Travel, Food, and Slices of Life

Our Kids Are in Trouble


There are a number of reports that indicate that we Baby Boomers are the last generation that will have an improved lifestyle than our parents. We had better incomes, lived healthier lives, basically had a better standard of living.

Back when we Baby Boomers were kids most of our dads left for work each morning and Mom was home. In elementary school I walked home for lunch and it was only when I was bussed into town for school and ate lunch there that my mom got a job.  At that time my dad’s income was more than adequate; mom’s income provided some extras.   They were able to help us pay for college and also were able to travel. My father worked for the same company his entire working life and had a benefits package that rarely exists today. For example, he  had lifetime health insurance, and my mom also did, even after my dad died.

There have been a lot of changes in the American lifestyle since then. Many conservatives decry that women should return to the traditional role of staying at home. If we want to assume that marriage will be a lifetime commitment and that all women are happy in that role, great, but let’s examine a few realities that make that difficult.Hands on a globe --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

INCOME                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I remember hearing in the early 1970s that the Cost of Living Index was initiated to help us understand changes over time. In 1978, several years out of college, I got a job working as a planner for an engineering/planning firm. I was paid $12,000 a year, had a car note of $97 a month for my Chevy Chevette (new price was $3600) and I also paid $350 a month for my 100% mortgage on a 2 bedroom-1.5 bath condo that had a sale price of $29,900. I managed to pay it all, my utilities, my insurance, my food. It was tight, but it was doable.

I quit my last 9-5 job when my boss refused to give me a raise to a fair salary. I had accepted a lower starting salary since the business was a start-up with the assurance that there would be bonuses and/or a raise when it was functioning well. Two years later, when it was making a steady profit he countered my request with 50 cents an hour. I was making $25,000.  When you use the Cost of Living index, the $12,000 I earned in 1978 would require a comparable salary of $41,000 at the time I asked my boss for a raise in 2011.Purchasing Power USD

EDUCATION                                                                                                                                                                                                            When I entered 6th grade my mother took a job with Rutgers, New Jersey’s state university and part of her benefits package included free tuition for her children. I was able to attend college and paid for my room and board from summer jobs, part time jobs during the school year and by becoming a residence hall adviser.  Their out of pocket contribution to my college expenses was my allowance which was the same as high school, $25 a month.   My total college cost from 1972-1976 was about $4,000. I am very proud I paid for it.

My youngest son Sam is now attending the University of Vermont. His costs run about $50,000 a year.  If the cost of living index was applied, that current 4-year school cost would be just under $17,000. Obviously, the cost of education has increased more than the cost of living. This makes it all but impossible to pay for without some assistance. Congress has raised the percentage on school loans and many people who graduated 5-10 years ago have calculated it will take over 30 years to pay off the accumulating debtload.10-09-05_college_inflation

FOOD  Some time in the mid 1990s advances in science permitted gene splicing in such a way that our foods changed. With the advent of genetic engineering, a gene from one kind of life form could be put into another to help it withstand some problem. This looked like an amazing answer to a concern people had about feeding the increasing population around the world.

Overseas, where farming with these new seeds permit and require the use of more and more herbicides, many farmers are becoming ill and dying. Here in the United States we have more people today with gastro-intestinal issues, diabetes, food sensitivities and allergies than ever before.  Some people argue that diagnosis is better. Some people find that when they cut out preservatives, artificial colors and additives, and start eating whole foods instead of nuking frozen prepared dishes, the health issues improve.FoodAdditivesPic

HEALTH The availability of inexpensive food in the United States is tied directly to the subsidies that we, the American taxpayers, give to major producers of corn, soy, canola among others. This program permits the farmers to accept a price that might not truly cover production costs and gets passed on to consumers with lower prices for processed foods using those ingredients. Corn, for example, is in many foods as a direct ingredient or as corn syrup or corn starch.

Many consumers find it difficult to feed themselves and their families without taking advantage of these subsidized foods, so many American diets are high in these ingredients which do not provide healthy nutrition. Add a more sedentary lifestyle in front of computers or game playing, and you have a population that is overweight. The Center for Disease Control reports that over 69% of the American population is overweight or obese. The CDC says this is our largest challenge as the unhealthy lifestyle so many of us chose is going to be the cause of our deaths. The sad thing is that about 12% of our children are also obese. They are not going to live as long. Their health is going to be troubled at a much earlier age. Their health care costs are going to be high.cost-of-obesity

We have a broken system. Our children are in trouble.







Author: GoingPlaces Can-Do Zero Waste

I moved to McMinnville a few years ago and was impressed with its friendliness and the beauty of the surrounding countryside. I write several blogs. GoingPlacesLivingLife is my personal blog related to travel, food and just general thoughts. Can-Do Real Food tells about my business processing local produce from small farms and preserving it by canning and dehydrating. The concept of Zero Waste appeals to me because we can truly reduce what gets tossed into the landfill with very small changes in our lifestyle. Join us.

9 thoughts on “Our Kids Are in Trouble

  1. Good Morning!!!

    As always, your blog has my morning up and running. And I must note a few things I question. 🙂 We both know that we are very different ends of the political spectrum, and that’s all good. I like different perspectives, it makes my mind work. However, I have to object to the statement that conservatives want women back at home full time. I just don’t see it that way. As a life long conservative (but no longer Republican), I disagree with you. There is this view that there is this “war on women” from conservatives and that also is not true.

    Ideally, someone should be at home with the kids which is a point I think most would agree with. Traditionally, it has been women; but there is a growing number of at home husbands. The view of at home parent is that we should be raising our own children, not leaving it up to a stranger. It is also a known fact that this is not possible many times, for a number of reasons ranging from single parents to income requirements. And certainly in this time of economic stress in our country, the income requirements are getting harder to meet.

    Women have always made less than men, from the being of women entering the work force, and unfortunately it has not changed. The gap in some sector may have closed some, but as a whole, we are just under valued. I think that is not a liberal/conservative thing, I think it is a historical discrimination thing.

    As to other “women” issues that the conservatives are accused of attacking, many of them are related to personal beliefs based on religious beliefs. I have to admit in most cases I don’t support many of the “women’s side” of these issues. Obviously I don’t hate women, since I am one; but I do hold to my personal values. My conflict with many such topics is the line where my freedom ends and yours begins. It is a difficult thing to find a balance without compromising ones value. I don’t know that we will ever solve these issues. My personal feeling is if I think someone is living a way that is “wrong” according to my beliefs… love them through it. Kind of “hate the sin, love the sinner” concept. This is a point that my husband (a Democrat) and I disagree on all the time. 🙂

    As for the cost of education, I feel that the public outcry maybe a bit off. I too just put a kid through school. She chose a private school that cost $23,000/year plus fees and room and board. Had she chose a public in state school the cost would have been much closer to $8000/year plus extras. That is a big difference. I don’t disagree that the costs have increased, but I also take issue with the complaints that private schools cost so much. Private schools have always cost more, which is why public schools exist, both K-12 and colleges.

    I agree with the view that an increase in “cheap money” in the form of government loans to private citizens (mind you- not government backed loans but actual loans made by the department of education in the form of Ford Direct Student Loans which eliminated private lenders from the school loan market with a government takeover) has allowed the drastic increase of tuitions across the country. If loans were not so available, then there would be a decline in enrollment and the schools would be forced to find a way to lower tuition in order to keep enrollment up. It follows supply and demand.

    I also agree with the basic point of the blog that our kids are in trouble. They are inheriting an America that is a shadow of itself. The last 20- 50 years has had consequences that those in power chose to overlook. I also hold “the people” responsible for choosing to opt out of holding elected officials accountable and for not engaging in civic duties, not supporting community well being, and contribution the entire mess we have today. As a Gen X mom with Gen Y kids, I am not fond of the Boomer generation, as a a whole… Individual exceptions apply 🙂 What we need is a few Silent Generation dads and grand dads to kick some butt and wake us up to the important things in life, instead of the materialism that has taken over our world.

    Much love to you. Keep writing…. I love the mental and emotional range you cover. Goes great with my morning coffee 🙂

    Miss ya, BethAnn

    • You caught me-I short-cutted a concept (women stay at home)by calling it a conservative value and never circled back to it. The blog got to what I think is too long for people to read. Bless you for not only reading it but writing a response of about the same length. *G* I got into a discussion yesterday with the young owner of the blueberry u-pick where I was working. She is feeling pressure to have the babies she promised her husband when they married but she is afraid (of childbirth pain and more importantly, if she can raise them well). She is feeling the conflict of what people expect of her and what she wants for herself. Well, we know men can’t give birth but the father could be the one to stay home. I agree with you that in a perfect world with enough income being generated by one parent, it would be best for the children to be raised at home. But we have moved so far from that now in most areas of this country. Part of the reason we are in personal financial messes is also because of consumerism. This squawking about “socialism” in terms of the health insurance is getting me musing about capitalism. I feel another blog forming. LOL

  2. Such a true insight. I’m about to go back to school for a master’s degree and I’m worried about paying for my education while still having money to live off of!

    • My oldest son is going back to graduate school. He was planning to go directly into a PhD program but needed a few more post-Baccalaureate classes in high level math before he would qualify and he had run out of money. So he opted to enroll in a masters program so he could get a TA-ship, helping cover the costs. See if the schools near you who offer the program you want also can give you a stipend like that. Good luck!

      • Thanks for the advice! Luckily I did get a partial merit scholarship for this first year of part-time study, but I might have to look into some other options for next year. Best of luck to your son, as well. What type of masters degree is he looking to obtain?

  3. excellent presentation of a few very complex subjects. Thanks Beth!

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