The Fourth Turning - Generational Cycles

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The Fourth Turning - Generational Cycles

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-11-05/guest-post-will-prophet-assume-command

I really enjoyed this article over on ZeroHedge. The author was overly melodramatic for my tastes (I've learned no to trust that so much) but the book he was quoting, Stauss & Howe's The Fourth Turning, had ideas I really liked. I love anything that can compare where we are now to previous times in history, and I often think in terms of literary archetypes. So the idea that events can be related to generationally cyclical archetypes really grabbed me.

One of the better quotes I'll pull out:

“Prophet generations are born after a great war or other crisis, during a time of rejuvenated community life and consensus around a new societal order. Prophets grow up as the increasingly indulged children of this post-crisis era, come of age as narcissistic young crusaders of a spiritual awakening, cultivate principle as moralistic mid-lifers, and emerge as wise elders guiding another historical crisis. By virtue of this location in history, such generations tend to be remembered for their coming-of-age passion and their principled elder stewardship. Their principle endowments are often in the domain of vision, values, andreligion. Their best-known historical leaders include John Winthrop, William Berkeley, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Polk, Abraham Lincoln, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt. These were principled moralists, summoners of human sacrifice, and wagers of righteous wars. Early in life, few saw combat in uniform; later in life, most came to be revered more for their inspiring words than for their grand deeds.” The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe

Prophets, nomads, and heroes... heh. I like it.

I don't know that I agree with everything written in the article, but interesting ideas. Anyone know more?

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And the youngest

And not to leave them out... the youngest born generation, now just children, being the artists.

Prophets (Baby boomers), Nomads (Gen X), Heroes (Millenials), Artists (Homelanders)

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http://www.lifecourse.com/abo

http://www.lifecourse.com/about/method/generational-archetypes.html

Less alarmist tone, more context.

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T4T

FAlley,

I read the Fourth Turning in mid 2001. It was one of those seminal books that changed the way I thought about life. History was suddenly more than a collection of names, dates, and events. It had context and structure. The actors responded to events based on their unique generational experiences.

It was an easy step for me to take to see the outlook for the future, particulary after 9/11 occurred. That event (although early) could have been the catalyst for this 4th turning. Rather than marshal the troops to prosecute a war against the perpetrators of that dastardly deed, Bush, Greenspan, and Co. lowered interest rates and convinced the consumers to shop till they drop. Bush argued that al Qaeda hates us because we're free and bin Laden will win if we abandon our profligate ways. It wasn't a difficult message to sell to the Boomers.

Lowering interest rates caused people to borrow like crazy and buy stocks, improve their homes, go on vacations, buy new cars, etc., etc. Stocks and housing prices went up, which caused bankers to lower their lending standards, which allowed more and more people to join the party. Eventually, prices got too high and the bubble popped.

Bush was able to delay the onset of the 4th turning until mid 2008. The financial crisis changed the country's mindset. As we get further from that event, it becomes obvious to more people that the good old days aren't coming back - regardless of how much we pine for them.

I find it mildly amusing to see posts saying that we need a leader with guts to show the way - a gray champion. Read the comments on http://www.peakprosperity.com/insider/79997/four-more-years-what-it-means and you'll see what I mean.

The near term future (decade or 2) will not be as pleasant as the last few decades. Each of us will have an opportunity to play a part based on our station in life. Your generation's outcome will rhyme with the GI generation. Mine will be more like the Missionary's role (FDR was a missionary.)

If you have questions, let me know. Have you read the book yet?

Grover

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I have not

I haven't read the book yet; I literally just stumbled on the zerohedge article. Again, I thought the article was alarmist and nothing special (his prediction of a Romney 'prophet' win obviously didn't pan out) but I really liked the material he was quoting from.

I've since gone to the Fourth Turning website and like what I see there. Very reasoned, methodical, not alarmist, simply "These are the cycles, same as seasons, and this is the cycle that's coming up, on schedule." I buy it.

I'm in police academy right now, and so I'm taking in a lot of information as it is. But I think I'll now have to find a library with interlibrary loan and check the book out. 

I don't know that I agree with 2008 being the 'seminal event'... it strikes me more as a lead-up event to something else that is as of yet unseen, and I won't pretend to guess what that is. Plenty of possibilities. It could have been the seminal event, but I think it has successfully been pushed down the road until something new shows up.

It is interesting to put the demise of the Republican party/Fox News through this lens. That is, the older, former majority being pushed out of line by a new wave. Curious to see what that ends up looking like; am aware that it does not take a majority to create a new order. Obama himself really does not scare me; I think he's a moderate so far as democrats go. However, that he is a democrat in power during this period does scare me.

Was hoping this thread would get a little more attention, because this is a really interesting perspective to me.

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More about T4T

FAlley wrote:

I don't know that I agree with 2008 being the 'seminal event'...

I didn't say it was. I said the Fourth Turning was one of those seminal books that changed my view of life. You were correct to call out my speculation of 2008 being the trigger. We won't know until much later, and then people will argue about what to consider the trigger.

We currently have the generational constellation in place and we've got potential triggering events available - financial crisis, war on terror, global warming, resource depletion, starvation, insolent regimes, etc. The key isn't what causes the mood to change (permanently for those currently alive) but that it has changed (or will soon change.)

I argue that 2008 was the trigger because of the general change in attitude concerning financial issues. Before then, Boomers were sure that their houses would continue to appreciate, that the stock market would go to the moon, that there would always be plenty of job opportunity ... that they could easily afford to keep borrowing to get the good life.

Look at the way things have changed. Being a Boomer, I can tell you that the future is downright scary now. My cohorts still splurge occasionally, but not like they used to do. They are more likely to save rather than borrow before splurging. Now, they talk about having to work at least a few more years before retiring. Most don't really expect the crisis to end any time soon.

Were it not for the federal government increasing borrowing and spending, we'd be locked in a major depression - just like the last 4T. All they are doing is making the situation worse and delaying the inevitable a bit. They're finding that it takes more and more new debt to generate additional GDP. I'm sure you can read Chris' articles and come to the same conclusion.

So, where does this leave you, me, and the rest of the planet's inhabitants? There will be different challenges for each generation. Mine will transition to being the wise elders who accept austerity and make it a defining generational characteristic - because there won't be other options and we always make the trend our own. Yours will suffer the slings and arrows of the coming war and you'll do it through team work - because you want to listen to Boomer's advice and you have always worked in teams.

The Gen-Xers will get stuck with the bill. They will become pragmatic leaders and suffer through low wages and high taxes quietly - because their generation always gets screwed and they're used to it. The new Homelander generation will stay out of the way of important decisions and learn to hate austerity - because important decisions will have to be made and there won't be options like you and I grew up with.

FAlley wrote:

It is interesting to put the demise of the Republican party/Fox News through this lens. That is, the older, former majority being pushed out of line by a new wave. Curious to see what that ends up looking like; am aware that it does not take a majority to create a new order. Obama himself really does not scare me; I think he's a moderate so far as democrats go. However, that he is a democrat in power during this period does scare me.

I didn't read the zerohedge article. The big money in politics makes me think the demise is greatly exaggerated. Political parties do change over time to attract enough individuals to make themselves relevant. In that way, the current parties will all die. It wouldn't matter if Romney had gotten elected instead of Obama. The current/future conditions would have defined either man's administration. Many of the promises would simply not be honored.

I consider Obama to be a very intelligent, egotistical man. (Just so you know, this next part is speculation:) This combination will make him want to fulfill the obligations of the office the way the great presidents have done. He wants everyone to think of him as a great president. I have hope that he'll actually do the right thing when it matters the most.

Grover

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Hey Grover,

Ya know the first piece that really bummed me out was Perkins 'Confessions of economic hitman'.  Once I understood the petrodollar, and the central bankers hold on things, I just knew we were screwed.  Not that there isn't good stuff and positives and so forth, but just the whole mess-ugh.  Fourth Turning, wow - great book.  But was I the only one who thought the first 125 pages or so were really tough to push through?  I purposefully read it slowly, re-read when I started to skim, and glad I did - it paid dividends later in the book.  I guess my next thought is to get Adams career guide or such and try to learn more. 

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Glad you're here, treemagnet

treemagnet,

I read the excerpts of An Economic Hitman, but I figured I got the gist of it and didn't go further. Disgustingly, they were the folks who made American foreign policy work. Their work has done more to form rampant hatred of American policy than anything.

I have to agree about T4T book. When I read the first section, I thought they were trying to convince college professors that their theories held water. When I recommend the book, I tell folks to skim through the first section until they understand the saeculum and its recurrence through history and across cultures. Then, look at the second and third sections in-depth and read the 4th section when they don't need to sleep soundly.

I'm glad you've decided to post over here. You've got a perspective that I'd like to know more about. I'm a late wave Boomer (surprise) but pretty much followed the classic steps. My youth was a wonderland of exploration. I'd leave the house in the morning and nobody worried where I was or what I was doing. It was a safe time. In young adulthood, I continued exploration as an amateur pharmacologist. ;-) Then, in the mid-eighties, I got tired of that and moved on. To me, the biggest question was WHY. My parent's generation was the GIs. They could answer how, but didn't care about why. I found it frustrating and I stopped asking.

I tried adopting the yuppie thing, but it didn't feel right for me. As you've noted, most Boomers are hypocrits. Most still are, but the crises that started with the stock market crash in 2000 have opened some eyes. A little late for most, but the momentum is growing. As you know, each generation has something to add to the collective. Your generation has the pragmatic, get-er-done generals who will be used and abused. Your elderhood is likely to be a spartan existence ... unless you plan for it.

That's where Chris' concepts and T4T dovetail best. We're all about to enter the lean years. Because we've grown to the edges of the petri dish AKA earth, this fourth turning is likely to be the worst yet. the longer we put it off, the worse it will become.

On a positive note, I've ordered Adam's book and plan to read it quickly, and then reread it to do the exercises. I did one of these in the late '90s called Managing Personal Growth. There were some gut wrenching exercises that helped me define the basis of who I am and where I think I should be. Adam's book likely follows the same vein with different twists.

Did you see your youth, young adulthood, and adulthood when you read T4T? What is it about most Boomers that irritates you?

Grover

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Thanks Grover,

I think this is a much better place, while still a post, to pursue this topic - thanks for recommending it.  In all the hub-bub, I never got around to blaming other generations - including Xers (though to a much, much lesser degree).  I could sit and paraphrase and regurgitate T4T ad nauseum, and likely will if we keep going.  Yeah, my youth thru young adulthood was just exactly how the book laid it out.  But thats just me, and they were painting with a pretty broad brush.  But heres the thing Grover, my wife, my cousin, and some friends all had - obviously - different upbringings.  All identify with the book and/or its revelations.  Maybe its because as a Xer, I just always have, do, and will believe that complaining doesn't help, and nobody cares.  The cartoon that sticks with me is the one where the kid is sitting in a chair and the adult is standing over him.  The kid is looking down, shoulders slumped, and tired.  The adult is hands-on-hips, clean cut, and the caption reads  "I'm very disappointed in you" to which the kid responds "me too".  

So I'm reading this thing at a resort with my beautiful wife, on vacation way back, and even though these young hotties were walking around in bikinis with less fabric than a pair of tennis socks, and I can't stop turning the pages.  It was a revelation to me.  And then I knew it, I was a gay man.  No I'm not, just wanted to see if your paying attention!   Watch me get monkey-hammered by the gallery for that....now I'll be a womanizer, gay, or a trans-gender womanizing bigot, or worse.  Anyway, to your second as to what irritates me most - I think I've laid out the generation to generation issues pretty well.  Personally, much to say - you asked, but thats where I will look like a whiny boy.  Suffice it to say, my interactions - largely how T4T points out, just stick with me.  I view political correctness and my lack of participation in it to be taken as judgement.  But thats just one thing on a laundry list.  I'm sick of the 'if it were the Xers instead of the boomers it wouldn't be any different' bullshit.  Xers are in the breach, we know our fate.  But the fact remains that those with power refuse to use it for good and refuse to relinguish it to those who will.  So the reset is coming.  Look how rattled these folks get about some words on a site from a guy who isn't in their daily lives!  I shouldn't matter - but they come at me swinging.  Swing back, your the bad guy.  Go along to get along.  Maybe thats it Grover, their insistence that we should all just do what they did, and the blindness to the reality that those possibilities are gone, same deal - the whole T4T stuff. 

Anyway, your a boomer.  Interested in another opinion, as am I.  Whats your take on this - all of it, (not this skirmish at PP crap)... what are you doing, feeling, reacting?  Do you struggle with applying religion to your daily life as I do.  I always find it difficult to adhere to an idea/philosophy/code yet work and live in what sometimes seems like another universe.  Sometimes at church I find myself looking at some known asshole in another pew with my "did ya get that, Mr. Johnson....?!" look on my face!  Anyway, those are my thoughts - to be used against me in 3....2....1....

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Past, present, future

treemagnet,

Thanks for sharing this view. Before I read T4T (March, 2001,) I always wondered why people a little younger than me had such a different outlook. I joined the military after high school so I could get the GI Bill and use it to fund college. Most of my classmates were 3-5 years younger than me, but had a vastly different upbringing than I did. I had more in common with the grad students and younger professors.

I fought forest fires during the summers. I was a mercenary and did it solely for the pay. There were gobs of overtime that allowed me to save enough to get through the school year. I became close friends (still to this date) with a guy who is 5 years younger. His youth was the classic latchkey upbringing. Both parents worked so they could buy stuff to impress their friends. He and his sisters were "window dressing" (his words) when the folks needed them to make an impression.

He started a business, ran it for about 10 years, and then sold it. He was tired of the long hours, worker issues, and bitchy customers who wanted to pay Chinese prices for his custom built products. I can envision him writing exactly what you have written. He is quick to get testy and quick to move on.

When I was a young child, my goal was to become a pastor. I was going through confirmation and the pastor was telling bible stories to make us feel lucky to be offered this chance to be closer to god. He encouraged us to ask questions, and I did. I'd ask a question and get a pat answer. I'd think about it until our next session, and then I'd ask a follow up question. This went on for several weeks. The last week before confirmation, the pastor was exasperated with me and said, "you have to have faith." At that moment, I realized I don't have faith. I got confirmed the next Sunday to make my mother happy and then abandoned the church. I don't have problems with religion. I live my life for personal reasons. I've adopted philosophical portions of the bible that make sense to me. (Why wouldn't you adopt something that makes sense?) I treat people fairly. I can't prove my religious position so I don't force it on others. I allow others to follow their beliefs until it impacts me. I believe that is the way it should be.

As I said, I read the book in 2001. When 9/11 happened, I spent many hours each day trying to understand it. I've come to the conclusion that the truth was buried. At first, I thought 9/11 was the catalyst for the fourth turning. The general reaction of the populace didn't support that. We were acting like we were in an extended unraveling. Bush II wanted us to keep on spending so those terrorists wouldn't win. Greenspan lowered interest rates and the housing boom began. When the housing boom busted and the financial crisis occurred in 2008, the fear and trepidation showed itself. (I think that was the catalyst.) Were it not for Bernanke and Paulson convincing congress that we needed to bail out the TBTF banks, it would have been obvious to all. That action kicked the can down the road. It didn't fix anything.

I actually hoped that things would change under Obama. Wrong. He's in the same can-kicking mode, only bigger. As with Bush II, Obama wants to extend the unraveling until he gets out of office. Bernanke will do what he can to keep it going while he's in office. I never thought "normalcy" would continue this long. The longer it is postponed, the worse it will be.

I'm still trying to get a feel for the direction the Fourth will take. When I look at the resource limitations, I can imagine that the resolution will have to address that. I expect oil will figure deeply in the direction. Since the middle east contains so much, I can see a world war over that - cowboys VS muslims. What scares me is all the data the government has been collecting about us. All public posts on all websites can be (and probably are) captured by the government. The same thing goes for e-mails, cell phone calls, credit card usage, etc. The government is building a facial recognition database. That shit really scares me! It's not that I have anything illegal to hide, I just want to know why they are watching.

Are we in a Fourth yet? What was/will be the catalyst? What's your feel for the future?

Grover

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What I used to believe

vs. now are just so far apart in some ways and similar in others.  I can think of things, questions about aspects of our society that I used to wonder about - that now I understand.  T4T made a believer out of me, and won't let go of me.  I guess I'm glad to be in a position as an Xer to exert some control over the future - but I'm just one guy.  I keep wondering if the advancements in technology from our time to the last 4th really matter.  Back then, that technology and perceived ability was likely no more foreboding than now.  The drivers are different now, but I don't think the foks monitoring this correspondence ever took into account that they might lose their collective grip on the information dissemenation - the web being just another military application in its infancy and all (until Al Gore I guess...!).  What scares me are the number of international players and their now substantial arsenals.  Combined with a push for global governance, etc. and I think all in all, there are just too man balls in the air - too many possibilities, too many potential outcomes.  But power only breeds desire for more, and that next step necessary for that kink of transition....spooky.

On a side note, I couldn't help laugh out loud this morning, an unoriginal thought popped into my head.  This Trayvon Martin case is going to trial and jury selection is tantamount to victory for both sides.  Both sides are clearly going for 'favorable' jurys and you just gotta laugh over the use of bigoted, racist, and other unsavory tools that are lauded as pillars of our great just and fair legal system...that are politically incorrect anywhere else...BWAAAAHAAAAAAHHHAAAAAAAA!!!!  The same thing that can get you fired can carry the day?!  Classic.  I think of the goofy shit in 3rd turnings/unravelings that get resolved in 4ths, and it just makes more sense all time.

The built up pressure of 3rd turnings has to go somewhere.  No different than a piston rising in a cylinder, either that exhaust valve opens or boom.  So, by believing in the 4th Turning, some would say thats a defeatest or nihilistic take - maybe thats a break in attitudes boomers have much of - not all, but if its not positive, its not hopeful and therefore not helpful.  I don't know, but yeah, this NSA bullshit and much more is scary stuff.  The fringe media has been proven correct about quite a bit of stuff that they've been marginialized for.  Of course, some sources have said it all so like a broken clock they get'er right 2X daily, but you hear me.  How many layers of government are there with missions, purposes, and rolls of 'protecting' are there.  I think I counted like 20+ the last time I tried.  When I consider the tax code, the spying, the IRS, all of the Obama scandals, the Bush scandals, our weak society, our very easy livestyles vs. other parts of the world, the private fed and back of intl settlements, the IMF, world bank, nato, united nations, and more and all of it - I think were past the point of recovery.  Maybe most get a sense of that as well - the dumb sheep I make fun of everyday.  Maybe they're just not so dumb and realize it just comes down to what can you do about it and what can you do.  I just can't plan and prepare for all known outcomes.  If an EMP goes off, or a war breaks out, disease, virus, or  whatever - just can't cover it all.  I'm thinking economic/monetary stuff, and all that goes with that.  How 'bout you?

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System Lockin

I haven't read the 4T but I will put it on the list for this summer. Read "Confessions." I keep coming back to the idea of system lockin. So much of the system at this point is so big and locked in that major changes coming from the top seems like wishful thinking. Arthur posted a video from Catherine Austin Fitts that to me seems like a good snapshot of what's happening on the global stage. Although the Ron Paul interview is a good boon for this site, and I respect Paul's opinions, focusing only on the government seems too limited. Maybe he's just chosing his battle, but there was no mention of the corrupted relationship between the corporatocracy and government. The government is only one limb on a corrupted body. The corporatocracy/govt.(s)/central banks/military all work in concert now to keep the system going, which in turn keeps their power solidified. You can include the MSM in the corporatocracy.

It seems to me, reducing the size of the government wouldn't change this relationship, just concentrate the power in fewer hands. I'm not against smaller government, but when you have corporate balance sheets that are bigger than some states and small countries, you would need to dismantle these huge corps./institutions that are connected to a reduced govt. There's a lot of talk about liberty and all, but what about exercising our rights to revoke the incorporated status of some of these behemoths? Break them up into smaller corps. There's too much greed in all this, so I'm doubtful any of this will change. No, I think Treebeard's vision of change coming from the ground up is the only way things are going to change, but I agree with you Treemagnet, we may be past the point of recovery, who knows. Of course this all assumes that some major war doesn't break out, which unfortunately I see as a possibility.

CA Fitts describes the enormity of the "secret" economy and government you described, not sure if you watched it?  Another thing that keeps coming to my mind is that what is being orchestrated by the global conglomerate/CBers is the only way they know how to force the masses across the globe to lower their use of overall resources and their expectations. If you think about it, transferring the wealth away from the 99% to the 1% is a great way to step all economies down to a lower level. But maybe that's wishful thinking, probably just outrageous greed.

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Cycles

treemagnet,

As you noted, you are in a position to exert some control over the future, but you are just one guy. I feel like I'm in the same position. I voted for Ron Paul in the 2008 and 2012 primaries. That required me to register as a Republican, a repugnant idea for an independent. I also wrote-in his name as president and Jesse Ventura for as his VP in 2008. I knew that doing so would cost me any future SS "entitlements," but I feel/felt that it was best for the Country. Ironically, that would bring about a better future for all of us, me included. As with you, I only had one vote.

The technological boom combined with the predominance of the government is something new during this saeculum. I used to be a database programmer and was able to combine seemingly unrelated bits of information to accomplish tasks. The tools available to guys like me have progressed enormously. I could only look at data in the system in a predictable format. Now, voice recognition and linguistic patterning has elevated that to a whole new plain. You can see the footprints in the stock market. When a government official announces key information (e.g. unemployment numbers, GDP, etc.) the stock market reacts before the speaker finishes the sentence.

The social media craze allows users to identify cohorts so guys like me don't have to infer the connections. If a number of your "friends" are into preparedness, I can raise the possibility that you are as well. Advertisers then have a higher value audience to address. The same technology can be used by government. They have something other than a profit motive. Their motive is power. When it comes to money or power, when is enough enough? A little more is always good. As you said, "power only breeds desire for more".

If the government were a single entity, that would be bad enough. The government requires bureaucracy and the minions who perform the functions have ulterior motives. Many think they are overworked and underpaid. (Some actually are.) They justify using the information for their own purposes. What are their purposes??? I purposely don't post personally identifiable information on these sites for that reason. Grover is not my name, but it is who I am. If you're not paranoid, you don't understand. Isn't that a shitty way to live in a supposedly free country?

I love your analogy:

The built up pressure of 3rd turnings has to go somewhere.  No different than a piston rising in a cylinder, either that exhaust valve opens or boom.

A 4 cycle engine is an excellent way to look at the saeculum. Each engine cycle is necessary, or the engine doesn't run. If we just generated power, the exhaust would choke us. Without fuel/air intake, there wouldn't be anything to make the power. Without the compression cycle, the fuel would burn, but no mechanical power would be generated. Then, the cycle starts over. We're at the point where the combustion products must be evacuated. As with engine design, you can tweak timing of the spark and valve properties, but you can't violate the cycle.

You are correct that you can't prepare for every potentiality. I've looked at many of them and played out the scenarios. Many have the same preparedness issues. Do the best you can for those you love and accept that it may not be good enough. No matter what you do, eventually you will die. I see that as a blessing. I'm sure the bacteria would be looking forward to the free meal if they could see.

Grover

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Bigger or Smaller?

gillbilly,

Glad you're here. I don't have time to comment, but I will tonight when the day's work is done. This segment of your post caught my eye:

gillbilly wrote:

It seems to me, reducing the size of the government wouldn't change this relationship, just concentrate the power in fewer hands. I'm not against smaller government, but when you have corporate balance sheets that are bigger than some states and small countries, you would need to dismantle these huge corps./institutions that are connected to a reduced govt. There's a lot of talk about liberty and all, but what about exercising our rights to revoke the incorporated status of some of these behemoths? Break them up into smaller corps. There's too much greed in all this, so I'm doubtful any of this will change.

I'd like to discuss a way to reduce your fears.

Grover

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I agree

Gillbilly & Grover - do you remember when they broke up Ma Bell?  We should immediately require banks to sell off their investment arms and kill prop trading for good.  Its a start, but one that only scratches the surface I know.  I know some think a reset is the only way to bring about the kind of systemic change we need - and I guess I fee the same way.  Until the power is back in the peoples hands, the corruption will continue...to grow.  At this point, I really don't think the people give a lick about the issue(s).  Their owners have done a masterful job with bread and circuses - those folks have been reading history, they understand the human mind on both an individual and group basis, and how to keep the people busy with lies and wholly owned two-party political systems.  It doesn't matter who's presidend when all of his advisors are CFR members.

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gillbilly, I watched the

gillbilly,

I watched the video with CA Fitts also and was impressed with her grasp of the situation.

I am most impressed by the sacrifice made by Edward Snowden who leaked the NSA information. He is realistic about his chances and understands there will be repercussions for his actions. I think it took a lot of courage for him to do it.  Turns out he supported Ron Paul's campaign. I wish more people would act on their conscience who are part of the government apparatus.

What is his generation called in the 4th turning? Anyone familiar with the Yugas? They are larger cycles as described by the Hindu sages. There are cycles within cycles within cycles . . .

Joyce

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thc0655
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Reset coming

I'm in agreement that the status quo is exceedingly unlikely to change on its own from within.  Based on that assumption, I conclude we'll keep chugging along until we hit a wall.  That wall will force our reset, much like the person taking the first shot in a game of billiards takes a shot at the triangle of tightly arranged pool balls hoping some go in and he's left with a makeable shot after everything stops moving. But there's no telling exactly how bad the reset will be and what kind of situation we'll  be in after it happens (assuming we're still alive).  The natural leaders who percolate to the top may be George Washingtons and Thomas Jeffersons, or they may be Josef Stalins and Adolph Hitlers, or all of them at once competing for power and our loyalty.  Sobering.

Tom

"May the odds be ever in your favor."  Hunger Games

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Grover
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Not what I promised

gillbilly,

I wrote a long piece to argue my point that there is a better way. When I reread it, visions of the discussion between davefairtex and me over the idea of taxing externalities came to mind. The conversation lasted weeks and in the end, Dave and I agreed to disagree. I don't want to hijack this thread.

In a Fourth Turning, we will get some sort of a reset. Nobody knows ahead of time what exactly will happen. During the last three, our government got bigger. (The American Revolution started our government. The Civil War, strengthend the federal government. WWII started the nanny state that is bankrupting us today.)

Your fears are justified if we keep the current rules in place. Unfortunately, the current rules are what got us to this situation. Actually, since the rules change all the time, the current rules will get us to a worse place. It is a downward spiral. I don't see a civil method to change it. Voters generally vote for the politician offering the biggest pile of candy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Tytler

The famous Fatal Sequence quotation, sometimes known as the Tytler cycle, is

"The historical cycle seems to be: From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to apathy; from apathy to dependency; and from dependency back to bondage once more."

This cycle spans saecula. In my opinion, the average American is dependent. I'm afraid that we're set up for another strengthening of government - probably a fascist dictator.

Grover

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gillbilly
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No argument here Grover

I read the exchange between you and Dave. I enjoyed that one! I'm not sure fear is the right word for what I'm feeling. I'm not for or against smaller government, I just see it as something that is on the same growth curve as everything else. What I think everyone wants is the built-in legalized corruption to go. It used to be the corruption was something to be hidden and ashamed of, now it seems that because the power is locked in there's no need to hide it anymore.  Yeah, the NSA has been spying on us. Shocking!! Lol Was this really news to anyone? I just assumed they were monitoring everything. Trust is deteriorating fast in both the public and private sector. The only thing that has kept the masses numb has been the huge safety net. Yes, people vote for who gives out the most candy.

Treemagnet, I do remember Ma Bell. It's a different time, that was a utility, now it's banks...a different beast... banks that have a revolving door to the positions in government and then back into the bank when they leave. It's pathetic really. I get what you're saying about the boomers...you don't hate them, just sick of the ones that say "hey let's all get along," "let's be positive," "we can all work this out." These are the same people that have their pensions, the good jobs, the accolades, all the rewards of the system. You never said it was all of them, and it's not, but it's the ones that usually speak up in the crowd. You want to say... "Yeah, well I'm standing in the shit you left here on the floor. Why don't you get off your pedestal come over here and help clean it up?" If you do speak your mind (more respectfully of course), they just give you that condescending look as if you just don't understand how the world works. If they would just acknowledge that they were the recipients of enormous luck (if that's what you want to call it). It's true for all other generations to some degree as well, but the boomers are the big one. So yeah, I get it.

There will be those who will read my last paragraph and might think I'm angry. That's the funny thing with this posting on threads. I'm not angry at all. Just writing in a more relaxed tone.

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treemagnet
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gillbilly

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/11-dark-trends-killing-millennials-dreams-2013-06-12?dist=lcountdown

Farrell's piece - he's obviously angry too, probably a bigot.  I hear you though, I think if I posted "I love my children" some low rent context twister would reply "that's sick!".  But, thats life here on PP. 

Maybe Grovers got a thought here too, I'm surprised by PIMCO's 3-5 years 60% chance of....I forgot the word used, either depression or recession.  3-5 years....60%.....thats positive thinking, he'd do well here.  Of course, I know he's just talking his book, but still. 

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-06-10/guest-post-social-security-new-deal%E2%80%99s-fiscal-ponzi     .....written by a boomer no less!  You can almost hear AO and RNcarl screeming, blaming, and the gnashing of teeth from them and their ilk.

The feeling and more - the knowledge of the reality that we are just too far down this road to turn back is just so constantly sobering.  It's been drummed into my head to fess up, take your licks now, the lie only grows and so forth.  So now we've reached, 'the cure will kill the patient' - so we sit in the ICU together waiting for the inevitable, spending ridiculous sums for just.one..more....day. 

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Grover
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There's no escaping destiny

treemagnet,

Farrell writes the same piece over and over with different particulars. I hadn't read his latest until you linked it.

I've been trying to resolve why we're still in a protracted unravelling. I think it is because the generations were shorter than average for the Silents and Boomers. Silents (1926-1942) were a 17 year generation. Boomers (1943-1961) were a 19 year long generation. At the same time, life expectancies have increased in the last saeculum. There are still a number of GIs alive and kicking. We've still got some big money GIs wielding their power - Buffett and Soros come to mind. Why a billionaire in his/her 80s would think that accumulating more money is the best use of limited time is beyond me.

The GIs feel justified in using the system because they defeated Hitler, Mussolini, and Tito. In their eyes, nothing is too much for us pay to repay them for their sacrifice. They were the first generation to actually pay into social security during most of their working years. Because of the shortened generations, they are still a force in politics.

The Silents have always waltzed on the coattails of the GIs. As a smaller generation, the supply of workers was smaller and therefore, opportunities were abundant. They have been mostly responsible for "enhancing" systems - including social security. Their votes (or politicians pandering to them) caused the massive increase in benefits and allowed the taxation to increase to where it is now. As Stockman pointed out, it is underfunded each year. That means that others down the line will supply the funding. His "means-testing" solution doesn't pass muster. The system never should have been instituted at any government level.

[Yesterday, I was in a long line to check out of a grocery store and the gentleman behind me made a comment that his medication went up from $32 to $45 per month. Rather than ignore it, I started a conversation with him. He's 71 years old (late stage Silent.) He needs the medicine because he had open heart surgery. He bragged that the open heart surgery cost $128,000, but because of medicare, his cost was $6,400 (5%.) I asked him who paid the difference. He said (indignantly,) "MEDICARE!!!" and told me how he paid into it all his working life and deserved the benefits. I told him that current workers are paying for his benefit and asked him if that bothers him. His response, "Not at all. That's the way the system works." I then asked him if he would have had the surgery if he had to pay for it all. He said that he couldn't afford it. I sensed a bit of guilt setting in.]

I felt a bit angered and sorry for the guy. He had played by the rules and felt it was his right to use the benefits. All of us have heard politicians and economists say that we shouldn't worry, that we'll grow out of the problems. Unfortunately, growth just wasn't robust enough. I'm sure he believed them and voted accordingly, but he has only 1 vote. Who's to blame? Does it really matter? We still have to deal with the cards that were dealt.

We can all see the way those dealt cards were assembled into a house with a beautiful, but paper thin facade. Most of the cards have been dealt, but the house has to constantly increase or it won't work. Politicos will try to play a game of jenga with the structure in order to remove some of the cards so they can use them to build an ever grander structure. One false move and the whole system crashes down. It is inevitable. Plan accordingly.

Grover

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treemagnet
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I also

think the delayed 4th, and this monotonous unraveling is being extended by the elaborate use of the tools of financialization - like a submarine sinking they keep coming up with ever increasing complex supports and buttresses - and it works, until it suddenly and violently doesn't.  They keep denying the natural order of price discovery and accountability and expect to arrive on 'the other side' without a scratch.  Thats why I think when it goes, it'll be hard and fast - no dominoe is debt free, theres no fuse or circuit breaker to stop the cascading effects of a world where every asset is leveraged 30 times with paper and promises....and I once thought it was bad when it was explained to me as 'every asset is now anothers liability'!  And speaking of promises, when the non-collarterized shadow banking world experiences a wiff of counter party risk - katie bar the door.  I'm fascinated and increasing frustrated at the glacier-like pace of events, but I know that time is both precious and my friend.  I try to enjoy the things now that I know won't be there, at least for a while.  Good steak, cold beer, reliable utilities, cable tv (yes, I'm the last and only PP member that likes tv - confirming all of your suspicions...!)  I can't get enough of 'how its made' or 'modern marvels' or the history channel, etc.  Long Live Tee-Vee!!!

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badScooter
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frustration

Hi Grover,

I've had similar experiences (I'm mid-40s), and it frustrates me that people (in particular the more vocal Boomers) just refuse to acknowledge the TANSTAAFL principle, and many it seems would rather put their own eyes out than see resource depletion or other economic limits to what they are "owed".  I've come to the tentative conclusion there exists a willful collusion of intentional ignorance...as Ron Paul points out in the recent interview here on site, "Congress doesn't change because it is a reflection of the people and their attitudes".

On my own part, when things were ducky before the '08 bust, I have to admit I could care less who was governor, as long as their track record was backed by general economic prosperity.  It took a kick in the ribs to understand much of that had been flagrantly stolen from future productivity and that a finite parcel of resources had been grossly mismanaged for short term gain.  Who's fault is all this?  Well, ours, actually.  I can (and do) blame the educational system I grew up within, but at the end of the day, I knew what TANSTAAFL stood for but it was I who made the wholly inaccurate and baseless assumption that our government and banking system was incorruptible; my compositional bias precluded me from understanding that the sort of bad things that could happen in, say, Russia, could ever happen here.

With that as background, what has to happen (austerity - a consequence not a punishment, to paraphrase Mauldin), will happen, and the sooner all of us (with particular emphasis on the Boomer generation) realize the score and suck it up, the shorter the coming inevitable crisis will be.  It would make it a lot easier on my calm if the most vocal, as you say, were not the most insistent on "getting what they were owed".

Hi TreeMagnet,

Submarines are designed to come back up, this thing couldn't be set up better to fail if it was designed that way.  Who knows, maybe it was (tin foil hat, grin).

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phecksel
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Someday I'm going to have to

Someday I'm going to have to read TFT :)  Read enough summaries and snippets from the book to have a strong sense of it's foundation.

IMO, we have not yet had the trigger, although the Fed's montization may actually qualify.  I suspect it's going to be an ugly difficult fall, and will be a global event like this world has not seen before.

I don't make a lot of friends when I say that medicare and social security are entitlement programs.  It's alway's preceeded by, I paid into the system, I'm entitled to the benefit.

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Grover
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Glumping Responses

Tom,

I agree with you that a reset(s) is coming. Your post reminded me of Alexander Tytler's (aprocryphal) cycle. With all the riders on patriotic sounding legislation that are designed to remove liberties in the name of security, we may not need a revolution that ushers in a despot. The temperature is being slowly increased so the frogs don't sense much of a change. Ribbit.

gillbilly,

I remember that you corrected Dave (at least once) when he misread my post. The problem is that I write s-l-o-w and he reads fast. ;-) I never did thank you ... thanks! I see government as being expensive. Those in government want it to get bigger so they can gain more power. A bureaucrat's power is measured by the size of the pyramid under them. If they can magically remove the obstacles to gaining more power (unrealistic growth expectations, delaying costs, scare tactics, etc.,) they get rewarded. Meanwhile, citizenry thinks taxes are too high, but "what can you do?"

treemagnet,

Its funny how "leverage", "bail-in" and "rehypothecation" (the newest buzz word) are entering everyday language. Homes are an example of leverage. You can buy a house with just a few percent down. If you "own" 10% and have a mortgage of 90% of current value and the house appreciates by 10%, you've just doubled your investment. If it goes down 10%, you've lost all your equity. If it goes down more, you're underwater. The new mortgages have a clause that holds the buyer responsible for any bank losses on the property. That will keep debt slaves from walking away.

I'm not so sure that all the potential financial shenanigans have been employed. They still have tricks waiting to be deployed. They'll pull them out when needed. Unless we have an EMP, comet strike, giant earthquake, or some other catastrophe, the end result will likely be a stair stepping crashcade. Just when we get used to a new, lower normal, we'll take the next step down. Repeat until we get to a sustainable level. Even that will be temporary as resource availability deteriorates.

badScooter,

I'm fond of saying TANSTAAFL (there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.) Ironically, it only somewhat fits with social security. I've paid my social security tax for 42 years so far. My employers could have paid me more if there wasn't a matching tax, so I consider that a tax on me as well. The government has taken those funds and spent them in order to hide the true cost of government. Now, the funds are gone and our government is bigger than we can afford.

That said, in order to pay out as much as was promised, the taxes should have been higher (but, that would make our current situation worse.) When social security was first instituted, life expectancy was 65 years. Half the people would have died before collecting a dime. Now, life expectancy is mid to upper 70s. Lots of folks made the mistake of trusting that government would be there to provide a minimal stipend each month. For some, it is all they get.

You and the other GenXers will likely not receive any "benefits" from this ponzi scheme. I'm a late wave Boomer and I expect that it will fail before I start collecting. (Actually, I expect that it will become "means tested" before it ultimately fails. Those who have 401(k) and IRAs will be punished for being responsible.) When I was in my mid 40s, I came to this conclusion and planned accordingly. It was a gut wrenching experience to look at the numbers and start deciding which "needs" were actually "wants" and then eliminate them from my expenses. I'm glad I did. I don't even "want" them now.

If the system remains intact when I'm eligible to withdraw, I will. If I thought that not taking advantage of the system would allow it to last forever, I wouldn't. It was inappropriate for government to take on these responsibilities and it will fail regardless of me. It will fail regardless of you paying more tribute also.

For you and all the others paying into the system, do what you can to keep out of the system. Change compensation packages so you won't have to "pay" this tax. That's one of the primary motives of the big boys who use stock compensation rather than wages - reduce overall taxes. There are legal ways to avoid taxes. Tax evasion is another story.

phecksel,

When you read the book, read the 1st 20 or so pages to understand the concept of a saeculum. Then, skim the rest of the first section and get to the interesting parts.

It won't be until much later that we'll be able to pinpoint what triggers the Fourth Turning. It is similar to the stock market. It is hard to identify a stock market peak when it occurs, but easy when you look at the graphs. To me, the 2008 crisis changed attitudes. Fear and uncertainty became much more prevalent. The money masters are doing their best to prolong the unravelling. They will eventually fail. Of that I'm certain.

Grover

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Grover
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Posts: 507
Clogged Ladders

I just saw an article on MarketWatch where Martha Stewart suggested that Boomers never retire. That would delay a few of the problems - reduced social security payouts for a few years while allowing broke Boomers to build up assets for later usage. At the same time, it clogs the upward mobility ladder for everyone younger. GenXers will be stuck on the lower middle rungs and the entry rungs won't be available for Millenials to start meaningful work.

Is this a "good" thing?

Grover

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Nate
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Joined: May 6 2009
Posts: 460
compound rates of return

Grover wrote:

I've paid my social security tax for 42 years so far. My employers could have paid me more if there wasn't a matching tax, so I consider that a tax on me as well. The government has taken those funds and spent them in order to hide the true cost of government. Now, the funds are gone and our government is bigger than we can afford.

That said, in order to pay out as much as was promised, the taxes should have been higher (but, that would make our current situation worse.) When social security was first instituted, life expectancy was 65 years. Half the people would have died before collecting a dime. Now, life expectancy is mid to upper 70s. Lots of folks made the mistake of trusting that government would be there to provide a minimal stipend each month. For some, it is all they get.

Hi Grover,

Until recently the social security administration sent annual statements outlining our lifetime contributions. Using my most recent statement I ran some numbers using the following assumptions:

     1) Both my contribution and my employers contribution is part of my retirement pot

     2) Retire and expire at social security set dates (66 years and 2 months and 83 years, respectively)

     3) Value accumulates like a pension and is compounded annually

     4) No salary increases until age 66 (not much of an assumption here)

     5) Inflation is ignored

Using the value of my benefit the on the social security statement provides me with a 1.4% rate of return.  Using the historical 8% ROR pensions have used provides me with a $15,400 monthly payment.

My rate of return is lower than many since I have worked continuously since age 16.  That being said, if the public did the math on their ‘total’ contributions and saw their real rate of return, eyes would open and we would have a small chance of starting to clean up this mess.

Nate

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Poet
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Posts: 1840
Technology Increases Productivity

Technology increases productivity and reduces labor required. That's why businesses invest in technological improvements and people buy labor-saving devices, etc.

Over 100 years ago, about half of American workers worked in agriculture. The number of manufacturing jobs peaked in 1979.

Now it's just service workers and knowledge workers. Hence:

The great reversal in the demand for skill and cognitive tasks
"In particular, we argue that in about the year 2000, the demand for skill (or, more speci cally, for cognitive tasks often associated with high educational skill) underwent a reversal. Many researchers have documented a strong, ongoing increase in the demand for skills in the decades leading up to 2000. In this paper, we document a decline in that demand in the years since 2000, even as the supply of high education workers continues to grow. We go on to show that, in response to this demand reversal, high-skilled workers have moved down the occupational ladder and have begun to perform jobs traditionally performed by lower-skilled workers. This de-skilling process, in turn, results in high-skilled workers pushing low-skilled workers even further down the occupational ladder and, to some degree, out of the labor force all together."
http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/pbeaudry/paul/documents/great-reversal_v2a.pdf

Unfulfilled Expectations of Recent College and High School Graduates
Of "Recent College Graduates, 2006 to 2011, Only half of recent college graduates were employed full time" and "40% are working in jobs that do not require a college degree".
http://www.heldrich.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/content/NASWA_College_High_School_Graduates_Van_Horn.pdf

And what we do we have? Population increase, which means an increase in the number of working-aged men and women. Boomers clinging to jobs. Colleges graduating college graduates who push into jobs held by high school graduates. High school graduates pushed down by college graduates. High school drop-outs competing against immigrants.

Poet

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gillbilly
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Posts: 377
Ladders

Grover,

I have thought about this over the years because I see it on a daily basis in academia (one of my two primary jobs, there's one more not mentioning...it's getting tiring). The boomers have been holding onto their jobs longer and my life has felt the consequences of it. At times in the past I was bitter, but I came to terms with it once I saw the bigger picture. As I have resonated with Treemagnet's view of the boomers, I think it's important that people understand we're not bitter, but rather it's more of a "roll your eyes" moment when we hear some of them preach.

I don't get into my private life much on these threads, because, well, in the end I don't know anyone here, and as you have pointed out you need to be careful. But I will give you an example. I think I was a recipient of some of the crumbs that fell off boomer's financial table in one respect and I have had to deal with the consequences in another. Life gives and life takes away. Lol

I grew up the youngest of four boys. Father a minister who never made more than $25K, mother a nurse who never made more than $4/hr. Went into some hefty debt for college and got my econ degree. I worked in the financial world back in the late 80s and early 90s after I got out of college (Shearson Lehman Boston office, I could have told back then the company would go down). I couldn't find anyone in that line of work that seemed remotely happy. They had money, but conversations always revolved around the upcoming weekend. I left and went back to school. I put myself through graduate school finishing two master's and doctorate in interdisciplinary studies (combining art/music, technology, and analytical psychology (Carl Jung)). I think the credentials are also a bunch of BS in the end, but it gives you some context of where I’m coming from. I landed a lecturer position at a major state university right after finishing my master's degrees and was in line for a tenure position. The guy above me finally "retired," taking the golden handshake, but...he stays on as emeritas. He decides to collect his pension which pays 80% of his salary, and works the other 20%. Who could blame him, I would have done the same thing.

The dept chair encourages me to enroll in a doctoral program, which I do, he says verbatim...it will solidify your position. Two months later, 9/11 happens and three months later I'm told because of cutbacks, I won't have my position next year. Shit happens, it sucks, but that's life, it wasn't the first time being laid off, so I move on. All the while I had started my own business on the outside, which helped soften the blow. Meanwhile, that guy who was above me?... kept his job working 20%. I was told by the dept’s accountant if he had left, I would have kept my job...nice. This was someone making four times my salary and I was teaching three times his course load.

Okay, I move on, I applied for and received a fellowship at the university where I was doing my doctorate. I taught for them as a fellow for a year while I finished my degree and then for three more as a non-tenured visiting Asst. Prof. I continued to keep my business going...thank goodness. Then the visiting position runs out and I'm sending CVs out everywhere. But here's what I realize, during all this time the tenure-track jobs are going away, being replaced by part-time adjunct or online positions, and many if not most of the boomers are still holding onto those emeritas jobs (the adjunct-emeritas link is a financial one).

All of higher ed is now 75% adjunct/non-tenure faculty. When the boomers were getting those jobs back in the 1960 - 80s, over 75% of the positions were full-time tenure positions. When people pay that $50k for their kid's tuition now, they are paying for the buildings and the administration. 2012 was the first year in history where administration positions in all colleges and university in the US outnumbered full-time faculty.  I can only roll my eyes when I hear people in business rank on teachers and accuse them of not living in the real world. My response...what is the real world? The financial world? Because I worked in that too and it’s crazier and more surreal than academia.

So, my experience is the boomers did have opportunities that my generation did not. My oldest brother who is a boomer agrees… he’s got the tenured position. I’m now teaching at a private high school because I’m wayyy over qualified for a public school job, and they don’t want to pay for that. Funny thing is that I’m fine with it. Although I make about 30-40% less than I would in public school, it is a full-time position, and all of the higher ed adjuncts I know would take my job in a second. I still have my outside my business as well where I make up that 30-40% difference and I still get offers from the local universities to teach adjunct, but respectfully decline.

I’m pretty content, but when I’m talking to boomers in my field that have those tenured jobs, and they start talking the BS of how hard they worked to get their job and how they don’t get paid what they’re worth, and they have to do all this committee work now…yes, I roll my eyes. I’ve worked hard too. I also don’t kid myself, I got a LOT of help along the way, people that believed in me, gave me a chance.  What is fair in life? Should I have one of those positions? Should I be making more money?  “Should” is a word that I’ve tried to banish from my vocabulary. Just so people don’t think I haven’t worked “real” work, I’ve worked in retail, a factory, washed more dishes than I care to admit, waited tables, delivered welding supplies, temped, and more.

Okay, anyone who has made it through this can roll their eyes. I just hijacked this thread and spent the last half hour of my life preaching in this post…lol, see... we’re all hypocrites. 

Always a pleasure Grover.

gillbilly's picture
gillbilly
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Posts: 377
Poet, don't get me started

Poet,

Don't get me started on technology! Lol You are the man! (at least I think you're a man?) BTW I've been racking my brain for the past two weeks to find someone to buy that bus. I'm 3 miles from Greenfield. I'm so tempted. If I were young and single, I would buy it and live in it. I'd find some friend's property to squat on. Ahh to dream. Any bites on it?

Poet's picture
Poet
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 21 2009
Posts: 1840
Gillbilly, The Bus

Gilllbilly

Yes, I am a guy. Technology reducing labor costs (both in quantity and quality/consistency) is just part of my thesis. Another part is a labor glut due to population (reproduction and immigration).

About the bus: I'm not in touch with the owner - I've met him only once, years ago, for about an hour - but I know he is a good man: intelligent, family man, strong skills in horticulture, talented artist, musician, and obviously handy with carpentry and things mechanical, liberal/progressive-minded. You should meet him.

Poet

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