on a Friday night......Monday was the first day of my new job and when the first payday rolled around, $10 of the $37 I cleared after taxes went for Room and Board to my folks. What I learned early in life was taking responsibility for myself which is something that the generations today are totally oblivious to. There are a few young people out there who "get it", but the vast majority think the world owes them a living.

    I was 21 when I got married and my Dad said I had the choice of $1000 or a big wedding. I took the money, had a very small wedding and invested the $1000 in AT&T and after diversification in 1983 ended up with the Baby Bells. In 1995 that 68 shares of telephone stock had, through DRPs become $35,000 which I sold and began investing in tech stocks. It is now worth close to $1M even after taking losses of $200,000+. The point is, a young person today would have taken the money and blown it on transient items because they haven't been taught to "look down the road". I realized from the day we got married that we had to start right then and there planning for the long term. It wasn't easy convincing a man who'd been brought up by a live-for-today-and-to-hell-with-tomorrow parents, that saving was the right thing to do. He's happy about it today!

    We worked hard all our lives and did without a lot of the things that our peers had to have. New car every 2 years, (we kept ours at least 10 years each), expensive vacations, (we camped for 30 years), huge houses, (ours was a 5 room ranch), ate out once a week or more (we went out only for birthdays and anniversaries), etc.

    The real irony here is that I'd had a guidance counselor in high school who told me that I was "too stupid" to go to college and that she would "thwart" any effort on my part to apply. I could have believed her and used it as a crutch all my life but I believed MORE in myself.

    By the way, I became a Republican AFTER reading George Orwell's "Animal Farm".

  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2009, at 9:59 AM, crazy4swayze wrote:

    great commentary, Andy Rooney. now complain about how there are too many kinds of milk these days.

  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2009, at 12:06 PM, smikey055 wrote:

    Great article.

    I'm glad to see that The Fool isn't sucking up to Washington like the rest of the media.

  • Report this Comment On August 18, 2009, at 2:09 PM, wuff3t wrote:

    "Fact is, a capitalist society creates wealth for everyone, even the poorest..."

    Maybe, and I agree with the idea that a free market society generates greater wealth along with innovation and standards of living etc than a socialist regime. But the inherent problem is that it distributes that wealth unequally. There might be enough wealth for everyone, but that doesn't mean everyone gets to share in it. As I understand it there are 45 million Americans without any form of health insurance (is that right? I heard that somewhere but correct me if I'm wrong); while in Britain something like one in three children live below the poverty line. These are not encouraging statistics.

    Is it really beyond the intelligence and moral compassion of capitalist countries to find ways to look after those who don't get to share in the wealth? I agree that there are those who don't work and yet somehow manage to find money to spend on beer, plasma TVs etc, but there are also plenty who work hard all their lives and end up living in poverty through no fault of their own (there are quite a few who have that lined up for them now, after the market crash and their pensions have disappeared down a crack in the floor). There are those who are never given a chance to succeed in life - yet spend their lives working and making their (already wealthy) employers even richer. Does the pursuit of free market policies mean we have to abandon everyone who doesn't get the luck of the draw?

  • Report this Comment On August 19, 2009, at 12:01 AM, ElCid16 wrote:

    "Innovation and positive change will eventually come; it did for my generation, as Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), and Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) led us into the Internet Age."

    You just listed three companies led by Baby Boomers...Gates, Jobs, and Bezos.

  • Report this Comment On August 19, 2009, at 9:33 AM, georcole wrote:

    I think it is sad to see articles like this get a lot of recs, and to get all of those emails talking in the same tough love vein, because the people that spread such sentiments, do not seem to follow their own words. The ideas get a ton of lip service but, when it comes to electing our president and other higher ranking officials, we, as a people, do not vote for the candidates that stand along these lines. Are we too scared to possibly give up some of the handouts that we receive from big government, so we keep voting in people who will continue the handouts? If these sentiments are so strong, we could do something about it.

    My statements are meant to be taken in a general theme. I am not referring to any particular government official(s) and/ or spending program(s).

  • Report this Comment On August 19, 2009, at 9:46 PM, hegibson wrote:

    Look at what a little unrestrained capitalism got us. there must be regulation. Look what a little, "rugged individualism, independence" got you. The folks whining the most are the healthy ones. Let them get real sick, lose their job and/or insurance, and see where that gets them. As long as you are healthy and employed with good insurance you can easily sit in arrogant judgment upon those less fortunate. Where is the compassion for your fellow man American? If you think free enterprise is going to have a moral conscience, then you better think again. Learn a lesson from what has just happened. Don't think for a minute that unrestrained capitalism will be compassionate.

  • Report this Comment On August 20, 2009, at 12:20 PM, smikey055 wrote:

    SPREAD MY WORK ETHIC, NOT MY WEALTH! I worked hard through public grade school, ignoring the ignorant kids who would rather make jokes, skip class, or win a popularity contest. I put myself through college and focused on earning a quality education so I could achieve my goals. I followed the path that society preaches to all kids. Everyone has choices and decisions to make. America is where is started my business. Now wealthy and financially independent, why should I "bail out" all the slackers and ignorant whiners who didn't value the system? When did everyone else's shortcomings and lack of accountability and responsibility become my responsibility? Yes, not all parts of the world offer people with the same opportunities, but that's one reason America is so unique. America excelled due to it's INDEPENDENCE from tyranny. The downfall of other countries is not America's fault. It's the result of bad decisions made by selfish leaders and irresponsible people of the past. I'm tired of people disrespecting America (its leaders and policy). All men may have been created equal, but it ends there. Not all minds work the same; some don't work at all. That's life. It's natural. It's not fare, but neither is Mother Nature. Hurricanes happen. Droughts happen. Floods happen. Animals have been living in survival mode since the beginning of time. Squirrels don't worry about chipmunks. Squirrels worry about themselves. Be independent and accept your place in life. Don't worry about what you don't have; worry about keeping what you already have. The politics of jealously, envy, and bleeding heart hypocrisy are for whiners. I'll share with the unfortunate, but not the lazy and irresponsible. I thank God and Mother Nature that I have been blessed with a life in America. If America wasn't the leader of the free world, there wouldn't be a leader of the free world. If you don't like America, too bad.

  • Report this Comment On August 20, 2009, at 1:25 PM, DTBoojum wrote:

    Thanks for a breath of common sense.

  • Report this Comment On August 20, 2009, at 8:55 PM, bmialone wrote:

    @ krypizza : I especially like your first two lessons learned.

    @ Usnzth: Americans with differing ideas, popular or unpopular, do not have to leave America. In fact, learning from other models and attempting to improve our nation is patriotic because it is engaging in our representative democracy as it was created to be engaged in. Without that, we cease to be a representative democracy; and at this moment in history, are less so than since all citizens gained the right to vote, thanks to our legislators and past presidents selling us out to corporate and ideological interests.

    The only people who should leave the United States are those who do not want to be informed, engaged, active participants in our democracy, but instead want to be dictated to. That's okay, though, because some folks prefer authoritarian environments that do not challenge their assumptions or force them to actually be responsible for much outside their own four walls. More power to them, just not in the United States.

    @Racovius : You rock. loo

    @wuff3t: There is a difference between capitalism and savage capitalism. The most vibrant economies, with the most satisfied citizens, are generally the countries that combine socialism with capitalism. Actually, the United States combines those two, we just don't admit to ourselves because we've been swallowing anti-socialism/anti-communism propaganda for a few generations without even learning the difference between them, what is really wrong with them, why they won't work here, and what we have in common with socialist countries. We just hear the word socialism and we think marching, black booted, Brown Shirts or commies.

    Yet everything we have, in every community, that is a shared resource or public agency is paid for by our socialist system of pooling our money so we can enjoy the benefit, such as our roads, police, fire departments, the military, Social Security, Medicare, the Veterans Administration, public schools, state colleges, and so on.

    Unfortunately, because we do not recognize our own socialized institutions, we stop short of creating a better society for all of us. We hurt ourselves over ideological kneejerkism. That included the millions of us all working like dogs, raising productive children, contributing to the betterment of our communities, but who must worry about having a major accident or developing a serious illness, pouring countless dollars into all of the various insurance policies we must have, and who face looming age discrimination by employers and health insurance companies because as we hit our 50s we will cost more in healthcare dollars.

    And what of our children, who can be bankrupted before the age of 20 because they have an accident or become seriously ill, but have no healthcare insurance because their parents' policies cannot cover them after the age of 19 years, and it is prohibitively expensive to buy individually (not to mention, they are cheated by the insurance companies if they become really ill anyway)?

    I'm sorry I cannot remember which poster discussed the spread of "Red" across the continent during the Great Depression, but that information is accurate. In fact, the federal government forced unions down the throat of the private sector to stop our country from turning further toward socialism or communism (popularity for both was growing). Because of the abuses against working people by businesses owners, labor organizing turned that direction and in protest of government and local law enforcement agencies always supporting business and landowners, workers had slowed production down to the point our federal government could not hold our own in WWI. To stop the tide turning more Red and to get production back on track, the federal government forced the private sector to accept labor unions, and also, we've been listening to and watching anti-socialism propaganda and rhetoric ever since!

    @everyone:

    Aside from the initial obnoxious essay, your posts are an interesting read. Thank you for taking the time to post!

  • Report this Comment On August 20, 2009, at 9:09 PM, bmialone wrote:

    Our country is based upon a form of socialism that has mostly benefited the upper-middle class and wealthy. It used to benefit the middle-class, too, but now the middle-class is pretty much wiped out and the upper-middle class are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Our current system has mostly benefited the wealthiest among us for the last 25+ years, shamefully escalating during the George W. years-now we are paying the piper.

    Our national highway system and roads to the suburbs, paid for by all and benefited developers and upper-middle-class/middle-class suburbanites who could afford to buy homes in the burbs.

    Police departments, paid for by all but traditionally served the interests of the wealthiest and most powerful first, followed by the upper and middle-classes. Protect and serve didn't apply much to the poor or to unpopular minority groups.

    Fire Departments, paid for by all and most benefits those with the most to lose! In fact, even fighting forest fires has become increasingly necessary, and therefore expensive, in order to protect the expensive homes of wealthy citizens determined to build further and further into wilderness areas. It ain't the poor, or even the middle-class, building palatial homes in the woods.

    Public schools paid for all by all, and all benefit, except for in communities like New Orleans where the citizens, already promoting and sustaining economic discrimination against racial minorities, changed their tax structure so most white families could afford to send their children to private schools (because their taxes were no longer going to public schools), leaving the public schools to only the poorest students, most of them black. Most resources in such communities then went to the private schools, and the remaining poor folks didn't have enough tax money to even fix a broken window in public schools, let alone provide a quality education.

    College aid (back when real financial aid existed) benefited the upper and middle classes because their children could get into college.

    School lunch programs, free cheese, food stamps, and WIC programs, paid for by all and certainly helped the poor, but our government's actual target beneficiaries were the agricultural, meat, dairy, and food retail industries. As a matter of fact, just about any government "give-away" program you can think of really benefited a private sector industry.

    Tax breaks on mortgage interest? Benefits the upper and middle classes, and the wealthy, while discriminating against those who either cannot afford to buy a home or just choose not to for their own reasons. In addition, most private sector industries favor those of us who own our homes. We enjoy a societal bias against those who rent, which increases the national desire for home ownership. Who ultimately benefits from that bias?

    Comparing what we did or how we had it a generation or more ago is an irrelelvent waste of time and unfair to our younger adults. Life is vastly different for them than it was for those of us who entered adulthood in the 70s and early 80s, and even more different than that for previous generations.

    When I struck out on my own in the late 70s, all I needed to rent an apartment was the cash to pay the first month's rent and maybe a deposit. I could open an account with a utility without proving my credit worthiness. Landlords did not demand I pay for them to run credit checks on me because that was almost unheard of then. Employers did not run credit checks or even background checks for most things.

    I did not have banks, retailers, and credit card companies offering me free gifts and sweet talking me into opening accounts, and when I did finally reach the age and level of responsibility earning credit cards, they could not prey upon me, or trick me into late payments and overages that then were parlayed into almost 30 percent interest for many years to come.

    When I went to college I had a rich package of tuition wavers, grants and low interest loans to pay for it, which has been returned to lenders and society many times over. My loan payments were simple, straightforward, manageable and no third party processing companies like ACS and Sallie Mae were lined up to cheat as many extra fees and profits out of me as they could get.

    In the 1970s and before, if a young person, even over the age of 18, made a stupid mistake that resulted in a serious consequence, like an injury, the community sadly shook its collective head, saying, "How sad. I hope that youngster learned his or her lesson." Perhaps a parent, another relative, or mentor did some emotional butt-kicking, followed by encouragement, and that was the end of it. People regrouped and moved on.

    The vast majority of us grew up to be hard working, responsible people. Now, our youth are treated like criminals and labeled with all sorts of "disorders" for behaving no differently than the generations before them. From skipping school to causing tragic accidents, they are actually Prosecuted, dragged through the criminal justice system with life-altering consequences. The criminal justice system and prison industry have been the fastest growing, most thriving industry in this country for over 20 years. So much for the USA being the "land of the free," "the most free nation on earth." Nope, we imprison more citizens than does any other country on the planet because we prosecute people, especially our young, for actions no one a generation ago would have dreamed of making a criminal case. I think the accusatory, intolerant tone of this essay is right in line with the thinking that led to and tolerates this outrageous treatment of our citizens.

    An uncontrolled private sector using marketing on children from birth; an unregulated, unethical, predatory credit industry; an uncontrolled, poorly regulated insurance industry; and a thriving data collection industry that then sells our information to so many entities we cannot make a move without each one tracked the rest of our lives so that someone can use it as an excuse to punish us or gouge us, all combine to create a perfect storm of bureaucracy many full-blown adults feel overwhelmed by. So imagine what it is like to enter early adult life facing all of that. and what easy targets our young people are?

    Blaming them for what we've allowed to happen is itself irresponsible, pathetic, and something to be ashamed of.

    As for healthcare, universal health care is not giving healthcare away for free. It is combining resources so that we are such a large market we can bargain for better prices and hold all parties accountable. Further, anyone with decent health insurance now is already paying for others, and paying through the nose for this overly burdened, over-bureacratic, overpriced system we have now. There are many layers of for-profit companies between the individual and his or her physician, and they are all nothing but parasites because they provide nothing we really need!

    The insurance company takes your money, and it used to hand it to the medical provider. One profit- making level we don't need right there. Now, though, insurance companies outsource each and every department/acitivity, AND our medical providers have started doing the same! Just try to get something straightened out with an insurance company after they either intentionally make a "mistake," or the person they've hired to process your claim in his or her jammies at home makes an accidental mistake. And do you know where your physicians send your records for things like transcribing and long-term storage? How many nameless, faceless people see your private records?

    All of these outsourcing companies also outsource, and each level must make a profit to survive. Just think about that! Each dollar that is passed from you to your medical provider has a percentage removed by each company involved in the claims, payment, transcription, and storage processes, plus the levels that choose company provided programs and all of the HR people trying to keep it all straight. Add to that, the HRA and Flex programs, and the outsourced companies hired to manage and process those!

    Most Americans have no idea how many of them there really are. Most Americans have no idea the loss of privacy suffered as well. All of them take a cut of your medical providers' payments.

    People are just not aware how much this system is really costing all of us already, and how horrifically inefficient it is. Why? Because, just like our children, our ideas are formed based upon the emotions and ideals marketed to us by those who want to line their pockets with our resources, pitting us against each other, polarizing us, and bankrupting the nation in the process.

  • Report this Comment On August 20, 2009, at 9:18 PM, bmialone wrote:

    One more point in response to what is said about medical malpractice suits.

    1. Most never make it past the first judge before they are thrown out.

    2. Those that do, most are won by the medical providers.

    3. The Real reason physicians practice so aggressively is not because they are afraid of lawsuits, it is because they own the clinics and the technology they are ordering and using! They are making money from the office visits And the tests And the hospitalizations!

    There is just too much profit incentive in our healthcare system.

  • Report this Comment On August 20, 2009, at 11:16 PM, patdon wrote:

    And this article is on fool.com....why? Not that I disagree per se, but I don't see this as the place for this article.

  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 11:50 AM, jsamans wrote:

    Ms. Lomax says, "Sorry about the college tuition bubble, but that matched the overall bubble; musical chairs ended, and a lot of people crashed on their behinds."

    She is wrong.

    The college tuition bubble did not pop, because - like the healthcare bubble - the true cost of attendance is virtually invisible to students who are automatically approved for a bewildering array of handouts.

    Loans are the first line, and they at least have the merit of needing to be paid back. That means that students have the potential to think about them.

    Grants - and their supposedly private brothers, scholarships - are worse. These are "free money" handouts, usually given for nothing beyond an inability to pay (which, as I recall, was entirely supposed to be the economic rationing mechanism used in a capitalist society).

    The prevalence of free money makes the cost of school transparent to students, who run up these vast debts while nonetheless using their time for precious little more than drunken orgies and the occasional (badly written) paper before graduating with inflated grades in an obscure, useless major to find that their degrees won't get them jobs that can provide the kind of lifestyle they see on The OC.

    I have a HUGE amount of graduate student loan debt. It doesn't bother me at all, because I took it out with full knowledge of the costs and benefits of the degrees that I pursued and why I was pursuing them. But then, my school wasn't screaming about being short on cash while building luxury dorms, a coffee bar, or an indoor climbing wall (as many are and do).

    We need to cut off the free money. No more grants. Instead, expand the available loan offerings to make up the difference. Let people see what they'll have to pay back, then they can decide.

  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 10:48 PM, ybckorea wrote:

    bmialone,

    If things are so great in France - How come over 11,000 people died from the heat a couple years back? Cherry pickin ain'tcha?

    I love Alyce's comment on "parasite mode." Not all are I'm sure, but if enough jump on the bandwagon....

  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2009, at 11:52 PM, wrb711 wrote:

    OLD TIME RELIGION

    1.LIFE IS TOUGH, INTENSE, AND SEVERE.

    2. YOU DON'T WORK, YOU DON'T EAT.

    3. FAMILY AND FRIENDS MAY HELP YOU SURVIVE.

    4. BUREAUCRACIES FEIGN ALTRUISM.

    5. THE OLD , THE YOUNG, AND THE STUPID HAVE HIGHER RISK OF MORTALITY.

    6. LARGE HUMAN SOCIAL STRUCTURES ARE TRANSIENT.

    7. DEAL WITH IT!

  • Report this Comment On August 22, 2009, at 2:31 AM, MINKEL72 wrote:

    I actually enjoyed reading the comments to this article despite the fact that they are political in nature and posted in an investing forum. I've decided to get myself a username and post a reply for the very first time (I'm at work so I am limited on time).

    First of all, "good job" to so many of you on your well written replies.

    There is no doubt in my mind that there is a very real sense of confusion and maybe even feelings of hopelessness in this country. We face many issues ~ most of which we will ultimately not have ANY control over in the end.

    The answer, then, lies in the one thing we do have control over, which is ourselves.

    Self Control and Self-Discipline require a lifetime of individual effort but they also equal freedom. Since all of our actions in life begin first with a thought, the most important thing we can do is to entertain and build upon good, positive thoughts ~ and we will live those thoughts out in our actions (just like everybody already does anyway)

    The condition or state of The Family Unit (many individual family units of course) is what will determine the collective fate of our country......and the second most important thing (behind improving ourselves) we can do is to build and strengthen our own families.

    Whatever your personal morals and values are, strengthen them, but more importantly, live them and be a living example to everyone around you.

    I am a true believer in the value of hard work. Hard work at your job as well as in your own home. All things of value, that are worth having in life require hard work / effort.

    While it is true that we are all different, the one thing we ALL have in common is our ability to significantly improve ourselves......be it working harder or improving our marriage......the reward comes through and from the hard work.

    Is it "Mean Spirited" to expect the same from others?

  • Report this Comment On August 22, 2009, at 5:01 PM, lower98th wrote:

    Wall Street rules! We got ours, too bad for the rest of you! Go ask Alyce.

  • Report this Comment On October 07, 2009, at 7:24 PM, rrydberg wrote:

    To BNJAPAN

    Hard to believe a fellow who doesn't have an idea of where apostrophes go.......

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 7:27 PM, bmialone wrote:

    @ybckorea

    Well, if you are going to choose only one out of context comparison, do you mean like all those people we lost in the Gulf States after Katrina, and the entire region that still has not been able to recover?

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2009, at 7:37 PM, bmialone wrote:

    @ MINKEL72,

    No, that isn't mean spirited, it is positive and it is practical.

    The problem, though, is when people ignore the realities of our complex modern systems and the forces that overwhelm people different from us in some way. It is also a problem when people believe that we all start out with the same opportunities, whether it is environment, income, opportunities, innate characteristics, or natural abilities. We don't!

    People who are oblivious to the realities of human behavior and how it can be manipulated (which is why we are marketed to every waking moment from birth-it pays off for those who want to form our values and desires), and are intolerant of those who do not start from as good a place, tend to look at other citizens in a judgmental, one-dimensional way. Too much of that and we get what we have now, because this intolerant, self-important attitude expressed in this little essay has been growing for almost 30 years.

    While were pointing accusingly at our fellow citizens, we were all being taken for a ride. Now that enough of us are traumatized that we might actually organize and rebel, the forces that put us here are working overtime to undermine our desire and ability to do so. Better for them if we keep thinking our neighbor is "the problem."

  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2009, at 11:22 AM, MyDonkey wrote:

    If Big Business asked me to design a piece of divide-and-conquer propaganda for the masses, I couldn't do a better job than this article. The people at the top love to see this kind of stuff because it makes it easier for them to steal taxpayer money when the masses are busy fighting among themselves over non-issues such as "entitlement".

    As bmialone mentioned earlier, this article is another example of blame-the-victim. Did job-seeking students cause the financial crisis? No. Has their request for money been granted? No. Did the financial/corporate oligarchy cause the financial crisis? Yes. Has their request (i.e. demand) for money been granted? Yes - to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. The vast majority of taxpayers said NO to bailouts of big banks last fall but the bailouts were rammed through anyway. Why? Because taxpayers don't control the government; the financial/corporate oligarchy does.

    Do we investors feel better now that we've beat up the young and the weak (i.e. students with no jobs and little money)? Are we done thumping our chests with endless "I worked like a dog at crap jobs" stories? As middle class investors, aren't we all hoping to become rich by doing nothing more strenuous than sitting around like slobs waiting for our money to "work for us"? If so, let's stop criticizing the weaklings among us, and instead direct our opposition toward the people who orchestrated the financial crisis from day one: Big Business.

    And while we're at it, let's stop playing the self-abusive word games of Republican/Democrat, Bush/Obama, Capitalist/Socialist etc. The government and its politicians are puppets controlled by the financial/corporate oligarchy. If the puppet show is a bad one (and it certainly has been for the general public), the fault lies with the puppet masters, not the puppets.

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2010, at 12:38 PM, jfrankh57 wrote:

    I hate that I came to the party late on this one, but my two cents worth are: WOW---I felt that this one was dead center in a country that has lost its way in the last 50 years. I believe in living in the land of the free and the home of the brave. We still have a goodly number of people in this country that feel the same way, but it appears their numbers are dwindling. How can this be the land of the free when no one is allowed the freedom to fail? People learn by their mistakes. Where is it written your needs must be taken care of by everyone but yourself?

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