Conflicting Survey Results

by Don Boudreaux on September 29, 2007

in Standard of Living

Here’s a letter that I sent a couple of days ago to the Washington Post:

27 September 2007

Dear Editor:

Harold Meyerson asserts that “The American middle class has toppled into a world of temporary employment, jobs without benefits, retirement without security. Harder times have come to left and right alike” (“Rise of the Have-Nots,” Sept. 27).  He supports this claim with survey results showing that a smaller percentage of Americans today identify themselves as “haves” – and a larger percentage identify themselves as “have-nots”- than was true in 1988.

Conducting surveys and interpreting their results is notoriously tricky business. How, for example, would Mr. Meyerson square the results he takes as definitive with those of a recent Gallup poll that finds that the percentage of Americans who report being “completely satisfied” with their jobs rose from 28 percent in 1989 to 43 percent in 2006, while the percentage of Americans who report being “completely dissatisfied” with their jobs fell from three percent to two percent?

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

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{ 40 comments }

John Pertz September 29, 2007 at 9:27 am

He would not. That is the short and sweet answer. Meyer is a political writer, not a rational truth seeker.

Russ Nelson September 29, 2007 at 9:44 am

What is the point of asking people how they feel about their life situation relative to others when that is dependant on what they know about others?

M. Hodak September 29, 2007 at 10:49 am

I dunno. I just feel it. Can't someone know something by just feeling it? I mean, you know, in the sense of data sets based on uncontrolled samples using ambiguous questions related to untestable hypotheses with results that can't be reproduced? I mean, what else is left but feeling?

T L Holaday September 29, 2007 at 12:38 pm

A logical thinker would respond with a puzzled look. You are arguing as if there is a necessary connection between job satisfaction and a sense of being a "have" or "have-not."

It is obvious that someone can be dissatisfied with his job and yet consider himself a "have": for example, an ambitious corporate executive who is one-rung-below-the-top. It is also obvious that someone can be satisfied with his job and yet consider himself a "have-not." For example, someone who teaches disabled children.

Someone can be satisfied with his or her compensation and yet know there are others who have much more wealth.

Al September 29, 2007 at 2:44 pm

If I ran the universe (working on it) I would create a reality TV show where people had to work a recreation of their father or grandfather's job for two weeks.

This would be informative- but I'm still working out what a fun prize would be . . .

Wojtek Grabski September 29, 2007 at 3:43 pm

People just don't place 'having' a job they like in the 'have' column. It's that simple, and sad, in a way. I make not too much money, but I'm running my own company, and I love the thrill of it. I'm not a 'have' in financial terms, but a massive 'have' overall. There isn't much I'd trade this for — perhaps a LOT of money :) .

muirgeo September 29, 2007 at 7:14 pm

Al,

Our fathers (post New Deal) in general made 1/40th the money of their bosses. Our grandfathers (Pre-New Deal and Pre-Republican lead Great Depression) 1/200th. Us 1/400th. When our fathers were sharing in our countries prosperity our country had by far the best economy and best GDP/per capita in the world. Now, not so much….so yes if you could get us all our dad's jobs….GREAT….our grandfathers….umm…we'll pass on that although it looks like we're returning to the same conditions.

Badger September 29, 2007 at 8:09 pm

For the New Deal nostalgics, I suggest returning to an even more "solidary" age: the Paleolithic. You'd probably make about half your boss' salary then.

Mark September 29, 2007 at 9:11 pm

"yes if you could get us all our dad's jobs."

Yes, but your wife could not get your mother's. And, the 3rd world countries now refuse to be the colonist of European nations anymore, and instead find it much more lucrative to become our competitors in low end manufacturing.

The world is more competitive. Many people around the world now can do the job that untrained Americans used to do. The labor supply at this end of the labor market has swelled. More supply means lower wages. This is simple economics.

triticale September 30, 2007 at 7:34 am

My dad was a freelance writer and photographer, with a couple of magazine columns for baseline pay. I'd enjoy doing what he did; I'd just have to write about different stuff, but if I could do it I'd probably earn on the order of what I'm making these days.

Now consider the opposite direction. As of when my dad passed away, the industry in which I work didn't even exist.

John Pertz September 30, 2007 at 8:51 am

I think Muriego is correct. If we all could go back in time and work our father's jobs we would be much much wealthier. Muriego is a very very smart guy, more people should listen to him. Its just a simple matter of economic regression in order to progress. If we could go back to say the 1980's our lives would be much much better. They had better technology back then.

Floccina September 30, 2007 at 9:15 am

This does not surprise me at all:

"a recent Gallup poll that finds that the percentage of Americans who report being "completely satisfied" with their jobs rose from 28 percent in 1989 to 43 percent in 2006, while the percentage of Americans who report being "completely dissatisfied" with their jobs fell from three percent to two percent?"

Although manymorn the loss of manufacturing jobs, I read an article on Yahoo the other day that among the hardest jobs to fill were manufacturing jobs. Manufacturing jobs may pay more but it is not fun work!

muirgeo September 30, 2007 at 9:16 am

John,

You set up a false choice. Technological advancement and standard of living were both going to improve. The question is how are the "spoils" shared.
You seem completely comfortable with the fact that they've went mostly to the top while the middle class has weakened and is working more hours just to hold their ground. This poor distribution has little to do free free markets and lots to do with corruption and decreasing class mobility.

A closer examination of Dr Boudreaux shows less "happy" results.

QUESTION: Would you say you are satisfied or dissatisfied with the following things about your life: Your job/the work you do?

Satisfied Dissatisfied
Jan. 1949 67 20
Jul. 1963 85 11
Apr. 1969 90 6
Dec. 1971 84 9
May 2001 70 10

Finally what do you think the poll results will be in Nov 2008?
Why do you think people are going to overwhelmingly vote against these policies Dr Boudreaux likes to think are so good for them?

That's the poll that will matter and that's the one where the people will take back some of the wealth that has been re-distributed upwards and out of their hard working hands.

vidyohs September 30, 2007 at 12:20 pm

Golly gosh here we go again with the ambiguous words and titles that mean evertyhing to the socialist evangelical and nothing to the intelligent. But, as is well known, if they could think they wouldn't be socialist.

"Our fathers (post New Deal) in general made 1/40th the money of their bosses. Our grandfathers (Pre-New Deal and Pre-Republican lead Great Depression) 1/200th. Us 1/400th."

"Boss", what is a boss? "Corporation", what is a corporation?

To the socialist evangelical like muirgeo a boss just has to be someone like Ken Lay or Jay Rockefeller, and a corporation must be a mamouth enterprise that employs thousands.

And, of course the income differential must be the worker making 1/400th of the boss.

Meanwhile back in the land of reality, I take my car to Little Automotive, Inc when it needs maintenance. The mechanics there probably net about 1/15th of the CEO, the owner. The corporation consists of maybe 7 people max.

Then I stop and get something to eat on the way home in the Alvin Cafe, where the waitresses probably net about 1/30th of the owner/ceo of the corporation.

Then I call the A/C repair/maintenance corporation that has maybe 7 people employed, and again the techs probably net about 1/20th of the CEO/Owner.

Then in the course of the day I stop in at Walmart and pick up something for dinner and there the check-out people probably do make about 1/400th of the CEO or owners.

The landscape is just littered with corporations that we deal with on a daily basis and in those corporation the "boss" and the "worker" have an income ratio very much in line with that of our forefathers of the mid 1800s.

The vast majority are doing very well and our economic health in America is just fantastic. Now, if we could just purge the socialist church from our midst we could save health care before they finish off the screw-up they've started on that.

The socialist evangelicals that we hear from on a daily basis with their consistent ability to thoroughly distort every issue with their lies and stupidity is a source of never ceasing amazement to me.

Harking back to the last lengthy thread one of our participating socialist evangelicals, I think it was muirgeo, had as part of his input the information that Mexico was screwed up because of its lack of regulation, and the USA is successful because of its regulation. Because of time contraints I let the one go, but now I'll revisit it.

His knowledge of latin America obviously was learned in his last church meeting and stops at the southern border of the USA.

Mexico is awash in regulations just as we are, and those regulations are a great source of income to the local lower level officials who extort bribes for permission to do anything, a real cottage industry that selling of circumvention of regulations or permission under the regulations.

Latin Americas is screwed up from Mexico south precisely because of one thing. Those lands were conquered by the Spanish with no tradition or desire for freedom from their crown. As conquerers they all became instant Hidalgos, grandees, aristocracy, it you will in their new lands and were given vast tracts of land as their own, and which grants included the people 9natives) that lived on those lands to use as labor.

North America on the other hand was populated by people with quite significantly different traditions and desires which is reflected in our respect for property rights and individual autonomy that exceeds that found in virtually any other nation on the face of the Earth.

Again I say, we are what we are in spite of government and not because of it. And that certainly holds true even though we are highly regulated.

muirgeo September 30, 2007 at 1:48 pm

Issac,

So you are OK with billions of your tax dollars going to no-bid contracts for war-profiteers?

That's the free market is it Isaac? You are OK with Enron stealing billions from my sate of California while Bush stood by and allowed flagrant abuses to occur?

You're OK with our energy policy being formulated in secrecy ultimately giving away billions of our dollars away to those with access?

You're OK with unequal access to politicians and policy and pork that wealthy people have and that the worker does not?

You're OK with NAFTA and GATT being passes against the huge protest of millions of Americans?

Issac you're simply in denial with regards as to the reasons why all our productivity increases have benefited an elite few. You would have made a good Tory Loyalist to King George back in the revolutionary days.

The fact that you hold the current U.S. and world economy up as some sort of validation of Liberal economics shows how untrue you are to the facts and to your own supposed libertarian principals.

I really have to wonder to myself what a person like you stands for? I mean what are your core principals if not truth, democracy or free markets?

vidyohs September 30, 2007 at 5:09 pm

Well muirgeo, you managed to write 8 paragraphs of meaningless rant and not answer Issac's question.

"I'm curious Murigo, who is it that is "redistributing" money upwards?"

Why don't you just answer his question?

vidyohs September 30, 2007 at 5:10 pm

But then again muirgeo, you still haven't answered mine question either.

What is "rising income dicrepancy" and how is it determined or judged and how does it prevent anyone from obtaining affordable housing?

Mark September 30, 2007 at 6:15 pm

I really thought Gregg Easterbrook's "Progress Paradox" would have ended this whole notion that things are getting worse for the middle-class. Yes, the rich are getting rich, but so is the middle-class and even the lower class. Easterbrook shows that the main reason for the increase in the so-called "wealth gap" these days is that we have so many immigrants who are working the jobs no one else wants to do, and those immigrants are working those jobs because they have come to the conclusion that it's better to be at the bottom of the ladder in the US than the middle of the ladder in Central America.

muirgeo September 30, 2007 at 7:07 pm

vidyohs, ( the guy who has a government pension)

I like that you spent a lot of time on that reply. You are a petty, rotten, self centered and uninteresting person. Around people who think like you fascism grows like a weed. Anyone who tells me that 95% of the country is socialist and should be burned and also states that the best we should provide the poor is a good burial is of no interest to me. It does hearten me to know how miserable and lonely you must be surrounded by a world filled 95% with socialist…and growing.

Chris September 30, 2007 at 8:01 pm

muirgeo –

I care far more about how much better off I'm doing when compared to my Dad than how much better my CEO is when compared to his. There are so few large company CEOs in the world that it just doesn't make much sense to worry about it. Unless, that is, you happen to hold stock in a company with an over-paid CEO.

Now, I don't subscribe to the theory that they are all paid appropriately — Boards of Directors are often composed of other CEOs, and you effectively end up with an old-boy network. But, that's something for the stockholders to worry about, not the employees, who are almost certainly being paid market rate.

vidyohs September 30, 2007 at 8:37 pm

Gotta love it!

"That's the free market is it Isaac? You are OK with Enron stealing billions from my sate of California while Bush stood by and allowed flagrant abuses to occur?"

Surprise surprise, should have known that muirgeo would be from California, it just fits so well.

HEY MUIRGEO, blame ENRON when it is your own majority, your democratic plurality, that sent the legistature to Sacramento to be infinaitly wise and deregulate half of the market equation and then tell you to expect good results! LOL TMYSH(till my sides hurt)!

You and your fellow socialist evangelicals deserve everything you received! Foolish foolish foolish! Regulate how much the energy company can charge the retail customer but deregulate how much can be charged by providers…….and think good things are going to happen.

Oh BTW, I gave you some slack on the explanation of "rising income discrepancy" and left you with only the "discrepancy" to expalin. Have you come up with the benchmark wage that all workers have been told to expect? Naw…..I didn't think so. And, I expect you to provide me with chapter and verse in the U.S. Code that sets that benchmark wage.

Golly gosh, my little left coast evangelical, till we know that little fact, we can't determine anything else about how it could possibly affect anyone's ability to obtain affordable housing.

vidyohs September 30, 2007 at 9:49 pm

Ah man! Life just sucks muirgeo!
Does this mean our love affair is over?

"vidyohs, ( the guy who has a government pension)

I like that you spent a lot of time on that reply. You are a petty, rotten, self centered and uninteresting person. Around people who think like you fascism grows like a weed. Anyone who tells me that 95% of the country is socialist and should be burned and also states that the best we should provide the poor is a good burial is of no interest to me. It does hearten me to know how miserable and lonely you must be surrounded by a world filled 95% with socialist…and growing.

Posted by: muirgeo | Sep 30, 2007 7:07:37 PM

:-) <(l)>
ll

You see now, this is a mis-quote (typical). "that the best we should provide the poor is a good burial."
I believe I said that we should not be giving the poor anything, let the poor get a poor burial as that is what they have earned. I said give those who "will not do anything" a poor burial when we pick up their bodies where they collapsed.

Being poor is more than likely a matter of having made bad, unwise, stupid, careless, impulsive, and blind choices than it is because some one is holding one down.

The difference between you and me, nuirgeo, is that philosophy, education, objectivity, character, standards, ethics and morals is why you get to sit in left coast California, suck your thumb, and whine about how much money some one else makes, all the while being fed, clothed, and housed far better than the majority of people around the world. Whether it is as a results of your own efforts or not, you still have that level of comfort and security because of people who have gone before you and people like me today, that take our philosophy to the street and creat wealth instead of talking about redistribution in any direction or form

We make our own distribution.

vidyohs September 30, 2007 at 9:51 pm

Darn!

This should read:
"The difference between you and me, Muirgeo, is that philosophy, education, objectivity, character, standards, ethics and morals like mine is why you get to sit in left coast California, suck your thumb,"

muirgeo October 1, 2007 at 2:26 am

Here are the results of a shared prosperity post FDR. Everyone prospered together. And the economy by any measure was booming along second to none around the world.

Here are the results of a deregulated economywhen the corporatist take over. They steal from the workers and the economy relative to others is weaken. We have gone from the worlds largest lending nation to the biggest debtor nation. A huge trade and budget deficit loom. Personal savings are nil, the housing market is in collapse and the dollar is falling. Likewise the average worker is less happy with his lot.

So please tell me why you all are so comfortable with the current state of the economy. Please tell me how these two trends speak in favor of a Liberal (classic) economy over a fair and properly regulated one?

Ignore the data, ignore the polls….claim this as the shining example of Economic Liberalism which is itself a lie. But your face and ideology will be blackened by the backfire of real people claiming what is rightfully theirs. Your Liberal (classic) cause has merit but you do it no favor when you ignore the data, when you ignore the people and call this shame economy Liberal.

Hows the saw go, " An economist knows the price of everything and the value of nothing"?

Nick October 1, 2007 at 8:05 am

"You are OK with Enron stealing billions from my sate of California while Bush stood by and allowed flagrant abuses to occur?"

Well clearly more regulation is the answer because anyone who has spent an hour or less in the state can tell you it has a severe lack of regulation! Maybe Dr. Boudreaux can analyze for us how this "market regulatory failure" took place and what we need to do to boost the supply of regulations in California?

Muirgeo am I incorrect? Aren't utilities regulated by the states? Wasn't Gray Davis (gasp, a virtuous Democrat?) the Governor of California both during deregulation and at the height of the California Energy crisis? Wasn't the California legislature solidly in the hands of Democrats the entire time as well?

muirgeo October 1, 2007 at 8:52 am

Nick,

It was absolutely an issue of poor legislation. However, Enron was guilty of illegalities on top of that and George Bush specifically chose not to intervene. Enron and other suppliers colluded to regulate energy availability. It helped having some industry buddies at FERC.

You should watch the movie, The Smartest Guys i the Room, if you haven't. Bottom line was Enron was a criminal organization taking advantage of others. Those guys should be in jail for life.

muirgeo October 1, 2007 at 8:52 am

Oh also note that the deregulation started under Pete Wilson as well.

Wojtek Grabski October 1, 2007 at 9:03 am

Muirego:
"So how does an average American family buy a home when housing costs are increasing at more than three times the rate of their income?"

Why YES, of course, since we know from some previous posts of yours that home ownership has in fact been steadily rising, and sits around 70% of the population.

Now, while we're on the topic of redistribution; do you think that people are taking on mortgages because of a massive redistributive mortgage tax relief program? If people's receving vast amounts of money is contingent upon taking out a loan, they'd be stupid to not to.

Now, here's most important question I just know you won't grasp: What causal relationship do you think there might be between this mortgage tax relief and house prices? If people's effective income grows by so much when they take out a loan to buy a house, do you think it possible that this vast redistribution of wealth is what is CAUSING house prices to rise?

Wojtek Grabski October 1, 2007 at 9:19 am

Or do you think that rich people have been buying up housing stock by the thousands and driving up the market?

Wojtek Grabski October 1, 2007 at 9:21 am

Everyone's seen those ads for wholesale housing right? Or knows a CEO that owns more than 10 houses? No?

vidyohs October 1, 2007 at 10:02 am

Our little left coast socialist evangelical has no basic grasp of the English language and total lack of understanding of what English words mean.

Here is my quote.
"Golly gosh, my little left coast evangelical, till we know that little fact, we can't determine anything else about how it could possibly affect anyone's ability to obtain affordable housing."

Here is a quote from muirgeo.
"Oh and here is a good explanation of how rising income inequality effects peoples ability to buy a house."

And he doesn't understand that this is not just a debate on semantics, because we have only his written words to explain his thoughts(?). If he can not write what he means, then why should we do the work of trying to figure it out. If you have ever noticed, that is the way dialouge happens on TV and it works there because everyone has the same script. We don't have his script, though I do have a copy of Das Kapital, the Coummunist Manifesto, and the U.N Charter on my bookshelf. I'd rather he take claim and responsibility for what he writes, instead of laying out all his ridiculous ambiguities and then twisting and dodging when he is called out.

Discrepancy, a word meaning an unexpected or unanticipated difference, a variance, a disagreement. Muirgeo can't explain how there is a discrepancy in the incomes of people.

Affordable, an ambiguous word in itself and useless in an explanation unless one knows many other factors, such as income, desire, willingness to sacrafice, and preference of the person looking to buy.

Housing, a word describing where something is sheltered. For instance my riding mower is housed in my garden shed. My oldest brother is housed in a trailer. My rifle is housed in a gun cabinet. I have an old friend who housed herself in a station wagon for six months while she overcame a setback and got her life back on track, and no one ever knew until later.

Obtain, a word meaning to take control or possession of. Some people buy, some people rent, some people steal, and some just receive the gift of welfare….but all obtain.

All of muirgeo's responses, his URLs, charts, and ideas or nothing in his attempts to explain how "rising income discrepancy" is determined or judged, and how it prevents anyone from obtaining affordable housing.

He shows that he can't get the basics and that is why his attempts at the complex go so wrong. But, then his church taught him well, so is it really because he can't get the basics or that he will betray his scriptures if he admits he is wrong? Personally I think it is the latter, because the basics can be understood even by a child.

Obtaining affordable housing has nothing to do with any kind of inequality in incomes. It depends 100% on what one persons income is in relation to the costs of providing what he decides, or is willing to accept as, adequate shelter for himself and/or his family.

Why one can afford more than another is an entirely different debate and is answered generally by noting that the one that has more produces more of what others value; and, the one who has less produces less of what people value. The difference between those two factors is generally found by examing the attitudes of the two competing people and how far back in their personal histories that attitude diverged.

No one who truly wants to climb the income scale is held back in such a way that it can not be over come. If one believes that he can, then possibilities unlimited open up; but, if one believes he cannot, he cannot. Simple truth.

What I just said will never be found in the speech of a socialist faithful or a socialist evangelical.

vidyohs October 1, 2007 at 10:28 am

In the mind set of some people, it is always some one else's fault.

"It was absolutely an issue of poor legislation. However, Enron was guilty of illegalities on top of that and George Bush specifically chose not to intervene. Enron and other suppliers colluded to regulate energy availability. It helped having some industry buddies at FERC."

The sheer stupidity of keeping tight regulation of the retail price of energy while deregulating the wholesale price just invited the screwing California got; and, lest we forget to compound the problem in Cali(environment concious)fornia refused to allow the building of new power plants and turned their back on nuclear power, so they left themselves at the mercy of the "colluding suppliers".

An analogy would be for me to leave my home unlocked and the doors open, tell every one in the neighborhood I am driving off on a two week vacation, have no night security lights, coming home to a ransacked house, and throwing my hands in the air and crying, "will you look at that, some one has stolen everything! Can you believe that?"

Bruce October 1, 2007 at 11:03 am

The terms "have" and "have not" lack the necessary objectivity to have any real meaning in a serious economic discussion.

For example, my father always thought of himself as solid middle class when I was growing up in the 1960's. We lived in a 1500 sq ft house with no air conditioning or washer/dryer. We owned one 13" black and white tv, and there was one car in the two-car garage. If you asked my father at that time whether he was a "have" or "have not" the answer undoubtedly would be the former.

Today, I think it's highly unlikely anyone living in the conditions I grew up in would consider himself a "have". In fact, I know people who currently live in 2500+ sf homes with central air, 50" plasma tv's, two cars etc.. who count themselves among the "have nots". They think that being a "have" means a 10,000+ sf mansion with its own movie theater and a new Bentley for every day of the week. Perhaps that is because never before in the history of mankind has a society acheived affluence as widespread as ours.

It's all a question of one's perspective. For my father, having grown up during the Great Depression sharing a one bedroom apartment with another family, owning a modest home, a tv and a car was living large. Too many people who identified themselves as "have nots" in the current survey probably have no idea what being a "have not" really entails.

To debate such a subjective topic in terms of revealing an economic truth seems to me to be a ridiculous undertaking.

vidyohs October 1, 2007 at 11:27 am

This is to the socialist faithful and evangelicals.

Here is how it works in the real world among people who earn, do, make, strive, compete, and create. I speak of the people who have never learned that things must be given to them because without the state or the backing of the state they can't possibly succeed.

Houston has a large population of people who have been taught to be sugar-teat suckers, hands out, and asking for others to give them……whatever.

In the early 1980s Houston began to get an ever increasing number of Asian immigrants. At the present point our Asian population is considerable.

When I came back to Houston in the late 1980s I repeatedly read in the two daily papers of that time, complaints from the sugar-teat suckers that they couldn't reach the level of solid economic success because mostly the "old boy (read White) network" held them down. They complained that there were no opportunities, all the usual complaints sugar-teat suckers make and we have all heard over and over.

If one is aware of history and accepts that that was/is true then one has to know that the condition has existed for about 150 years, unchanged. Sad and pitiful if you think about it.

The Asians saw the same "old boy network" that others saw. But unlike the sugar-teat suckers, they saw opportunity. They got loans and opened businesses but had difficulty really charging ahead like they wanted. Now if they followed the game plan of the sugar-teat suckers they'd still be sitting on their butts complaining and waiting for the next gift.

That is not the way of people who are individuals who do, earn, make, compete, and create.

Their numbers increased rapidly and included men and women with drive and vision. Those men and women led their community to become more insular with their money and efforts, combine, and buy stock in the creation of a bank and institutions controled by and specifically for Asians.

In a few short years they had created their own "old boy network" that served them and our Asian community exploded in size and wealth. Businesses just popped out of the ground. Our China Town is the most dynamic part of Houston. By the late 1990s, the white "old boy network" was seeing the writing on the wall and began to reach out to the Asian "old boy network" which had become powerful in city politics and wealth.

Meanwhile the other sugar-teat suckers still sit on their butts and complain because no one helps them. Oh there are some in that community that share the characteristics of the sugar-teat suckers but they recognize what happened and want to do the same, but the impossibility of moving sugar-teat suckers from the apathy of socialism to the productivity of capitalism is over whelming to them. God knows when they will overcome the ravages left by "the Great Society", if ever.

Want another example of how it works?

Houston is plagued with spots where illegal latins gather to offer themselves for employment as day labor, with the hope of becoming steady somewhere. They stand day after day in the shade and wait. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't, it is all at the whims of the market demand for labor.

With that in mind, I had occasion to be present one day, 8 years ago, in the Heights area of Houston. It is an older section of homes that were/are mostly on small lots, average of 60' to 80' wide by maybe 80' feet deep. Typically there are about five to six on a block, and most of lot space is taken up by the home itself, leaving only maybe about 25% for yard space. The Heights area is quite large, maybe as much as 2 to 3 miles along the freeway and maybe 1 to 2 miles north of the freeway. There are businesses mixed in of course.

I was standing on the sidewalk with the owner of a home, when a young Mexican couple, in their 20s, came down the sidewalk. The girl was pulling a child's little red wagon that contained a used gas mower, a gas can, a lunch cooler, and some hand tools. The mower was sat on top of all the other stuff. The man carried a weed trimmer and a water cooler.

In broken English he approached my friend and offered to cut and trim his lawn for $25. Joseph saw his yard needed attention and the price was good, so he agreed.

I stayed and watched just to see how it would go. Joseph and I talked about some business we were negotiating until the couple finished. They had done an excellent job in slightly under 30 minutes.

Joseph paid them and they went on down the street systematically looking for the next job. The amazing thing is that when you put pencil to paper and do the math, given even 50% success in their sales and only working half of the available 30 minute segments each day that couple's income potential was off the charts compared to their material investment.

An 11 hour day meant 22 possible lawns to do, at $25 each. If 100% successful they would knock down $550 a day. $3,300 for a 6 day week, $13,200 a month, and $158.400 for a year of dedicated work. this is the opportunity that couple saw. As I said in the previous paragraph, suppose they only did half of their potential. $79.200 for an illegal Mexican couple in their 20s is pretty dam. good! If they kept their living expenses low, in a short year or so, they would be buying a pickup truck, a trailer, and all the mowers and tools necessary to become big landscapers and drive by and pick up the others from their spots under the shade tress and hire them for $6.00 a hour.

So anything between a 50% success rate to complete 100% success put them solidly in the middle class, wealthy in their community, and all from a little red wagon, guts, vision, and determination. They saw opportunity and grabbed it.

Contrast that with their "fellow" illegals who hang out all day in one spot waiting for it to happen. That young couple figured out a way to save and buy one used mower and a used trimmer, then hand tools, and they went out and made it happen….just like the Asians did.

Who do you think profited more on any scale you care to create to judge net income?

Was it fair for the Asians to create their own "old boy network" and the young illegal Mexican couple to create a yard service with equipment and business plan that suited a rich environment for them? Isn't this a really stupid question that could only be asked in a socialis church meeting?

I could go on and on with anecdote after anecdote telling you the things I have seen and come to understand since I became an independent businessman in 1983.

One thing I know for sure to the bottom of my core is that to the sugar-teat sucker it is always someone else's fault that they don't have…………! And, to the socialist church it is always those that create who are at fault.

Wojtek Grabski October 1, 2007 at 11:32 am

Hear hear. 95% of those respondents are filthy stinking rich when contrasted against most of the population of the world.

Need a good 'ol hyper-inflationary period and depression to knock some sense into them.

vidyohs October 1, 2007 at 11:36 am

Hi Bruce, well said and dead on target.

I could add the word 'poverty' to the list as well.

I get sick and tired of the socialist evangelicals talking about the large poverty stricken people in America, and the people they are talking about live in a house that keeps out the weather, are clothed sufficient to go out in public without shame, a large percentage are obese from over eating and little working, most drive some sort of vehicle, most, if not all have a color TV, running water, city sewage, schools close by, and police in the neighborhoods that patrol regularly.

Yes, that is what is called poverty in America.

Thanks to my career I had the opportunity to visit many foreign lands and I saw what poverty is when you walk in it, touch it, and know that people are living it.

Poverty exists on every continent I visited, but here in the USA if you can find someone who actually lives in poverty then I submit that it will inevitably be because they are choosing it.

Tom October 1, 2007 at 11:38 am

"Enron was guilty of illegalities on top of that and George Bush specifically chose not to intervene. "

I believe it was Bill Clinton who was President at that time, and GWB was President when they were all being prosecuted.

"vidyohs, ( the guy who has a government pension)"
Pension? Sound like you're only accepting money from the gov't you've actually earned. I wish more would follow you're lead.

People today do not suffer from want, but from extremely high expectations. I'd like to see a comparison between our lifestyle now and our grandfather's CEO lifestyle. I'd bet we'd win.

vidyohs October 1, 2007 at 12:07 pm

Couldn't resist this one guys. For a nice break from your routine go here for a slice of good fun.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=c-rtubJbXIw

NEWDRUGOXYCLINTON.

vidyohs October 1, 2007 at 12:24 pm

You're exactly right, Tom.

Only in "muirgeo world" could reaping the rewards of a successfully completed contract be considered welfare.

But, I know that he doesn't really believe that, it's just his way of trying to denigrate me and cast me as a hypocrite. Which is all he has left to turn to once his lack of reason is revealed.

And those charges of course are not worth answering.

As a matter of fact, at age 66 I still have not applied for social security and will not do so. Because of the fraud of the social security program, laws, and the deception in compeling me to get a SSN at age 14, I am demanding all of the money stolen from me returned in one lump sum correctly adjusted for inflation.

My living will states that should I reach the state where I can not provide for myself, can not feed myself, or take care of my own bodily functions I am to be taken to Scarface Mountain in southern Arizona and left with one comfortable quilt and a gallon of water. The instructions then direct that if I don't walk out healthy then in three months come back and collect my bones and burn them. Don't even waste money on a funeral, no one needs to profit from my death or go bankrupt keeping me alive, least of all strangers in the form of government aid.

mcwop February 29, 2008 at 10:59 am

muieyeo get your facts straight. Enrons excesses happened during the Clinton admin. My dad tells me life is better now than anytime in the past. He was born at the end of ww2.

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