Somebody didn't like the essay last week...
The one about how we've turned into a nation of zombies — 100 million people on some form of welfare, 46.5 million on food stamps, and disability claims growing six times faster than the population.
This person (I'll call her Lauren) sent me a long diatribe.
I take pride in my work and writing, so I must respond.
It's also in your best interest that I do.
I didn't like this article. I didn't like your comment about $100k/yr not being 'very much' if you have two kids, a mortgage, and two car payments. If you don't think $100k is very much... Try supporting a household on $28k-$45k/year.
I'm sorry you didn't like it, Lauren.
And to clarify, I don't “think” $100,000 per year isn't very much... I know it isn't because of facts.
Labor Department statistics will show you a $100,000 salary in 1990 would have to be $172,000 in 2013 just to keep up with inflation.
Insurance costs are up 134% since 2000. University tuition is up 42% in the last five years. Between 2000 and 2011, home prices grew 19.6%, but incomes only grew 16.6%.
I do have a car payments and a mortgage. I choose to have them.
I do not have children. I choose not to have them precisely because I would not like to try supporting a household on dollars that are worth less and less — let alone $28,000 to $45,000 of them per year.
I think you need to look more closely at the demographic breakdown of the population that is on some kind of welfare aid. I think you would see that the largest portion of welfare goes to the ever increasing illegal immigrants coming into this country.
They are also taking the majority of the jobs because as their numbers increase... they also get into positions where they do the hiring and they hire their 'own' so to speak.
Sorry, Lauren, but reality and facts say you're wrong.
Year after year the Department of Health and Human Services cites African Americans as the largest race/ethnicity group on welfare in percentage terms, usually 34%-38%.
Whites (you're white, right Lauren?) come in second, around 31% to 33%.
Hispanics routinely come in last — directly opposite of what you say — at 24% to 26%.
But you know what's really interesting?
If you don't jump right to race like you did, do you know who actually gets the highest percentage of welfare?
You do, Lauren.
Nearly 90% of Americans who receive cash assistance benefits are single mothers. Over 31% of households headed by single women are poor. This group also stays on welfare the longest.
And as for them taking jobs, you're repeating a hackneyed trope.
My doctor isn't an illegal immigrant. Neither is my lawyer. Nor my tax guy. I don't see any of them in the grocery store where I shop. Heck, Mexicans don't even clean my office. Illegals certainly aren't teachers or policemen. My insurance agent is white.
Indeed, the only jobs they're taking are the ones no American wants: construction, day laborers, and migrant farm workers.
In response to erroneous attacks like yours, the United Farm Workers began a campaign called “Take Our Jobs.” It welcomed citizens and legal residents to replace them in American fields...
Three people signed up.
Lauren, if you want a job that illegals are taking, you can go pick fruit.
But chances are you won't.
Instead, you'll say things like this:
Then there is rampant age discrimination towards us baby boomers. If they won't hire a 57 year old over a young person... whether or not I'm ready to quit working... If I can't find a job and make decent money... I end up on Food Stamps and going to the Food Banks in order to SURVIVE. If my 10 years of college education can't find me a job... Then what can?
Changing your skill set. Reeducation. An internship-to-hire program. Working for less money.
This all sounds like whining to me.
Yes, it's tough to compete with a younger workforce that's able to multitask, understands new and changing software, grew up with the Internet, and that's full of fresh ideas.
You know what that's called? The free market at work.
Heaven forbid what you call “rampant age discrimination” is actually just younger workers being better qualified for today's workplace.
Yes, unemployment is high right now. The system is partially to blame for that, and as was the point of the article you railed against, the country is starting to realize that.
But saying “I've done all I was supposed to” is a line that's growing ever more stale.
Who told you what you're supposed to do? Why did you listen? And what makes them right?
I do what's right for me, not what I'm "supposed to."
Doing what's right for you — not lashing out at race groups or newsletter writers — is the Enlightenment that's under way. More and more people are realizing the system makes them destined to fail.
Perhaps your anger stems from this realization, and not my article, illegal immigrants, or age discrimination...
Yet you conclude:
Bottom line, since I could go on and on about the thing we've given up just to survive... Is that you (Nick Hodge) exhibit that stuck up snobby uninformed unrealistic and naive view as to what is really going on out here... Outside of snobby New York.
My daughter and I eat one meal a day. I get $200/mo for food stamps and it takes half of that every month just to keep the basics in the cupboards. Towards the end of the month, I'm eating a slice of peanut butter toast as a meal a couple times a day. Not everyone on welfare wants to be on it and being on it is no picnic.
That's pretty vitriolic. Certainly you don't know that I was doing landscape construction six years ago.
Surely you don't know that I started here as assistant editor for the grand total of $27,500 per year.
No way you could know my mother and father saved to buy a small business after he worked for years as a produce and dairy stock boy at a grocery chain, or that my grandparents immigrated penniless from Italy.
I worked hard not to be on welfare in Baltimore, not snobby New York.
The 100+ million people in this country on welfare perpetually — not as a safety net — should try as well.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the best way to do that is to be as far outside the system as possible.
I hold a passport, pay for my water, and file my taxes. Other than that, I want no involvement with the government.
I keep a free checking account, a brokerage, and two IRAs. Other than that, I want no involvement with banks.
Save as much money as possible. Invest it wisely on your own.
Buy cheap real estate.
Be as self-reliant as possible.
And above all, stop looking for things on which to place blame... which is what last week's essay was all about.
Being truly successful and independent is doing so with the conditions you're given.
Call it like you see it,
Nick is the Founder and President of the Outsider Club, and the Investment Director of the thousands-strong stock advisory, Early Advantage. Co-author of two best-selling investment books, including Energy Investing for Dummies, his insights have been shared on news programs and in magazines and newspapers around the world. For more on Nick, take a look at his editor's page.