Thursday, October 30, 2008

Simple Roots

Grandma had 11 children. They all sewed for a living. It made ends meet and kept everyone fed. Grandpa bought a chicken once a week. When I was younger my Mom sewed our clothes. She sewed until she was too old to see the thread. I used to help her thread the needle as she got older. Perhaps it was just habit or a need to feel useful. Perhaps it was just getting by.

My other Grandpa was a banker but died young. After he passed away, his wife (Grandma #2) ran a small taro farm. I still have the triton shell she blew to call the workers in from the field. They both died much too soon and were gone long before I was born. I wish I could have known them.

They all worked hard so their children could get through high school. My generation went to college. Some of us attended prestigous private colleges and now have great jobs. I suppose that is the American dream. Parents that worked hard so their children could get ahead.

When I look at the economy today, I worry about how the older generation will make it on fixed incomes with rising medical costs and spiraling inflation. I worry about how our generation will make it and if we'll ever be able to retire or if we'll work until the day we die. I dread the thought of ever being the senior sweeping the floors in McDonald's or the greeter in Walmart. I know I will never be there (not if I can help it anyhow) but, when I look at those workers, I wonder how America, with all her wealth, cannot find enough to thank her seniors with more than a job as a greeter at Walmart.

They say, when they made social security, they never expected people to live past 65. It was a way to sell yet another tax to pay for more government excess. They talk about raising the retirement age to 75. Few companies have pensions now. If your IRA is anything like mine, it just flushed down the toilet with the stock market. Meanwhile, the gap between the rich and the poor in America is growing. They say the gap is wider than ever.

Yet, when I drive through town, I still see an abundance of $1M plus houses with Mercedes parked out front. Oh, not in my neighborhood... Who owns those houses? What do they do for a living? Where do the rest of the people live? How did we get here? Is the American dream still alive and well or is it drifting or even plummeting out of reach? What do you think?

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