The Middle Class, Notes for Being It

Well, it is fairly simple, nothing in this world is promised. You have to claw for every inch you get. What do I mean by this? Having people in school will not make them more employable. I know plenty of people with degrees, even master’s level degrees who are stuck in some dead end job that is not in their field of expertise. The trick is to bust ass while in school to get internships so you establish years of work experience before you even graduate. If you finish college and your work history isn’t at least 3 or 4 years long, employers will have a hard time justifying employing you.

On the other end, retirement benefits are what hamstring governments. Yes, they earn votes, but then they have to be paid for out of other people’s profits. Don’t believe me? Think about it like this:

Let’s say you earn $5,000 a month (round number). You will get about $150 put away each pay period depending on your pre-tax withholdings. So, in 1 year, you will set aside, let’s say $4000 (again rounded up). You work for 40, 45 years, let’s say 45, you’re a real go getter and finish college at 20.

So, in 45 years, through social security, you’ve amassed the amazing fortune of: $180,000. Man, you’re really set aren’t you. But wait, you made $50,000 a year and got used to that lifestyle. So, if this was a fair system, you would draw out $50,000 each year and be out of money in a little over 3 years.

Now, I know a lot of people don’t make it to retirement, they die in accidents and crimes and due to health, but a lot do. I just don’t think that the equation balances out with the trend of healthcare which is allowing people to live longer. If we all did drop dead at 65-70 years old, great, you’d get a few years to live it up, but some people live a lot longer and there simply isn’t money for them.

Add to this the concept of inflation and in 40 years that $180,000 will maybe only worth about $50,000 in today’s money (3% inflation rate) and you see my issue with social security.

Look, I don’t like patting myself on the back, but I worked for 30-35 hours a week for most of my college career, finished with honors and had plenty of time to socialize. Didn’t sleep much, but you sleep enough when you’re dead. My point is that if I can do it and I don’t consider myself to be special in any way, then a lot of other people can too.
On the retirement front, people need to realize that the whole concept of keeping up with the jones is what is eroding the middle class, not some conspiracy. The middle class is supposed to be: Not living from paycheck to paycheck, and with few low cost comforts in their modest home. Mercs and Beamers in the driveway do not make you middle class, furs, diamonds and Armani suits are not middle class. If you have these things and make middle class money, the party will end for you and just like the coyote in the roadrunner cartoons, it will be a long way down.

My message: Bust ass when you’re young, live well within your means and nothing is promised. Oh right, life sucks and then you die. Except that it doesn’t suck, it only sucks if you expect anybody else to do anything for you just because you’re you. Money is earned, healthcare is earned, education and a good job are earned. Maybe you don’t have some or all of these things because you didn’t work hard enough for them.