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Do You Remember Where Your Career Was 28 Years Ago?

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June 28, 2008 – Comments (25)

It looks like Big Picture is my favorite blog of the day today.  In another post he mentions the 28 year low on sentiment, or I guess 1980.

If you are old enough, do you remember where you were in your career 28 years ago?

I graduated high school in 1979, and my age cohort was the largest of the baby boomers.  Birth rates increased until 1961 and then they started to decline, so I entered the job market with a double whammy against me, the largest numbers of entry level workers ever, and the lowest job sentiment in years, and going into what turned out to be fairly hard economic times, at least here in Vancouver the economy was very bad, also hit with massive government cut backs.

Writing on CAPS and looking back at my own personal history has really helped me to understand things that were completely out of my control, and to actually be quite shocked about what the economy was for me.  For example, not a single business that I worked for between 1979 and 1986 is around today.  What are the odds of that?  I knew that my work references seemed to be dissolving almost as quickly as I moved on to another job, but I never considered how utterly shocking it is to have a 7 year work history at several companies just disappear.

The working environments were not pleasant, you knew the businesses were in trouble and it meant that I faced declining wages pretty much while I was still an entry level or very early level worker.  I was making more in 1981 then in 1985.  And, this was happening in an era where you were negatively labelled for job hopping if you didn't have a reasonable length of employment time with a business, yet when I look back, the nature of the economy left you lucky to have a job and moving kept you one step ahead of being laid off or coming to work and seeing a sheriff's "closed" sign on the door, and that did happen as well in my job history.

It was awful, and something that was never recognized for the extreme challenges that new young workers of my generation faces.  I remember far more sentiment that today's youth was lazy and unwilling to work, yet I also remember every job competition for low paying jobs had dozens of applications for each job.

The media was sympathetic to "age discrimination" against older workers, but what a farce that analysis was.  Older workers were being replaced with workers willing to work for less.  There was no age discrimination there what-so-ever.  Any older worker willing to work for 30% less, wages equal to what younger workers were getting, had a job.  Employers obviously did not value the "experience" to the degree that the workers valued it.

I truly see the economy going into the same kind of scenerio, only on a much, much bigger scale.  Only this time the older workers have already been working with less disposible income and less wealth building ability so it isn't so easy for employers to just slash wages by 30%.  So, today's older workers, while better off than those climbing the economy chain below them, are already below the economic security level of workers above them.  The wage cuts will be less because there is less padding and their tighter economic situation means they will be more motivated to continue working.

It's going to be very, very ugly for younger workers.  The least that the rest of us can do is not blame them for their unfortunate position in the pecking order in the economic food chain.

25 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On June 28, 2008 at 11:22 AM, JoHooch (34.85) wrote:

I was still haploid 28 years ago.

I'll enter the real workforce in 1 year...If I weren't going into healthcare I would be REALLY worried right now.

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#2) On June 28, 2008 at 11:30 AM, hansthered0 (< 20) wrote:

I was a blastocyst 28 years ago...

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#3) On June 28, 2008 at 11:33 AM, sid187 wrote:

28 years back ??? wow... didnt realize you were that experienced Dwot.  But for all the sky is falling blogs and comments, its a good reference for people to see that things were tough back than as well as things are tough now a days.

the 1980's ruled

http://myspacetv.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=20208528

Dirt" target="_self">http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=20208528">Dirt Nasty - "1980"
http://mediaservices.myspace.com/services/media/embed.aspx/m=20208528,t=1,mt=video"/> src="http://mediaservices.myspace.com/services/media/embed.aspx/m=20208528,t=1,mt=video" width="425" height="360" allowFullScreen="true" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" />

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#4) On June 28, 2008 at 12:26 PM, Swatek (< 20) wrote:

Was working for Kerr McGee's Transworld Drilling as a draftsman (with real pencil and paper) raking in the oil boom bucks with lots of overtime. Sold some real estate in in 1981 and started college in an 82. Upon graduation in May 85, Transworld's entire engineering department was a bare bones staff (manager, draftsman and a shared secretary), and engineers couldn't hardly buy a job in Oklahoma. Not too long later, Transworld was gone. Returned to the oil industry in 1990 and have rode out a few cycles since. It's usually like being in the back car of a roller coaster getting flung over the top of the lift hill faster than any others on the ride head. Hey, I can't see the cars in front again...

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#5) On June 28, 2008 at 12:45 PM, RVAspeculator (31.13) wrote:

I was 2 years old 28 years ago... 

 I agree with what you say but do not think things are quite so dire as of yet. 

Now a few years down the road, maybe....

Weekly claims are still under 400K, Unemployment is still in the low 5's. 

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#6) On June 28, 2008 at 12:58 PM, dwot (97.03) wrote:

Well, thanks for the big laugh... haploid and blastocyst...

I was working in the banking industry, entering at age 17, right through the ascent and decline of interest rates to as high as about 22 or 23% mortgages at the very peak.  But just consider the difference in opportunity today.  What bank hires 17-year-olds out of high school these days?  They demand university degrees today for the job I was highly competent at as a 17-year-old.  Ok, so more of the routine stuff is done by bank machines, but still, it is a world of difference because not a single worker where I started and worked my first 4 years had a university degree. Actually, one manager they hired for about 3 months had a degree.  He was fired...

sid187, I was working and on my own very young, within 2 months of my 17th birthday.  I had my 15-year-old sister living with me, dead mother and my father had split.  He sent a bit of child support for my sister, but only what he was getting from the government, baby bonus and death benefits from my mother's death which were designated for child support, but not a penny of his wages, which were 8 times mine.  I do have issues over being force to partly support my sister with his spending selfish excesses.  And there wasn't the money because of two boats, one that was 45 feet, expensive hobbies like skiing, and womanizing, drinking, and smoking, all of which he regularly showed me in his budgets of barely making ends meet...

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#7) On June 28, 2008 at 1:01 PM, abitare (58.10) wrote:

dwot,

Outstanding post. Almost everytime I write something "bearish", I get someone (kids?) accuse me of "doom and gloom" etc. The idea of an economic slow down is so unknown to them. They cannot fathom, the idea. That is amazingly and scary. Do they not teach history anymore?

I was in Texas during the 80s during the oil boom. I returned a couple years later after the oil bust. The "rich kids", who's families were in the oil business with big houses, lots of "stuff" at school became "poor kids". Abandon houses, buildings, and unemployment unknown during the "boom" were everywhere after the bust. It is an unknown to the CNBC "Fast Money" and "Mad Money" trained stock buyers.

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#8) On June 28, 2008 at 1:14 PM, dwot (97.03) wrote:

Swatek, in retrospect I had timing really bad.  Being in university during the down turn in the early 80s would have been good, instead I was back in university for a bit of a recovery in the latter 80s and back out for another down turn in the 90s, and then I went back in the later 90s into education, which got enormously hit.  My timing in all things really sucked.  I'd say right now is probably a good time to ride out the economy in school if that's an option.  I think in 4-5 years there will be lots of newer workers that don't find their place that will be looking for other options and withdrawing, much like what I saw both times I was in university, ever increasing numbers of mature students relative to high school graduates.

RVAspeculator, my experience tells me different.  I think we are at the beginning of a major correction and now is the time to hold onto secure jobs even if you are dissatisfied.  I think being higher in the pecking order is going to make a huge difference in people's future and the best way to slaughter one's future is to make a move to put themselves at the bottom of the totem pole, but that's just what my experience have taught me and we all have different experiences.

 

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#9) On June 28, 2008 at 1:28 PM, dwot (97.03) wrote:

Thanks abit.  I wonder where those "kids" are now...  I suspect those with those kinds of experiences make up the bears more so than others...

Now, for some real depressing reading... http://www.howispentmystimulus.com/

I started reading some, but I didn't want to totally depressed myself for the day and just starting to read a few made me terribly sad for these people.  Seriously, reflecting on my youth always brings me down, and I did enough of that already today.  It was f--king awful, and this crap is repeating itself big time everywhere for many people.

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#10) On June 28, 2008 at 2:51 PM, GreenMycon (< 20) wrote:

I'll add my 2 cents (which is worth less than that).  The current generation (my generation) doesn't have the same sort of corporate expectations that older generations had.  To a large extent, this generation has been supported by their parents, and has seen the constant cycling of the job market and the lack of "caring" for their employees.  As such, there is very little desire for many of us to actually get careers.  Careers, by far, are a 20th century construction and should hopefully be on the decline.  There is a greater desire to just go to school for quite some time (which is possible thanks to parents money) and earn as many intersting degrees as possible. 

We're also much more technologically advanced than the previous generations and so we need to be catered to differently.  The traditional work environment just doesn't really meet our needs.

 

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#11) On June 28, 2008 at 7:26 PM, PhillyDan (75.50) wrote:

In 1980, my career was starting to move into gear.  I was working for HP as sales rep selling their new Microprocessor Developement System the 64000.  I was still relatively new to sales having come out of Electrical Engineering and I didn't really know my butt from a hole in the ground with respect to selling but I think that actually helped me in that I was willing to try different sales techniques and through luck, persistence (which I always tell new Salespeople that is one of the keys to success - Persistence and Knowledge of what your selling.) and my knowledge of Microprocessor debugging both HW and SW, I succeeded.  That success set the stage for someone who was the first member of their family to get a College degree.  But I do remember that the early 80's were very tough with a lot of unemployment and as DWOT stated concern for their jobs, houses and financial well being.  I have the same vibes today as back then and even think things are worse in some areas particularly housing than they were back in the early 1980's although interest rates were running in the mid-teens and the big investments were in Money markets.  As far as Corporate loyalty, forget about it.....there is none.  My experience is that a lot of Companies use bad economic times like these to clean out the Deadwood (perceived deadwood - because it is a good way to get younger and pay cheaper wages at the same time) for the same expected results that most times does not pan out because of the experience that was let go.  But as I have always said that when things appear to be at their darkest is when they start getting better and I have seen this happen several times in my work career and in life.

The bottom line:  'Don't be depressed just keep chugging along or do something fun like see a good movie, go pub hopping, drink some good wine, play music, etc.

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#12) On June 29, 2008 at 10:38 AM, eldemonio (98.74) wrote:

Great post.  I agree that younger workers will be screwed - mainly because of their sense of entitlement.  I always hear things like "If this company wants to keep me, than....."  Younger workers don't realize that they are easily replaced by a lower maintenance employee willing to work for less money. 

Our country's sense of entitlement is not just limited to the younger generations, but the fact that the younger generations have not had the opportunity to live outside of this negative influence means that they will struggle the most.  

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#13) On June 29, 2008 at 12:29 PM, lquadland10 (< 20) wrote:

I so loved your post. Grad 77 h.s. some collage no degree but thats another story somewhat and yet not like yours. Do you remember what the tuition was back then?  Go online and get prices now and you will go into sticker shock.  yet I also remember every job competition for low paying jobs had dozens of applications for each job. And in all these years it is still the same and nothing seems to have changed. Do you still have open immigration there? Heard a news story the other day about Canada's cities were telling the Latin American fleeing the US. that they would also be returned home from Canada because they didn't have the skills and the cities couldn't afford to take care of them.What a mess.  Personally I did much better in the 80's cost of living to pay than now. Fool On

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#14) On June 29, 2008 at 1:08 PM, sid187 wrote:

Dwot now is the best time to be young, if your past brings you pain well than maybe its best that you don't look back instead look straight ahead don't pay any mind to what the voices said.

No one really knows what the future holds and we are all poor players who strut and frut upon the stage and one day are heard no more.Some of us will accomphlish great things, but sometimes just a small act of kindness can heal even the most broken of hearts.

 

 

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#15) On June 30, 2008 at 4:58 AM, camistocks (< 20) wrote:

In 1980 I was 12 years old, which meant that I was 2 years in Switzerland (=in safety) after we had to flee a country which was torn by civil war. I still remember gun shootings, bombings and road controls.

I later went through what you would call high school (or gymnasium here). During that time my best friend was killed in front of my eyes in a road accident. He was hit by a car and was thrown about 10 meters (30 feet) through the air. He lay there in his blood and I felt so helpless... However it was his fault as he did not respect traffic rules...

I have learned to read history books or (news) sources and to distingiush between exagerations and facts.

Excellent advice by sid187. Don't look back! The past is the past and though we can learn from it, it is still the past.

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#16) On June 30, 2008 at 4:27 PM, CAPSnGAIN (< 20) wrote:

In 1980, I was a student just starting my engineering degree here in Vancouver Canada.  Having my tuition funded by scholarships, and just enough cash to pay living expenses until my next summer job, I was pretty much oblivious to economic conditions.

Having eventually made my way into a managing director position in a NASDAQ 100 company in my thirties,  some of my observations and recommendations regarding your post are:

 -  Yes, age discrimination happens... the best way to fight back is to keep your education updated, and find niches in your field where your experience gives you a competitive advantage.  For example, in engineering, gravitating to management or senior scientific positions where proven decision making is valued more can give one an edge over other positions.

-  Work smart and productively to more than earn your salary.  If your company sees enough "value for money"in what they pay you, they'll likely keep you even if you're paid 2X your co-workers.

-  Try to keep in touch with former bosses or managers/executives that knew your work and valued it in your old company...  good references will often outlast the company.

-  When hiring an employee, if one looks at the salary costs of the people interviewing you, the total burdened  costs of the HR hiring team, etc., plus the cost of reduced productivity or training in the first few months at the company, it can easily costs tens of thousands of dollars to hire a white collar employee.  Since the company must get a decent return after amortizing this cost over the time the employee works for the company, this will give those who job hop, or those who look like they might retire soon a disadvantage.  If an older worker, make it clear you intend to stay for at least 5 years.  If employers can't legally ask how long you'll stay, and if you don't volunteer the information, the hiring manager will come up with his/her own estimate which may be too pessimistic.

-  Finally, whether a new grad, or experienced worker, take a sales/marketing course, and a negotiation course (either during evenings, weekends, or times when in-between jobs).  Often the person who can "sell themselves" the best as to why they'd be the best candidate for the job will get the position.  Modern negotiation courses focus a lot on "win-win" theory, which helps you to understand what else the employer may be looking for but didn't have space to put in the job description, or may help you see which skills and experiences of yours may add value to the position even if not mentioned in the job ad. 

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#17) On July 03, 2008 at 1:54 PM, FleaBagger (29.37) wrote:

Another haploid here. For one thing, dwot is right that youths get a bad rap (see eldemonio's comment) for the actions and attitudes of a few (see GreenMycon's comment, which I hope is a joke). Everyone talks about how the old are the greatest generation and are discriminated against, and youths have a sense of entitlement, but in my experience, it's the old who have an enormous sense of entitlement (see Social Security, Medicare).

As a young person, I'm trying to make do without gov't assistance (but I work for a contractor - good luck finding a non-government related job in Northern VA), and I'm trying to make it so that, if necessary, they can gut social security benefits without hurting me any (the trick is to assume that your 6.5% is not yours anymore). I know more young people who are like me than who are unlike me, except that they are more focused on their careers and less on investing; but that will balance out after a while.

I am actually a writer, someone who keeps trying to finish a book, and works another job in the meantime, all the while trying to find time to invest so that someday I can support a family, in case I don't become a millionaire overnight from my book.

Best of luck to everyone, and I do think it's going to be really bad for quite some time. However, there will be a few things doing well, if we can but find them...

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#18) On July 03, 2008 at 2:12 PM, dwot (97.03) wrote:

Greenmycon, I'd agree with the difference in expectations between generations.  You remind me of a mid 30s friend that did everything his parent's generation said you are supposed to do, work hard in school, get good marks, go to university and get a degree.  He has about 6 years between himself and his younger siblings.  They see how hard he worked and that he essentially had no life, and then that he was unable to get a job.  He has been nothing but under employed his entire working life since and lives a far lessor lifestyle because of being crippled by student loans.  So, he's been making $20-25k per year, but is supposed to make about $5k in student loan payments, but he often can't afford the student loan payments.  His younger siblings are enjoying life, not worrying about a home, family or any of those things, but pack backing around the world, living in ski resorts, poor but outstanding life experiences happening.

PhillyDan, I think my timing has been such that I've decided to cut my losses and move on when things are turning around and I've stuck around when I should have cut my losses.  I don't think I did anything particularly wrong, but just found my self in the wrong place at the wrong time a lot.  I mean seriously, all seven businesses I worked for between 79 and 86 are simply gone, and then I continued to find myself in wrong place since then, try competitions with Ph.Ds for jobs that I was over qualified for with a degree, and then retrain in education because a "teacher shortage" is coming.  Ten years later it still isn't here.  The tax dollars we spend on this garbage could be put to far better use.

Younger workers have a sense of entitlement?  I am so sick of hearing that.  I hear it all the time, but when I sit back a look at "entitlement," and who has the greatest expectations it most certainly isn't younger people.  I certainly have seen workers who fail to realise they are easily replaced for less, but I've seen it across the age groups.  The media spin for older worker being replaced is age discrimination, yet when I look at the issue it seems to be far more about productivity for wages given and that younger works will do the job for less.  People in my age group and younger have much lower entitlement expectations about pensions and the whole lot of social programs that people getting them right now complain are not enough.  I'd have to say that my nose is out of joint when I think about what I see in terms of what was given for what was recieved within my family and all I can say is no wonder the government got so far in debt.

lquadland10 I remember very well what tuition was when I first took courses at university.  I often try to incite a riot in my students over the gross inequity they face going into the world.  I tell them it isn't my battle to fight but it should be theirs.  I was making $7/hour when tuition was $18/credit hour.  Now it is almost 10 times that.  Last time I got them to go online and look up today's tuition it worked out they'd need a job that paid $56/hour to have the same buying power for education that I had.  Young people are being labled as all kind of things for not going out into the world all optimistic and going for it, and I think the problem is they feel hopeless.  It really hit home in the classroom one day when I was going over some issues and and one student shot back along the lines asking what was left for them and if there was anything good for them.

sid187, glad you are optimistic about it being the best time to be young.  I think the increased aging population can create some opportunity for the young, but I am not so sure how the burden of their expectations and needs will work out.  I think an increasing portion of tax dollars will be diverted from youth to age.

camistocks, that must have been harsh seeing your best friend killed before your eyes.  I saw someone hit by a car and go flying over it as well, but from a distance, and I kept my distance.  

CAPSnGAIN, you got me thinking about "good reference" will outlast a company.  Well, lets see, two f--king drunks that were eventually let go, but not before making like completely miserable for the workers, a f--king sexually harassing a$$hole, sure if I put out maybe he'd finally give me a reference, another brought up on fraud charges for what happened in the company.  That was fun, not only do you get ripped off in pay, the court demand you show up to testify against the guy for the next five years but they don't get their act together in all that time. 

I am convinced parents help to protect youth from some of this crap, giving them support to get out of a bad situation.  What did my father do when I told him I was being sexually harassed as a 17-year-old where this man in his 30s was constantly groping at me?  He got mad at me and thought it was a non-issue.  But then what would you expect from a parent that is pocketing your government support payment from your dead mother?  Just forwarding the support he was getting might have enable me to get out of there sooner rather then spending months planning how to avoid the boss's grope and figure out how to keep the job because I had a household to support.  I remember having a girlfriend start there andshe had priviledge of quitting within a couple days.Sexual harassment is completely about power.  I didn't want that fat pig grabbing at me, but I needed a job and truly had no place to turn.  Damn if the a$$ stopped when he saw me walking down the street on my day off once.  Yippie, get to be victimized on your day off to boot.  

I should have been in school at the same time as you, but I wasn't left with as many choices.  Heck, I was 17 and dealing with what to do with a 15-year-old sister who'd go to parties that she didn't get home from until 3 am, driving home with a boyfriend drunk and stoned (he's dead now), getting evicted from where I was living because the landlord wanted it for their kids and struggling to find a place that would let my sister finish high school in the same place.  I was just thinking, my father didn't do that for me even a single time, 5 different high schools.  I made it so my sister had her same friends from grade 9-12, and at the time it would have been a lot easier on me to have moved close to where I was working instead of the hour commute.

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#19) On July 03, 2008 at 5:09 PM, TheGarcipian (58.28) wrote:

Wow, D. You blow me away. You've been through a tremendous amount. We are the same age, even graduating from high school in the same year, but lived in two different universes, or at least worlds apart (Vancouver & Baton Rouge). You just made me realize (again) that having a parent there in your life (especially when you're younger than 20) makes a helluva difference. It makes me really appreciate my mom & dad all the more for the things they did for me, many of which I'm unaware, I'm sure.

We were on the very lowest rung of middle class, threatening to slip lower, when my father decided to go back to college and get his degree. Mom had her hands full with 4 kids all under the  age of 6 (yes, the Catholic "rhythm method" works so very well).

Dad attended school during the day and worked night shift for the higher pay, but at a very high cost of often getting only 5 hours of sleep a night, and doing so for about 5 or 6 years. We as kids learned not to slam doors or scream or run through the house because Dad trying to catch a few winks during the day before shuffling off for the graveyard shift. There were two Christmases I remember him coming in from work as we were opening presents. It was good but necessary money. I know he wanted to be there, and you could see it in his face in our Super-8 home movies (for the youngsters out there, these were silent, without audio) when he walked through that front door after working the shift that nobody wanted because we needed the money and he needed the diploma. After the smallest got to be about 3, Mom went back to work part-time so that Dad could concentrate on getting that diploma, which he did in about 6 or 7 years total, but a solid 16 years from when he first started college after high school. With the diploma came a better job and better living for the entire family. We moved out of the lower-class neighborhood (which you'd not want to be in today after dark), and got better schooling. That led me to do well scholastically, earning a small partial scholarship to LSU (though I still worked and paid my way through college), which led me to take on & complete a Bachelor's and then a Master's Degree in Engineering (and some side work in Computer Science). My parents' work ethic instilled in me an autonomous sense of independence, and that few things were going to be handed to me (much like your experience, but not in as quite as harsh dosages). Those degrees in turn eventually led to the well-paying consulting job I have now, a position that comes with lots of respect, business travel all over the world, and the ability to help lots of people solve engineering problems at high levels. Because of my parents' sacrafices, I have lived a much better life than would have otherwise been possible. Of that, I am totally convinced.

I'm very sorry to hear of your ordeals with father figures and groping bosses, but if it makes you feel any better, you should know that you've made me really appreciate my dad and mom today more than ever. Also, know that you have my utter respect for how you have fared in the face of adversity. If you have children, you must be an amazing mom and one tough cookie!

Call me jaded or perhaps biased due to my experiences, but in this age of shocking growth in the disparity between upper and middle/lower classes, I think it will only get worse for many Americans until we elect leaders (both governmental and corporate) that really understand, that really truly get the idea that we as a nation will eventually sink or swim together, that we are only as strong as the weakest among us. Call me a pansy-a$$ed liberal if you want or (more accurately) a moderate/progressive thinker, but the further the gap between rich and poor, then the closer we get to Bastille Day. And I think I hear Nero's fiddle being tuned up as I type...

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#20) On July 03, 2008 at 6:29 PM, TheGarcipian (58.28) wrote:

I just realized that last post may have sounded pretentious. I did not intend for it to be that in any respect. It was more to point out how important one single person can be to someone's life, in this case our respective fathers. These sorts of stories should highlight to anyone thinking about themselves first (instead of thinking about the people that rely upon them) that your actions have dramatic impacts on your dependents. With the "Me Generation" now fathering the "Me Too Generation", I don't hold out a lot of hope for improved parenting skills. For those of us who are struggling with improving those skills and leaving behind a better, safer, cleaner place than we'd inherited, it's difficult to look up & ahead with your nose held to the grindstone, making less money each year as inflation eats away at your real wages. But we should all try to be better stewards of our world. The shenanighans that our corporate & government (and spiritual too!) leaders pull should be called out and raled against at every opportunity, be it from bait-n-switch tactics like stimulus checks while your jobs are being out-sourced overseas, corporate tax rates falling while the federal budget careens out-of-control, usurping and renegeing on environmental & OHSA policies, undercutting our veterans' benefits, failure to provide clear & decisive direction in foregin policy, starting unnecessary & costly wars, etc.  You have the power to shape your future via your vote and your voice. Educate yourself and use them both.

More to my original point: a single person can be extremely important in affecting another's life, and, Ms. D, this is probably what makes you an awesome teacher in the same respect. You give more to your students than (apparently) your dad ever did to you. Kudos!  We should all encourage others to do the same.

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#21) On July 04, 2008 at 12:08 PM, bclan13 (99.16) wrote:

graduated 2007, worked for a year for $15 bucks an hour, just got a senior analyst job in the management consulting industry that pays 75K / yr + up to 20% bonus. 

 

there are always bright spots in the economy.

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#22) On July 05, 2008 at 4:54 PM, Phoenix07 (24.56) wrote:

Dwot. Nice post. Though, I think you need to make amends with your past and maybe acknowledge that life is a lot different now then back then.

I'm 31. Put myself through college and business school (at night) and admittedly have been fortunate to enter the workforce in a positive economic environment....now, here's the reality... I'm on my third job in eight years. My prior two companies no longer exist. These were not tech-bubble start-ups, these were global institutions that were acquired and then picked apart until there was virtually nothing recognizable left of them (least of all their brand names). I spent five good years in a financial engineering business which has been systematically destroyed leaving hundreds (maybe thousands) with very specific and advanced skills out of work with non-transferable skill-sets.

The biggest difference between my generation and entering the workforce 28 years ago is that my generation is entering with open eyes, knowing that there are no pensions, social security, or 25 year corporate early retirement celebrations to look forward to as long as we "show-up, keep our heads down, and don't rock the boat." Mine is a generation of individuals who acknowledge that they are going to have to look out for number one (because no one else is) and we better be nimble, educated, and constantly willing to learn, adapt, and react.

I have profound respect for the histories and evolutions of individuals careers and feel fortunate to be in the position that I am in at a young age but, whenever the issue of entitlement is brought up it drives me crazy. Seems to me that the ultimate entitlements are the ones dragging down the balance sheets and operating margins of the historically great American businesses....unfunded pension obligations. My generation doesn't know what these are nor do they ever expect to receive one.

God willing, I'll see you in twenty more years and with a little resilience & entrepreneurial drive, I'll have a body of work in my rearview which will give me cause for a bit more optimism about the ingenuity of young people.

 

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#23) On July 08, 2008 at 5:28 PM, jmt587 (99.88) wrote:

Here Here to Phoenix07.  I also started working 8 years ago, and have worked for 3 companies.  Of the past 2, one is struggling mightily now, and will likely suffer the same fate as his, though the other seems to be humming along OK (just added to my stock position in them yesterday, so I hope so anyway).

 28 years ago I was 1, so I can't comment on the workforce back then, but I do agree with what Phoenix has said about entering the workforce with open eyes, and knowing that you have to look out for yourself.

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#24) On July 08, 2008 at 9:34 PM, ResearchLover (46.36) wrote:

I was a young diploid toddler.

 Took it easy in college the first time around in Santa Cruz, philosophizing and such.  Went to finish my degree in 2000-03 after the Internet bust left me with options that later became worthless due to an LBO.  But in those two years between college stints, I learned to work hard with a diverse group of people, not all of whom were there for the money.  That was the real currency I was paid with, and I havn't lost any of it since.  Now I'm graduating with a PhD in Biology, and moving on to a postdoc at a bit better than NIH starting salary, which is ..eh.. well, not my modus operandi anymore.

America must still be a land of opportunity for those that give 100 percent.  On the other hand, I have no doubt that I'm a lucky one, because I could have let my outlook go south and never recover after bombing in college the first time around, or if I had kept giving my all at an internet startup trying to do something that wasn't what I really wanted to do, just for the money, staying with it until it went down.  Can a generation really be unlucky... or lucky?? Maybe the important thing to do is let one's individuality be a driver's seat that we sit in when making life's decisions.  And I do have to thank parents for the chance to bomb college the first time, and connections that helped me land that first job that wasn't what I wanted at all.  Not getting what I thought I wanted out of life then was just what I needed to get out of life. 

All the above as context, let me just say with regards to the "generations" argument, that every generation must be given hurdles to overcome, and as long as the human race moves forward, each generation has to do just that, hopefully without throwing up more hurdles for the next one.  Back to me as an individual, this all comes down to the fact that your post leaves me with the feeling of duty to be a better step parent... Thanks.

Individuality and stock investing...hmm...wouldn't it be nice if everyone who wanted to be a good investor were able to translate life's experience into investment choices that worked for them--ethically, as well as financially.  Nothing against sector investing...But maybe market speculation and bubbles wouldn't be such a regularity if the herd mentality wasn't in full force all the time.  Could investing be a lot like life?  Just a thought.

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#25) On July 12, 2008 at 11:30 PM, dwot (97.03) wrote:

Garcipian, I found your reply very nice, not pretentious at all and I am glad you got to appreciate your parents more.  I am not sure which is worse dealing with, a dead loving parent or an alive highly abusive and negligent one.  I had no idea how much my mom fought with him to defend and protect us from him until the last time I saw my father.  He was laughing that my mother looked like she was ready to kill him over what he'd done.

Pheonix, you hit the head on a difference of expectations.  My peer group that was only a couple years older then me seemed to have it all.  I started at the bank when I was still 17 and I had 20 and 21 year old supervisors.  Ten years later you needed a college degree to get into a bank.  The world was rapidly changing in front of me and here in Vancouver there is an enormous difference in how well you did and are doing just based on a very few years.  Standards were declining faster than I could get used to the idea, much like people chase the housing market all the way down because their expectations don't come down fast enough.  But when I look back, being forced to sell my mom's property at 40c on the dollar or not continue university just set me up with way more issues over the declining lifestyle.  The only thing that got me through that period was telling myself it was going to get me a good career when I got out of university.  And 3 years later by the time I got out the real estate market had recovered and the job market had died.

bclan, great on getting the good job.  

jmt587, it has been the same for many in my peer group, we just didn't realise that was the way it was going to be because we were the first that it was happening to. 

Researchlover, may the Ph.D in biology go well for you.  

When I look back to finishing university my outlook was that I was on a rising star.  I had good references through co-op.  I'd won a research scholarship at one of my jobs and the job market went so totally south ...  25 years later private industry jobs in science were paying less then what my friend had been making 7 years before I'd decided to back to school for science.

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