Aug 2, 2007

The "Best of Times," the "Worst of Times"

I recently met some old classmates from my high school of 50+ years ago. Both men said that we had lived during the "best of times," referring to the rosy economic conditions that we had enjoyed. One remarked solemnly that our children and grandchildren will never enjoy as good fruits as we have eaten in our lifetimes.

I agreed, but also thought that like the time of the French Revolution described by Charles Dickens, the past 60 years were also the "worst of times." Public morality and personal integrity and responsibility are clearly at a low point. Regardless of whether one agrees on the causes, the effects mean more children have less--spiritually and economically--than did the children of two generations ago.

Two old friends and I discussed the above observations at lunch a couple of days ago. I asked these elderly women how many old people living on Social Security were giving part of their monthly check to their children and grandchildren. Both women agreed that this was happening more and more, as young people have fewer and fewer good jobs.

One friend continues to work at Walmart and noted she is seeing grandparents buy a significant part of their grandchildren's needs. She said she was shocked that so many grandmothers are now buying school supplies for their grandchildren. We concluded that Social Security is now paying for more than the oldest generation, it is now helping to pay for the youngest generation.

Yesterday I talked to another friend in a parking lot and she explained her son and his wife are working very hard at three jobs to support themselves and their two young children. The son has begun his own business of laying carpet and doing other home maintenance work, but they can't afford to move out of his mother's house where they live in her basement. The man is in his early 40's and has hired several employees. When he pays them, they buy drugs and don't show up the next day, and his business suffers. Now his mother says that she hopes he gives up the business and simply tries to get a maintenance position for apartments run by a Protestant church. Regardless, it sounds like the young family will continue to be supported in their housing needs by his widowed mother.

I would bet much more than a nickel that there are many, many stories like the above. They do not predict a bright future for a large number of young people in our country.


Anonymous said...

To hear of a married couple with children struggling economically is actually fairly uncommon. If you read some of the research that the World Congress of Families ( collects, there is a very strong correlation between economic distress and the following situations: single parent, shacking up, second (but not annulled) marriages where there are stepparents and stepchildren, etc. Obviously, the strongest correlation is illegitimacy. Obviously, I'm not denying no married couples do not struggle; there are definitely those such as the blog post points do exist. They are less frequent, though. Keeping priorities in their proper order (not shacking up, being married, having children, and staying married) is the best course for both spiritual and financial health.

Dust I Am said...

Sorry, the situation was not a good example. I did not fully describe the recent "late" marriage after two children, and other moral difficulties. It did describe an elderly widow who is using social security to help younger generations.

I agree that married couples with children have more resources. One of our daughters with a large family said "Mom, there is something wrong with this situation. A couple with three jobs CAN afford housing on their own; they are just trying to have all the luxuries, too."